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Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Today's Big Idea: Collective Catharsis

The Big Idea for Saturday, January 05, 2013

Because of the inescapable reach of media, mass killings affect virtually everyone. While the victims and the ones who loved them suffer terribly, the rest of us may feel a combination of many emotions: grief (through empathy), fear, disbelief, curiosity, fascination, and even a thrill at seeing the commotion caused by what happened. Each horrific event puts us on a new emotional binge.

This collective catharsis, Daniel Altman points out, satisfies "some visceral need for morbid stimulation," which can even be seen as beneficial to society. And yet, our need for this catharsis, Altman argues counterintuitively, is what prevents us from insuring that such horrific acts will never happen again. 


  1. 1 Why We Won’t Stop Mass Killings: We Like Them Too Much
    Daniel Altman Econ201
  2. 2 Why the Newtown Shooting Made Me Think of This Painting
    Bob Duggan Picture This
  3. 3 Substituting Prices for Principles in the Gun Debate
    Daniel Altman Econ201
  4. 4 On Not Making Sense of Senseless Tragedies
    Steven Mazie Praxis

Today's Big Idea: Collectiv...

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