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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

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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Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

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Today's Big Idea: Evolutionary Living

The Big Idea for Saturday, August 04, 2012

Here ye, here ye. Buddhists. Atheists. Christians. Jews. Atheists. Skeptics of all stripes. You are all superstitious, whether you want to admit it or not.

Superstition can be a bad thing. We often take on irrational beliefs that fly in the face of incontrovertible facts. 

And yet, superstitions can also be very beneficial if we know how to train our minds. As Matt Hutson points out in an intriguing new book, we are hardwired to think irrationally, and often ascribe human agency to objects that have none. It is how we learn to interact with the world. We look for things to mate with, or to eat. We certainly don't want to mistake something as friendly that is looking to eat us.

So how can irrational, or magical thinking, as Hutson terms it, benefit us? Hutson tells Big Think that there are numerous ways that we can use magical thinking to help us survive a breakup or the loss of a job, and also to set our eyes on our highest aspirations. If we can visualize ourselves in successful scenarios, we are more likely to achieve them. 

Perspectives

  1. 1 Do You Believe in Magic? Yes, You Do.
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  2. 2 Steven Pinker On Reason
    Steven Pinker
  3. 3 Religions Are Failed Sciences
    Sam Harris
  4. 4 Richard Dawkins’s Faith
    Richard Dawkins
 

Today's Big Idea: Evolution...

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