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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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Today's Big Idea: The Rules of Power

The Big Idea for Monday, August 20, 2012

In a presidential election year, when we’re not focused on some irrelevant detail about a politician’s sordid past, we’re focused on the issues of the day – education, military spending, taxes . . . But as the philosopher Michel Foucault demonstrated in sweeping historical analyses like The History of Sex and Discipline and Punish, power is its own animal. When considering the actions of political leaders, and the best ways of getting the results we want as a nation, it is useful therefore to understand how power operates. 

For Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, author of The Dictator’s Handbook, it’s quite simple: people like power. They want to get it and, once they have it, they don’t want to give it up. Any analysis, therefore, of a politician’s behavior and prediction of her future actions needs to start with this firmly in mind. 

 

Perspectives

  1. 1 The Rules of Power: What Che and Hitler Have In Common
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  2. 2 The Dark Side of High Achievement
    Peter Saalfield Think Tank
  3. 3 The Choices That Mean Life or Death: Osama’s Crucial Decisions
    Maria Konnikova Artful Choice
  4. 4 Five Simple Rules for Staying in Power
    Jason Gots Think Tank
 

Today's Big Idea: The Rules...

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