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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.

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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: We’re Creatures of Habit

The Big Idea for Saturday, August 18, 2012

“What a piece of work is a man!” says Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god!” Then he goes on to say that we’re the meaningless “quintessence of dust.” But that’s the depression talking. Neuroscience has revealed the human brain as the final frontier – an endless expanse of neural networks and complex electrical activity as vast in its own way as outer space. 

At the same time, it has revealed some of the brain’s less lofty characteristics, among them, our reliance on habit loops to automate much of our thought and behavior. Habit loops are an evolutionary triumph in that they free our attention to focus on other, more important things than, say, ordering lunch. But they also lock us into mindless and not always useful ways of being. Since we can’t uproot our habits entirely, the trick is to understand how they work, so we can rewire them when necessary.

 

Perspectives

  1. 1 How to Form a Good Habit
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  2. 2 How I Scientifically Quit My Cookie Habit
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  3. 3 The Neuroscience of Success
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  4. 4 How Not To Spend Your Whole Day on Facebook
    Jason Gots Think Tank
 

Today’s Big Idea: We’re Cre...

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