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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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Truth to Power

The Big Idea for Friday, January 11, 2013

We live in a historical moment when the instruments of political and corporate power have become so opaque that it's difficult even to discuss injustice directly, let alone redress it. This is the case even in the West, where democracy offers the people freedom of speech and some semblance of political control, while the divided loyalties of elected officials serve private interests while the press marginalizes, even ridicules, overt dissent. Of course, it could be worse...

In China, justice is still harder to come by. While the county's "managed capitalism" has required some loosening of cultural restrictions, Beijing's control of the press remains tight, and those who dissent against human rights abuses are often swiftly silenced. 

What does courage look like under these circumstances, when wisdom counsels keeping your mouth shut, or working within the system to change it? Artist Ai Weiwei, who lives in Beijing and continues to protest official Chinese injustice through art, open dissent and ongoing legal battles in the Chinese courts, in spite of having been beaten, harassed, and detained for months by Chinese police, is perhaps as powerful an exemplar as any. 


  1. 1 Ai Weiwei: I'm Not an Activist
    Ai Weiwei Experts' Corner
  2. 2 Gerrymandering and the Politics of Revenge
    Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd Big Think TV
  3. 3 F*** You, Motherland – Ai Weiwei's Mission to Save China From Herself
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  4. 4 Five Simple Rules for Staying in Power
    Jason Gots Think Tank

Truth to Power

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