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We are Big Idea Hunters…

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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The Big Idea for Tuesday, March 05, 2013

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman explored two modes of thinking. We process information automatically, often coming up with easy and convenient mental explanations for things. On the other hand, we have a more deliberative process in which our brain takes its time. We would like to believe that the latter mental process is boss. But it's not. 

Willpower, psychologist Roy Baumeister discovered, is a limited resource easily drained by everyday activity. This greatly impacts our ability to make rational decisions and exercise proper self-control. Kahneman calls this "ego depletion," or our deliberative mode of thinking getting exhausted over time.

In today's lesson, Penn Jillette describes how a group of showbusiness professionals ended up acting like junior high school students on The Celebrity Apprentice. As hard as Jillette tried to maintain self-control, the producers of the show created a system that eventually wore all of the contestants out over time. 


  1. 1 Penn Jillette: How Reality TV is Making Us All Bugnutty Crazy
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  2. 2 Slow Down, You Think Too Fast
    Daniel Kahneman
  3. 3 Ego Depletion, Motivation and Attention: A New Model of Self-Control
    Sam McNerney Moments of Genius
  4. 4 Lack of Willpower? Nope, Just a Realistic View of the World
    David Berreby Mind Matters


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