What is Big Think?  

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.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
With rendition switcher


Alan Weisman:  There used to be a time when we were less populous, that we where just simply another predator out there. We were a hunter and a gather, and we did our job, as other species do, in helping to control some species who’s numbers might out of whack, if some thing wasn’t predating on them. Then we developed agriculture and again until we became so numerous that we had to start doing a non-ecological forms of agriculture like huge monocultures or chemical force feeding in the land. Lot of our agriculture was very helpful to some other species, I didn’t use this in the book, but actually I use this in another book once. There used to be a traditional farming among the Tahona Indians, also known as the Papago Indians in southern Arizona, where they would use, they would channel sheet flooding during the summer rains into big washes that allow them to cultivate the native species that they lived on and they used to be in what is today Organ Pipe National Park. Well, when that park was formed the people where kicked out of there, because the park ranger said this is for wildlife not for people. Well, the Indians had to leave and half the bird species left with them. They were adapted to living around these people and there seeds. Now, in this book The World Without Us, I talk about how a complimentary relationship has developed over thousands of years, between traditional nomadic pastoralists who move cattle around parts of eastern Africa and elephant herds who tend to follow them. The cattle will graze a piece of land until the grass is gone and then they move them on, and, whenever you graze land woody species will invade and replace the grass. Well, elephants love stripping the bark off woody species, they eat trees, so then the elephants move in and then when they ate all those things, then the grass comes in and there has been this lovely cycle going on for a long time, that has only been interrupted recently when real estate values have now imposed fences on Africa, and nomads can no longer be nomadic. Obviously when we become so numerous that we start clearing away a lot of habitats for growing food, that's when the problems begin, but we weren’t fairly good shape up until really the 20th century when our numbers doubled and then redoubled again.


Recorded on: 2/5/08





Alan Weisman: Have humans d...

Newsletter: Share: