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

1

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

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

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
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Note - Experiment footage of toddler altruism courtesy Felix Warneken and Michael Tomasello.

Paul Bloom: So much of the action in psychology has been a running debate over which view is right. And this concerns morality, both moral judgments of right and wrong, but also moral feelings including compassion.  Many people would argue that in that regard, the baby starts off with nothing.  

The idea is that children start off immoral, monsters or if not monsters, at least they know not from good and evil.  This is not the view which I think is supported by the data.  I think there is now more and more data in support of a different view of compassion. 
Now we know this is true for children.  In fact, we know this is true for babies.  One way to make a baby cry is to expose it to cries of other babies.  There’s sort of contagiousness to the crying.  It’s not just crying.  We also know that if a baby sees another human in silent pain, it will distress the baby.  It seems part of our very nature is to suffer at the suffering of others.  

We know that young babies, as they become capable of moving voluntarily will share.  They will share food, for instance, with their siblings and with kids that are around.  They will sooth.  If they see somebody else in pain, even the youngest of toddlers will try to reach out and pat the person.  Maybe hand over a toy.  

There’s some lovely studies finding that slightly older children are able to help others when they see somebody who is unable to fulfill a goal, they’ll seek out to come to their aid.    

So one elegant demonstration of this comes from a recent set of experiments by the psychologist, Felix Warneken and Michael Tomasello, where they take a toddler, put him or her in a situation where an adult is in some sort of mild distress and see if the toddler will voluntarily help, even without any prompting.  And they find that toddlers typically do.  There seems to be some sort of impulse in us that’s altruistic, that’s kind, that’s compassionate. 

More from the Big Idea for Friday, August 23 2013

Shadow Confrontation

Why do we like the people we, ourselves, identify as bad? Today's lesson looks at the liberating appeal of villainy, and reformulates the question of "Do we see villainy in ourselves?" into "Do we... Read More…

 

Are We Hard-Wired for Greed...

Newsletter: Share: