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


Tim Harford:  I think many people looking at the experience of the US Army in Iraq will conclude, “well, it was a big mistake.” There were a lot of mistakes made, but for me what I was really interested in is not whether mistakes were made because they clearly were, but how quickly the mistakes got corrected because we make mistakes all the time, but can we fix them?  And Donald Rumsfeld struck me as a leader who was particularly incapable of fixing his own mistakes.  He didn’t want the problems that the US Army was facing even to be discussed, not to be called by their right name.  There is a famous press conference just after Thanksgiving 2005 in which Rumsfeld says, “I don’t think these guys even deserve the name of insurgents.”  So you’ve got a problem.  You’ve got an insurgency and it’s like something out of George Orwell.  Donald Rumsfeld doesn’t even want the problem to be called by its proper name. 

When he received feedback from his generals they were ignored.  They were brushed away.  They were sidelined.   This was an absolute pathological refusal to listen to feedback, and that’s important because all of us find it hard to listen to feedback.  It’s particularly true of people at the top of big organizations because people have a power relationship with them and that’s fine if you never make mistakes, but I've never met anybody who doesn’t make mistakes, and so this error correction really important.

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd


Donald Rumsfeld's Mistakes ...

Newsletter: Share: