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


Bill Nye: If you are a science teacher with a student whose parents insist that he or she not be exposed to biology, to evolution, I’m not sure what the rules are.  I know you can—there’s lawsuits pending in a couple of states.  I get emails every week from the National Council for Science Education, the NCSE, addressing lawsuits about this issue.  

But I guess just let your passion come through.  It is a hard thing to find a kid who doesn’t love dinosaurs.  There’s probably one, but I’ve never met him or her.  So I would start there: the ancient dinosaurs are very much like modern birds, and there’s reasons for that—one thing led to the other. 

The other thing I just remind everybody about—to a lesser extent this guy Alfred Wallace but—Charles Darwin was disciplined.  I mean, he did these extraordinary experiments, this series of experiments to discover, to understand the process of change from generation to generation, and this change is all around us.  

And the other just really hard thing for people who haven’t taken time—and this will be a pun—to understand the amount of time involved.  We live less than a century, a human does, but this process that brought us to be is billions of years old, and it’s just really hard to get your mind around what that means—billion years, 65 million years. 

And the other thing that’s just out of our everyday experience as people. . . . We design things and make them.  We decide how big the piece of paper is.  We decide how large our handwriting is going to be.  Then we make an organization chart for our corporation and then we hire people.  And it’s top-down, it’s idea-down.  But evolution doesn’t work that way.  Evolution is bottom-up.  Evolution is, in the poetic sense, organic, and in the chemical sense, literally organic.  All these systems emerge, all these living things emerge, and the good ones, the good designs, eat the bad designs, and so there’s no more bad designs, there’s just good designs.  Then the designs compete and then they eat each other.  And so you very quickly end up—people run computer models about this—you very quickly end up with an ecosystem in tuned species.  It is out of our everyday experience.  It is not top-down.  

Although maybe—I will digress on this—maybe with the social networking that happens now, it is organic, it is bottom-up in another sense, that this self-organizing system’s come into place.  Let’s all have a flash mob.  Okay, there’s no manager of flash mobbing, it just emerges.  And if it’s a stupid flash mob, nobody shows up, so then that one’s eliminated.  If it’s big fun, like what’s the one everybody likes?  “Thriller,” dancing to “Thriller,” yeah.  Two hundred people show up to pretend to be Michael Jackson.  Okay, it’s self-organizing is what I’m going for.  And that’s what evolution is.  The bad designs get eaten by the good ones and so all you have is good ones.  It happens very fast.  

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

More from the Big Idea for Sunday, February 16 2014

Scientific Theory

Evolutionary theory is great at explaining things like the loss of eyesight, over time, by cave-dwelling creatures. It's terrible at explaining gain of function. It's also terrible at explainin... Read More…


Evolution is Like a Self Or...

Newsletter: Share: