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


Question: How did you choose your characters?

Fassihi:    Well, you know, it was…  I thought a lot about what, who I would put in the book and what stories I would follow.  There were several obvious characters such as the Nasser family, a Christian family whom I got to know from 2002 when I first went to Iraq, right up to the time that I left, and [Amal Haddad] who was an art gallery owner.  These were people that I had become very good friends with and I spent a lot of time with, so it was easy to track what had happened to their lives.  I’ve seen it intimately.  There were also several other characters that I wanted to include.  I tried to make sure that everyone was represented, you know, that I will have Sunni characters in my book and Shia characters because so much of what has happened in Iraq really depends on who you ask.  People have different opinions and their experience of the US invasion and the aftermath is different based on, you know, what a sectarian line, if I [want to].  So, the book has a story of two young Shia clerics that I’ve befriended after the invasion, who quickly rose to the top of the Shia hierarchy and to prominent positions.  And also some Sunni, the Sunnis, our Sunnis staff and Sunni tribal leaders.  So, I really tried to pick, you know, characters who were really representative of Iraqis and the experience that they were going through.


Farnaz Fassihi Describes Ch...

Newsletter: Share: