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

Laurence Gonzales:

If Socrates were here today, I think he would think the scholarship was pretty messed up.  Most people don’t remember that Socrates was against reading and writing.  He thought that that was a bad idea for scholarship and for learning.  His method of learning was, first of all, you had to memorize everything.  You had to have it in your head.  And secondly, you have to walk around town talking with other people about it and they could question everything you said.  They could confront you directly.  He said, “Well, once you have things written down and you lose your memory ‘cause you don’t need to memorize them, you can look them up.  And the other thing is you can’t question a book if you, you know, have something written down.  It’s there and you can’t ask it a question and make it prove itself to you.”  So he saw this as the beginning of a deterioration of learning and thinking and he was right.  The thing we forget is he was right.  But he missed the fact that, of course, there were many benefits of writing things down.  And I always mention that in the, when the printing press was invented, the scholars have the same reaction.  They said, “This is a very bad idea.  We don’t like this.  It’ll cost the spread of all sorts of pernicious nonsense and it won’t be checked by scholars like us so that it’s accurate.”  And, of course, they were right too.  There are all kinds of stuff published that’s nonsense and a lot of it is not checked and so forth and so on.  They, too, miss the fact that it would be a great benefit to society.  So in both these cases, these guys, these people were critical enough and they’re thinking to anticipate trouble from a technology.  And what I say is that we need some of that critical thinking back again.  We tend to embrace technologies sort of unquestioningly.  And, in part, that’s because they’re sold to us that way by marketing.  But it’s a good thing to question these technologies the way Socrates questioned the new technology of writing at that time.  And if he saw what was going on today, he would probably say, “You know, this Internet is a really bad idea.”  And he probably be right in certain ways.  He would be wrong in certain ways and that, you know, it’s a wonderful tool for disseminating information of all kinds.  He would be right in the sense that it tends to make us shallower if we’re not careful, if we don’t use it to augment our scholarship and our thinking, if instead we use it to replace our scholarship and our thinking. 


 

Laurence Gonzales on Socrat...

Newsletter: Share: