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: Has the U.S. handled enemy combatants appropriately?

Michael Walzer:  Well, the Bush administration seems to have created a new legal category of an illegal combatant or an enemy combatant who isn’t entitled to prison-of-war status which has many rights. If you capture a prisoner of war, it's a contract. The prisoner says "I will give up fighting" and you say "I will provide you with benevolent quarantine for the duration of the war." And benevolent quarantine is a legal status that has rights. We’re denying, the Bush administration denies that the people captured, the people being held in Guantanamo; they are not prisoners of war. They are also not criminals, suspected criminals or accused criminals because accused criminals also have lots of rights in our political system. They have a right to an attorney; they have a right to know the charges against them; they have a right not to be tortured; they have all kinds of rights. And so there is this new status of a person who has no rights, or no rights that fit into any of the paradigmatic condition, legal condition, legal statuses. And that’s immoral, illegal, unconstitutional I am sure and playing wrong. There can’t be a human being without some rights in the world. There can’t be a legal status which doesn’t entail some set of rights, so, if in fact terrorists are, if there are good reasons for treating terrorists not like prisoners of war, then we should treat them as criminals, as murderers and we should bring them into trial. If we are unprepared to treat them that way, then we should treat them as prisoners of war. Or if there are very good reasons for doing, so then you create a new legal status, but it has to be a status with rights, with clearly recognized rights that make sense in the international community, because we don’t operate alone, and we want our soldiers when captured, and also our secret agents when captured, to be treated as people with rights.



Michael Walzer: U.S. Treatm...

Newsletter: Share: