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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.

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Question: Why is American history important?

David Kennedy: Well Americans should care about American history the way individuals should care about their own past and their own memory. A people without a collective memory is a people without a collective identity – in our case a national identity. So it seems to be self-evident why, in our society and any society, if members of that society don’t understand how they came to be a people, and how they came to be an organic and integrated society, they really have no collective identity whatsoever. Others, I think, need to understand in this day and age – this particular historical moment – need to understand something about the character of the society because we just loom so large on the world’s horizon. And we – for better or worse – have so much influence on what happens in all corners of the globe. So it behooves others to understand us, I think, as well as they can.



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