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 has the economic downturn affected underdeveloped nations? 

Josh Ruxin: What's most worrying about the global financial downturn is I think we've actually lost sight of the most vulnerable people in the downturn. Obviously, we've been extremely focused on what's happening in the States but at the very same time there are literally well over a hundred million people who have gone through teetering on the edge of getting out of poverty or being just out of poverty and being thrust back into poverty or even entering poverty. Figuring out how to help those people has not been something that we've been particularly agile about doing.

One of the reasons for this I think is that the issues that are involved are extremely complicated. Take Rwanda for example, Rwanda has seen its GTD growth halved in this year alone and it looks like it's going to continue to decline. Well why does it decline? It declines because they don't see the tourist dollars. Why aren't they seeing the tourist dollars? Well it's because of the losses here in the States.

There's an exact of that intro-connectedness even all the way into central Africa. In other countries, it's actually taken a toll in much different ways. So, throughout southeast Asia, our consumption has actually taken away tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of factory jobs. People in those positions have simply fallen right back in to poverty. The question is, what do you do to help them. We're not just going to stockpile all sorts of garments here in the States or electronics in order to help the poor in southeast Asia, but we've got to do something about it.

One of the things that I think we can do about it is recognize that, at this time in the downturn, there are some things that we better environmentally and agriculturally which can generate jobs. So this is a great opportunity right now to invest in the rural poor. Because the rural poor were not as hard hit by the global downturn. They actually saw some new opportunities in it. With the global downturn, we still have the same number of people in the world growing every single day and yet productivity has been somewhat stagnate for agricultural supplies.

So by working with the rural poor we can actually create opportunities for them to generate greater incomes and help to literally feed the world, rather than just concentrating on some large industrial farmers. So I think there are some opportunities there but overall the story is that a lot of progress has been lost in a number of countries.

Recorded on: August 13, 2009



More from the Big Idea for Friday, March 01 2013

Disruptive Demographics

Nearly 50 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson launched a "War on Poverty" in his State of the Union Address. At the time, the national poverty rate was around 19 percent. The poverty rate, or Amer... Read More…


Thrust Back into Poverty

Newsletter: Share: