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: What was really behind the crisis? 

Simon Johnson: I think at the heart of this problem is a set of people, not a huge set of people-- and this is not anti-finance, this is not anti-Wall Street. I’m a professor of entrepreneurship. I like people who take risk and who put their own money and persuade other people to invest money in genuine risk-taking productivity-enhancing technology-transforming projects. But, there's this core of people who have become very, very powerful who can do enormous damage to the rest of society and honestly, they really don’t care. They’ve made a lot of money in the 2000’s, for example. Some of them have written their memoirs. Many of them just disappear with their hundreds of millions of dollars and they leave it to the rest of us to clean it up. That’s not acceptable. That’s not fair. That’s not reasonable. That’s not how we should organize our society going forward. 

Question: Are other countries experiencing similar problems? 

Simon Johnson: Other countries have many of the same problems. I think we should look to American history for the solutions. I think we should look at what Teddy Roosevelt did. He took on JP Morgan and he won. We should look at what FDR did. He turned the economy around without kowtowing to the bankers. We should look at what Andrew Jackson did. Andrew Jackson, very controversial figure of course. He said the second bank of the United States in the 1830’s was too powerful and it should be reined in. At lot of people thought that Jackson was out of control and exaggerating until the second bank of the United States started to fight back and it showed its power and it bribed a lot of people and it restricted credit in an attempt to stop Jackson. And that, of course, is what turned public opinion against them. People said, “Oh, my goodness. Andrew Jackson is right.” That’s why his picture’s on the $20 bill. 

Recorded on March 31, 2010

More from the Big Idea for Tuesday, November 30 2010


Wall Street's Dangerous Power

Newsletter: Share: