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


Well there’s a lot of complicated limiting factors that Africans have had to struggle with since independence. Now the colonial . . . The legacy of the slave trade and the colonial error was very bad for Africa. There’s a lot of violence involved in that by Europeans not by Africans. At independence these artificial states were created out of no where that did not have any previous sort of national identification, national identity. And so Africa has done not so bad for a continent that was created under such inauspicious circumstances. Some economic historians have compared them recently to Latin America which was created under similar conditions early in the 19th century, early in the 1800s. Also rather artificial nations at first, and Latin America. And Latin America also had a half century of war, and poverty, and not much growth. And then eventually it got it’s act together, and now has had much more growth and much more escape from poverty where now only 10 percent of the population of Latin America is in poverty, whereas 50 percent of the population in Africa is in poverty. So homegrown economic development does happen. It does happen everywhere sooner or later. Some countries are unlucky; but the answers have to be homegrown. They cannot be parachuted in by experts. Success in escaping poverty everywhere always has been homegrown, not driven by expert advice by outsiders.Well you know there’s certainly tremendous humanitarianism needs in Africa, and there are rich people in the west who want to help. So there should be a market there that there are people in need, and there are rich people who want to help. There should be a sort of philanthropy market that does close, that does clear eventually, and rich people’s money does make it through to alleviate some of these humanitarian needs. I think the only reason that hasn’t happened is because we’ve been stuck in this sort of Jeff Sacks, big plan, just spend more government World Bank money and the problem is solved. If instead we had much more accountable agencies that were much more accountable for whether they got the infant’s that were getting dehydrated . . . whether they got them re-hydration kits; whether they got the children who are about to get measles get vaccinated from measles; whether they got the children who are malnourished nutritional supplements . . . if they were held accountable for results like this, then I think actually rich people’s money could do some good to alleviate some of these humanitarian tragedies in Africa until homegrown developments come along. But I don’t think the west is going to achieve the end of poverty in Africa like Jeff Sacks does. I think Africans are going achieve the end of poverty in a homegrown way. Africans are going to save themselves. It’s not going to be Jeff Sacks that saves Africa. It’s not going to be Bono that saves Africa. It’s not going to be Bob Geldof that’s going to save Africa. It’s going to be Africans that save Africa.

Recorded On: 7/6/07


What does Africa need?

Newsletter: Share: