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


Stephen Breyer: I would say tremendous influence on me from that time looking back was the fact that my father worked for the city government, and my mother was interested in city life. So it was natural for me to think that it’s important to be part of a city, of a group, of a community. And an important part of your life is involved in work that will keep you in touch with other people in the community. That’s certainly what their lives showed. And it also showed me there are a million ways that you could possibly have that connection with the community. But I can remember thinking when I was a teenager . . . and we had some friends who lived . . . You started out by saying it was a suburb, but it wasn’t a suburb. And I wondered how could people live in the suburbs? Because if they lived in a suburb, they wouldn’t really be in touch with what’s going on in the city. And I understood after a while; but that part of civic life, community life – whether it was Temple Emmanuel, or whether it was the city School Board, or whether it was a school department, or whether it was the United Nations Association . . . She worked in political campaigns sometimes, my mother. So that, I think, had a tremendous influence in my life. Question: Did your background shape your understanding of the law? Well I haven’t really developed a theory of the law. I didn’t try to develop a theory until I thought it was necessary. And it isn’t really a theory to explain to people how our court works, and how I and others try to think about the applications of the Constitution of problems that come up in front of the court. And that led me to write about it, and that’s what you’re thinking about. And of course, I suppose, at the heart of the Constitution. But it isn’t only me. It’s Sandra O’Connor who had a very different background . . . she lived on a ranch. Interestingly enough – we’ve talked about this – Tony Kennedy is really from San Francisco, Sacramento, Northern California. But I think in my own case, it puts . . . I see the Constitution as having the democratic process at the heart of it, of having . . . The central element of the Constitution is creating institutions so people can decide things for themselves. And often I like to refer back and say, “Well that’s probably what the founders had in mind,” or “the framers had in mind when they thought of the Greek city states, or when they were writing the Constitution.” Or perhaps, since you raised the point, it’s also what I saw in San Francisco.

Recorded on: 7/5/07


What informed your ideas ab...

Newsletter: Share: