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 inspires you?


Ezekiel Emanuel: It’s a good question. I think trying to do good by other people.

We have a lot of problems. I have lived an incredibly privileged life. I’ve been fortunate to grow up in America. I’ve been fortunate to get the best that the American educational system has, both in terms of the best primary school, the best high school; a fantastic college and a fantastic medical school. And I’ve been fortunate enough to have a pretty good life. The ability to give back and the ability to make a positive, sustained difference to people is what I try to do both in the United States and in other countries where I go.


Question: To whom do you look for inspiration?


Ezekiel Emanuel: I don’t think I have a real role model in that sense. There are a number of people – and again I’ve been incredibly fortunate at meeting a number of great people, great doctors, great economists, great philosophers, great scientific researchers – who have been just wonderful people.

And many things, and wonderful people in part, because they’ve taken the time to talk to me, and to help me, and to set me right.

Is any one of the more inspiring? I don’t think so.

When I think of the number – just the sheer number – of brilliant people that I’ve been able to interact with, it’s been phenomenal. Again, I can’t say it enough. I’ve been very privileged.

When you go to a great college in the United States; when you go to a great university and medical school; when you travel the world, you do meet lots of really smart people and you just want to learn from them. And I’d also say there’s a number of high school teachers who were just wonderful, who just taught their heart out. Not just to me but to my classmates. And that, in some ways is, to make you love learning, and to make you want to learn, and to want to excel. That gives you lifelong skills.


Question: What is the balance you’ve struck between political philosophy and scientific rigor?


Ezekiel Emanuel: Well for me, since I deal with values, that’s the sort of political philosophy part. I deal with public values that have to be shared among a very many Americans.

We try to use our understanding of values in relationship to scientific questions. So that’s the relationship. I’m not the only person, but I think there are only two of us in the country who are trained both in political philosophy and in medicine.


Recorded: July 5, 2007



What inspires you?

Newsletter: Share: