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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.

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Question: What is your outlook? 

Alan Dershowitz: I’m moderately optimistic because I think we have the ability to confront these issues.

Right now [June 2007], the world suffers from an incredible lack of creative leadership. I’m not talking only about the United States. I’m talking about Israel. I’m talking about the Palestinians. I’m talking about much of Western Europe. I’m talking about many religious leaders. This is not a time of great leadership. One does not see the [Winston] Churchills and the Roosevelts and the great leaders emerging.

I think one sees bureaucrats and charming people. It’s the price one pays for democracy gone amuck, with the media creating candidates and demanding of candidates that they be intelligenic.

I don’t know how Winston Churchill would do in an election today. He didn’t do so well in his own election after the Second World War.

We need great leadership. I think we’re seeing great leadership today in the business world. Innovations are just phenomenal. People like Bill Gates who are out there helping solve the world’s problems, and at the same time innovating.

I wish we would see better leadership in the political world. I think today the most innovative people do not go into politics, and that’s a tragedy. I wish people with big ideas would go into politics.

This is a transitional age. We don’t know whether or not we’ll be able to survive these new threats of mega-terrorism by people who don’t care whether they live or die. I suspect we will see some acts of massive terrorism.

And the question is, can we strike the appropriate balance? Can we do whatever we can do to stop terrorism – it won’t be perfect and there will be terrorism; don’t expect 100 percent – while at the same time not diminishing civil liberties? There will be some diminishing in civil liberties. There’ll be some terrorism. But how to strike that appropriate balance? How to get maximum preventive action against mega-terrorism with minimum compromise on civil liberties and human rights is one of the great challenges we face.


Recorded On: June 12, 07


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