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


Jean-Francois Rischard: What’s holding them back is actually the problem which I consider to be the central challenge of our times. And that is that the world has been cut up into roughly 185, let’s say 190 nation states. And it’s a recent phenomenon. The nation state concept is roughly 350 years old. It goes back to the Westphalia Treaties. So it’s still a new concept, and it’s a concept that does very well for internal management of countries. A nation state that is democratically organized is actually a very good machine for solving internal issues. But the problem at the international level is that nation states are by design territorial in their perspectives. They look out for the inhabitants of their own territories, first of all. And the politicians that run for elections in those countries run for elections every four or five years, so their horizon is maximum four or five years. The global issues that I mentioned like dangerous climate change, deforestation, biodiversity losses, contagious diseases and so forth, they are the opposite. They are not territorial issues; they’re cross border issues. They’re non-territorial issues. They got all over the map, and they don’t know about borderlines and borders. And they are long term issues. To solve the global warming issue, it takes a 150 year plan to start today to actually manage the 150 years to stabilize carbon dioxide concentrations. So you have this absolute clash between the territorial and short term perspective of the nation states and the non-territorial, long term nature of these global problems. And that deadly clash is something we must get out of the way one way or the other. In other terms, the nation state system, which is perfect for internal management of countries, somehow doesn’t click with global problem solving of the type we need in this period where the curves – the environmental damage curves and others – are shooting straight up.

Recorded on: 7/2/07


What's stopping governments?

Newsletter: Share: