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 are the major issues facing the world today?

Ferguson: Most people today, sitting here, would probably say that climate change was one of those issues. It’s extremely hard to miss the enormous environmental impact that we’re now having, now that Asia has embraced industrialization wholeheartedly. I actually think there are more serious problems that could have an impact before the long unfolding process of global warming has whatever consequences it’s going to have.

I take the threat very seriously of climate change, don’t get me wrong. But before we ever get to Al Gore’s worst case scenario, we could have blown the world up. Because, happening right now, at full speed, is a breakdown of the system of nonproliferation set up nearly 40 years ago which very successfully limited the number of powers who could use, acquire, or have the option to use nuclear weapons.

And I think that’s a worry because even if an Iran acquires only a very small number of nuclear missiles, that significantly increases the risk of a nuclear exchange of some kind, even if only an accidental one.

The superpowers in the Cold War played a very simple game. There were just two players, and they risked mutually assured destruction if they fought. And then it turned out to reduce the probability of a nuclear war quite dramatically.

But in a world of multiple nuclear powers, where there are lots of small Cold Wars, one between Pakistan and India, one maybe between China and Japan, one between say Israel and Iran, and so on. When that world comes about, then the probability of a nuclear war is quite high because the stakes are lower.

Only the United States and the Russians still have enough weapons to blow up the world, everybody else can just blow up a few cities; but the probability is higher because you have maybe a Cuban missile crisis every year instead of just one in 50 years.

So that makes me very uneasy, and I feel as if we are stumbling towards a much more dangerous world in which a nuclear weapon will get used sometime soon. And this would be a bigger explosion than Hiroshima and Nagasaki because these weapons are far more destructive than they use to be.

Recorded on: Oct 15 2008


Where are we?

Newsletter: Share: