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

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

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
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: What forces have shaped humanity most?

Walt: Well again, if I had to push it to a single common feature, it’s when societies have been able to do sort of two things. One is generate a sufficient level of tolerance for diversity – sort of not insisting on a “one size fits all” approach to individual behavior, individual conduct, individual beliefs. And this, you know, comes out of, you know, the religious wars of the late Middle Ages where people began to realize that something had to be done to break the sort of cycle of recurring violence and develop a certain degree of tolerance. The second thing I think has been critical is encouraging the flowering of open thought and expression. I mean I’m a child of the enlightenment in that sense, that . . . that we don’t advance the human condition when we shut off inquiry; when we shut off discussion; when we shut off debate. So you know our capacity to live now is based in part on mastery of nature and scientific achievements. It’s based in part on understanding that for all of their flaws, markets turn out to work better than command economies. And then it’s by the way learning that markets can’t be allowed to operate purely on their own – that there has to be some political regulation to markets. It’s figuring out that democracy, for all of its flaws, turns out to work somewhat better than one person giving all the orders and expecting everyone else to carry it out. These are all cases where we’ve learned these things over time, over centuries. And getting the lesson right has often been quite a wrenching experience. But I think all of those things have contributed to greater mastery of the environment in which we live; which allows us to feed more people; which allows us to deal with disease; which allows us to build homes to then be able to keep them heated, etc., etc., etc. But . . . but at the same time, it’s also involved making some political developments and learning some political lessons as well.

 

 

 

Who are we?

Newsletter: Share: