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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.

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Question: Who are you? 

Anthony Fauci: When I was a child, I liked school. I liked learning a lot, but I was very much involved in athletics – mostly baseball and basketball. So I had the fantasy of most any young person growing up in the shadow of the New York Yankees and the New York Knickerbockers. I wanted to play, ultimately, professional ball.

Obviously, probably for the good of everyone, that was not to be.

It was only when I got into high school did I start to think that I might want to go into the field of medicine.

I had what I call a kind of a dichotomy of interests. I was very interested in humanitarian pursuits, history. I went to a Jesuit high school that was very heavily steeped in classical training. The classics, Greek and Latin languages, ancient history. So I felt a kinship to humanitarian pursuits, understanding the human person. I also was pretty good at, and enjoyed the problem solving, of science.

So as I was getting to the end of my high school career and getting ready to go to college, I was trying to figure out what would best suit me; what would be the best profession to combine my interest in humanitarian pursuits with the same time my aptitude and interest in solving scientific problems and scientific issues. And the natural evolution of that thought led to the idea of doing medicine and being a physician.

I went to a college that was, again, a liberal arts college that was very heavily weighted towards liberal arts philosophy. In fact, I took a Bachelor of Arts in classics; and yet took just enough scientific courses to be able to get into medical school.

So right from the very beginning, there was that somewhat of a dichotomy between the science that I was attracted to, and the need to be involved with people as opposed to just abstract science.


Recorded on: July 6 2007



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