Alan Alda: Build empathy. Monitor your relationships.

Learn the art and science of building relationships at Big Think Edge.

  • Learn simple exercises that are scientifically proven to boost your empathy.
  • At Big Think Edge, Alan Alda shares his insights on empathy and effective communication.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge to become a better you - personally and professionally.

Empathy is a superpower for connecting and communicating with others, but it can be surprisingly fragile. Even a bad mood or preoccupied mind can easily close us off to the people – even the ones we're closest to, let alone to colleagues or strangers on the daily commute.

Noticing this, Alan Alda wondered what exercises could help bulk up his "empathy muscle" regardless of shifting circumstances. An exercise he invented became the focus of a psychological study that discovered a way to significantly increase empathy.

Alan Alda teaches "The Art and Science of Relating: Build and Monitor Empathy" for Big Think Edge.

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Empathy makes you a better human

Empathy tends to evaporate when we don't practice it. At Big Think Edge, Alan Alda teaches an immediately actionable video lesson that will teach you exercises to significantly grow your capacity for empathy.

Greater empathy is an asset whether you're looking to boost your career, inspire and connect with a team you manage, or have more peaceful and thoughtful relationships in your personal life.

Subscribe to Big Think Edge and you'll access a diverse collection of lessons taught by the world's top thinkers and doers, like Alan Alda, Malcolm Gladwell, Bryan Cranston, Linda Hill, John Cleese and Navy SEAL Rob Roy.

Befriend your ideological opposite. It’s fun.

Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
  • Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
  • "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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Physicists find new state of matter that can supercharge technology

Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.

Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
  • The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
  • Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
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Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
Surprising Science
  • The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
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How to heal trauma with meaning: A case study in emotional evolution

As tempting as it may be to run away from emotionally-difficult situations, it's important we confront them head-on.

  • Impossible-sounding things are possible in hospitals — however, there are times when we hit dead ends. In these moments, it's important to not run away, but to confront what's happening head-on.
  • For a lot of us, one of the ways to give meaning to terrible moments is to see what you can learn from them.
  • Sometimes certain information can "flood" us in ways that aren't helpful, and it's important to figure out what types of data you are able to take in — process — at certain times.
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