How Big Think can better support you and how you can support Big Think

Here's a letter from our co-founders on the ways to help the world get smarter, faster, through engaging actionable content.

Big Think experts Steven Pinker, Michelle Thaller and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Dear readers,

We're the co-founders of Big Think. First and foremost, we want to thank you for your viewership. Over the last 12 years, you have helped us take Big Think from a vision scrawled in notes on lined paper to a reality that has reached over 1 billion people with the mission of helping the world get "smarter faster".

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Open academic culture, more crucial than ever, is in peril

Why campuses are becoming polarized — and what we can do about it.

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Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The narrowing of academic freedom is a major problem for institutions of higher education.
  • Social media, external pressures, and increasingly diverse student bodies — while providing some positives — create more opportunity for misunderstanding and miscommunication.
  • Reaffirming the value of and commitment to open debate ensures a more vibrant academic culture.
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Fashion contributes to 10 percent of humanity's carbon emissions

Fast fashion has a devastating impact on the environment. Here's what you need to know before heading to Zara this holiday season.

Photo Credit: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • The fashion industry is responsible for an alarming 10 percent of all of humanity's carbon emissions.
  • Eighty-five percent of all textiles are trashed each year, ending up in a landfill or incinerated.
  • By wearing one item of clothing for 9 months longer a person can actually reduce his or her carbon footprint by 30 percent.
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Gear
  • 12min summarizes hundreds of best-selling books down to essential 12-minute microbooks.
  • Microbooks are downloadable in both text and audio formats.
  • You can request a 12min summary of any non-fiction book not in their vast library.
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Great moments in marijuana history are being revealed

David Bienenstock has made it his mission to keep the history of cannabis alive.

Photo courtesy of the author
  • Cannabis journalists David Bienenstock and Abdullah Saeed launched Great Moments in Weed History to share the history of marijuana.
  • They cover hilarious and amazing weed tales about Willie Nelson. Louis Armstrong, Barack Obama, and Fela Kuti.
  • In this interview with Big Think, Bienenstock says it's essential to keep the history of marijuana alive in the corporatized age.
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How does criticism affect popular culture?

Popularity is slippery, and shouldn't be confused with quality, says critic A.O. Scott.

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  • Popularity has a funny way of correcting or reversing itself, says journalist and film critic A.O. Scott. It's a weird and fickle index—never identical to quality, though it can coincide with it.
  • Movies like Avatar that are capitalist consumer hits can fade over time. Meanwhile works that were initially passed over can be dredged out of forgotten corners to glory many years later.
  • Moby Dick is an example of how critics can turn the tide of popularity, for better and for worse. First, critics dismissed Moby Dick and it was forgotten until a resurgence of interest by critics many years later. It's now a staple of American literature.
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Jeannie Gaffigan: Finding comedy in a brain tumor

Here's how a pear-sized tumor on Jeannie Gaffigan's brain stem became an unexpected comedy gold mine.

Videos
  • It was only by chance that Jeannie Gaffigan found out she had a pear-sized tumor on her brain stem. During a visit to her kid's pediatrician, the doctor noticed something off about Jeannie Gaffigan's hearing, which led to the diagnosis.
  • She needed to have immediate brain surgery. Gaffigan describes this highly stressful and uncertain time in her as traumatic—and deeply hilarious, says Gaffigan. Comedy, she says, can be used to process your traumas.
  • A comedy writer by trade, she obsessively documented the experience and asked people who visited her in hospital to make notes and lists, which she later turned into her memoir When Life Gives You Pears.
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Think Again Podcasts

Confucianism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism—the world's scriptural belief systems take many different forms but all tend toward 'kenosis'—self-transcendence for the benefit of others. And all have been used and abused for less spiritual ends. Former nun and renowned theologian Karen Armstrong on the lost art of scripture.


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