WATCH: Social Capital — If You Want to Succeed, Start Making Friends

Our successes and failures are similarly linked to others, though we may feel their effects only personally. Every choice you make, every behavior you exhibit, and even every desire you have finds its roots in the social universe.

 

We're more than halfway through our rollout of Big Think's Floating University video playlist, featuring some of the most mind-changing ideas delivered by America's leading thinkers. In this discussion, Harvard medical doctor and sociologist Nicholas Christakis looks at our world through the lens of the society we all belong to.


"No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main,"

said the poet John Donne. And that is essentially where sociology picks up. Our experience of the world, which we feel personally, is inextricably shaped by other human beings. Our successes and failures are similarly linked to others, though we may feel their effects only personally.

Every choice you make, every behavior you exhibit, and even every desire you have finds its roots in the social universe. Whether you’re absorbing altruism performed by someone you’ll never meet or deciding to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, collective phenomena affect every aspect of your life.

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
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Depression is different for everyone. Here’s what it’s like for me.

Depression is quicksand, says comedian Pete Holmes. Try this method to help you cope and live with depression.

Videos
  • Everyone's experience with depression is different, but for comedian Pete Holmes the key to living with depression has been to observe his own thoughts in an impartial way.
  • Holmes' method, taught to him by psychologist and spiritual leader Ram Dass, is to connect to his base consciousness and think about himself and his emotions in the third person.
  • You can't push depression away, but you can shift your mindset to help better cope with depression, anxiety, and negative emotions. If you feel depressed, you can connect with a crisis counselor anytime in the US.
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Why the south of Westeros is the north of Ireland

As Game of Thrones ends, a revealing resolution to its perplexing geography.

Image: YouTube / Doosh
Strange Maps
  • The fantasy world of Game of Thrones was inspired by real places and events.
  • But the map of Westeros is a good example of the perplexing relation between fantasy and reality.
  • Like Britain, it has a Wall in the North, but the map only really clicks into place if you add Ireland.
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Big Think Edge
  • Conformity is not conducive to good problem solving, says economist and author Tim Harford.
  • The opposite of conformity? Diversity.
  • The kind of discussions that diversity facilitates actually improve the ability of groups to arrive at effective solutions.