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.

Bigotry and hate are more linked to mass shootings than mental illness, experts say

How do we combat the roots of these hateful forces?

Photo credit: Rux Centea on Unsplash
Politics & Current Affairs
  • American Psychological Association sees a dubious and weak link between mental illness and mass shootings.
  • Center for the study of Hate and Extremism has found preliminary evidence that political discourse is tied to hate crimes.
  • Access to guns and violent history is still the number one statistically significant figure that predicts gun violence.
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The 5 most intelligent video games and why you should play them

Some games are just for fun, others are for thought provoking statements on life, the universe, and everything.

(Photo from Flickr)
Culture & Religion
  • Video games are often dismissed as fun distractions, but some of them dive into deep issues.
  • Through their interactive play elements, these games approach big issues intelligently and leave you both entertained and enlightened.
  • These five games are certainly not the only games that cover these topics or do so well, but are a great starting point for somebody who wants to play something thought provoking.
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Brazil's Amazon fires: How they started, and how you can help.

The Amazon Rainforest is often called "the planet's lungs."

NASA
Politics & Current Affairs
  • For weeks, fires have been burning in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, likely started by farmers and ranchers.
  • Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has blamed NGOs for starting the flames, offering no evidence to support the claim.
  • There are small steps you can take to help curb deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, which produces about 20 percent of the world's oxygen.
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