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.

Yug, age 7, and Alia, age 10, both entered Let Grow's "Independence Challenge" essay contest.

Photos: Courtesy of Let Grow
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The coronavirus pandemic may have a silver lining: It shows how insanely resourceful kids really are.
  • Let Grow, a non-profit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood, ran an "Independence Challenge" essay contest for kids. Here are a few of the amazing essays that came in.
  • Download Let Grow's free Independence Kit with ideas for kids.
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Four philosophers who realized they were completely wrong about things

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Sartre and Wittgenstein realize they were mistaken. (Getty Images)
Culture & Religion

Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways. 

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Withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants can last over a year, new study finds

We must rethink the "chemical imbalance" theory of mental health.

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Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Surprising Science
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Is there a limit to optimism when it comes to climate change?

Or is doubt a self-fulfilling prophecy?

David McNew/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

'We're doomed': a common refrain in casual conversation about climate change.

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