Ethan Hawke: Why ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are fickle concepts in history

When you simplify history, you obliterate the truth, says Ethan Hawke.

  • In 2016, Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth published the graphic novel Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars. Who were the good guys and bad guys in that era of history? It's not a straightforward question.
  • The novel includes historical characters like Geronimo, Cochise and General O.O. Howard, all of whom were at times arguably heroes and villains.
  • "One of the things that I love about studying history," says Hawke, "is that you see that it's not like 'Oh, one thing was bad and one thing was good.' You know, the wrong people won certain battles. The wrong people won certain elections."
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What are the psychological effects of consuming violence online?

Can our bodies tell the difference between recorded violence and real life danger?

  • "The internet is an exciting and a dangerous place," says journalist and documentarian Sebastian Junger.
  • He argues that because of thousands of years of evolution, our bodies react to seeing decapitations on screens as if they were happening in front of or to us.
  • According to Junger, the internet is too new for us to really understand the long-term effects it will have on our lives.
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Hive mind: The good, the bad, and the viral

What is the hive mind? Turns out there are antisocial and prosocial dimensions to it.

  • The hive mind is a shared intelligence or consciousness between groups of people. It determines what we think is culturally acceptable, what we think is fashionable, and even what we think is true. We source most of our information and beliefs from other people and not from ourselves, says psychology professor Sarah Rose Cavanagh.
  • The hive mind often comes under fire in the U.S. because it is a highly individualistic culture that frowns upon things like mindless conformity, echo chambers, and group think. Those are the antisocial aspects of collective thinking.
  • There are also prosocial features, explains Cavanagh. The hive mind allows us to draw on collective knowledge in positive ways, without needing to reinvent the wheel each time.
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#7: The colossal problem with universal basic income | Top 10 2019

Continuing the countdown, Big Think's seventh most popular video of 2019 explains why universal basic income will hurt the 99%, and make the 1% even richer.

  • Big Think's #7 most popular video of 2019 features Douglas Rushkoff, who says universal basic income is a band-aid solution that will not solve wealth inequality.
  • Funneling money to the 99% perpetuates their roles as consumers, pumping money straight back up to the 1% at the top of the pyramid.
  • Rushkoff suggests universal basic assets instead, so that the people at the bottom of the pyramid can own some means of production and participate in the profits of mega-rich companies.
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2019 most talked about: Why flat-Earth theory and anti-vax conspiracies exist

Our most talked-about video of 2019 features a lesson in nonsensical thinking from none other than Michio Kaku.

  • Big Think's most talked about video of 2019 presents the explanation that if you see animals when you look at clouds or see faces in pieces of wood, that's called pareidolia: the phenomenon of making familiar objects from vague stimuli.
  • Humans evolved to be superstitious, and Michio Kaku posits that there is a gene for superstition and magical thinking. Nine times out of 10, your beliefs can be wrong, but one time out of 10 it saved your ancestors' butts, says Kaku.
  • Flat Earthers and anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists exist now, and they will still exist in 1,000 years, says Kaku. It's natural. Humans evolved to believe in nonsense, but it's by becoming good at something totally unnatural to us – science – that reason can prevail.
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