David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
Start Learning

Dealing With the Diagnosis

Monica Knoll: I was 36 years old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was new to New York City. I’d lived here for about a year and a brand new job. I’d only been at a very high-end fitness club for about five months and I was having- just really getting to enjoy the city and enjoying my new job and I was- I felt a lump one night putting lotion on. I pretty much knew what it meant. My sister was diagnosed at age 32 with breast cancer so I knew that I had a high risk being that there was a hereditary option or--

Knowing that the risk was higher having a sister with breast cancer, I knew that there was a chance that I could get it too but it doesn’t prepare you to find out that you’ve got cancer yourself so—


Question: How did your friends and family show their support?


Monica Knoll: They rallied around me and that was the most important thing. I think the-- having their support and their love and knowing that they were there for me and making sure that I was getting the best care-- I think each one made phone calls to find out from their friends and family if they knew of any breast cancer surgeon or doctor that I needed to see and who were the best so everybody picked up the phone and started to call and make-- come up with names for us to make appointments with.

One of my dear friends, Tim, said, “Well, if it’s good news we’re going to get a room at the Ritz and we’ll all celebrate and if it’s bad news we’re going to the Ritz and we’re going to have a lot of drinks.” And so I turned out to be bad news but all my friends rallied and showed up that night. We all had dinner in a room and we made it into this sort of private little party and actually it was- we did this at the Peninsula Hotel, not the Ritz. We couldn’t get in to the Ritz so it was the Peninsula Hotel and it was just kind of a surreal evening.


Question: What were your first steps in seeking treatment?


Monica Knoll: I think for me the most important thing was to find out what it was going to be like instead of waiting for it to happen so whenever I would go to a doctor’s appointment I would ask them if I could speak to a patient in their office that could give me some information about what it was like for them when they were going through that stage of the process.

So for instance I wanted to talk to as many women in the office who had already had their surgery. I wanted to know what it felt like. I ended up having a double mastectomy and I wanted to know what it was going to look like after surgery. I wanted to see what it was going to look like with the-- once the reconstruction was complete so I was prepared, and

I think that helped me tremendously and I tell most women to do the same.


Recorded on: June 5, 2008.


Knoll discusses her personal breast cancer story.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
Keep reading Show less

R.P. Eddy wrote about a coming pandemic in 2017. Why didn't we listen?

In his book with Richard Clarke, "Warnings," Eddy made clear this was inevitable.

Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images
  • In their 2017 book, "Warnings," R.P. Eddy and Richard Clarke warned about a coming pandemic.
  • "You never get credit for correctly predicting an outbreak," says science journalist Laurie Garrett in the book.
  • In this interview with Big Think, R.P. Eddy explains why people don't listen to warnings—and how to try to get them to listen.
Keep reading Show less

Creativity: The science behind the madness

Human brains evolved for creativity. We just have to learn how to access it.

  • An all-star cast of Big Thinkers—actors Rainn Wilson and Ethan Hawke; composer Anthony Brandt; neuroscientists David Eagleman, Wendy Suzuki, and Beau Lotto; and psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman—share how they define creativity and explain how our brains uniquely evolved for the phenomenon.
  • According to Eagleman, during evolution there was an increase in space between our brain's input and output that allows information more time to percolate. We also grew a larger prefrontal cortex which "allows us to simulate what ifs, to separate ourselves from our location in space and time and think about possibilities."
  • Scott Barry Kaufman details 3 brain networks involved in creative thinking, and Wendy Suzuki busts the famous left-brain, right-brain myth.

What if Middle-earth was in Pakistan?

Iranian Tolkien scholar finds intriguing parallels between subcontinental geography and famous map of Middle-earth.

Image: Mohammad Reza Kamali, reproduced with kind permission
Strange Maps
  • J.R.R. Tolkien hinted that his stories are set in a really ancient version of Europe.
  • But a fantasy realm can be inspired by a variety of places; and perhaps so is Tolkien's world.
  • These intriguing similarities with Asian topography show that it may be time to 'decolonise' Middle-earth.
Keep reading Show less

New study explores how to navigate 'desire discrepancies' in long term relationships

With the most common form of female sexual dysfunction impacting 1 in 10 women, this important study dives into how to keep a relationship going despite having different needs and wants in the bedroom.

NDAB Creativity / Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • A new study highlights the difficulties faced by women who struggle with decreased sexual desire, and explains how to navigate desire discrepancies in long-term relationships.
  • Hypoactive sexual desire disorder is one of the most common forms of female sexual dysfunction, impacting an estimated 1 in 10 women.
  • Finding other ways to promote intimacy in your relationship is one of the keys to ensuring happiness on both sides.

Keep reading Show less