Re: What do you do?

Well what I do for a living is to try to make sense out of the American national past, and to pass on both to students . . . my students in the classroom at Stanford and to readers what my settled understanding is of one or another part of this great narrative of the . . . of the whole American experience. I’m not a historian, strictly speaking. My undergraduate training was in a program called American Studies. And I deliberately chose that because I wanted more than one disciplinary perspective on the general inquiry that I was setting out to make my life’s work, which is the nature of the American historical experience. So in my case, my graduate program at Yale in the ‘60s was two parts history, one part economics, and one part literature. So I’ve tried, I think, in my work over the last several decades to bring those various disciplinary perspectives, and information, and viewpoints from those various domains of knowledge and inquiry to bear on virtually all the work that I do. I’ve tried to teach people about the complexity of the past; about the need to be cautious in forming judgments about it; about the need to be disciplined in the use of evidence; the need to have an appreciation for the contradictions of human nature. And the suspicious character of all simple explanations for everything Recorded on: 7/4/07

Kennedy is a different kind of historian.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Apparently even NASA is wrong about which planet is closest to Earth

Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.

Strange Maps
  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less