Four Thought

Four Thought

Four Thought talks include stories and ideas which will affect our future, in politics, society, the economy, business, science, technology or the arts. Recorded live, the talks are given by a range of people with a new thought to share.

  • Updated:
    Weekly
  • Episodes available:
    Indefinitely help

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All episodes (158)

  • Robyn Scott 22 Oct 14

    Wed, 22 Oct 14

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Robyn Scott argues that accepting more risk will improve public services.

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  • Wyn James 15 Oct 14

    Wed, 15 Oct 14

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Wyn James tells the story of the Welsh settlements in Patagonia, and on their 150th anniversary asks what lessons they might offer about migration and integration.

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  • Clare Richmond 08 Oct 14

    Wed, 8 Oct 14

    Duration:
    19 mins

    We are trying to revive our high streets the wrong way, argues Clare Richmond.

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  • Sunil Shaunak 01 Oct 14

    Wed, 1 Oct 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Sunil Shaunak argues that pharmaceuticals could, and should, build social capital.

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  • Daniel Hahn 24 Sept 14

    Wed, 24 Sep 14

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Daniel Hahn argues that more children's books should be translated into English.

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  • Tiffany Jenkins 17 Sept 14

    Wed, 17 Sep 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Tiffany Jenkins argues that we need more judgement about quality in art, culture and life

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  • Anna Beer 10th Sept 14

    Wed, 10 Sep 14

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Anna Beer asks why we don't hear more music composed by women.

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  • Carrie Gisbon 3rd Sept 14

    Wed, 3 Sep 14

    Duration:
    17 mins

    Carrie Gibson argues that we need to re-think what we mean by paradise.

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  • Four Thought:Amia Srinivasan 27 Aug 2014

    Wed, 27 Aug 14

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Philosopher Amia Srinivasan makes the case for anger, arguing that it can be a huge source of strength and power, particularly for the apparently weak and powerless.

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  • Four Thought: Rosie Wilby 20 Aug 2014

    Wed, 20 Aug 14

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Comedian Rosie Wilby proposes the end of monogamy. She first discussed the idea in a show at last year's Edinburgh festival, since when it has taken an unexpectedly serious turn.

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  • Four Thought: Mara Oliva 13 Aug 2014

    Wed, 13 Aug 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Mara Oliva argues that we need to think differently about ordinary Americans' views and the making of their nation's foreign policy.

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  • Four Thought: Philip North 06 Aug 2014

    Wed, 6 Aug 14

    Duration:
    23 mins

    What's responsible for the decline of the working class? Philip North points the finger at middle class professionals.

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  • Four Thought: Adjoa Andoh 30 July 2014

    Wed, 30 Jul 14

    Duration:
    23 mins

    Adjoa Andoh on raising a child who sensed from a very young age that he was a boy trapped in a girl's body.

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  • Four Thought: Rupert Goodwins 23 July 2014

    Wed, 23 Jul 14

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Technology writer Rupert Goodwins asks what has gone wrong with discussion on the internet, and how can it be made better?

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  • Four Thought: Noreena Hertz 16 July 2014

    Wed, 16 Jul 14

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Using examples from her own brush with illness, Professor Noreena Hertz talks about why it is sometimes dangerous to believe in experts.

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  • Four Thought: Jasper Fforde 09 July 2014

    Wed, 9 Jul 14

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Jasper Fforde explains why he is concerned that humans have reached the limits of intellectual creative thought.

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  • Four Thought: Serena Kutchinsky 02 July 2014

    Wed, 2 Jul 14

    Duration:
    17 mins

    Serena Kutchinsky explains the impact an obsession with the Faberge egg had on her family and why she now believes such priceless objects should belong to all.

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  • Four Thought: Karl Sharro 25 June 2014

    Wed, 25 Jun 14

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Karl Sharro argues that the only way to overcome the housing crisis is to get rid of all planning regulations and let people build whatever they want.

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  • Four Thought: Sandra Newman 18 June 2014

    Wed, 18 Jun 14

    Duration:
    18 mins

    The American author Sandra Newman explains why, while most of us would like to be cool, it is best not to try too hard.

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  • Four Thought: Jono Vernon-Powell 11 June 2014

    Wed, 11 Jun 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Jono Vernon-Powell wonders why hitchhiking has fallen out of favour, arguing its revival would be good for travellers and good for society.

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  • Four Thought: Jonathan Ree 04 June 2014

    Wed, 4 Jun 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Jonathan Rée explains why he’s never been happy with the idea of morality and warns against the current fashion for confusing it with politics.

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  • Four Thought: Rachel Armstrong 28 May 2014

    Wed, 28 May 14

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Rachel Armstrong proposes we should harness the computing power of the natural world to create new sustainable ways of living.

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  • Four Thought: SF Said 21 May 2014

    Wed, 21 May 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Children's author SF Said believes the power of fiction can help to bridge the divide between "Us" and "Them".

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  • Four Thought: Mark Graham 14 May 2014

    Wed, 14 May 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Mark Graham explains why the information poor will remain poor regardless of better worldwide access to the internet.

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  • Four Thought: Rebecca Mott 07 May 2014

    Wed, 7 May 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Rebecca Mott says we should come to see prostitution exactly as we now see slavery - as an abuse of human rights -and therefore only total abolition is acceptable.

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  • Four Thought: Philippa Perry 30 Apr 2014

    Wed, 30 Apr 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Philippa Perry explains why story telling is so powerful and how the stories that we tell to and about ourselves affect our mental wellbeing.

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  • Benet Brandreth 23 April 14

    Wed, 23 Apr 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Benet Brandreth argues that our current political discourse is bankrupt, so he proposes a novel solution: a legislature by lot. Presenter:Ben Hammersley Producer: Sheila Cook

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  • Becky Manson 05 March 14

    Wed, 5 Mar 14

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Becky Manson discusses the meaning of home as homeowning becomes less common.

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  • Sharon Kinsella 26 Feb 14

    Wed, 26 Feb 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Sharon Kinsella explores the Japanese 'cult of girls'.

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  • Byron Vincent 19 Feb 14

    Wed, 19 Feb 14

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Byron Vincent discusses nature versus nurture, and society's obligations to its weakest.

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  • Anne-Marie Imafidon 12 Feb 14

    Wed, 12 Feb 14

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Anne-Marie Imafidon argues that we need to think differently about role models, including embracing their mistakes

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  • Four Thought: Heaven Crawley 05 Feb 2014

    Wed, 5 Feb 14

    Duration:
    21 mins

    Heaven Crawley, Professor of International Migration at Swansea University, commends compassion and curiosity in place of hostility in our attitude towards refugees and asylum seekers.

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  • Matthew Engel 29 Jan 2014

    Wed, 29 Jan 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Matthew Engel makes a secular case for reclaiming the peace and quiet of the Sabbath, arguing that a proper day of rest will make us healthier, happier and more productive.

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  • Four Thought: Emile Simpson 22 Jan 2014

    Wed, 22 Jan 14

    Duration:
    19 mins

    A series of talks which combine new ideas and personal stories. Speakers explain their latest thinking on the trends and ideas in culture and society in front of a live audience.

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  • Fourt Thought: Curtis Blanc 15 Jan 2014

    Wed, 15 Jan 14

    Duration:
    21 mins

    Curtis Blanc, a former prisoner turned music entrepreneur, says prison works, but only if you want it to.

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  • Agnes Woolley: Refugee Stories 8 Jan 14

    Wed, 8 Jan 14

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Agnes Woolley examines what is missing from the stories told by, and about, refugees.

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  • Brian Lavery: Courage and Effect 4 Dec 13

    Wed, 4 Dec 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Brian Lavery tells the remarkable story of how Mrs Lillian Bilocca, a fishwife from Hull, changed the country's most dangerous industry.

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  • Mark Lorch: Chemophobia 27 Nov 13

    Wed, 27 Nov 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Mark Lorch asks why we are all so afraid of chemicals and chemistry.

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  • Mark O’Connell Ambivalence: For and Against 20 Nov 13

    Wed, 20 Nov 13

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Mark O'Connell argues that in an age of strong opinions, we should embrace ambivalence.

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  • Jane Burston: Putting Profit in its Place 13 Nov 13

    Wed, 13 Nov 13

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Jane Burston argues that by placing too much emphasis on profit, companies behave in an unethical way, and it is time for social purpose to take centre stage.

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  • Sam Edwards: Rethinking Memorials 6 Nov 13

    Wed, 6 Nov 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Sam Edwards argues that we should think again about how and what we memorialise - including wars and other major events in our national history. Sam is a lecturer in American History at Manchester Metropolitan University, and has long been fascinated with memorials. He tells the story of how, as a young man, he would journey around the Suffolk countryside visiting the many memorials to the US 8th Air Force, and the effect it had on him.

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  • Molly Naylor: Learning from our Teenage Selves 30 Oct 13

    Wed, 30 Oct 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Molly Naylor has spent years thinking how much she could teach her teenage self. But in this talk, Molly turns her thinking on its head. What if her teenage self has something to teach her?

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  • Matt Locke: Empires of Attention 23 Oct 13

    Wed, 23 Oct 13

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Matt Locke traces the stories of three 'empires of attention' to examine how our attention, and the way it was measured, has shaped our culture.

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  • Farrah Jarral: Cheekiness 16 Oct 13

    Wed, 16 Oct 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Farrah Jarral puts the case for more cheekiness.

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  • Paul Dimeo: Drugs in Sport 9 Oct 13

    Mon, 14 Oct 13

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Paul Dimeo argues that drugs made modern sport what it is today.

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  • Lindsay Johns: Language is Power 2 Oct 13

    Wed, 2 Oct 13

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Lindsay Johns argues that language is power, and makes the case for speaking English properly.

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  • Mona Siddiqui: Friendships 25 SEP 2013

    Wed, 25 Sep 13

    Duration:
    17 mins

    Mona Siddiqui on why she believes friendships are the key to a good society in a globalised world.

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  • Danny Dorling: Population Growth 18 SEP 13

    Wed, 18 Sep 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Geographer Danny Dorling explains why he thinks population growth over the next century is nothing to be scared of.

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  • Emily Bell: Cyberspace vs Real Space 11 SEP 13

    Wed, 11 Sep 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    We might think the web is something different, another world somewhere out there - or indeed in our devices - but Emily Bell of Columbia University's journalism school argues the real and the virtual worlds are the same thing.

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  • Alan Bissett: Pornography & Feminism 04 SEP 13

    Wed, 4 Sep 13

    Duration:
    18 mins

    In the 1990s, author Alan Bissett was a lad and women were 'birds'. In a frank and personal account, Alan talks about why he turned to the work of the late American radical feminist Andrea Dworkin after becoming concerned over his use of internet pornography. He dissects elements of what he describes as our "sex saturated culture" and argues that men need to start engaging with feminism for the good of all.

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  • Greg Votolato: Car Design 28 AUG 2013

    Wed, 28 Aug 13

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Greg Votolato from the V&A musuem confesses his addiction to cars while arguing for more sustainable designs to meet our desire for status and private space.

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  • Yasmin Hai: Radicalisation 21 Aug 2013

    Wed, 21 Aug 13

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Writer Yasmin Hai says it’s not Western foreign policy that is radicalising young British Muslims but more pedestrian psychological factors closer to home.

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  • Jad Adams: Helping the Homeless 14 AUG 13

    Wed, 14 Aug 13

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Jad Adams thinks we're dealing with homelessness less well than in the 1930s. Speaking from his experience helping homeless people, he argues our hostel system is not the answer.

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  • Andrew Graystone: Talking about Cancer 07 AUG 2013

    Wed, 7 Aug 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Andrew Graystone speaks from personal experience to argue that we’re using the wrong language to talk about cancer.

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  • Kevin Allen: Where Business Leaders Go Wrong 03 JUL 13

    Wed, 3 Jul 13

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Advertising guru Kevin Allen tells a tale of missing cutlery on passenger jets to show where business leaders go wrong. Success, he says, belongs to the "buoyant" leader.

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  • Jamie Tehrani: Dissecting Celebrity Culture 26 JUN 13

    Wed, 26 Jun 13

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Social anthropologist Jamie Tehrani sees our obsession with celebrity culture as a result of our maladapted brains.

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  • Judith Shapiro: The Future of Equality 19 JUN 13

    Wed, 19 Jun 13

    Duration:
    21 mins

    Economist Judith Shapiro argues that the next steps towards equality for women will be far harder than those which went before.

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  • Dick Moore: Teenage Mental Health 12 JUN 13

    Wed, 12 Jun 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Dick Moore calls for urgent action to tackle the problems of adolescent mental health. Driven by personal experience, he sees a need for society to give more emotional support.

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  • Steven Poole: Think for yourself 06 Jun 13

    Wed, 5 Jun 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Steven Poole argues that we should resist the modern message, from pop science and brain scans, that humans are irrational creatures, driven by instant judgement and primordial urges

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  • Anna Woodhouse: Looking Through Glass 29 MAY 13

    Wed, 29 May 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    When she was a call centre worker Anna Woodhouse could see the towers of Leeds University through the window of her high rise block on a Leeds council estate. For her, this symbolised both possibility and disconnection from the object of her desire. In this talk, she explores what looking through glass and glasses can mean for us.

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  • Henry Stewart: Choose Your Own Boss 22 MAY 13

    Wed, 22 May 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Henry Stewart argues that bad management blights the working lives of millions of people, and that the solution is to let everyone choose their own bosses.

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  • Emma Byrne: Swearing is Good For You 15 May 13

    Wed, 15 May 13

    Duration:
    18 mins

    The science writer Emma Byrne argues that, far from tuning out, we should listen carefully when people swear, because they often do so for good reasons.

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  • Stewart Henderson: Poetry in Politics 8 May 13

    Wed, 8 May 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Stewart Henderson argues that a lack of poetry in politics is fuelling disengagement, and makes the case for putting poetry back in political rhetoric.

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  • Daniela Papi: Volunteering 1 May 13

    Wed, 1 May 13

    Duration:
    17 mins

    Daniela Papi explores the dark side of volunteering overseas, and asks how local people and wealthy 'voluntourists' alike can ensure a positive experience.

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  • Mat Paskins: Future Possibilities 24 Apr 13

    Wed, 24 Apr 13

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Historian Mat Paskins argues that history can be made real when we bring back to life the excitement which previous generations felt at new developments

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  • Emma Woolf: Eating Disorders 17 Apr 13

    Wed, 17 Apr 13

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Emma Woolf explores how people suffering from eating disorders might now have a proper explanation for the condition.

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  • Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy: Forget Impartiality 10 Apr 2013

    Wed, 10 Apr 13

    Duration:
    14 mins

    William Dalrymple introduces the Oscar-winning documentary-maker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, in Four Thought at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

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  • Four Thought: Ranjini Obeysekere: Lost in Translation? 03 Apr 2013

    Wed, 3 Apr 13

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Ranjini Obeyesekere - the Sri Lankan translator and thinker - argues that a bad translation is better than no translation.

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  • Anwar Akhtar: The Meaning of Pakistan 9 Jan 13

    Wed, 9 Jan 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Anwar Akhtar, Director of The Samosa, argues that Pakistan should think of itself as an Asian nation, not as an Arab one. And after years of working between Britain and Pakistan, he says British Pakistanis are uniquely placed to help Pakistan embrace its multicultural history - and to create a prosperous and peaceful future with India.

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  • Sally Kettle: Does hope help? 2 Jan 13

    Wed, 2 Jan 13

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Adventurer Sally Kettle argues that hope is not helpful, and suggests some alternative strategies.

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  • Tom Armitage: The Coded World 26 Dec 12

    Wed, 26 Dec 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Designer and technologist Tom Armitage argues that learning to write computer code means learning to think in a modern way, and that it should spur creativity: the possibility of doing entirely new things.

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  • Georgie Fienberg: Saying No to Pity 19 Dec 12

    Fri, 21 Dec 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Georgie Fienberg believes that endless fundraising by overseas aid charities is not sustainable, and she argues that charities should want to close.

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  • Nancy Lublin: 21st-Century Social Activism 12 Dec 12

    Wed, 12 Dec 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Nancy Lublin, CEO of DoSomething.Org, discusses how the next generation are doing social activism. She describes the impact of the web on social activism, making it faster, cheaper and easier to do than ever before, and argues that this has big implications for societies around the world.

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  • Amber Dermont: Benefits of an Unhappy Childhood 5 Dec 12

    Wed, 5 Dec 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Amber Dermont explains the benefits of an unhappy childhood. "Though my parents were caring people, I could not escape my own sense of despair," she says. She discusses the influence of sadness on the imagination, and describes how this upbringing took her on a journey that gradually helped her imagine a life for herself as a fiction writer.

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  • Sara Ziff: The Problem with Fashion 28 Nov 12

    Wed, 28 Nov 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Model and activist Sara Ziff discusses the problems with fashion and modelling. Sara maintains that fashion modelling, far from being a glamorous profession, has a dark side. She argues that what links this dark side within the industry to its sometimes ugly public face is an unhealthy obsession with very young models.

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  • Maria Popova: The Architecture of Knowledge

    Wed, 21 Nov 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Maria Popova, Editor of Brainpickings, discusses how, with the world's knowledge more readily available to us than ever before, the fragmentation of our interests is driving us to seek out more and more of what we're already interested in. How, she asks, can we master the architecture of human knowledge in a way that takes advantage of the "Information Age", yet broadens rather than contracts our intellectual and creative horizons, both as individual consumers and as publishers of information?

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  • Ismail Einashe: The Challenge for British Somalis 14 Nov 2012

    Wed, 14 Nov 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Ismail Einashe, who came to Britain as a child refugee from Somalia, reflects on the link between childhood war trauma sufferered by young Somali men and violent gang culture.

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  • James Friel: Celebrating Single Life 07 Nov 2012

    Wed, 7 Nov 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Novelist James Friel defends the value and virtues of the single life against the widespread cultural view that being in a couple is a superior state of being.

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  • Anna Minton: Fuelling Fear with High Security 31 Oct 2012

    Wed, 31 Oct 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Anna Minton argues that the increasingly high security surrounding public and private buildings creates a sense of fear rather than safety.

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  • Ben Dyson: Understanding How Money Works 24 Oct 2012

    Wed, 24 Oct 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Founder and director of Positive Money Ben Dyson explains how his disillusionment with mainstream economics led him to campaign for a proper understanding of how money works as the first step in fixing a failed banking system.

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  • Rabina Khan: Redefining Multiculturalism 17 Oct 2012

    Wed, 17 Oct 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Author and independent local councillor Rabina Khan calls for a new definition of multiculturalism which acknowledges people's multiple identities and avoids simplistic labels.

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  • Mark Vernon: Narcissism 10 Oct 2012

    Wed, 10 Oct 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Writer and former priest Mark Vernon says we should rehabilitate the concept of narcissism as a valuable form of self-love. "Love others as if they were yourself, yes. But also, love yourself so you can love other," he says.

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  • Colin Murray Parkes: Insecurity and Extremism 03 Oct 2012

    Wed, 3 Oct 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    The eminent psychiatrist Colin Murray Parkes illuminates the importance of secure attachments for human happiness and sees insecurity at the root of conflict and extremism. Accepting advice from wise outsiders is crucial, he argues, whether healing the emotional wounds of bereavement or breaking the cycle of political violence.

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  • Margaret Heffernan: Whistleblowers 26 Sept 2012

    Wed, 26 Sep 12

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan challenges the negative view of whistle-blowers and argues that people who dare to speak uncomfortable truths are vital to success in business.

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  • Ruchir Sharma: The Search for Economic Growth 19 Sep 2012

    Wed, 19 Sep 12

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Investment expert Ruchir Sharma spends his time on the road looking for the next growth economy. Here he describes his global search for economic potential.

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  • Niall Iain MacDonald: Rowing the Minch 05 Sep 2012

    Wed, 12 Sep 12

    Duration:
    14 mins

    On May 17th 2007, Gaelic broadcaster Niall Iain MacDonald vanished from his Stornoway home. In this powerful talk he discusses the unique way he fought back against his depression.

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  • Ian Robertson: The Winner Effect 29 Aug 2012

    Wed, 29 Aug 12

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Professor of Psychology at Trinity College, Dublin Ian Robertson argues that success and being a winner has an effect on us that is "as strong as any drug".

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  • Joe Dunthorne: Lessons from the Mosh Pit 22 Aug 2012

    Wed, 22 Aug 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Novelist and poet Joe Dunthorne asks what can we learn about living together from the mosh pit at a rock gig? Joe asks whether we should we all be a bit more open to social interaction. He contrasts the boisterous pushing and shoving at a rock gig with the quiet carriage on the train. In one, he argues, everyone rubs along, and if you need something, you say it. The same cannot be said for the quiet carriage.

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  • Katarina Skoberne: Family History Repeating 15 Aug 2012

    Wed, 15 Aug 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Does history repeat itself? Katarina Skoberne describes how in her family's case it did, and discusses the thought-provoking lessons it taught her. Katarina's great-grandfather was an admiral in the Russian imperial navy. His life was often interrupted by disaster, and he twice lost everything and was forced to start again. But Katarina recently discovered some of his writing, and more than 100 years later found interesting parallels to her own life and experiences.

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  • Ali Mangera: The Future of Shopping 8 Aug 2012

    Wed, 8 Aug 12

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Architect Ali Mangera discusses the closely-connected futures of cities and shopping. He describes how the retail industry is coming to terms with the major challenges it faces: from internet shopping to increasing demands for a local and sustainable experience. And, through the prism of his own experience working between Barcelona and London, he shares his vision for the future of shopping.

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  • James Bridle: Computers and Cultural Memories 1 Aug 2012

    Wed, 1 Aug 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Publisher and technologist James Bridle asks how computer networks will affect cultural memories. In this Four Thought, James brings his two lives together to look for the crossing points between books and technology. How will storing our memories and experiences on "the network" change how we relate to them?

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  • Gillian Wheeler: Flower Design as Art 25 July 2012

    Wed, 25 Jul 12

    Duration:
    18 mins

    The Covent Garden Academy of Flower’s Gillian Wheeler argues that flower design is evolving into an art, with tremendous variation in design and even sculpture. Flowers can both look and smell beautiful, and she says this powerful combination has the power to overcome tremendous obstacles.

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  • Naif Al Mutawa: Art and Religion 18 July 2012

    Wed, 18 Jul 12

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Naif Al-Mutawa created "The 99" comic books, featuring a team of superheroes based on Islamic culture and religion. He discusses the importance of interpreting and translating between cultures and argues that art and religion co-existed for centuries - and should be able to do so again.

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  • Leisa Rea: The Delight of Losing 11 July 2012

    Wed, 11 Jul 12

    Duration:
    18 mins

    With the pressure on for victory at the Olympics, comedian Leisa Rea ponders the delights of losing - and reveals what happened when she told a group of school children that she would only be rewarding them for appalling work which fell way below the expected standard.

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  • Alice Bell: Improving Public Understanding of Science 4 July 2012

    Wed, 4 Jul 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Dr Alice Bell argues that better engagement by scientists, rather than lessons in "scientific literacy", is the solution to the lack of public understanding of science. She is frustrated how often this apparent panacea is rolled out as the solution to the problem.

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  • Colin Crooks: The Let-Down Generation 27 Jun 2012

    Wed, 27 Jun 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Serial social entrepreneur Colin Crooks argues that politicians and the media are wrong to focus on youth unemployment. Instead, he says, we should all be worried about the very high levels of persistent unemployment amongst the "let-down generation" who were failed by poor education between the seventies and nineties. Teaching them the lessons of being in work, he argues, would not only benefit them, but their children, too.

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  • Mitu Khandaker: The Medium of Computer Games 20 Jun 2012

    Wed, 20 Jun 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Computer games offer many chances for self-reflective thought. This is a new medium for literature, film, painting and music, says game developer Mitu Khandaker.

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  • Terry Farrell: Architects are Problem Solvers 13 Jun 2012

    Wed, 13 Jun 12

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Architect Sir Terry Farrell explains why architects are uniquely placed to solve the problems of Britain's public spaces - and why doing the work for free is crucial to its success. Sir Terry explains how working pro bono can bring together businesses, councils and community groups who would otherwise find it hard to work together, and how these architectural schemes or "masterplans" can transform the public spaces we all share.

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  • Kamin Mohammadi: Life in Authoritarian Regimes 06 Jun 2012

    Wed, 6 Jun 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Journalist Kamin Mohammadi argues that life under an authoritarian regime, like in her native Iran, is lived more creatively, to navigate around restrictions on private lives.

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  • Paddy Docherty: Poverty and Entrepreneurship 30 May 2012

    Wed, 30 May 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Entrepreneur Paddy Docherty says business is best placed to bring prosperity to impoverished and post conflict nations, arguing that only the commercial sector can supply the scale and dynamism needed to make a lasting impact on development.

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  • Kate Smurthwaite: Stop Laughing at Sexism 23 May 2012

    Wed, 23 May 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Comedian Kate Smurthwaite argues it's time to stop laughing at sexism and time to stop prejudice against women comedians, because comedy is a key part of UK culture, affecting our opinions and values.

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  • Martin Cassini: The Case Against Traffic Lights 16 May 12

    Wed, 16 May 12

    Duration:
    16 mins

    Campaigner Martin Cassini argues that our system for managing traffic is overdue for radical reform and should be based on trust in human nature rather than an obsession with controlling it. He says a drastic cut in the number of traffic lights would begin the transformation, saving lives, time and money.

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  • Matthew Syed: Talent over Effort 09 May 12

    Wed, 9 May 12

    Duration:
    21 mins

    Writer and former England table tennis champion Matthew Syed says we should not over-emphasise the importance of talent over effort.

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  • Clare Melford: Buddah in the Boardroom 02 May 2012

    Wed, 2 May 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    CEO of the International Business Leaders Forum Clare Melford argues that Buddah should be in the boardroom. She explains what CEOs need to learn about the tenets of Buddhism to make their businesses thrive while being sustainable.

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  • June Andrews: A Revolution for Dementia Treatment 25 Apr 2012

    Wed, 25 Apr 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Director of the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling, Prof June Andrews, argues for a revolution in our approach to dealing with dementia. She outlines immediate low cost changes that would make a dramatic difference to delaying the onset of the illness and caring for people with dementia.

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  • Jules Evans: Socrates and Psychotherapy 18 Apr 2012

    Wed, 18 Apr 12

    Duration:
    18 mins

    Jules Evans explores what ancient Greek and Roman philosophy can tell modern society about well-being. He celebrates the link between modern psychotherapy and the wisdom of Socrates, the Stoics and other ancient philosophers but warns that the new politics of happiness is in danger of becoming illiberal.

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  • Bobbie Cummines: How to Reform Criminals 11 Apr 2012

    Wed, 11 Apr 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Chief Executive of UNLOCK - the National Association of Reformed Offenders - Bobby Cummines served 13 years in high security prisons for robbery and manslaughter. He argues if society wants to reduce crime, reformed criminals must be helped to get jobs and discrimination against them needs to stop.

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  • Robin Gorna: Losing the Fight Against AIDS 22 Feb 2012

    Wed, 22 Feb 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Robin Gorna fears we are losing the global battle against AIDS, owing to a lack of political will and ongoing social stigma, at a time when we have the solutions to deal with it.

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  • Rob Hopkins: Sustainability and Community 15 Feb 2012

    Wed, 15 Feb 12

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Co-founder of the Transition Culture movement Rob Hopkins believes that "engaged optimism" is the best way to face the global challenges of the future, be it climate change, dwindling oil supplies or the economic downturn. He believes initiatives enabling people to produce their own goods and services locally - from solar powered bottled beer to micro currencies like the Brixton pound - are the best way to build community resilience.

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  • Gordon Bridger: Re-thinking Foreign Aid 08 Feb 2012

    Wed, 8 Feb 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    We need a radical rethink of aid spending, argues economist Gordon Bridger. He draws on a lifetime's experience as an economist in developing countries to suggest that we should spend overseas aid differently to stop it doing more harm than good. He urges an end to direct transfers of money to governments as he fears inadequate audit can too easily allow misuse of funds.

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  • Bali Rai: Stop Talking about Race 01 Feb 2012

    Wed, 1 Feb 12

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Author Bali Rai thinks we should stop talking about race as the best way to deal with racism and sees pride in our own racial identity as part of the problem.

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  • Gerard Darby: Science and Creativity 25 Jan 2012

    Wed, 25 Jan 12

    Duration:
    17 mins

    Creativity is just as vital in science and engineering as it is in art and drama, argues trainer and writer Gerard Darby. Yet the present education system is undermining young people's natural creativity, he says, and is in urgent need of reform.

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  • Clare Allen: Liberation Through Lies 18 Jan 2012

    Wed, 18 Jan 12

    Duration:
    16 mins

    Novelist Clare Allan asks why lying gets such a bad press. The truth, she argues, can be far more dangerous. Can lies both liberate and illuminate? As a novelist she discusses how she takes full advantage of her position to tell stories, to invent the facts. But in so doing so, she says, fiction can lead us closer to the truth.

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  • Judith Clegg: Pay it Forward 11 Jan 2012

    Wed, 11 Jan 12

    Duration:
    16 mins

    Entrepreneur Judith Clegg Judith Clegg argues that the special culture of technology start-ups could make the world a dramatically better place, if adopted more widely. The start-up culture of pay-it-forward, decent treatment of staff, enthusiasm and hard work is just what we need in every sector in these hard economic times, she says.

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  • Paul Flatters: Childhood is Better Than Ever 04 Jan 2012

    Wed, 4 Jan 12

    Duration:
    17 mins

    Social trends analyst Paul Flatters argues that childhood today is better than ever before, and he explains why - wrongly - thinking the reverse is bad for us as individuals and as a society.

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  • Tim Smit: Britain's Not Broken 28 Dec 2011

    Wed, 28 Dec 11

    Duration:
    17 mins

    Founder of The Eden Project Tim Smit says Britain is very far from broken. In fact, he argues, we are a really good country, and if we learn to trust one another again, we could be wonderful.

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  • James Lange: YouTube & Scientific Research 21 Dec 2011

    Wed, 21 Dec 11

    Duration:
    19 mins

    Alcohol and drug researcher James Lange describes how YouTube videos of drug use have improved the speed and quality of his research, and argues that they can be a vital tool for scientists.

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  • Anthony McGowan: We Could be Villains 14 Dec 2011

    Wed, 14 Dec 11

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Author Anthony McGowan thinks that the world would be a better place if we cast ourselves as the villains rather than the heroes of our own life stories - and he has a personal confession to make.

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  • David Perks: Re-thinking Science in Schools 07 Dec 2011

    Wed, 7 Dec 11

    Duration:
    20 mins

    David Perks, state school physics teacher and founder of the Physics Factory in London, believes current science teaching is depriving children of the academic science education they deserve.

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  • Angela Saini: Throwaway Technology 30 Nov 2011

    Wed, 30 Nov 11

    Duration:
    20 mins

    Science writer Angela Saini confesses that as a late adopter of new technology, she struggles to reconcile a deep human desire to make, mend and recycle with the throwaway culture on which the development of new computers, gadgets and phones seems to depend.

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  • David Bainbridge: Celebrating Middle Age 23 Nov 2011

    Wed, 23 Nov 11

    Duration:
    19 mins

    David Bainbridge, clinical veterinary anatomist at Cambridge University and science writer, celebrates middle age as a distinctive human phenomenon, central to the success of our species.

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  • James Daunt: In Defence of Bookshops 16 Nov 11

    Wed, 16 Nov 11

    Duration:
    19 mins

    James Daunt issues a ringing defence of printed books, and argues that libraries and local bookshops - the "purveyors of the written word" - are vital social and cultural spaces. He argues that book chains should continue to play a vital role in introducing readers to books, but will only succeed if they re-connect with their communities.

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  • Aza Raskin: A Design Renaissance for Healthcare 9 Nov 2011

    Wed, 9 Nov 11

    Duration:
    18 mins

    American designer Aza Raskin proposes a design renaissance in healthcare, making it easier and more enjoyable. Comparing video recorders with antibiotics - they are both badly designed - he argues that by applying cognitive psychology, design, and feedback loops to some of our most intractable medical problems, we can dramatically improve our health.

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  • Dreda Say Mitchell: Family, Faith & Community 02 Nov 2011

    Wed, 2 Nov 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Author Dreda Say Mitchell argues that the importance of cultural institutions like family, faith and community has been ignored in the debate about social mobility. Born into an extended working class family, she found her own upbringing was influenced by each of these institutions, and she believes their importance in promoting social mobility has been underestimated.

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  • Christie Watson: What's Worse than Death? 26 Oct 2011

    Wed, 26 Oct 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Novelist and former paediatric nurse Christie Watson asks whether there are some things worse than death. She describes the extraordinary medical breakthroughs which allow children to be kept alive today who previously would have died. But she asks whether community care and medical ethics have kept up with the increasing number of technology-dependent children - that is, children who cannot breathe without life support machines.

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  • Ed Yong: The Philosophy of Bacteria 19 Oct 2011

    Wed, 19 Oct 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Science journalist and blogger Ed Yong explores the physical and philosophical implications of being host to billions of microbes. He reports the latest science showing how the bacteria we come into contact with can profoundly affect our lives - from the ability to digest different foodstuffs to our susceptibility to asthma, diabetes and even stress and anxiety.

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  • Kate Fox: Understanding Alcohol 12 Oct 2011

    Wed, 12 Oct 11

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Social anthropologist Kate Fox argues that we need to re-learn much of what we think we know about the effects of alcohol. Alcohol does not make us disinhibited, violent or anti-social, she says. Many cultures around the world, some of which drink more than we do, have none of these problems. So what causes them here?

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  • Cindy Gallop: Abandoning Privacy 5 Oct 2011

    Wed, 5 Oct 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Advertising guru Cindy Gallop argues that if as businesses and individuals we define what we stand for and stay true to it, we could embrace a world of zero privacy.

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  • Matthew Goodwin: An Electable Far Right? 28 Sept 2011

    Wed, 28 Sep 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Matthew Goodwin says supporters of the far right are generally neither irrational nor isolated, and that a far right party without extremist baggage could be electable in Britain. He has spent much of the last decade with members and supporters of the British far right, examining their hopes and aspirations, what they wish to achieve.

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  • Russell M. Davies: The Next Technological Revolution 21 Sept 2011

    Thu, 22 Sep 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    After the internet and social media, what will be the next technological revolution? Writer, blogger and entrepreneur Russell M. Davies argues that like the early days of blogging, we are about to witness another flowering of individual creativity.

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  • Charles ffrench-Constant: Multiple Sclerosis Research 14 Sept 2011

    Wed, 14 Sep 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Scotland has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world. This progressive neurological disease can lead to disability, balance problems and paralysis - Scotland also happens to be the centre of research into MS, much of it focussing on a new generation of drugs which could help the body heal itself. Exploring these issues is Charles ffrench-Constant, Professor of Multiple Sclerosis Research at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at The University of Edinburgh.

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  • Jim Crumley: A New Dance with Wolves 7 Sep 2011

    Wed, 7 Sep 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Nature writer Jim Crumley says you don't need to read the folk tales of the Brother's Grimm or go to Werewolf movies to realise that humankind has always had a fear of wolves. But is all this just anti-wolf propaganda? Historians believe the last wolf in Britain was dispatched in 1743 amid an outcry that it had killed two children. Now, more than 250 years later, could we finally learn to coexist peacefully with wolves?

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  • Ed Howker: The Bad Reputation of Britain's Youth 31 Aug 2011

    Mon, 5 Sep 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Ed Howker asks whether following the recent riots in England today's younger generation deserve their bad reputation. He is a co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation and co-author of 'Jilted Generation: How Britain has Bankrupted its Youth'.

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  • Andrew Robinson: What Can We Learn from Geniuses? 24 Aug 2011

    Fri, 2 Sep 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Since time immemorial humanity has been fascinated by genius and geniuses - those extraordinary men and women whose abilities mark them out from the rest of us. Writer Andrew Robinson asks what can we learn from them?

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  • Owen Hatherley: The Decline of Architecture 17 Aug 2011

    Wed, 17 Aug 11

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Cultural critic Owen Hatherley attacks the architectural results of recent "urban regeneration". He regrets the loss of confidence in a vision of how cities of the future should be.

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  • Dominic Hobson: Sport is a Zero Sum Game 10 Aug 2011

    Wed, 10 Aug 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Writer and entrepreneur Dominic Hobson argues that organised, competitive sport damages rather than builds the character of players and spectators alike. In common with war, he condemns it as a zero sum game: what one side gains, the other loses, "rich in triumphalism, disdain and pride".

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  • Musa Okwonga: Life Without Twitter & Facebook 03 Aug 2011

    Wed, 3 Aug 11

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Poet and musician Musa Okwonga explores the downside of living a life on Twitter and Facebook. He describes his recent but powerful addiction to tweeting and checking his Facebook page. "I have a lot of followers but I have no idea where I'm leading them," says Musa

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  • Clare Lockhart: Aid and the Developing World 27 Jul 2011

    Wed, 27 Jul 11

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Director of the Institute for State Effectiveness Clare Lockhart calls for a new model of aid for the developing world to reduce dependence and build economic growth.

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  • Hilary Cottam: Redesigning Welfare 20 Jul 2011

    Wed, 20 Jul 11

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Leadership coach Hilary Cottam unfolds her vision for re-designing the welfare state with participation, not passivity, at its core. She tells the story of families whose lives have been transformed though their own involvement in making decisions about the help being provided for them.

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  • Matthew Engel: An Invasion of Americanisms 13 Jul 2011

    Wed, 13 Jul 11

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Matthew Engel charts the growth of Americanisms in the English language and explains why, as a former Washington correspondent, he thinks this is now a serious problem.

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  • Penny Pepper: Disability and Identity 06 Jul 2011

    Wed, 6 Jul 11

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Writer and cabaret artist Penny Pepper gives her perspective on human identity from her personal experience as a disabled person and wheelchair user.

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  • Danny Kruger: The Purpose of Punishment 29 Jun 2011

    Wed, 29 Jun 11

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Founder of charitable arts company Only Connect Danny Kruger works with prisoners, ex-offenders and young people at risk of crime. He calls for a re-evaluation of the purpose of punishment.

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  • Ed Smith: Professional Sport 22 Jun 2011

    Wed, 22 Jun 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Former England cricketer Ed Smith argues that too much professionalism in sport and in other areas of life spoils rather than promotes the chance of success.

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  • Prof Steve Jones: The Legacy of Eugenics 15 Jun 2011

    Wed, 15 Jun 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Geneticist Prof Steve Jones reflects on the legacy of the father of eugenics, Francis Galton, and warns against the danger of overstatement by geneticists

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  • Felipe Fernandez Armesto: The Protestant Work Ethic 8 June 2011

    Wed, 8 Jun 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Prof Felipe Fernandez-Armesto explodes what he sees as the newly revived myth of the Protestant work ethic and debunks cultural explanations for economic progress or decline in different parts of the world.

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  • Anne Applebaum: Victims of Oppression 1 Jun 2011

    Wed, 1 Jun 11

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Author of "Gulag", Anne Applebaum, asks how governments can best compensate victims of former repressive regimes and turn secret police records into meaningful archives.

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  • Philip Cowley: Politicians and Pogo Sticks 25 May 2011

    Wed, 25 May 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Political scientist Philip Cowley discusses how politicians have changed to reflect the political landscape around them. He uses letters from leading politicians to show how today's politicians compare favourably to those of the 1950s. And he has a small confession to make.

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  • Jake Wallis Simons: Buddha vs Buddha 18 May 11

    Wed, 18 May 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Writer Jake Wallis Simons describes how an ancient row within Tibetan Buddhism is causing a modern schism, and why it led him to give up Buddhism for good.

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  • Johann Hari: Dying for a New Phone 11 May 2011

    Wed, 11 May 11

    Duration:
    13 mins

    Writer Johann Hari argues that our demand for gadgets has helped to drive the war in the Congo. He says it is a resource war, being fought for minerals like coltan, which finds its way into everything from mobile phones to games consoles. He asks why our governments have not taken forceful action to stop the trade.

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  • Jonathan Sumption: Don't Apologise 04 May 2011

    Wed, 4 May 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Judge and historian Jonathan Sumption discusses modern apologies for historical events. Starting with Tony Blair's apology for the Irish potato famine and Pope John Paul II's 94 such apologies, he argues that the trend is turning into a tide.

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  • Christina Patterson: Care to be a Nurse? 27 Apr 2011

    Wed, 27 Apr 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Columnist Christina Patterson discusses her own experiences of terrible nursing care. She asks why we keep making excuses for bad nursing when good care is so important, and maintains that whatever the pressures on them nurses always have a choice about how they behave.

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  • Prof Tom Gill: Homeless in Japan 09 March 2011

    Wed, 9 Mar 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Professor of social anthropology Tom Gill recalls some memorable and unsettling incidents he witnessed during his fieldwork with homeless people in Japan and explores their implications.

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  • Naomi Shragai: Fusion and Confusion 02 Mar 11

    Wed, 2 Mar 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    The Jewish psychotherapist and journalist Naomi Shragai discusses what she learned from marrying out, and what we all could. She describes how her mother's stories about returning from the concentration camps became embedded in her mind, and how years living in a Jewish neighbourhood in Los Angeles left her beliefs unchallenged.

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  • Adhaf Soueif: The Egyptian Uprising 23 Feb 2011

    Wed, 23 Feb 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Author and leading Egyptian intellectual Dr Ahdaf Soueif reflects on the Egyptian uprising and describes how the anti-Mubarak protests have allowed Egyptians to reconnect with thousands of years of history and regain their sense of self.

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  • David Goldblatt: Guerilla Urbanism 16 Feb 2011

    Wed, 16 Feb 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Photographer David Goldblatt argues that current models of urban redevelopment are broken, and need replacing. He draws a contrast between developments: the multi-million pound apartments of One Hyde Park in London, and Stoke's Croft in Bristol, with its 'don't develop Stoke's Croft, let Stoke's Croft develop' ethos.

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  • Peter Hennessy: The British Constitution 09 Feb 2011

    Fri, 11 Feb 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Historian Lord Peter Hennessy discusses joining what he has spent a lifetime writing about: the British constitution. At a time of constitutional upheaval, what does the second house still provide?

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  • Susan Greenfield: Once Upon a Future 02 Feb 2011

    Thu, 3 Feb 11

    Duration:
    14 mins

    Scientist and broadcaster Baroness Susan Greenfield discusses her life's ambition, and how stories develop our brains.

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  • Welcome

    Mon, 31 Jan 11

    Duration:
    1 min

    Welcome to this new BBC podcast. If you subscribe to the podcast feed, you should receive the first episode of this series automatically within the next seven days. To find other podcasts from the BBC, visit www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts.

    Download 1MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

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The BBC Podcasts are for your personal non-commercial use only.

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