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A Point of View
A Point of View
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qng8

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors including historian Lisa Jardine, novelist Sarah Dunant and writer Alain de Botton.


The Power and Peril of Stories
March 2017

Tom Shakespeare reflects on how all the political populists who now occupy our imaginations are master story tellers.People need stories and these stories appeal to us, he says. But he argues that as well as persuasive stories, more than ever we need facts.

"The plural of anecdote is not data, as a professor used to tell me", he writes.


An audio podcast in MP3 format.



Sic transit
March 2017

Tom Shakespeare on why - in today's world of uncertainty and fear - it may give us some political consolation to remember that while everything positive in life is short-lived, so too is everything negative. He argues that believing that the best is behind us stops us making the most of present opportunities.

"To wallow in the past is to be sentimental, to seek an impossible return", he writes. "Our task is to create something different but equally fulfilling in future".


An audio podcast in MP3 format.



The Screensaver of Life, or the Idling Brain
March 2017

Stella Tillyard looks at the phonomenon of the "idling brain" - when the brain is supposedly at rest.

She ponders what it means that we have no idea what's running through the minds of the people closest to us and argues that - in an increasingly fractured world - knowing what's going on in each other's minds might help us understand each other.

Scientists, she points out, have taken up the challenge. One group of psychologists estimate that people spend somewhere between 25 and 50% of their waking hours engaged in thoughts unrelated to the here and now.


An audio podcast in MP3 format.



Flying Saucers and an Uncertain World
March 2017

"Human beings shape their perceptions according to their beliefs", writes John Gray, not the other way round.

He says people "will persuade themselves to believe almost anything, no matter how far-fetched, if it enables them to preserve their view of the world".

He asks how we can best come to terms with the realisation that the world is frighteningly unpredictable.


An audio podcast in MP3 format.



The Spectre of Populism
February 2017

John Gray look at the history of populism. He argues that modern-day populism has largely been created by centre parties who have identified themselves with an unsustainable status quo.

He looks at how populism is likely to play out in the upcoming elections in France and Holland.


An audio podcast in MP3 format.



The Follies of Experts
February 2017

John Gray assesses why experts failed to predict recent seismic events. He says they operated under the long-held but mistaken belief that history unfolds according to predictable patterns.

"Human events have no overall direction", he writes, "and history obeys no laws".

He discusses how we can prepare ourselves for the "unknowable future".


An audio podcast in MP3 format.



Protecting Our Way of Life
February 2017

John Gray examines what lies behind our desire to protect our "way of life".

"If people are forced to choose between insecurity and a promise of stability through tyranny", he writes, "many will opt for tyranny".

He argues that spending vast amounts of money on "grandiose wars while large sections of our own people languish in neglect and despair can only leave our societies more vulnerable to extremist demagogues".


An audio podcast in MP3 format.



The fun of work - really?
January 2017

"I haven't been visiting schools and drowsing during headteachers' PowerPoint presentations for nothing this past quarter century", writes Will Self.

"I know full-well that the purpose of both British education and British employment is the same: to keep us busy and purposive from cradle to grave".

Will Self explores how the worlds of work and education have become seamlessly merged with each other.


An audio podcast in MP3 format.



The Shape Of Our Time
December 2016

Adam Gopnik revisits a much explored subject - the differences between patriotism and nationalism. In the light of the events of the past year, he questions why the politics of nationalism appear irresistible today.

He wonders "if we cannot now see that patriotism and nationalism have a more fluid, a more organic, a more connected relationship that we might want to imagine".


An audio podcast in MP3 format.



"Baby It's Cold Outside"
December 2016

The Christmas song "Baby It's Cold Outside" has become the cause of intense controversy in the US where it's been described as a "hymn to rape".

"As the father of a teenage daughter" writes Adam Gopnik, "I will stand down to no one in the fight against sexual assault of all kinds".

But, he argues, the worst thing liberal minded people can do is "allow their liberalism to become infected with puritanism".


An audio podcast in MP3 format.


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