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Deepfaked speeches and contested facts: how today's historians manage to do their job

Deepfakes. Political bias. Contested facts. How can historians possibly nail the truth in our polarized times? A panel of top historians — all of them Cundill History Prize finalists and winners — explain why the challenge is formidable, yet nothing new.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

Da Vinci's sex life reveals a complex understanding of male love

Leonardo da Vinci is celebrated for his astonishing genius and inventive mind. Historian Elizabeth Abbott argues that understanding da Vinci’s sex life, or lack thereof, provides a rare glimpse into how sexuality and male love was understood and practised in Renaissance Italy — and what it may mean for looking at his achievements today.

'I love you': the most treasured (and misunderstood) expression of all time

I love you: those three magic words are the most powerful and misunderstood words in the English language, according to writer and contributor Marianne Apostilides. She draws from Shakespeare, Freud, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton and other greats to parse how "I love you" can be enriching, manipulative and even empty.

'We need to get our game on': Your guide to sensible worrying in the 21st century

Three expert analysts, each from a different discipline, reveal their greatest fears for the near-ish future and make the case for how we must now prepare for it. From the threat of conflict between great powers, to the "war" for net-zero carbon emissions, to introducing a new global authority that can exercise authority over individual nations.

Hong Kong's revolutionary moment interrupted by coronavirus fears

The protest movement in Hong Kong has evolved into three distinct revolutionary moments, according to sociologist Ching Kwan Lee. It has led to the reimagining of community, the re-evaluation of violence, and Hong Kong's emergence as a global city, able to leverage its financial role to stand against China's absolutist authority.

No mushy middle: Adam Gopnik defends liberalism in this 'dangerous historic moment'

Author Adam Gopnik says liberalism is not the mushy middle ground between right and left. It’s a vital set of egalitarian beliefs and institutions with deep, global roots that The New Yorker writer and author is arguing we all must defend.

If you support human rights you're obliged to be an anti-colonialist, argues scholar

At the height of the British Empire, many Britons came to a radical conclusion — perhaps the empire shouldn’t exist. They decided that Britain’s claim to be doing good for the world, spreading freedom and democracy was a fraud. Priyamvada Gopal examines a century of dissent on the question of empire in her new book.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

Inside the teenage brain: How science is helping us understand adolescents

Teenagers can be erratic and emotional. Sullen one moment and ecstatic the next. But recent science may just have the answer to why teenagers are the way they are. And it's not just about hormones. This new understanding is changing the way some societies see teens and it may just lead to changing the boundary between teenager and adult.

'Global Trumpism': Bailouts, Brexit and battling climate change

With humour and a dash of outrage, political economist Mark Blyth explains how the 2008 bank bailouts led to Trump, Brexit, and a whole new era of populism. He also sheds light on how a tiny percentage of the one per cent got even richer after a decade of austerity — and yet he remains hopeful about combating climate change.

'Nostalgia for the Absolute': The prophetic insights of George Steiner's 1974 Massey Lectures

The internationally renowned thinker and scholar, George Steiner, died this week, at the age of 90. In 1974, he delivered the CBC Massey Lectures, entitled Nostalgia for the Absolute, in which he examined the alternative "mythologies" of Marxism, Freudian psychology, Lévi-Straussian anthropology, and — most tellingly for our own time — fads of irrationality.

A continent of stories: Slaying the dragons of hate with words

Deborah Ahenkora has long believed there's a "book famine" throughout Africa. The most acute shortage is in books written by Africans for Africans — especially children's books in which African children can see themselves reflected. So she decided to rewrite that history to ensure African stories are both told and read.

How the modern flapper gal of the 1920s spurred moral panic in Canada

In the 1920s, a new style icon arrived: flappers. They had bobbed hair and penchants for smoking, drinking, and dancing. In Matthew Lazin-Ryder's documentary you'll hear how the spectre of the flapper became a moral panic in Canadian society, and dredged up fears of unhinged sex and drugs.

The Enright Files: Conversations about Brexit and barriers

Brexit became a reality on Jan. 31, after three-and-a-half years of political chaos and gridlock following the 2016 referendum. This month on the Enright Files, conversations about the drama and reasons behind Brexit — and about what drives nations to wall themselves off from the world.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

Education without liberal arts is a threat to humanity, argues UBC president

UBC president Santa J. Ono is a renowned biologist and award-winning professor but he says the liberal arts courses he took as an undergraduate gave him the wisdom he needed to flourish. He's concerned that the liberal arts are no longer held in high enough esteem in our society.

IDEAS schedule for February 2020

Highlights include: how a 1920s fashion trend became a moral panic in Canada (Feb. 4); revealing why three powerful words — "I love you" — can be both enriching and manipulative (Feb. 14); how the saxophone has been associated with spirituality and comedy (Feb. 19); and Nahlah Ayed visits the Hungarian border as part of our series, Walking the Border: Walls That Divide Us.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

Inside the teenage brain: How science is helping us understand adolescents

Teenagers can be erratic and emotional. Sullen one moment and ecstatic the next. But recent science may just have the answer to why teenagers are the way they are. And it's not just about hormones. This new understanding is changing the way some societies see teens and it may just lead to changing the boundary between teenager and adult.

Ireland is an invented nation: Declan Kiberd

A people get a sense of who they are through their artists, primarily the writers and poets who, through words and stories, reflect images that are somehow familiar. Irish scholar Declan Kiberd has written about this making of identity for Ireland — with the added layer that much of Irish identity has a colonialist residue.

Make debate great again: How bad political argument is undermining democracy

We have forgotten how to argue, and it’s easy to become extremist in our political views. That is undermining our democracies from within, according to two philosophers.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

Da Vinci's sex life reveals a complex understanding of male love

Leonardo da Vinci is celebrated for his astonishing genius and inventive mind. Historian Elizabeth Abbott argues that understanding da Vinci’s sex life, or lack thereof, provides a rare glimpse into how sexuality and male love was understood and practised in Renaissance Italy — and what it may mean for looking at his achievements today.

How elite do-gooders 'fixing' the world are part of the problem: Anand Giridharadas

Should the world’s problems be solved by unelected elites? Surely these are decisions we all need to be part of. Anand Giridharadas argues if we don’t trust the institutions we have for fixing the world, then let's build better institutions — this time, from the bottom up.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

We must recapture the lost 'art' of scripture: Karen Armstrong

Former Catholic sister Karen Armstrong describes herself as a freelance monotheist. She focuses on the sounds, rituals and power of scripture, all of which she fears is endangered in our secular, digital age. She joins Nahlah Ayed to talk about recovering what she calls “the lost art of scripture.”

Why journalist Emily Bell is calling for a civic media manifesto

With the free press under attack, a civic media manifesto is needed now more than ever, according to acclaimed scholar and journalist Emily Bell. She negotiates this critical crossroad for the media in her dynamic 2019 Dalton Camp Lecture and in conversation with IDEAS producer Mary Lynk.

Myanmar, the Rohingya people and genocide: Inside the International Court of Justice

On Thursday, the International Court of Justice will announce whether it will proceed with allegations that Myanmar has committed genocide against the Rohingya people. IDEAS shares some of the evidence presented in the courtroom during the December hearings — evidence collected by human rights observers and by a UN investigative commission.

The resistance of Black Canada: State surveillance and suppression

Canada's history of suppressing Black activism is coming to light like never before, thanks to researchers like PhD student Wendell Adjetey. Wendell's historical research uncovers evidence of clandestine government surveillance in the 20th century, while also bringing to life overlooked parts of this history.

Reconciliation can't happen without reclamation of land, argues Max FineDay

What does reconciliation mean to Max FineDay, a young Indigenous leader? It means freedom, prosperity and giving back land to Indigenous people. It is the way forward for young people to have meaningful and prosperous lives, he says in his Vancouver Island University's Indigenous Speaker Series lecture.