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CBC Massey Lectures

The 2018 CBC Massey Lectures - "All Our Relations"

Prize-winning journalist Tanya Talaga (author of "Seven Fallen Feathers") explores the legacy of cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples — in Canada and elsewhere — in her 2018 CBC Massey Lectures, "All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward".

Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death

Paul Kennedy has his understanding of reality turned-upside-down by Dr. Robert Lanza in this paradigm-shifting hour. Dr. Lanza provides a compelling argument for consciousness as the basis for the universe, rather than consciousness simply being its by-product.

'A matter of life and death' - Sue Gardner on public broadcasting

In a public talk at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, Sue Gardner argues that that we’ve returned to the same set of ominous social conditions which led to the creation of public broadcasting in the first place — and that now is the time to recommit to public service journalism.

Planet You: The mysterious world of the microbiome

There are trillions of them on — and in — our bodies. Microbes have existed on earth for more than three and a half billion years. Makes you wonder who’s playing host to whom, and whether we humans are merely vessels for these tiny survivors. They influence everything from intestinal disorders to mental health conditions — and we're only just beginning to understand their power over us. Contributor Stephen Humphrey journeys into the mysterious world of the microbiome.

Taming The Beast: Are violent urges part of men's nature?

And if they are, what do we do about it? How does a just society reconcile the desire for peace, with the desire, felt more often by men, to commit acts of violence? How much does nature stir boys, and men, to fight? And to what extent can they control that urge? Author Daemon Fairless takes IDEAS producer Mary Lynk on a road trip to try and unlock why some men are drawn to violence. They meet up with a science teacher, an MMA fighter, and a serial killer, who are profiled in his new book "Mad Blood Stirring: The Inner Lives of Violent Men. "

Starving out resistance: Anne Applebaum on Stalin's deliberate famine in Ukraine

Paul Kennedy in conversation with historian Anne Applebaum, winner of the 2018 Lionel Gelber Prize. The journalist and academic won the prestigious nonfiction award for her book, "Red Famine". It tells the story of how Stalin's collective farming policies in the early 1930s induced starvation among 3 million Ukrainian peasants. The book argues that this act was no byproduct of bad policy decisions, but instead a deliberate effort to crush Ukrainian nationalism and resistance —with repercussions that extend into our own era of Russian-Ukrainian tensions.

Panpsychism and the Nature of Consciousness

What is consciousness? Why does it even exist? It has long been treated as the byproduct of biological complexity. The more complicated the brain, the more self-aware. Other thinkers have seen consciousness as totally distinct from the body -- dualism. But maybe consciousness, like space and time, mass and energy, is just a basic characteristic of the universe. Maybe it’s a fundamental property of matter. Welcome to the concept of “panpsychism”.

The Restaurant: A Table Divided

There's a lot more happening at a restaurant than simply ordering from a menu and getting your food. Restaurants are sites of self-expression — spaces in which status and distinction are performed and lines between class, race, and gender are reflected and reinforced. Contributing producers Michelle Macklem and Zoe Tennant explore how we've gone from dining in to dining out, and what dining out reveals about our identities.

What can Shakespeare teach us about Donald Trump?

Political institutions in disarray, brutal behaviour on every side, narcissistic leaders lying to the public — sound familiar? It certainly was to Shakespeare. His plays reveal the toxic psychology that fuels a despot, as well as those who enable them.

Creative Minds: Can art speak truth?

Truth and lies. Ideology and imagination. Politics and polarization. Novelist Salman Rushdie, performance artist Andrea Fraser, filmmaker Charles Officer, and musician Iskwé wrestle with making sense of our chaotic world through their work. This AGO Creative Minds event was recorded earlier this year at Toronto's Massey Hall, and was moderated by CBC's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Most of what follows is true: Michael Crummey on writing and the relationship between fact and fiction

What does a novelist owe to the past? How does a writer walk the tightrope between telling a story and accurately reflecting history and geography? Acclaimed novelist Michael Crummey reflects on these questions in the annual Henry Kreisel Lecture in Edmonton, presented by the Canadian Literature Centre at the University of Alberta.

Internal Hard Drive: What's lost when we forget to remember

We rely on our handy smartphones to remember everything from phone numbers to our friend’s birthdays. Those sleek devices serve as a type of 'external hard drive' for our memory. Contributor Jess Shane explores what happens when the art of memorization is lost.

Yuval Harari: Hacking Humanity

Yuval Harari is a global intellectual. And the internationally bestselling author is worried: our brains are getting hacked. Artificial intelligence, biotechnology and ever-sophisticated algorithms are tapping into our values, habits, tastes, desires and the very thought patterns that define us — all to control how we shop, what we read, and whom we vote for. The notion of free will is defunct. And the grand project of liberalism, with its focus on the individual, is worn out. But in this exclusive interview with Paul Kennedy, he explains why he remains cautiously optimistic about humanity's future.

The state and practice of democracy in 2018

These are anxious times for liberal democracy’s true believers. They’ve seen the rise of strongman autocrats and xenophobic populists across a full spectrum of democratic countries, not to mention the disruptive force of Donald Trump. Cyber attacks, big data, social media, and voter indifference, anger and disillusionment all seem to leave the future of liberal democracy looking rather uncertain. On this month's edition of The Enright Files we explore the state of democracy in 2018.

IDEAS annual Labour Day Levee: What's coming up this season

At the beginning of every broadcast season Paul Kennedy hosts a session with contributors and producers who are currently preparing shows that are scheduled to be broadcast in the days and weeks to come. Among other topics, this year's levee will include a discussion of "memorization", and a consideration of the mythology surrounding the famous Canadian artist Tom Thomson.

The Politics of the Professoriat: Political diversity on campus

Universities are supposed to be dedicated to the exchange of ideas. But according to social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, campuses now skew so far to the left that they’ve become what he calls “political monocultures” in which voices that stray too far from liberal orthodoxy are shouted down. Paul Kennedy speaks with Professor Haidt – and with other scholars who have been thinking about the complex question of diversity on campus.

How can we better understand our world & make it a better place?

How can we fix our broken world? And what does it actually mean to love your neighbour? Just some of the questions raised by Payam Akhavan in the 2017 CBC Massey Lectures -- on air, and on tour. We also invited you, our listeners, to send us your questions. In this episode excerpts from the audience discussions after the five lectures, along with Payam Akhavan in conversation with Paul Kennedy answering questions sent in by listeners.
CBC Massey Lectures

'Hijacking human rights': What stands in the way of a better world

In his final lecture, Payam Akhavan looks through the eyes of a suicide bomber to chart the rise of extremism and the decline of 'basic human dignity.' He concludes the series explaining how we can end hate and see how interconnected we all are.

It's Alive! Frankenstein at 200

In 1818 the world was introduced to an entirely new kind of monster when Mary Shelley published Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus. Tor two centuries, her creation has stalked the stage, then the screen, inspired art, and filled the pages of countless sequels and comic books. Frankenstein's creature has become the most famous monster of the modern era.

Can we save Rosemary's Baby?

It's a horror classic from the 1960s that still unnerves us. It’s influenced generations of filmmakers. It's part of the exclusive Criterion Collection of world cinema. And it turns 50 this year. But director Roman Polanski is a convicted rapist. Film experts and cultural historians explore good and evil in Rosemary's Baby, discover eerie parallels between 1968 and 2018, and debate the movie's surprising treatment of women, all to answer the question: can we save Rosemary’s Baby?
Us & Them

​Fighting at the table: Conflict as successful integration

Sociologist Aladin El-Mafaalani sees anti-immigrant cries to build walls, and hate-fuelled politics counter-intuitively: a sign that integration is working. Conflict, he argues in his talk delivered in Berlin, is the necessary consequence of new arrivals at a metaphoric dinner table. The more people taking their place at the table, the more jostling and arguments there inevitably will be.

Generation Mars, Part 2

The day might well be approaching when humans set foot on Mars. We'll be driven by a desire to find life -- or what remains of it -- and to colonize the planet. Stephen Humphrey and a stellar crew of authors, astronauts and Mars scholars confront the hazards, risks and challenges of getting humans to Mars, and then of surviving -- and living -- on the Red Planet.
CBC Massey Lectures

Payam Akhavan stopped working in war zones. But death and destruction followed him

Payam Akhavan's fourth Massey Lecture focuses on how the world can move forward after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the implosion of Afghanistan and the deadly 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Self-Taught Philosopher: How a 900-year-old Arabic tale inspired the Enlightenment

Naheed Mustafa tells the story of Ibn Tufayl, a philosopher-physician from the 12th century. He wrote a novel called "Hayy ibn Yaqzan" -- which may be the most influential story you've never heard.

A Peasant vs The Inquisition: Cheese, worms and the birth of micro-history

Celebrated historian Carlo Ginzburg uncovers the past by telling the stories of the marginalized, the forgotten, and the suppressed. His most famous work, "The Cheese and the Worms", recounts the story of a 16th century miller who was tried twice by the Inquisition and eventually put to death. The trial records reveal a fascinating worldview that might have been lost forever -- and given the Fascist persecution of Ginzburg's family, he's got a stake in revealing histories that would otherwise be lost.
Us & Them

​Fighting at the table: Conflict as successful integration

Sociologist Aladin El-Mafaalani sees anti-immigrant cries to build walls, and hate-fuelled politics counter-intuitively: a sign that integration is working. Conflict, he argues in his talk delivered in Berlin, is the necessary consequence of new arrivals at a metaphoric dinner table. The more people taking their place at the table, the more jostling and arguments there inevitably will be.

'A matter of life and death' - Sue Gardner on public broadcasting

In a public talk at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, Sue Gardner argues that that we’ve returned to the same set of ominous social conditions which led to the creation of public broadcasting in the first place — and that now is the time to recommit to public service journalism.

The Restaurant: A Table Divided

There's a lot more happening at a restaurant than simply ordering from a menu and getting your food. Restaurants are sites of self-expression — spaces in which status and distinction are performed and lines between class, race, and gender are reflected and reinforced. Contributing producers Michelle Macklem and Zoe Tennant explore how we've gone from dining in to dining out, and what dining out reveals about our identities.

The Restaurant: A Table Divided

There's a lot more happening at a restaurant than simply ordering from a menu and getting your food. Restaurants are sites of self-expression — spaces in which status and distinction are performed and lines between class, race, and gender are reflected and reinforced. Contributing producers Michelle Macklem and Zoe Tennant explore how we've gone from dining in to dining out, and what dining out reveals about our identities.