Ideas

 
 

Ideas

Ideas is CBC Radio's program of contemporary thought.

Updated: Daily
Download episodes from this podcast for: 3 months
Visit Show Site: http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/

All podcast episodes

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The saxophone and the spirit: the sax's forgotten spiritual roots

The shiny, handsome and undeniably cool saxophone has been a staple of jazz music and popular culture for nearly a century. But some music historians say that what’s often been overlooked are its deep roots in spiritual beliefs and religious ritual. *Originally aired on March 3, 2020.

Download The saxophone and the spirit: the sax's forgotten spiritual roots
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Inventing Ireland: 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. *Originally aired on January 30, 2020.

Download Inventing Ireland: Declan Kiberd
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Ireland's Brexit border: the 'most maligned place'

After 20 years of peace, the looming uncertainty of a hard Irish border has sparked fear and rancour in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The tension over the fate of the now invisible border splitting north and south has renewed sectarian tensions. IDEAS host Nahlah Ayed went there to hear what people are saying. This episode is part two in our series, Walking the Border: Walls That Divide Us. *Originally aired on September 9, 2019.

Download Ireland's Brexit border: the 'most maligned place'
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The Relativity Revolution: Albert Einstein and the making of the modern world

In 1905, when Albert Einstein worked as a patent office clerk, he published a series of academic papers that revolutionized physics and our thinking about space and time, mass and energy. His ideas were a great leap forward. Panellists at the Stratford Festival discuss how Einstein revolutionized how we live our lives today. *Originally aired on December 3, 2019.

Download The Relativity Revolution: Albert Einstein and the making of the modern world
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'We continue to be feared': Kamal Al-Solaylee on why being brown matters to everyone

In a compelling conversation, acclaimed journalist and author Kamal Al-Solaylee discusses all things brown, from the psychology of the colour, to why he says, it’s always 'a bridesmaid, never the bride,' in the constructed hierarchy of human skin tone. *Originally aired on November 6, 2019.

Download 'We continue to be feared': Kamal Al-Solaylee on why being brown matters to everyone
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'Shouldn't there be a law against that?': Facing our fear of genetic innovation

Professor Bartha Knoppers is the 2019 recipient of the Henry G. Friesen International Prize for excellence in health research. Once a scholar of surrealist poetry, she has now become a world-renowned voice and a prolific researcher in the field of medical ethics. Her Friesen lecture is called: "Scientific Breakthroughs: The Prohibition Reflex." *Originally aired on October 30, 2019.

Download 'Shouldn't there be a law against that?': Facing our fear of genetic innovation
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Escape options narrowing for world caught in 'progress trap': Ronald Wright

In his 2004 CBC Massey Lectures, Ronald Wright warned us a “progress trap” was closing around our technologically-advanced, but dangerously self-destructive, civilization. Wright tells IDEAS now he’s unsure as to whether there is any wiggle room left.

Download Escape options narrowing for world caught in 'progress trap': Ronald Wright
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The peace walls of Belfast: Do they still help keep the peace?

More than 20 years after the Good Friday peace agreement was signed, the so-called peace walls remain in Northern Ireland. Host Nahlah Ayed heads to Belfast to find out if the walls are helping or hindering community reconciliation between Catholic and Protestant, Republican and Unionist. This is the first episode in our series, Walking the Border: Walls That Divide Us. *Originally aired on September 2, 2019.

Download The peace walls of Belfast: Do they still help keep the peace?
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Wishful dreaming: Freud and the discovery of our inner life

Sigmund Freud had many radical ideas about our inner life and how mental illness or trauma might be treated. Perhaps his most radical idea was that the patient should be listened to. This episode features a panel discussion at the Stratford Festival about the current state of Freud's legacy on self-knowledge. *Originally aired on November 5, 2019.

Download Wishful dreaming: Freud and the discovery of our inner life
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Education without liberal arts is a threat to humanity, argues UBC President

UBC President Santa J Ono is a renowned biologist. But he says it was the liberal arts education that he had as an undergraduate gave him the wisdom he needed to flourish. Ono argues that the values imparted by a liberal arts education are crucial for humanity to thrive. *Originally aired on January 14, 2020.

Download Education without liberal arts is a threat to humanity, argues UBC President
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True History in the Age of Fake News: The 2019 Cundill Panel

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. Guests: Jill Lepore, Julia Lovell, Maya Jasanoff, Mary Fulbrook, and Faith Wallis. *Originally aired on Feb. 17, 2020.

Download True History in the Age of Fake News: The 2019 Cundill Panel
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The Origins of Specious: Climate Change Denialism

Climate change denialism has been around for years. And it's still here, even after four decades of scientific consensus that humans are causing the climate crisis. But why? Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes explains in a public talk how denying climate change came to be a personal and political belief.

Download The Origins of Specious: Climate Change Denialism
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The Joy of Mediocrity

Sick of aiming for excellence and feeling miserable when you fall short? You’re not alone. Explore the upsides of imperfection, lowered expectations, and outright failure with philosopher Daniel Milo, writer Avram Alpert, School of Life teacher Sarah Stein Lubrano, and Zahra Dhanani, who has adopted the “good enough” life. *Originally aired on March 12, 2020.

Download The Joy of Mediocrity
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'In my great and unmatched wisdom': Donald Trump's new world order

As disruptors go, Donald Trump is the world's most powerful one right now — disrupting everything from national politics, to social issues, to international relations. How far will his disruptions go, and what will remain once he's gone? IDEAS convened a panel at the Stratford Festival to discuss the Trump era and its aftermath. **Originally aired on Oct. 8, 2019.

Download 'In my great and unmatched wisdom': Donald Trump's new world order
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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. *Originally aired on February 5, 2020.

Download A continent of stories: slaying the dragons of hate with words
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The Unconventional Diplomat: Standing Up For Principles

In Part 2 of The Unconventional Diplomat, former UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein continues a fascinating tour through the backrooms of global diplomacy. He explains why he refused to go on bended “knee in supplication” before the UN Security Council and shares his advice on how to be a good citizen. ** Originally aired on Dec. 13, 2019.

Download The Unconventional Diplomat: Standing Up For Principles
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The Unconventional Diplomat: Breaking The Rules

In a well-known speech in diplomatic circles, as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called out powerful world leaders. But he laments a “fearfulness” currently within the UN. IDEAS producer Mary Lynk sits down for a rare feature interview to reveal the story behind the moment when breaking conventional rules was imperative. *Originally aired on Dec. 12, 2019.

Download The Unconventional Diplomat: Breaking The Rules
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Here Comes Trouble: How to worry sensibly 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. *Originally aired on February 13, 2020.

Download Here Comes Trouble: How to worry sensibly in the 21st Century
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Just don't say his name: the modern left on Karl Marx's place in politics

Intelligent minds have disagreed, vehemently, ever since Karl Marx wrote his ideas down in the mid-1800s. They disagree some more in this IDEAS episode about Marx and the modern political left, featuring Sheila Copps, Charlie Foran, and Rick Salutin. *Originally broadcast on Sept. 10, 2019.

Download Just don't say his name: the modern left on Karl Marx's place in politics
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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 joined Nahlah Ayed to talk about recovering what she calls “the lost art of scripture.” *Originally broadcast on Jan. 6, 2020.

Download We must recapture the lost 'art' of scripture: Karen Armstrong
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Da Vinci's Celibacy

Leonardo da Vinci is celebrated for his astonishing genius and inventive mind. Historian Elizabeth Abbott argues that understanding da Vinci’s sex life, or lackthereof, 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. *Originally broadcast on Jan. 28, 2020.

Download Da Vinci's Celibacy
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Monster buff Leonardo da Vinci would have loved Halloween

Leonardo da Vinci would have loved Halloween. The renaissance artist and engineer was also a monster buff. Writer and historian Ross King unveils da Vinci’s sketches and stories of monsters, beasts, giants and dragons, and explains how the artist’s views on fantasy were in contrast to an increasingly rational age. *Originally broadcast on Oct. 31, 2019.

Download Monster buff Leonardo da Vinci would have loved Halloween
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Slavery's long shadow: The impact of 200 years enslavement in Canada

Is there a connection between the enslavement of Black-Canadians and their overwhelming presence in the criminal justice system today? The United Nations has sounded the alarm on anti-black racism in Canada, stating it can be traced back to slavery and its legacy. In Part 2 of his series on slavery in colonial Canada, Kyle G. Brown explores the long-lasting ramifications of one of humanity’s most iniquitous institutions. *Originally broadcast on February 25, 2018.

Download Slavery's long shadow: The impact of 200 years enslavement in Canada
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The Travels of Mirza Saleh Shirazi

In the 18th and 19th centuries, a series of Persian travellers from Iran and India to visit cities all over the world. They wrote popular travelogues describing the cultures and ideas they encountered and asked the questions fundamental to all of us: who am I? What is our relationship to each other, and to the world? * Originally broadcast on March 9, 2020.

Download The Travels of Mirza Saleh Shirazi
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The Flapper and the Modern Girl

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. *Originally broadcast on February 4, 2020.

Download The Flapper and the Modern Girl
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Reading With a Grain of Salt, Part Three

Writer Barbara Nichol continues exploring shared assumptions about reading with original thinkers — writers, critics, scholars and journalists. This is the final part in a three-part series called Reading with a Grain of Salt.

Download Reading With a Grain of Salt, Part Three
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Northrop Frye: The Educated Imagination Reconsidered (Pt. 2)

Northrop Frye viewed literature as a vast structure of the human imagination. He taught that imagination can broaden our beliefs and encourage tolerance. As readers, we are meant to ‘disappear’ into literature as a whole. But what happens to our bodies, our histories, and us as real individuals?

Download Northrop Frye: The Educated Imagination Reconsidered (Pt. 2)
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A Baldwin Revival: In Good Times and In Bad

On February 18, 1965, the writer, poet and civil rights activist James Baldwin was invited to Cambridge University for a debate on whether the American dream is "at the expense of the American Negro." He marshalled a devastating argument and won. The themes in his historic speech echo in our times today with both prescience and frustrating familiarity.

Download A Baldwin Revival: In Good Times and In Bad
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Thucydides, Part 2: Lessons from the plague of Athens

The plague of Athens struck in 430 BC, violently killing up to half of the Greek city's population. Thucydides was on hand to document the grim symptoms, as well as the social and psychological fallout. His vivid account holds enduring lessons for us during pandemic times today.

Download Thucydides, Part 2: Lessons from the plague of Athens
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Thucydides, Part 1: The First Journalist

About 2,500 years ago, Thucydides travelled ancient Greece, gathering stories about a brutal war that plunged the ancient world into chaos. He set high standards for accuracy, objectivity and thoroughness in his reporting. IDEAS producer Nicola Luksic explains why his account of the Peloponnesian War is relevant today.

Download Thucydides, Part 1: The First Journalist
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Reading with a Grain of Salt, Part Two

Writer Barbara Nichol continues exploring shared assumptions about reading, readers and books with original thinkers — writers, critics, scholars and journalists. This is part two in a three-part series called Reading with a Grain of Salt.

Download Reading with a Grain of Salt, Part Two
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I Will Never See The World Again: Imprisoned writer Ahmet Altan’s memoir of resilience

In a small Turkish prison cell, celebrated novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan has written a powerful memoir. It was smuggled out by his lawyer, who says the charges against Altan are Kafkaesque. One such charges that he sent 'subliminal messages' during a TV interview, in support of a coup against President Erdogan. But Altan’s memoir goes beyond the injustices of authoritarianism, and captures what it means to be human, and our ability to survive adversity.

Download I Will Never See The World Again: Imprisoned writer Ahmet Altan’s memoir of resilience
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If we abolish prisons, what's next?

Prison abolitionists say prison is a failed social policy. Ultimately what it does is address the expected consequences of inequality and marginalization. So, maybe, the time has come to get rid of prisons altogether. If that's the case, how do we move forward? *Originally broadcast on December 18, 2019.

Download If we abolish prisons, what's next?
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Lessons of Doris Lessing, Part Two

Writer Doris Lessing grew up in white Southern Rhodesia where she became an astute observer of the ways ordinary people learn to cling to extreme beliefs. In her 1985 CBC Massey Lecture, the Nobel laureate shares her insights on identity politics, highlighting divisions we can still see all around us.

Download Lessons of Doris Lessing, Part Two
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Lessons of Doris Lessing, Part One

Writer Doris Lessing grew up in white Southern Rhodesia where she became an astute observer of the ways ordinary people learn to cling to extreme beliefs. In her 1985 CBC Massey Lecture, the Nobel laureate shares her insights on identity politics, highlighting divisions we can still see all around us.

Download Lessons of Doris Lessing, Part One
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Writers on a mission — 3 high-stakes stories from award-winning authors

Three Canadian writers read and reflect on the theme of troubled missions: Joan Thomas on her childhood as an evangelical Christian, Erin Bow on the self-sacrificing dedication of scientists, and Don Gillmor on the whys of suicide. All are winners of 2019 Governor General’s Awards.*Originally broadcast on Dec. 30, 2019.

Download Writers on a mission — 3 high-stakes stories from award-winning authors
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Reading with a Grain of Salt, Part 1

We tend to think that reading is a sign of intelligence, that we’re improved by it. But are our assumptions well-founded? Not really, according to an array of literary front runners. Writer Barbara Nichol explores assumptions we have about reading, readers and books in a three-part IDEAS series. *Originally broadcast on May 13, 2020.

Download Reading with a Grain of Salt, Part 1
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From Iceland to the Red Planet: The Mars Mission 2020

* Warning: Explicit Language * Iceland’s terrain — and mythology — yield surprising insights into potential past life on Mars, and sobering lessons on Earth’s future.

Download From Iceland to the Red Planet: The Mars Mission 2020
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The Enright Files: Rethinking Cities

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted what doesn’t work in our cities, from overcrowding on public transit, to the lack of green spaces where people can be physically active outside — yet maintain a safe, physical distance from each other. This month on The Enright Files, conversations about how to make cities happier, healthier and more liveable.

Download The Enright Files: Rethinking Cities
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Canada's slavery secret: The whitewashing of 200 years of enslavement

Why is it common knowledge that Canada was the terminal stop on the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves from the U.S., but few know that Blacks and Indigenous peoples were bought, sold and exploited right here? Contributor Kyle G. Brown asks how slavery went on for 200 years, and yet is one of the least talked about aspects of our history?

Download Canada's slavery secret: The whitewashing of 200 years of enslavement
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Americas Other Civil War

In the decades after the Civil War, four American cities over four decades saw white civilians ⁠— and officials ⁠— attack and destroy thousands of African-American properties, businesses and lives. Contributor Melissa Gismondi examines each incident to exhume the socio-cultural dynamics at work ⁠— and how they persist today.

Download Americas Other Civil War
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Revisiting Thomas King’s Massey Lectures, Part Five

For his fifth Massey Lecture, writer Thomas King turns to what he considers a major threat to the existence of Indigenous people. He analyzes how the Canadian and American governments have legislated Indigenous people to give up what is theirs, from treaty land and its resources, to Indigenous identity itself.

Download Revisiting Thomas King’s Massey Lectures, Part Five
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Revisiting Thomas King’s Massey Lectures, Part Four

In his fourth lecture, author Thomas King turns to the stories that Native people tell about themselves, both orally, and in print, and how these stories can be used to imagine a Native future.

Download Revisiting Thomas King’s Massey Lectures, Part Four
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Revisiting Thomas King’s Massey Lectures, Part Three

Storytelling in all its forms is the focus of Thomas King’s 2003 Massey Lectures which IDEAS is revisiting this week. In his third talk, King looks at the ways Indigenous people have been seen and characterized by outsiders. Nations of real people, reduced at times to one archetype by the North American and European imagination.

Download Revisiting Thomas King’s Massey Lectures, Part Three
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Revisiting Thomas King’s Massey Lectures, Part Two

In his second lecture, award-winning author Thomas King continues to look at the breadth and depth of Native experience and imagination. He focuses on Indigenous identity and he grounds it in tales of his youth in California, and from his own performative experiments with appearance.

Download Revisiting Thomas King’s Massey Lectures, Part Two
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Revisiting Thomas King’s Massey Lectures, Part One

IDEAS revisits one of the best Massey Lectures, delivered by award-winning author Thomas King. He draws listeners in with his witty and colourful insights into the stories we tell each other. But as an Indigenous man, he knows their sinister capabilities, too.

Download Revisiting Thomas King’s Massey Lectures, Part One
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The Politics of Theatre: A discussion with New York Times journalists

The idea that theatre exists to show us the underlying meaning of our actions, while at the same time shaping our society, goes back to ancient times. In this episode of IDEAS, a discussion from the Stratford Festival with three NYT journalists about the way theatre is political and how it reflects present day.

Download The Politics of Theatre: A discussion with New York Times journalists
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Dirt on Handwashing: The Legacy of Dr. Semmelweis

The resistance Ignaz Semmelweis encountered to his life-saving ideas would ultimately lead to his tragic end. With handwashing in the midst of a renaissance in the era of during the coronavirus era, Semmelweis deserves at least some of the credit.

Download Dirt on Handwashing: The Legacy of Dr. Semmelweis
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Northrop Frye: Return to the Educated Imagination (Pt 1)

What good is the study of literature? Northrop Frye’s 1962 CBC Massey Lectures were his attempt to answer that age-old question. Frye scholar and friend Deanne Bogdan revisits the lectures and helps us map Northrop Frye’s expansive vision of literature, life, and human nature.

Download Northrop Frye: Return to the Educated Imagination (Pt 1)
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Peace, Order, and Good Geometry

The story of geometry is bound up in the Renaissance, the rise of nation states, and the expression of absolute power. Geometric designs came to represent order in the universe. But order’s war with chaos continues — just compare the geometric plans for Washington, D.C., with the lived reality. Historian Amir Alexander traces the rise of geometry from Euclid to the United Nations.

Download Peace, Order, and Good Geometry
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Myths on Screen: Hollywood at War, Part 3

Warning: Explicit Content | As the Twin Towers lay in rubble after Sept. 11, former U.S. president George W. Bush's administration leveraged the influence of Hollywood celebrities to sway the public to rally around the flag.

Download Myths on Screen: Hollywood at War, Part 3
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Inside the teenage brain: How science is helping us understand adolescents

Teenagers can be erratic and emotional. 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. *Originally broadcast on January 28, 2020.

Download Inside the teenage brain: How science is helping us understand adolescents
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The Rise of the Glorified Spinster

Throughout history, single women have been vilified, ostracized and shamed. And while there are more single-person households in Canada than ever before, that lingering stigma still follows the single woman. CBC producer Alison Cook explores the social history of these ‘deviant’ women in her documentary, The Rise of the Glorified Spinster.

Download The Rise of the Glorified Spinster
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Olive Senior delivers prestigious 2019 Margaret Laurence Lecture: A Writer's Life

Olive Senior was born in Jamaica in 1941, the seventh of 10 children. She went on to become one of Canada’s most acclaimed writers. Hear excerpts from her 2019 Margaret Laurence Lecture, readings from her work and a conversation with IDEAS producer Mary Lynk. *Originally broadcast on October 9, 2019.

Download Olive Senior delivers prestigious 2019 Margaret Laurence Lecture: A Writer's Life
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The Cult Movie Canon

They’re weird. They break the rules. They’re kinda bad. They are cult movies. Dive into the stories of films from ‘Troll 2’ to ‘The Last Dragon’ to the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ to learn what drives people to watch these oddball films again and again. Producer Matthew Lazin-Ryder looks at the history, future, and function of cult movies.

Download The Cult Movie Canon
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Myths on Screen: Hollywood at War, Part 2

Warning: Explicit Content | America's losing the Vietnam War shattered the 'heroic myth' that Hollywood had spent decades creating, according to historians and researchers. What followed was an era of films attempting to recapture past glories.

Download Myths on Screen: Hollywood at War, Part 2
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Mapping the Heavens: Yale astrophysicist Priya Natarajan

In 2019, the first up-close image of a black hole was recorded. And yet, so much about them, their bizarre properties and the role they play in the universe remains a mystery. The distinguished Yale astrophysicist Priya Natarajan dives into black holes and dark matter in her lecture and book: Mapping The Heavens.

Download Mapping the Heavens: Yale astrophysicist Priya Natarajan
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Beyond Tragedy: The living history of Native America

Warning: Explicit language | The massacre of over 150 Lakota at Wounded Knee in 1890 is often taken to be the “end” of Native American history — a notion unintentionally reinforced by Dee Brown's 1970 book, "I Buried My Heart at Wounded Knee." This idea of history as tragedy is something Ojibwe writer David Treuer tries to undo in "The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee." *Originally broadcast on February 20, 2019.

Download Beyond Tragedy: The living history of Native America
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Bread: The Rise and Fall

Bread is a simple food and a staple item across the world. Bread is life. But for some, it represents a wrong turn in our species' evolution. Through conversation with bakers, religious leaders, historians and bread aficionados, producer Veronica Simmonds asks whether bread has led us to salvation or damnation.

Download Bread: The Rise and Fall
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Myths on Screen: Hollywood at War, Part 1

The U.S. military had some little-known help in spinning public perception about it over the last seventy years: Hollywood. This series shows how movies functioned as the unofficial — but massively influential — propaganda arm of America's war efforts.

Download Myths on Screen: Hollywood at War, Part 1
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The Coffee Chronicles: The story of the world’s most popular drink

An ordinary cup of Joe just won’t do anymore. It’s now gourmet, fair trade and organic. Whether the method is pour over, French press, or vacuum pumps, coffee is now described with terms like “mouthfeel”, just as fine wines are. Contributing producer Marilyn Powell brings us her documentary, The Coffee Chronicles about the cultural history behind the world's most popular drink. *Originally published on June 19, 2019.

Download The Coffee Chronicles: The story of the world’s most popular drink
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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 it's time to build better institutions — from the bottom up. *Originally aired on January 27, 2020.

Download How elite do-gooders 'fixing' the world are part of the problem: Anand Giridharadas
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Justicia Canadiana: Jean Teillet

Justice is not blind in Canada’s legal system, argues Métis lawyer Jean Teillet. She says it needs to view Indigenous people fully to render justice fairly.

Download Justicia Canadiana: Jean Teillet
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The Desert: a well-spring of the imagination

Deserts cover nearly one-third of the earth's landmass of the earth, but we're still unsure what to make of them. Sometimes we consider them empty wastelands, other times we see them as beautiful landscape. IDEAS producer Matthew Lazin-Ryder explores our historically complicated, and yet intimate, relationship with deserts. *Originally broadcast on November 22, 2019.

Download The Desert: a well-spring of the imagination
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Enright Files: What we should have learned from the SARS outbreak

Seventeen years before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, another mysterious, virulent respiratory illness suddenly appeared — SARS. On the Enright Files, conversations with public health experts from those unnerving times, as they were assessing what we learned from the SARS and Ebola outbreaks.

Download Enright Files: What we should have learned from the SARS outbreak
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The Great Leveler: Dr. Paul Farmer on the fight for equal health care

Co-founder of Partners in Health Dr. Paul Farmer says the COVID-19 pandemic offers many lessons and opportunities for the world, including a chance to reorient how we think about who deserves access to a high standard of healthcare.

Download The Great Leveler: Dr. Paul Farmer on the fight for equal health care
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The Rhythm Section: How Beats and Grooves Define Us

Rhythm is of course a fundamental part of music. But neuroscience is revealing that it’s also a fundamental part of our innermost selves: how we learn to walk, talk, read and even bond with others. From heartbeats heard in the womb, to the underlying rhythmic patterns of thought, rhythm — as one researcher puts it — is life.

Download The Rhythm Section: How Beats and Grooves Define Us
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Re-Engineering Humanity: Brett Frischmann (Part Two)

Digital network technologies are re-engineering our lives, according to legal scholar Brett Frischmann. In part two of our series, IDEAS explores ways to prevent ourselves from becoming wards of the technologists. First step: we need to wake up to this very real possibility and danger.

Download Re-Engineering Humanity: Brett Frischmann (Part Two)
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Dear Leader: Notes from the time of cholera

Leading in the time of COVID-19 is to lead when a virus is calling the shots. In 1892, Hamburg had its own devastating cholera outbreak. According to historian Sir Richard Evans, how authorities navigated the pandemic offers surprisingly relevant lessons for leaders today.

Download Dear Leader: Notes from the time of cholera
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The Forest Floor of the Art World: Marc Mayer at MOCA

We’re dazzled, and sometimes frazzled, by our encounters with contemporary art. Marc Mayer, former director of the National Gallery of Canada, draws back the curtain to show what’s behind the art that seduces — and confounds — us.

Download The Forest Floor of the Art World: Marc Mayer at MOCA
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The Old Masters: Decoding pre-historic art with Jean Clottes

The songs and stories of prehistoric humans are gone. All that remains of their culture is their art. IDEAS contributor Neil Sandell introduces us to the French archaeologist Jean Clottes, a man who’s devoted his lifetime trying to decipher the rich, enigmatic world of cave art. *Originally broadcast on January 15, 2018.

Download The Old Masters: Decoding pre-historic art with Jean Clottes
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How to avoid conflict: Lessons from 16th century Italian duels

York University PhD student and master fencer, Aaron Miedema has been researching over 300 cases of duels from the 16th and 17th century. Turns out there are lessons for us from 500 years ago which may prove useful in today's climate of public blaming and shaming. *Originally aired on Dec. 20, 2019.

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Re-Engineering Humanity: Brett Frischmann (Part One)

American legal scholar Brett Frischmann says we have to wake up to the risk of losing our humanity to 21st techno-social engineering. He warns humans are heading down an ill-advised path that is making us behave like ‘perfectly predictable’ simple machines.

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2020 Gelber Prize: From freedom to extremism in Central Europe

Extreme leaders, inequality, and unhappy citizens: what happened to the promise of a new day in Eastern and Central Europe? From the fall of the Wall to this pandemic era, looking at the legacy of an ill-fitting “politics of imitation,” with 2020 Gelber Prize-winners Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes.

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Paradise Lost, Part 2: After the Fall

When we first meet Adam and Eve in John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, they live in a perfect world. But by the end, they're expelled into one that is marked by exile, war, illness and death. IDEAS explores what the poem says to us about how to grapple with an uncertain future — and if we can find our collective way back home.

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The Terrors or the Time: Lessons from historic plagues

Coronavirus isn't the first pandemic to sweep the world. Typhoid and flu killed millions. But history's really big killer was the bubonic plague. Three historians discuss what we can learn from the history of plagues of the past.

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The Brilliance of Beavers: Learning from an Anishnaabe World

Renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar and artist, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson talks about the philosophy and ethics that undergird Anishnaabe worlds in her 2020 Kreisel Lecture entitled, A Short History of the Blockade: Giant Beavers, Diplomacy and Regeneration in Nishnaabewin.

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Until the End of Time: Brian Greene

As the COVID-19 crisis trudges on, a physicist contemplates the ultimate end of the universe... and marvels at the wonder of all existence.

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“You Might Need Some Richard Rorty”

"He is a nemesis to many, and is claimed as a friend by only very few," wrote Eduardo Mendieta about Richard Rorty, the most quoted, most criticized, and most widely read of recent U.S. philosophers. Rorty died in 2007, but a passionate crew of 'Rortyans' now devote themselves to keeping his name alive, challenging what they see as the many misinterpretations of his work. Thanks to Rorty's politically centrist views, his praise for patriotism, and his disdain for talk of 'objective truth,' he succeeded in enraging progressives and conservatives alike. But his friends and fans believe the rage is largely misplaced. The real Rorty was a subtle, empathetic, moral thinker whose ideas could be the most useful contribution U.S. philosophy has to offer today's polarized and fractured democracies. To find out why, IDEAS goes to Pennsylvania for the second-ever meeting of the Richard Rorty Society.

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Jacob wrestling his 'angel' is our own struggle

Jacob, the biblical patriarch, seems far from our time. But his all-night wrestling match with a strange being throws shadows across the ages, and exposes powerful elements of our own humanity. IDEAS producer Sean Foley explains how this ancient story sheds light on perennial aspects of the human condition.

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Forty years on, Edward Said's 'Orientalism' still groundbreaking

Edward Said's seminal book, Orientalism (1978), proposed one of the most influential and enduring analyses of the relationship between the West and the Middle East. In many ways, his ideas seem uncontroversial, perhaps even obvious today. But four decades ago, what Said proposed was radical. It still is. *Originally broadcast on Oct. 22, 2019.

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The Democracy of Suffering: Todd Dufresne

We’re all in this together, suffering equally, as the planet struggles through the Anthropocene age — an era created by human activity. It’s why the author of The Democracy of Suffering, Todd Dufresne, calling on philosophy — and all of us — to revolutionize what it means to be human.

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The Best We Can Do — the pragmatic views of Cheryl Misak and young Frank Ramsey

Is there anything better than “the best we can do”? According to some pragmatic philosophers, it’s not about settling for less but constantly pushing for more, and more. IDEAS presents the case for a particular, ‘moderate’ brand of pragmatism that may be deeply valuable in times of uncertainty.

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The Enright Files: How books from the past can help explain the present

The world’s greatest writers have spent millennia chronicling their own times and world-changing events — and imagining all the conundrums and catastrophes that might confront humanity. On The Enright Files, a conversation inspired by books from the past to help explain these unsettling times.

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Sailing Alone Around The World, Part Two

The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is the most dangerous and least understood of our great oceans. IDEAS producer Philip Coulter joins solo sailors and a historian on a radio expedition to find out about what happens to people who go to the loneliest place on the planet. This is part two in a two-part series.

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Machines of Chance: How casino culture plays with us

Casinos: if the house always wins, why do we play? How the universal temptations of both vice and risk — not to mention the language of Brexit — feed into the 24/7 slot machine of our “casino culture.”

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The Shakespeare Conspiracy

The internet is awash in conspiracy theories. In this lecture, Simon Fraser University professor Paul Budra examines conspiracy theories as an art form, using the long-running conspiracy theories over Shakespeare as a test case.

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Sailing Alone Around The World, Part One

In 1895 a retired Canadian sea captain set off to sail alone around the world. It had never been done. Since then, fewer than 200 people have sailed in his wake and two of them are Canadian. In this 2013 episode of IDEAS, producer Philip Coulter explores — possibly — the greatest of all human challenges, and reconnects with solo-sailor Dee Caffari to discuss how to cope with isolation.

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CBC Massey Lecture # 4: When the Patriarchy Meets the Matriarchy | Montreal

Populism is bad for women — so much of the rise in authoritarian governments is based on the dream of returning to an idealized past, when a woman knew her place was in the kitchen. Populism also targets women’s rights and their push for equal status. In the fourth CBC Massey Lecture, Sally Armstrong shines a light on how women are seizing opportunities for a new kind of social mobility. *Originally broadcast on November 14, 2019.

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CBC Massey Lecture # 1: In the Beginning(s) | Whitehorse

“There’s never been a better time in human history to be a woman,” says Sally Armstrong in the first of her first 2019 CBC Massey Lectures: Power Shift: The Longest Revolution. The acclaimed journalist and activist argues that women are closer to gaining equality than ever before. She examines how over the centuries women lost power and status to men — right up to today. *Originally broadcast on November 11, 2019.

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CBC Massey Lecture # 3: A Holy Paradox | Fredericton

Most religions try to explain what the universe means and why we’re here. More often than not, many of these explanations entail women having lower status than men. Award-winning journalist, Sally Armstrong focuses her third CBC Massey Lecture on the place of women throughout the history of religion. *Originally broadcast on November 13, 2019.

Download CBC Massey Lecture # 3: A Holy Paradox | Fredericton
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The Pulpit, Power and Politics: Evangelicalism's thumbprint on America

The grip conservative evangelicalism has on American social and political life is hard to overestimate. Committed Christian and author Jemar Tisby was joined by historians of religion John Fea and Molly Worthen to help answer the question: what exactly is the relationship between conservative evangelicalism and America today? *Originally broadcast on December 4, 2019.

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Maoism: A Story of its History and Revival

If you thought Maoism was dead, think again. It’s enjoying a revival under President Xi Jinping. With tensions between China and the West on the rise, award- winning author Julia Lovell argues the need to understand the political legacy of Mao is crucial.

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Does the deep state exist?

The term 'deep state' has been used by both the political left and the right. In broad strokes, it means official leaders of a country aren't the real leaders — that hidden away in bureaucracies or other corridors of power are the real lever-pullers. Investigative journalist, Bruce Livesey examines the origins of the conflicted term, and where it's in operation today. *Originally broadcast on November 18, 2019.

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Psychologists confront impossible finding, triggering a revolution in the field

In 2011, American psychologist Daryl Bem proved the impossible. He showed that precognition — the ability to sense the future — is real. His study was explosive and shook the very foundations of psychology. Contributor Alexander B. Kim in Vancouver explores the ‘replication crisis’ and what it means for the field and beyond. *Originally broadcast on November 1, 2019.

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Imagining the World: Darwin and the Idea of Evolution

Darwin's ideas about evolution shifted the way we think about the place of humans in the world: we're not so special, just another life form with a bigger brain and opposable thumbs. What else can we learn from Darwin in this late stage of civilisation? A discussion from the 2019 Stratford Festival with culture critic Adam Gopnik, evolutionary biologist Maydianne Andrade and science journalist Ivan Semeniuk. *Originally aired on March 16, 2020.

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Paradise Lost: Better to Reign in Hell

In the 17th century, John Milton wrote his epic poem Paradise Lost. He created the most sympathetic Satan in literary history — a complex character with legitimate grievances against a repressive God. In part one of a two-part series, IDEAS explores how Satan has resonated with people at moments of rebellion throughout history — from the Arab Spring to Communist Yugoslavia.

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What is Democracy? Astra Taylor says it's worth fighting for

Canadian-American filmmaker and writer Astra Taylor admits that for most of her life the term "democracy" held little appeal. But when she took on the what-is-democracy question, her inquiry turned into a belief that while it may not fully exist, democracy is still worth fighting for.

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Fighting for democracy from the bottom up | Astra Taylor, Pt 2

Filmmaker, writer and activist Astra Taylor sets out to answer a question we rarely ask: what is democracy? Her conclusion: democracy doesn't exist — at least, not quite. And yet, she says, it's still worth fighting for. Taylor takes us on a walking tour in New York searching for the meaning of democracy. Part 2 of a two-part series.

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The New Masters: The 2019 Sobey Art Award, Part 2

Ideas producer Mary Lynk in conversation with the 2019 Sobey Art Award finalists Anne Low and Kablusiak and winner Stephanie Comilang.

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The New Masters: The 2019 Sobey Art Award, Part 1

IDEAS producer Mary Lynk in conversation with 2019 Sobey Art Award finalists D'Arcy Wilson and Nicolas Grenier.

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The Enright Files: Conversations about opera and the people who make it

It’s hard to think of a musical genre with a more fearsome reputation for being rarefied, forbidding and just plain snooty than opera. But before the 20th century, opera was popular entertainment — music for the masses. It’s just as full of quirks, oddities, lore, colourful personalities, visionaries and otherworldly talents as any other genre. This month on The Enright Files: Conversations with opera insiders about how opera works.

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A symbol of failure: The resurgence of border walls

Canadian author and journalist Marcello Di Cintio is a wall traveller and says the 21st century has been a boom time for walls. In 2012, he wrote a book about our walled world and has made it his business to track them since. The Twenty-Walled Century is the fifth and final part in our series: Walking the Border: Walls That Divide Us.

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How the Hungarian border fence remains a political symbol

Beginning in 2015 a great wave of migrants flooded Europe. Hungary built a fence to keep everyone out. In part four of our series, Walking the Border: Walls That Divide Us, Nahlah Ayed visits the Hungarian border that divides the country from Serbia and Croatia.

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Where Is Our Conscience? Patricia Churchland on the biological roots of morality

How do we determine right from wrong? According to Patricia Churchland, the answer is through science and philosophy. The distinguished proponent of neurophilosophy explores how moral systems arise from the influences of nature and nurture in her book, Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition.

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The Death of Leisure

As soon as the inbox is cleared and the dishes are put away and the report is submitted and laundry is done, only then can we think about how to pursue the things we value. So how do we reconfigure our relationship to the time we have and open it up so we can pursue the good life?

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Our fractured, fractious age in one sentence: Lucy Ellmann

Lucy Ellmann's Booker-nominated Ducks, Newburyport, captures our fractious, fractured age through the eyes of a likeable, pie-baking housewife in Ohio in an epic running one thousand pages long in one, single sentence.

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Into the Wild: Anthropologist Wade Davis

Ancient wisdom in the modern world can save us from the dangers of climate change, argues Wade Davis. The Canadian anthropologist has spent a lifetime looking into what Indigenous peoples of the world can teach us. Now, 10 years after his 2009 Massey lectures called 'The Wayfinders,' he looks back on what has changed on our planet — for better and for worse.

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'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.

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An Improbable Revolution: Hong Kong vs. China

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.

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No mushy middle: Adam Gopnik defends liberalism in his LaFontaine-Baldwin lecture

In his LaFontaine-Baldwin lecture and conversation with Nahlah Ayed, author and essayist Adam Gopnik argues 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 says we all must defend.

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Nostalgia for the Absolute: George Steiner's 1974 CBC 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 examined the alternative "mythologies" of Marxism, Freudian psychology, Lévi-Straussian anthropology, and — most tellingly for our own time — fads of irrationality.

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The Enright Files: Conversations about Brexit and barriers

Brexit became a reality on January 31st, 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.

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PT 2: Why journalist Emily Bell is calling for a civic media manifesto

Emily Bell, director of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, continues her exploration of a civic media manifesto. In a world dominated by corporate media takeovers and fake news, the acclaimed journalist says a civic media manifesto must be "ambitious, imaginative and radical."

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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.

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

* WARNING: Content in this episode may be disturbing. Listener discretion is advised. * 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.

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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.

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Machines that can think: real benefits, the Apocalypse, or 'dog-spaghetti'?

Stephen Hawking thought that artificial intelligence could spell the end of humanity. But Roger Melko of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics thinks that maybe, just maybe, we're on the cusp of a wonderfully transformative age.

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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.

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A chair is never just a chair: A social history of a ubiquitous household item, Part 2

In part two of our series, Machines for Sitting, Witold Rybczynski focuses on the modern chair. The Canadian architect and Nahlah Ayed visit the Design Within Reach furniture store in New York, to look at some of the most important designer chairs of the 20th Century.

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A chair is never just a chair: A social history of a ubiquitous household item, Part 1

Architect Witold Rybczynski, author of Now I Sit Me Down, explores the social history of chairs, the stories chairs tell, and how they've changed through history in a two-part series. Part one focuses on ancient chairs with a tour through the historical collection of chairs at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

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Animals under the law: What options are there for animals to 'lawyer up'?

Under the eyes of the law, animals that live in our homes or on a farm are ‘property.' But there's a growing movement to grant some animals like chimpanzees, elephants and dolphins 'non-human persons' status. Harvard Law School doctoral candidate Jessica Eisen thinks the law could do even better than that.

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Bright IDEAS for 2020: Our annual New Year's levee

There's a custom that started in New France where the colonial governor opened the doors of his mansion to people every New Year's Day, to share holiday cheer and listen to concerns and hopes for the future. So IDEAS has thrown open the studio doors, to hear from producers who are preparing shows for the next season.

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Human rights advocate Shirin Ebadi says the current protests hint at an eventual collapse of Iran’s regime

As protests erupted in some 100 cities across Iran last month, Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights advocate Shirin Ebadi urged the international community to support the Iranian people. The former chief justice in Iran and longtime human rights advocate says the protests – which have cut across classes and regions of Iran - hint at an eventual collapse of Iran’s regime. She speaks to CBC Ideas’ Nahlah Ayed.

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Get thee behind me, tech: putting humans before social media

Douglas Rushkoff witnessed the initial promise of the internet ⁠— a ‘social medium’ for thoughtful encounters and the democratizing of knowledge. It’s since become ‘social media’; a system that colonizes our minds and enriches a handful of ethically challenged developers. Rushkoff says we need to reaffirm that we are social beings and reappropriate technology to support and cultivate what he calls ‘Team Human.'

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Ought vs. Is: Reclaiming nature as a moral guide

Throughout the centuries, politicians, theologians and philosophers have pointed to nature as a way to guide our actions and beliefs. The equivalence between "unnatural" and "bad" seems to be as durable as ever. But philosophical anthropologist Lorraine Daston doesn't think using "nature" as a guide is necessarily all bad.

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How To Feed The World

David Nabarro, a longtime advisor to the UN on sustainable development, says climate change is forcing us to rethink how our food systems work and figure out the best way to get people the food they need without further degrading the environment.

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In the Sweet By and By: Atheist Edition

What happens when atheists engage sincerely with Christian apologists and evangelical creationists -- and vice versa? A lot, in fact; and most of it is good.

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Canada as a middle power in an upended world: Time for a foreign policy reset?

As chaotic and unpredictable as the world can be, there was — at least for a time — an international rules-based order, underpinned by US leadership that ensured at least a semblance of stability. That order is in decline. So what's a middle power like Canada to do? What can it do? The Canadian International Council and Global Canada convened a discussion in Toronto, where some answers were found, both by looking back through history and in imagining a possible future.

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Debate| Do baby boomers owe millennials an apology?

British sociologist Jennie Bristow debates U.S. author Bruce Cannon Gibney over the baby boom generation and its legacy for the world. Should boomers be held responsible for high house prices, the climate crisis, national debts, insolvent pension funds, and the woes of millennials?

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Introducing Hunting Warhead

A new investigative series from CBC Podcasts and the Norwegian newspaper VG. Hunting Warhead follows an international team of police officers as they attempt to track down the people behind a massive child-abuse site on the dark web. Listen at hyperurl.co/huntingwarhead

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What psychiatrists still don't know about mental illness

How can it be that psychiatry still doesn’t know what causes major mental problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia? Historian Anne Harrington and writer Marya Hornbacher explore psychiatry’s messy medical past and surprisingly uncertain present.

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Why too much logic leads to irrationality: Justin E. H. Smith

The Parisian-American philosopher Justin E. H. Smith argues that attempts to impose the victory of reason always lead to explosions of irrationality, whether in our individual lives or at the level of society. His book is called Irrationality: a History of the Dark Side of Reason.

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

Author of Insurgent Empire, Priyamvada Gopal on why everyone should be an ‘anti-colonialist’ — and what that means for Canadians.

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Lessons off Broadway: Princeton professor dissects zeitgeist in musicals

The Broadway musical is an art form both beloved and maligned. Whether you love it or hate it, the Broadway musical has the power to tap into the zeitgeist, capturing and propelling social change. Princeton musical theatre scholar Stacy Wolf takes host Nahlah Ayed on a tour of the hidden power of musicals from the 1950s to today.

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

There's been a lot of hand-wringing about the threat to liberal democracy from foreign agencies. But much less so about what's undermining democracy from within. American Philosophers Robert Talisse and Scott Aikin believe it is the simulated nature of political argument and disagreement that is eating away at democracy, creating democratic dysfunction. Nahlah Ayed speaks to both about the dynamics of the problem, and how to imagine possible solutions.

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