Big Ideas - Full program podcast

Big Ideas - Full program podcast


ABC Radio National presents material from Big Ideas web and TV to bring you the best public talks, debates and lectures from Australia and around the world. One single audio file of the whole program - good for continuous listening.


The return of barbarism: CBC Massey lecture 2  

Half a decade ago, freedom movements were ascendant in a number of countries - Egypt, Tunisia, Libya. But today the gains from the so called 'Arab Spring' seem, mostly, lost. Authoritarian regimes have been winding back the progress in human rights and democracy we thought we were witnessing, and the rules that govern conflict and maintain global peace are being erased. In her second 2016 CBC Massey lecture, called 'The Return of Barbarism', Jennifer Welsh contrasts the world of today with the prediction in 1989 of 'The End of History'.

The return of history: CBC Massey lecture 1  

Have predictions of the 'end of history' proven premature?

The Pacific is sinking  

Corruption in many Pacific countries appears endemic, the Pacific has the world’s fastest growth rate of HIV infection and the Pacific is predicted to surpass Africa as the world’s poorest region in the foreseeable future Is the Pacific not sinking but being sunk?

Aristotle: 2,400 years on  

Aristotle - why is he one of the most influential thinkers of all time?

Science, values and ethics  

The ethics, values and science surrounding the bionic body.

Mary Norris and Steven Pinker: why words and language matter.  

Mary Norris: what copy editors do and why standards matter. Steven Pinker: how the craft of writing can be improved.

Lionel Shriver on free speech, identity and the future of the US  

In the future United States of Lionel Shriver’s imagination, the nation is virtually bankrupt by the year 2029. The US dollar is worthless. Gold is confiscated by the government. A cabbage costs more than 20 dollars. This is the dystopian future she presents in her speculative novel, "The Mandibles". Lionel Shriver delivered a provocative speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival, ridiculing the concept of cultural appropriation. In this wide ranging conversation, she talks to Paul Barclay about free speech, identity, the future of America and how it’s governed, as well as Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.

Gloria Steinem’s travels  

Gloria Steinem talks to Anna Bligh about her travels which formed her adventurous personality.

Comedy over the centuries  

Comedy has evolved into many shapes and voices – and different tastes. So what characterises comedy? And what role does comedy have in art and society?

Have you got grit  

Grit - what it is and how it can be cultivated.

Vaccines for Ebola: tackling a market failure  

A market failure has prevented the development of vaccines against Ebola, MERS and other viruses. Ironically, emerging data suggest these vaccines might be quite straightforward to develop to licensure.

Stan Grant on race, history and identity  

“The Australian Dream is rooted in racism”, says journalist and broadcaster, Stan Grant. As he tells Paul Barclay, he has long had a difficult relationship with Australia, angry about its post colonial history, about how his forebears were treated, and at how we continue to deal with indigenous people today. Stand Grant may have been a presence on our TV screens for decades, but he has lived with an inner turmoil, struggling to deal with his identity as an Aboriginal man in a country where the scars of history are yet to heal.

Is addiction a disease?  

The accepted wisdom is that addiction to drugs, like ice or heroin, is a disease of the brain. Neuroscientists can actually see how drug use alters the brain. Drug users, therefore, should not be blamed for their addiction: they are not weak, or bad, or morally flawed. Because their addiction a disease, it follows their condition should be medicalized and treated by clinicians. This, so called, 'brain disease model' of addiction is now being seriously questioned. Paul Barclay talks to some of dissenters.

Exploring nature  

What does nature mean to each of us?  Why is nature so pure?  And how do we reconnect with the natural world in an age where our lives are connected to technology?  

Listening to nature  

The evolution of sound and listening. Listening to nature isn’t just a peaceful and joyful experience. It can teach us our place in the natural world. Animal sounds and bird song have adapted to specific environments and habitats, but the use of sound has in turn shaped the evolution of different species. And that includes homo sapiens. Sound has formed us as social and cultural ‘animals’.

Science fiction meets science fact  

A writer and an astronomer traverse the blurry line between science fiction and science fact

Is love an illusion?  

The romantics have a lot to answer for, according to philosopher and author, Alain de Botton. Love, marriage and human relationships are not a bed of roses. There is no such person as ‘the one'. And, despite trying to avoid it, many of us will marry the wrong person. You want to know one of the early warning signs? It’s when someone says to you, "I’m a really easy going, easy to live with, person". Wrong, says de Botton, we are troubled, so you should run a mile if someone says that to you.

A history of consumerism  

How did the world become full of consumers and how did we end up with so much stuff ?

The silo effect  

The silo effect: when the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing and why it's a problem for big organisations.

Creative communities  

Can art, culture and innovation shape future urban development? More and more people think this is achievable. But how do you plan and build a genuinely creative community? Cities around the world are seeking to create cultural precincts and neighbourhoods: places that attract young creatives, artists, designers, and high tech start ups. Do these dynamic districts need to evolve organically, or can you engineer them without them feeling contrived and clinical?

Video player is in betaClose