Four Thought

Four Thought

United Kingdom

Series of thought-provoking talks in which the speakers air their thinking on the trends, ideas, interests and passions that affect culture and society


The Meaning of North  

Alex Beaumont questions the meaning of 'The North'. Growing up in the North of England, in his youth Alex wanted nothing more than to leave for the South. Now he lives in one part of the North, and works in another, but he questions whether 'The North' is a meaningful concept at all. How does it relate to the North of Scotland, or Ireland, and what might the UK government's plan for a 'Northern Powerhouse' mean in practice? Producer: Katie Langton.

Best of Four Thought: Hinge Moments in History  

Another chance to hear three of the best recent episodes of Four Thought, each addressing hinge moments in the history of war and terror, and re-assessing the response of the West. Hashi Mohamed re-interprets a recent British response to an act of terror on our own streets, arguing that the episode tells us a great deal about our nation that we take for granted. Benedict Wilkinson challenges how we think about terrorism more generally, asking us to seriously reconsider how we confront terrorists on a global scale. And drawing on his personal experience of advising Poland and Russia at the end of the Cold War, world-renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs urges us to remember lessons of the past when taking action in the present. Producer: Katie Langton.

Reaching Out  

Charlie Howard argues that public services should find their users, not wait to be found. Charlie started the charity MAC-UK to provide specialist mental health services to gang members and other at-risk young people. As she began to work with them, she found more and more people who would never have accessed traditional services, but were in desperate need of them. She makes the case that this is also a better, more efficient way to help service users, and argues that other public service providers - from teachers to job advisers - should consider how they can adopt the same approach. Producer: Katie Langton.

Positively Medieval  

Lucy Allen argues that the way in which medieval society is often presented - as indifferent to sexual violence against women - is wrong. Lucy is an academic at Cambridge University, and she recounts a disagreement with a colleague about the realism of violence depicted in the TV show Game of Thrones. In fact, she says, medieval monarchs were passing laws against sexual violence in wartime, and some medieval literature reflects a nuanced understanding of trauma caused by rape. Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton.

The Whirlpool Economy  

Charles Leadbeater argues that we are living in a whirlpool economy, where we are moving faster but seem to be standing still. And he suggests some changes we could make to break out of it. Producer: Katie Langton.

Big Charity, Big Business  

David Russell asks whether backing big charities is the best way of improving the world. Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton.

The End of the Age of Ideas  

Robert Rowland Smith argues that we are coming to the end of the Age of Ideas. He examines how different 'ages' - of superstition, religion, reason and ideas - have emerged and gradually been eclipsed. And he hints at the age we may be about to enter. Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton.

Passports for a Price  

Katy Long argues that we should think differently about citizenship. She compares how citizenship and passports are bought and sold, and explores the ethical implications. Producer: Katie Langton.

National Pride  

Alex Marshall, fresh from writing a book about national anthems, discusses nationalism and patriotism. Alex tells stories of meeting self-described patriots and nationalists from Japan to Paraguay via France and Kazakhstan, and explores how our thinking about nationalism and patriotism is highly dependent on place and time. Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton.

On Being Ignored  

John Osborne tells a story of waiting for a bill in a cafe, and explores how a proliferation of new ways of communicating can mean we end up feeling ignored. Producer: Katie Langton.

Democratising Education  

Rachel Roberts argues that education needs a democratic revolution. Rachel describes her own experiences in democratic schools - as a student, teacher, and now educational consultant. And she argues that even if every school won't make the transition to the full kind of radical democracy she enjoyed, every school - and every student - can benefit from the democratic ethos. Producer: Katie Langton.

Economists' Lost Literary Touch  

Adam Kelly discusses the sometimes surprising relationship between literature and economics, and argues that economics needs to get back in touch with its literary side. Exploring the literary inclinations of John Maynard Keynes, Adam Smith and Karl Marx, Adam explores how a shift in the order in which students study the subject can explain a lot about modern economics. Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton.

A Boat of One's Own  

Michelle Madsen makes the case for the life of a continuous cruiser on Britain's rivers and canals. Michelle is a poet and journalist who has spent the last two years living aboard a boat, and discusses how it has affected her poetry, her prose, her friendships and her life. Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton.

D Is for Diagnosis  

Ann York discusses diagnoses - and how receiving one of her own has made her think differently about giving them to others. Ann is a world-renowned child and adolescent psychiatrist, whose expertise is sought far and wide. In this intimate and fascinating talk she discusses the difficulties of giving a diagnosis, describing the benefits and the disadvantages, and how the young people in her care, and their parents, respond when diagnosed. And in front of an audience at Somerset House she describes how her own experiences with an unexpected diagnosis have affected how she thinks about her own work. Producer: Katie Langton.

Stories of Terrorism  

Benedict Wilkinson challenges how we think about terrorism and uses stories of two very different terrorists to make the case for a different approach. Benedict is a senior research fellow at the Policy Institute at King's College, London, and researches the strategies of different terrorist groups. He argues that terrorists' embrace of violence always comes from a position of weakness, and that it frequently fails to achieve their own political objectives. As a result, he argues that the way in which we confront terrorists needs serious reconsideration. Producer: Katie Langton.

Changing Laws of War  

Muna Baig argues that forced displacement should be taken seriously as a war crime. Muna is a lawyer who has spent time working with refugees and with international lawyers. She calls forced displacement the 'cinderella war crime' and argues that despite it being considered a war crime since at least the Second World War, there is little political will to enforce the law. She maintains that only by talking about forced displacement will that change. Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton.

Lessons in Development  

Alpa Shah argues that tribal people need a better development model. Alpa is an anthropologist who has spent years with tribal Adivasi people, in Jharkhand, in eastern India. In recent years their lands have been identified as some of the most mineral-rich on earth and are being eagerly eyed by mining companies. There are many potential benefits, but Alpa asks whether the world has learned lessons in how to ensure that everyone can share in them. Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton.

Trust Me, I'm a Magician  

Paul Hyland is a writer and a magician - but, as he explains in this entertaining essay, he is not a trickster. At least, not a dishonest one. "Did the painter trick you when his reclining nude turned out to be no more than a layer of pigments, textures, lines of perspective, light and shade on a flat canvas?" Recorded at the End of the Road music festival. Producer: Richard Knight.

The Best of Four Thought: Matt Haig, Tim Meek, Adjoa Andoh  

Another chance to hear three great talks combining personal stories and new ideas. Adjoa Andoh talks movingly about raising a transgender child, and about what really defines who we are or who we might become. "In too many places today," she says, "and in too many ways, we suffocate our true potential selves at birth." Matt Haig describes how words helped him live with depression. "You have to believe there is a point of there being words, and that they can offer real meaning. Normally this belief is taken for granted, but that is because normally we are taking the world itself for granted. But when your mind crumbles to dust everything you thought you knew suddenly becomes something to question. You have to build reality up again. And the bricks we use to shape our realities are called words." Tim Meek explains why he and his family have left their old life behind them for a year of adventure on the road. "We believe that the real measure of modern success is nothing to do with your bank balance or the size of your house, but instead, the amount of free time you have at your disposal." Presenter: Mark Coles Producer: Sheila Cook Editor: Richard Knight.

Why Run?  

In this thoughtful essay Adharanand Finn provides a subtle answer to a simple question: why do we run? After all, he says, "running is hard. It requires effort. And after all the pain you usually end up right back where you started, having run in a big, pointless circle". With reference to childhood, hunter-gatherers and even the monks of mount Hiei, who run the equivalent of 1,000 marathons in 1,000 days, Adharanand arrives at an answer: running brings us joy. Recorded at the End of the Road music festival. Producer: Richard Knight.

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