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Four Thought

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

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Maria Popova: The Architecture of Knowledge

Maria Popova, Editor of Brainpickings, discusses how, with the world's knowledge more readily available to us than ever before, the fragmentation of our interests is driving us to seek out more and more of what we're already interested in. How, she asks, can we master the architecture of human knowledge in a way that takes advantage of the "Information Age", yet broadens rather than contracts our intellectual and creative horizons, both as individual consumers and as publishers of information? Producer: Giles Edwards.

19mins

21 Nov 2012

Rank #1

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Philippa Perry

Philippa Perry explains why story telling is so powerful and how the stories we tell to and about ourselves affect our mental wellbeing.Four Thought is a series of thought-provoking talks in which speakers air their thinking, in front of a live audience, on the trends, ideas, interests and passions that affect culture and society.Presenter: Ben HammersleyProducer: Sheila Cook.

19mins

30 Apr 2014

Rank #2

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Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde explains why he is concerned that humans have reached the limits of intellectual creative thought.Four Thought is a series of thought-provoking talks in which speakers air their thinking, in front of a live audience, on the trends, ideas, interests and passions that affect culture and society.Presenter: Kamin MohammadiProducer: Estelle Doyle.

17mins

9 Jul 2014

Rank #3

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Sensitive Souls

Hannah Jane Walker makes the case for being a bit sensitive.As a child Hannah was told to toughen up, not to be so sensitive, but now she says her sensitivity is who she is, and it's how she makes her income. And she thinks that people should embrace their sensitivity, and not pretend to be tough if they're not.Producer: Giles Edwards.

19mins

23 Nov 2016

Rank #4

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How to Remember

Sam Edwards argues that we should think again about how and what we memorialise - including wars and other major events in our national history.Sam is a lecturer in American History at Manchester Metropolitan University, and has long been fascinated with memorials. He tells the story of how, as a young man, he would journey around the Suffolk countryside visiting the many memorials to the US 8th Air Force, and the effect it had on him.Producer: Giles Edwards.

18mins

6 Nov 2013

Rank #5

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Dealing With Dementia

Tommy Whitelaw, who was his late mother's carer, calls for more support and respect for people living with dementia."If we really are going to make a difference to each other we have to change the conversation from 'what's the matter with you' to 'what matters to you'".Recorded in front of a live audience at Somerset House.Presenter: Mike WilliamsProducer: Sheila Cook.

20mins

7 Dec 2016

Rank #6

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Stereotypes

Franklyn Addo describes how witnessing a murder transformed his life. It made him all the more determined to help other young people from underprivileged backgrounds go to top universities, as he did, and to challenge stereotypes. "There's so much more to talk about regarding council estates other than crime and anguish; more pertinent things, more celebratory things and more interesting things," he says. Producer: Sheila Cook.

18mins

11 Jan 2017

Rank #7

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Alan Bissett

In the 1990s, author Alan Bissett was a lad and women were 'birds'.In a frank and personal account, Alan talks about why he turned to the work of the late American radical feminist Andrea Dworkin after becoming concerned over his use of internet pornography.He dissects elements of what he describes as our "sex saturated culture" and argues that men need to start engaging with feminism for the good of all. Four Thought is a series of talks which combine new ideas and personal stories.Recorded during the Edinburgh festival, speakers explain their thinking on the trends and ideas in culture and society in front of a live audience.Producer: Caitlin Smith.

18mins

4 Sep 2013

Rank #8

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Digital Millennial

Jonnie Bayfield reflects on being the last generation to grow up in an analogue childhood."Looking back, I can see that no-one had any idea what the chemical, biological, or social ramifications of this burgeoning technology might be. In my school we had computer classes, but no-one ever suggested that intense use would lead to anything other than a personal and global liberation." Producer: Sheila Cook.

21mins

28 Dec 2016

Rank #9

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Emma Byrne: Why We Swear

The science writer Emma Byrne argues that, far from tuning out, we should listen carefully when people swear, because they often do so for good reasons.Four Thought is a series of talks which combine new ideas and personal stories. Speakers explain their latest thinking on the trends and ideas in culture and society in front of a live audience at Somerset House.Producer: Giles Edwards.

17mins

15 May 2013

Rank #10

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Putting Profit in Its Place

Jane Burston argues that by placing too much emphasis on profit, companies behave in an unethical way, and it is time for social purpose to take centre stage.Jane describes what she sees as a systematic problem in big companies and argues that only by viewing profit as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself, can we create an ethical business sector. And she believes that shareholders will embrace her plan, even if it means business leaders taking on the mantle of moral leaders and sometimes compromising profit for social good.Producer: Giles Edwards.

19mins

13 Nov 2013

Rank #11

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Other People's Stories

Anna Derrig asks who has the right to tell someone else's story.Anna has worked in the media, in international development and in social and community work telling stories, and now she is writing the story of her life with a family member. It has made her think carefully about the ethics of writing other people's lives, an issue she now teaches the issue at Goldsmith's, University of London. It's a good time to be thinking about this subject, she argues, since so many of us are telling stories - our own and other people's.Producer: Giles Edwards.

19mins

19 Oct 2016

Rank #12

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How to Be Optimistic (Despite Everything)

Comedian Nick Revell explains why he manages to be optimistic - despite all the evidence."These days it's perhaps easier than ever to get pessimistic at the state of the world; I've had periods when I would wake up in the morning, check the news and ask myself if it's even worth moisturising. But I have a very positive attitude to life now. So let me take you on my journey of discovery." Recorded in front of a live audience at the WOMAD world music and arts festival in Wiltshire.Presenter: Helen Zaltzman Producer: Richard Knight.

14mins

23 Aug 2017

Rank #13

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Language Is Power

Author and broadcaster Lindsay Johns argues that language is power, and makes the case for speaking English properly.Lindsay, who has mentored young people in Peckham, south London, for years, believes that street slang and what he calls 'ghetto grammar' disempower and limit the life chances of those who speak it.And he says that those who make excuses for this language, or argue that it is good for young people, are really just encouraging them to ostracize themselves even further from mainstream society.Producer: Giles Edwards.

19mins

2 Oct 2013

Rank #14

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Yasmin Hai

Yasmin Hai says it's not Western foreign policy that is radicalising British Muslims but more pedestrian psychological factors closer to home. Four Thought is a series of talks which combine new ideas and personal stories. Speakers explain their thinking on the trends and ideas in culture and society in front of a live audience.Producer: Sheila Cook.

19mins

21 Aug 2013

Rank #15

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Steven Poole: Think for Yourself

Steven Poole argues that we should resist the modern message, from pop science and brain scans, that humans are irrational creatures, driven by instant judgement and primordial urges.Instead, he says we should stand up together and say we can think, and that's what makes us human.Four Thought is a series of talks which combine new ideas and personal stories. Speakers explain their latest thinking on the trends and ideas in culture and society in front of a live audience. It is recorded in front of a live audience at Somerset House in London.Producer: Giles Edwards.

18mins

5 Jun 2013

Rank #16

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The Social Media Poet

Brian Bilston, who accidentally became a poet through Twitter, explains the power of social media for poetry. "Poetry on social media is more than a never-ending stream of haiku concerning the changing light of the moon on water, or the beauty of cherry blossom. It's far more interesting and relevant than that. It's an opportunity for poetry to present itself in situations when people most need it."Producer: Sheila Cook.

20mins

7 Sep 2016

Rank #17

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Liberating Men

Dave Pickering makes the case for a men's liberation movement.Sharing experiences from his own life, he argues that it is not just women who need liberation from 'the patriarchy', but men themselves. Producer: Giles Edwards.

18mins

12 Oct 2016

Rank #18

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James Bridle: Computers and Cultural Memories

Publisher and technologist James Bridle asks how computer networks will affect cultural memories. In this Four Thought, James brings his two lives together to look for the crossing points between books and technology.How will storing our memories and experiences on 'the network' change how we relate to them? They are no longer spread through time and geography, and instead much more visible to us, but what does that mean? When we have read a book, the book remains as a souvenir of the experience, but we do not yet have a similar way of accounting for the time we spend online.Producer: Giles Edwards.

18mins

1 Aug 2012

Rank #19

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A World for Children

Daniel Hahn argues that as a society we would benefit from having more children's books translated into English.A translator himself, and author of a major book about children's literature, Daniel is concerned that few books are being translated today to sit alongside Tintin, Asterix and the Moomins.Producer: Giles Edwards.

19mins

24 Sep 2014

Rank #20