Social media had all the appearance of a democratic revolution, hailed after the Arab Spring as the power of the people. But there’s now a growing army of government and corporate propagandists seeking to control and influence opinion. Has social media become a threat to democracy? Or is it still the voice of freedom? Lyse Doucet, Carl Miller, Steve Richards and Caspar Melville discuss.
Tag Archives | Debate
From trees to houses, atoms to stars, we assume our senses and instruments reveal the truth about the world. But could our picture of reality be radically incomplete? Is this hocus pocus best reserved for fools and philosophers, or does it open a world of infinite potential?
Award-winning novelist Joanna Kavenna, mathematical physicist Roger Penrose, and post-postmodern philosopher Hilary Lawson get real about reality.
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Evidence and reason are supposedly the basis of our beliefs. Yet religion continues to flourish, and new gods conquer even the most rational minds. Is unjustified, groundless belief an essential part of human nature? Or can we banish faith forever?
The Panel: American anthropologist Scott Atran, Cambridge philosopher Simon Blackburn and humanist Pavan Dhaliwal examine the foundations of thought.
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Despite the recent bad press, most of us still think doctor knows best. Yet with medical intervention now the third biggest killer after heart disease and cancer, is it time to call a halt to our trust? Should we end the monopoly on prescription? Would this give us ownership over our own health, or risk lives and return us to Victorian quackery?
Former health minister Gisela Stuart, radical psychiatrist David Healy and former Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Clare Gerada put the medial profession on trial.
The cry of democrats and revolutionaries, we value freedom above almost anything. But neuroscientists claim they can predict decisions seven seconds before we act. Might free will be an illusion? Do we need to reimagine what it means to be human, or does freedom win over bad science?
Neuroscientist Patrick Haggard, Templeton Prize winning physicist George FR Ellis and philosopher of mind and action Jennifer Hornsby consider where choice begins and chance ends.
Everything from criminality to love of gossip is in our genes according to some biologists. Yet behaviour varies dramatically between cultures. Does this cultural variation mean that evolutionary psychology is flawed? Can it be rescued with a new theory or is culture beyond genetics?
The Panel — Julian Baggini explores the limits of evolution with philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards, anthropologist Daniel Everett and Oxford evolutionary psychologist Oliver Scott Curry.
From the boardroom to politics we look to increase the representation of women. But if women were dominant what impact would it have? Might women be best suited to 21st century culture and create a productive economy and less conflictual politics? Or is this utopian and sexist nonsense?
Darwinian philosopher Helena Cronin, Labour politician Diane Abbott, and Morgan Stanley Vice-President Niamh Corbett consider a change of culture.
For the online-education-interested, the Institute of Art and Ideas has started updating their free online courses with short teaser videos that give a feel for what a course will be like.
One of these is “New Adventures in Spacetime“, a fascinating course by philosopher of physics Eleanor Knox from King’s College in London. Why not spend a few holiday hours wrapping our heads around what physicists talk about when they talk about spacetime?
The laws of science were founded on the idea of force. But Newton’s critics argued it was a mystical idea and the Standard model has replaced force with ‘interactions’. Does an account of force elude us because it doesn’t exist, or are forces essential if we are to explain why anything happens?
Philosopher of physics Eleanor Knox, eminent mathematician Peter Cameron and post-postmodern metaphysician Hilary Lawson untangle cause and effect.
From string theory to the multiverse, the theories of modern physics look increasingly exotic and untestable. But while they may be good for selling books, are they bad science? Do we need a return to empirical experiment, or should imagination be allowed its playground?
Cambridge string theorist David Tong, experimental physicist Tara Shears, and author of The End of Science John Horgan seek the place where facts and fantasy collide.
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