Big Idea, The [world Service]

Episodes

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2018070720180708 (WS)

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

20180714

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

2018072120180722 (WS)

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

20180811

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

2018082520180826 (WS)

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

20180825

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

2018090820180909 (WS)

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Humans are a unique species in many ways, but an important one is that we communicate with sophisticated language, using words and grammar. So how does language work? Is there a single mechanism in the brain, or multiple mechanisms? Is it useful to learn a second language – what are the cognitive advantages to being bilingual? Cathy Price is a neuroscientist and a leading expert in language.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Cup, Credit: BBC)

20180908

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Humans are a unique species in many ways, but an important one is that we communicate with sophisticated language, using words and grammar. So how does language work? Is there a single mechanism in the brain, or multiple mechanisms? Is it useful to learn a second language – what are the cognitive advantages to being bilingual? Cathy Price is a neuroscientist and a leading expert in language.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Cup, Credit: BBC)

A Future Without Doctors?2018090120180902 (WS)

Can you imagine a future without doctors?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Can you imagine a future without doctors? We’re in the midst of a robotics and Artificial Intelligence revolution. Many jobs humans currently do will in future be carried out by machine. But what about those in the medical profession? AI will be of assistance, but surely we’ll always need surgeons, doctors, and nurses? Well, the Oxford University economist Daniel Susskind is not so sure. He believes that many of the tasks currently carried out by doctors will soon be performed by machine. So can doctors survive by reinventing themselves?

Presenter: David Edmonds
Producer: Ben Cooper

(Image: Operating theatre. Credit: Getty)

A Future Without Doctors?20180901

Can you imagine a future without doctors?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Can you imagine a future without doctors? We’re in the midst of a robotics and Artificial Intelligence revolution. Many jobs humans currently do will in future be carried out by machine. But what about those in the medical profession? AI will be of assistance, but surely we’ll always need surgeons, doctors, and nurses? Well, the Oxford University economist Daniel Susskind is not so sure. He believes that many of the tasks currently carried out by doctors will soon be performed by machine. So can doctors survive by reinventing themselves?

Presenter: David Edmonds
Producer: Ben Cooper

(Image: Operating theatre. Credit: Getty)

A World Without Livestock?2018060220180603 (WS)

The meat burger with no meat

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What is the biggest cause of climate change? According to biomedical researcher Pat Brown it’s an extremely inefficient technology – aka cows. Maintaining livestock is hugely expensive. It produces greenhouse gases. And it takes up much of the land we use on the planet. So what’s the solution? Professor Brown believes it’s the creation of a new meat – meat which is made without animal flesh.

Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Cow, Credit: Shutterstock)

The meat burger with no meat

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What is the biggest cause of climate change? According to biomedical researcher Pat Brown it’s an extremely inefficient technology – aka cows. Maintaining livestock is hugely expensive. It produces greenhouse gases. And it takes up much of the land we use on the planet. So what’s the solution? Professor Brown believes it’s the creation of a new meat – meat which is made without animal flesh.

Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Cow, Credit: Shutterstock)

Are We All Racist?2018070720180708 (WS)

Mahzarin Banaji puts this to the test with Implicit Association Test

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Are we all racist? Harvard professor Mahzarin Banaji is the architect of what is arguably psychology’s most influential experiment. It’s called the Implicit Association Test (the IAT) and it has been taken millions and millions of times.

It purports to be a measure of our unconscious bias towards various groups – black people, women, the elderly or people with disabilities. Most people taking the IAT do exhibit some kind of bias. That leads to two questions: how worried should we be at these implicit attitudes? And what can be done about them?

Presenter: David Edmonds

(Photo: Question marks. Credit: Shutterstock)

Mahzarin Banaji puts this to the test with Implicit Association Test

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Are we all racist? Harvard professor Mahzarin Banaji is the architect of what is arguably psychology’s most influential experiment. It’s called the Implicit Association Test (the IAT) and it has been taken millions and millions of times.

It purports to be a measure of our unconscious bias towards various groups – black people, women, the elderly or people with disabilities. Most people taking the IAT do exhibit some kind of bias. That leads to two questions: how worried should we be at these implicit attitudes? And what can be done about them?

Presenter: David Edmonds

(Photo: Question marks. Credit: Shutterstock)

Baby Boffins2018051220180513 (WS)

Babies are much smarter than their parents might realise

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Babies know little and learn slowly. Right? Not according to child psychologist Alison Gopnik. She has spent decades investigating the extraordinary talents and abilities of babies and young children. Her conclusion: they’re much smarter than you might think.
The presenter is David Edmonds

(Image: Clever Baby, Credit: Shutterstock)

Consciousness: A Strange Theory2018081820180819 (WS)

Humans are conscious, but is consciousness also in tables and chairs?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Human consciousness - our subjective experience - remains a mystery.

How is it that we can smell coffee and feel the touch of a flower? How does the brain produce consciousness? Well, one of the world’s top philosophers, David Chalmers, has a suggestion.

Perhaps consciousness exists everywhere, in some form; perhaps it exists in every subatomic particle – the particles that make up not just humans, but tables and chairs. It sounds completely wacky?

But Professor Chalmers explains why it’s a theory worth taking seriously.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Glittering Particles Credit: Shutterstock)

Consciousness: A Strange Theory20180818

Humans are conscious, but is consciousness also in tables and chairs?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Human consciousness - our subjective experience - remains a mystery.

How is it that we can smell coffee and feel the touch of a flower? How does the brain produce consciousness? Well, one of the world’s top philosophers, David Chalmers, has a suggestion.

Perhaps consciousness exists everywhere, in some form; perhaps it exists in every subatomic particle – the particles that make up not just humans, but tables and chairs. It sounds completely wacky?

But Professor Chalmers explains why it’s a theory worth taking seriously.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Glittering Particles Credit: Shutterstock)

Contact Theory2018062320180624 (WS)

How do you stop different groups from hating each other?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

How do you stop different groups hating each other? Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. Palestinians and Jews in the Middle East. Muslims and Hindus in India. Is building walls between them the solution? According to Miles Hewstone, of Oxford University, what’s really needed is contact – the more you are exposed to people in another group, the less you distrust and fear them.

Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Doves, Credit: Shutterstock)

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

Democracy and Famine2018072820180729 (WS)

What is the cause of famine? It\u2019s not the obvious answer

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What is the cause of famine? The obvious answer is shortage of food. But, says the Nobel-prize winning economist Amartya Sen that misses a vital point. In his research on famines, he showed that there’s usually enough food to go around – it just doesn’t reach the people who need it. Often that’s because news of food scarcity hasn’t been widely publicised. In democracies people don’t starve to death, he says, because there’s always pressure on the politicians to alleviate suffering.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Bengal Famine, Credit: Getty Images)

Democracy and Famine2018072820180729 (WS)

What is the cause of famine? It\u2019s not the obvious answer

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What is the cause of famine? The obvious answer is shortage of food. But, says the Nobel-prize winning economist Amartya Sen that misses a vital point. In his research on famines, he showed that there’s usually enough food to go around – it just doesn’t reach the people who need it. Often that’s because news of food scarcity hasn’t been widely publicised. In democracies people don’t starve to death, he says, because there’s always pressure on the politicians to alleviate suffering.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Bengal Famine, Credit: Getty Images)

Democracy and Famine20180728

What is the cause of famine? It\u2019s not the obvious answer

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What is the cause of famine? The obvious answer is shortage of food. But, says the Nobel-prize winning economist Amartya Sen that misses a vital point. In his research on famines, he showed that there’s usually enough food to go around – it just doesn’t reach the people who need it. Often that’s because news of food scarcity hasn’t been widely publicised. In democracies people don’t starve to death, he says, because there’s always pressure on the politicians to alleviate suffering.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Bengal Famine, Credit: Getty Images)

Democracy and Famine20180728

What is the cause of famine? It\u2019s not the obvious answer

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What is the cause of famine? The obvious answer is shortage of food. But, says the Nobel-prize winning economist Amartya Sen that misses a vital point. In his research on famines, he showed that there’s usually enough food to go around – it just doesn’t reach the people who need it. Often that’s because news of food scarcity hasn’t been widely publicised. In democracies people don’t starve to death, he says, because there’s always pressure on the politicians to alleviate suffering.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Bengal Famine, Credit: Getty Images)

Dimensions of Discrimination2018072120180722 (WS)

Do black women face more prejudice than black men or white women?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Do black women face more prejudice than black men or white women? The legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw introduced a new way of thinking about disadvantage in society. She called it ‘intersectionality’. It attempts to analyze how different forms of marginalisation – race, class, gender and so on – overlap. And it has been hugely influential on those academics and policy makers who deal with the nature and impact of discrimination.

Presenter: David Edmonds

Dimensions of Discrimination2018072120180722 (WS)

Do black women face more prejudice than black men or white women?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Do black women face more prejudice than black men or white women? The legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw introduced a new way of thinking about disadvantage in society. She called it ‘intersectionality’. It attempts to analyze how different forms of marginalisation – race, class, gender and so on – overlap. And it has been hugely influential on those academics and policy makers who deal with the nature and impact of discrimination.

Presenter: David Edmonds

Dimensions of Discrimination20180721

Do black women face more prejudice than black men or white women?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Do black women face more prejudice than black men or white women? The legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw introduced a new way of thinking about disadvantage in society. She called it ‘intersectionality’. It attempts to analyze how different forms of marginalisation – race, class, gender and so on – overlap. And it has been hugely influential on those academics and policy makers who deal with the nature and impact of discrimination.

Presenter: David Edmonds

Dimensions of Discrimination20180721

Do black women face more prejudice than black men or white women?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Do black women face more prejudice than black men or white women? The legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw introduced a new way of thinking about disadvantage in society. She called it ‘intersectionality’. It attempts to analyze how different forms of marginalisation – race, class, gender and so on – overlap. And it has been hugely influential on those academics and policy makers who deal with the nature and impact of discrimination.

Presenter: David Edmonds

Economics And Mosquito Nets2018061620180617 (WS)

What can economics tell us about the use of mosquito nets?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What’s the best way of persuading parents in developing countries to immunize their kids? Do women politicians make a difference to what policies are pursued? If you want to reduce malaria is it best to give people mosquito nets for free or make them pay? The influential economist Esther Duflo has revolutionised the way we answer these questions. The secret is to introduce RCTs - Randomized Control Trials.

Producer: Dave Edmonds

(Image: Nurse with Needle, Credit: Shutterstock)

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

Epigenetics2018041420180415 (WS)

Can our experiences be passed down biologically to our children and grandchildren?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Can our experiences be passed down biologically to our children and grandchildren? Quite a thought given for a long time now the orthodoxy has been that our traits are transmitted through our genes meaning that how your father or mother behaves can’t affect your biology. However, this evolutionary theory may itself be evolving. In one study, mice who were psychologically stressed, seemed to pass on this stress to their descendants. It’s controversial, but Professor Eva Jablonka argues, that the impact of what happens to us in life could be felt by future generations.
Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Illustration of DNA, Credit: Shutterstock)

Friends2018051920180520 (WS)

Is there a limit to the number of friends we can have?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

A great advantage of the internet and social media is that they allow us to keep in touch with all our friends, even when they move away. That means our group of friends can carry on expanding indefinitely. Except, says anthropologist Robin Dunbar, it can’t. There’s a limit to the number of friends we can have. It is known as Dunbar’s number.

Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Group of friends, Credit: Shutterstock)

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

Future Gazing2018040720180408 (WS)

Can political experts predict the future?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

We’re used to seeing political pundits on our television screens predicting future events – who will win an election, whether a war or social unrest might break out, whether an international treaty will be signed. How accurate are these forecasts? Well, this is something Philip Tetlock has studied, and it turns out, not very. And oddly, the more famous the pundit, he says, the worse their predictive record.
Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Crystal Ball, Credit: Shutterstock)

How Does Language Work?2018090820180909 (WS)

How do we process language? We speak to a neuroscientist who specialises in language

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Humans are a unique species in many ways, but an important one is that we communicate with sophisticated language, using words and grammar. So how does language work? Is there a single mechanism in the brain, or multiple mechanisms? Is it useful to learn a second language – what are the cognitive advantages to being bilingual? Cathy Price is a neuroscientist and a leading expert in language.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

Image: A man delivering a speech (Credit: BBC)

How Does Language Work?20180908

How do we process language? We speak to a neuroscientist who specialises in language

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Humans are a unique species in many ways, but an important one is that we communicate with sophisticated language, using words and grammar. So how does language work? Is there a single mechanism in the brain, or multiple mechanisms? Is it useful to learn a second language – what are the cognitive advantages to being bilingual? Cathy Price is a neuroscientist and a leading expert in language.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

Image: A man delivering a speech (Credit: BBC)

How To Stop Murder2018080420180805 (WS)

How can we reduce murder rates?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

How can we reduce murder rates? Homicide is frequent in some countries, rare in others. The countries in which the homicide rate is very high include El Salvador and Honduras. The countries in which the murder rate is very low include Japan and Norway. The homicide rate in El Salvador is 100 times worse than the homicide rate in Norway. So what explains this extraordinary difference? Susanne Karstedt is a German-born criminologist who researches homicide around the world. She offers a surprising answer.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Crime Scene, Shutterstock)

How To Stop Murder20180804

How can we reduce murder rates?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

How can we reduce murder rates? Homicide is frequent in some countries, rare in others. The countries in which the homicide rate is very high include El Salvador and Honduras. The countries in which the murder rate is very low include Japan and Norway. The homicide rate in El Salvador is 100 times worse than the homicide rate in Norway. So what explains this extraordinary difference? Susanne Karstedt is a German-born criminologist who researches homicide around the world. She offers a surprising answer.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Crime Scene, Shutterstock)

Inequality Makes Us Anxious2018071420180715 (WS)

Inequality makes people anxious. How?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Inequality makes people anxious. How? Well, according to Kate Pickett, in unequal societies we become more conscious of our position in society, more aware of our status. That creates anxiety. And that in turn is linked to all sorts of bad outcomes, such as obesity, lower life-expectancy, and higher levels of teenage pregnancy. It’s also linked, claims Professor Pickett, to consumerism. In unequal societies, she says, we’re more likely to want the branded watch or handbag. Then, as you’ll hear, there’s the weird connection between inequality and female attraction to men….

Presented by David Edmonds
Produced by Ben Cooper

Image: John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett in the Class Sketch from Frost Over England, 1967 (Credit: BBC)

Inequality makes people anxious. How?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Inequality makes people anxious. How? Well, according to Kate Pickett, in unequal societies we become more conscious of our position in society, more aware of our status. That creates anxiety. And that in turn is linked to all sorts of bad outcomes, such as obesity, lower life-expectancy, and higher levels of teenage pregnancy. It’s also linked, claims Professor Pickett, to consumerism. In unequal societies, she says, we’re more likely to want the branded watch or handbag. Then, as you’ll hear, there’s the weird connection between inequality and female attraction to men….

Presented by David Edmonds
Produced by Ben Cooper

Image: John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett in the Class Sketch from Frost Over England, 1967 (Credit: BBC)

Memory Wars2018060920180610 (WS)

Should you trust your memory?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Many criminal court cases rest on eye-witness accounts of what happened. There’s a problem though. Elizabeth Loftus – one of the world’s most influential psychologists – has shown in numerous experiments that memory is not nearly as reliable as we once believed. It is easy to alter memories. It’s even quite easy to implant entirely false memories – making people believe they remember something which never occurred.

Presented by David Edmonds

(Photo: Brain and eraser, Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Monkey Money2018033120180401 (WS)

What can monkeys tell us about the stock market?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

What can monkeys tell us about the stock market? Apes and monkeys are our closest animal relatives. We share a common evolutionary history. Through studying them, Laurie Santos believes we can learn a bit about ourselves and our attitude to money. Laurie Santos has taught monkeys to use money (or tokens). And it turns out that in experiments, monkeys make some ‘financial’ decisions which are remarkably similar to those made by humans. This may explain why we humans keep facing financial crises!

Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Rodin/Thinking Gorilla, Credit: Shutterstock)

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

Outrage And Moral Conscience2018052620180527 (WS)

Why is there so much outrage on social media?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Why is there so much outrage on social media? And what does this have to do with our moral conscience? Molly Crockett is a neuroscientist who runs her own lab at Yale University. She believes that concern about reputation may explain both the operation of our conscience and our frequent expressions of indignation.

Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Flaming fists, Credit: Shutterstock)

Social Physics2018042120180422 (WS)

What can data tell us about the success of cities?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Professor Sandy Pentland is the modern pioneer of what’s called ‘Social Physics’ - the analysis of human interactions using so called Big Data. Mining data - from credit cards, electronic ticketing and mobile phones - we can now take a reading of the city, its pulse. Sandy Pentland tells us why some cities are richer and more successful than others.

Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Busy City scene at night, Credit: Getty Images)

Super-intelligence2018050520180506 (WS)

Will we be able to control computers of the future?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

One day – and Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom believes it may not be far away – computers could become super-intelligent. At that stage they’ll far surpass human intelligence. They may be able to solve our most intractable problems – like find a cure for every disease. But will we be able to control these computers – or will they control us?
David Edmonds presents

(Image: Computer Code, Credit: Shutterstock)

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea? outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

The Afterlife2018092220180923 (WS)

Suppose you knew that after your natural death the human race would die out\u2026

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Suppose you knew that after your natural death the human race would die out – perhaps, for some reason, humans had become infertile. How would that alter how you live your life? How would it change your attitude to the ideas and projects to which you are currently committed? This thought experiment is posed by American philosopher Samuel Scheffler. He believes that in this scenario, most of what currently gives our life significance would come to feel meaningless. This leads him to conclude that we care deeply about the survival of our species. We need the human race to survive for our lives to seem valuable.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

Image: People in a crowd (Credit: BBC)

The Afterlife2018092220180923 (WS)

Suppose you knew that after your natural death the human race would die out\u2026

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Suppose you knew that after your natural death the human race would die out – perhaps, for some reason, humans had become infertile. How would that alter how you live your life? How would it change your attitude to the ideas and projects to which you are currently committed? This thought experiment is posed by American philosopher Samuel Scheffler. He believes that in this scenario, most of what currently gives our life significance would come to feel meaningless. This leads him to conclude that we care deeply about the survival of our species. We need the human race to survive for our lives to seem valuable.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

The Afterlife20180922

Suppose you knew that after your natural death the human race would die out\u2026

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Suppose you knew that after your natural death the human race would die out – perhaps, for some reason, humans had become infertile. How would that alter how you live your life? How would it change your attitude to the ideas and projects to which you are currently committed? This thought experiment is posed by American philosopher Samuel Scheffler. He believes that in this scenario, most of what currently gives our life significance would come to feel meaningless. This leads him to conclude that we care deeply about the survival of our species. We need the human race to survive for our lives to seem valuable.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

Image: People in a crowd (Credit: BBC)

The Growth Mindset2018042820180429 (WS)

Why do some kids do better at school than others?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

The Growth Mindset. Is there such a thing as innate talent? Possibly. We’re not all capable of winning a Nobel physics prize. But according to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck children who believe that talent is fixed do worse at school. For kids to succeed, they need what she calls ‘a growth mindset’. Her theories have had an enormous influence on education around the world.

Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Children in classroom, Credit: Shutterstock)

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

The Intelligent Tree2018082520180826 (WS)

Are trees intelligent?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Are trees intelligent? We think of humans as intelligent – maybe animals too. But vegetation? Well, one of the world’s leading tree researchers, Suzanne Simard, insists that trees should be seen as intelligent. They communicate with each other. They help each other. They are even able to distinguish between their offspring and stranger trees. She calls the network of tree communication the wood wide web. And she believes that her discoveries should alter our relationship to trees, woods and forests.

Presenter: David Edmonds
Producer: Ben Cooper

(Photo: US-Fall-Shenandoah, Credit: Getty Images)

The Intelligent Tree20180825

Are trees intelligent?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Are trees intelligent? We think of humans as intelligent – maybe animals too. But vegetation? Well, one of the world’s leading tree researchers, Suzanne Simard, insists that trees should be seen as intelligent. They communicate with each other. They help each other. They are even able to distinguish between their offspring and stranger trees. She calls the network of tree communication the wood wide web. And she believes that her discoveries should alter our relationship to trees, woods and forests.

Presenter: David Edmonds
Producer: Ben Cooper

(Photo: US-Fall-Shenandoah, Credit: Getty Images)

The New Distrust2018063020180701 (WS)

Are we living through a crisis in trust?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

In an era of fake news, are we living through a crisis in trust? Without trust society couldn’t function. We need to know that individuals and organizations are competent and reliable, that they’re not corrupt and that they’ll honour their word. But now we have digital manipulation, allegations of fabricated news stories and ubiquitous social media spewing out much that is bogus and emotionally manipulative. What, then, can be done to counter these developments? And how much of a threat do they pose to democracy? We speak to the most trustworthy of philosophers, Onora O’Neill.

Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Pinnochio on newspapers, Credit: Getty Images)

Are we living through a crisis in trust?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

In an era of fake news, are we living through a crisis in trust? Without trust society couldn’t function. We need to know that individuals and organizations are competent and reliable, that they’re not corrupt and that they’ll honour their word. But now we have digital manipulation, allegations of fabricated news stories and ubiquitous social media spewing out much that is bogus and emotionally manipulative. What, then, can be done to counter these developments? And how much of a threat do they pose to democracy? We speak to the most trustworthy of philosophers, Onora O’Neill.

Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Pinnochio on newspapers, Credit: Getty Images)

Are we living through a crisis in trust?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

In an era of fake news, are we living through a crisis in trust? Without trust society couldn’t function. We need to know that individuals and organizations are competent and reliable, that they’re not corrupt and that they’ll honour their word. But now we have digital manipulation, allegations of fabricated news stories and ubiquitous social media spewing out much that is bogus and emotionally manipulative. What, then, can be done to counter these developments? And how much of a threat do they pose to democracy? We speak to the most trustworthy of philosophers, Onora O’Neill.

Presented by David Edmonds

(Image: Pinnochio on newspapers, Credit: Getty Images)

What are the big ideas shaping our world? This series from the BBC World Service picks the best ideas from economics to psychology, neuroscience to philosophy, political science to anthropology, and makes them easy to digest.

Each episode of “The Big Idea” outlines the important idea through the words of the person who’s developed the theory. In just nine minutes we offer a weekly chance to listen and feel just a little bit wiser.

The Teenage Brain2018081120180812 (WS)

Why can\u2019t teenagers get out of bed in the morning

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Teenagers are an alien species. Well, that’s not exactly the conclusion of Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s research, but it’s a crude summary. Professor Blakemore, author of Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain, is a leading neuroscientist who studies the teenage brain. When humans enter adolescence their brains, as well as their bodies, go through a period of transformation. And, during this period their behaviour alters. They become more risk-taking for example, and more acutely conscious of how they’re perceived by others. Professor Blakemore even has an explanation for why they can’t get out of bed.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Parent and teenager, Credit: Shutterstock)

The Teenage Brain20180811

Why can\u2019t teenagers get out of bed in the morning

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Teenagers are an alien species. Well, that’s not exactly the conclusion of Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s research, but it’s a crude summary. Professor Blakemore, author of Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain, is a leading neuroscientist who studies the teenage brain. When humans enter adolescence their brains, as well as their bodies, go through a period of transformation. And, during this period their behaviour alters. They become more risk-taking for example, and more acutely conscious of how they’re perceived by others. Professor Blakemore even has an explanation for why they can’t get out of bed.

Presenter David Edmonds
Producer Ben Cooper

(Image: Parent and teenager, Credit: Shutterstock)

Why Are Some Nations Rich?2018091520180916 (WS)

Why are some nations richer than others?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Some countries, like Norway, are rich. Other countries, like Niger, are poor. Why? Why do some countries succeed whilst others fail? There are various possible theories. Some say that certain countries have geographical or resource advantages. Others claim that the real explanation is cultural – in some cultures, it’s said, there’s a stronger work ethic than in others. But the distinguished economist James Robinson, co-author of Why Nations Fail, proposes an alternative answer. He says it’s all to do with how a nation is governed and the strength of its institutions.

Presenter: David Edmonds
Producer: Ben Cooper

Image: Interior of City Hall in Oslo, pictured during the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize awarding ceremony (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Why Are Some Nations Rich?20180915

Why are some nations richer than others?

A big idea that shapes how we understand our place in the world - from the idea\u2019s creator.

Some countries, like Norway, are rich. Other countries, like Niger, are poor. Why? Why do some countries succeed whilst others fail? There are various possible theories. Some say that certain countries have geographical or resource advantages. Others claim that the real explanation is cultural – in some cultures, it’s said, there’s a stronger work ethic than in others. But the distinguished economist James Robinson, co-author of Why Nations Fail, proposes an alternative answer. He says it’s all to do with how a nation is governed and the strength of its institutions.

Presenter: David Edmonds
Producer: Ben Cooper

Image: Interior of City Hall in Oslo, pictured during the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize awarding ceremony (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)