David Aaronovitch, writer, broadcaster and commentator on international politics and the media joins Little Atoms to discuss the role of the conspiracy theory in shaping modern history.
“A very committed conspiracy theorist is as attached to their theories as any significant religious person is to their faith or a political ideologue to a political idea that they really don’t want to give up.”
His book, Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History explores the importance of rationality in the information age.
“The sources of information available to young people today are at a level that we never dreamed of. It will be increasingly important that as the information revolution deepens, to create spaces that have a rationalist kite mark on them - spaces that have a badge of quality on them. I think its going to be one of the big discussions of the next 10 years.”
For Aaronovitch deconstructing conspiracy theories and finding the truth is vitally important.
“It matters because one is true and one isn’t. It matters trying to get at the true versions of history and the true versions of science as far as we can know them. That effort matters.”
First broadcast 29/05/09
Alex Bellos is the bestselling author of Alex's Adventures in Numberland, which was shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize. In 2002 he wrote a critically acclaimed book about Brazilian football, and in 2006 he ghost-wrote Pele's autobiography, which was a number one bestseller. He is the Guardian's maths-blogger, and has worked for the paper in London and Rio de Janeiro as its unusually numerate foreign correspondent. He is a curator-in-residence at the Science Museum and has a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford. His Latest book is Alex Through the Looking-Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life. Alex has been my guest on Little Atoms twice.
Interview one first broadcast on 17th September 2010.
Interview two first broadcast on 24th May 2014.
Jesse Bering, PhD, is a frequent contributor to Scientific American and Slate. His writing has also appeared in New York magazine, The Guardian, and The New Republic, among other publications, and has been featured by NPR, Playboy Radio, the BBC, and more. The author of The God Instinct and Why is the Penis Shaped Like That? Bering is the former director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen's University, Belfast, and began his career as a professor at the University of Arkansas. Jesse's latest book is Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us. Jesse Bering has been a guest on Little Atoms twice.
Interview one first broadcast on 30th November 2012.
Interview two first broadcast on 10th May 2014.
James Hannam is a historian of science specialising in the relationship between science and Christianity in the Medieval and Early Modern eras. He took Masters (2003) from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD (2008) in the History and Philosophy of Science at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. James' reviews and articles have been published in the academic journals British Journal of the History of Science, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliography Society, Science and Christian Belief and Perspectives on Science and Faith. James Hannam is the author of God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science.
The 1st October 2009 saw the launch of The Atheist Guide to Christmas. This episode of Little Atoms features Neil and Padraig in conversation with 3 old friends of the show, editor Ariane Sherine, and contributors Natalie Haynes and Josie Long. We discuss the genesis (!) of the book, our contributions, the ideal christmas, and argue over the definitions of atheism, agnosticism and secularism, then the rubbishness of various ex-boyfriends gift buying skills are discussed.
Edited by Ariane Sherine, The Atheist's Guide To Christmas features 42 contributions from the world's most entertaining atheist scientists, comedians, philosophers, writers and journalists, including: Richard Dawkins, Derren Brown, Charlie Brooker, David Baddiel, Ben Goldacre, Josie Long, Richard Herring, Simon Singh, Brian Cox, Jenny Colgan, AC Grayling, Simon Le Bon, Claire Rayner, Robin Ince, Natalie Haynes, Zoe Margolis, Phil Plait, Mitch Benn, Lucy Porter, Adam Rutherford... and many, many more (Including Little Atoms own Neil Denny).
First broadcast on 25th September 2009.
Ian Haworth is the General Secretary of the Cult Information Centre. The Cult Information Centre is an educational charity providing advice and information for victims of cults, their families and friends, researchers and the media. Founded in 1987, and becoming a registered charity in 1992, it was the first educational organisation focusing critical concern on the methods used by cults to be granted charitable status in the UK.
Christopher Hitchens is a British born, but recently naturalised American Author, Journalist, Essayist and Literary Critic. Based in Washington D.C., Christopher is currently a writer for Vanity Fair and Slate, and an (acrimoniously) ex-writer for The Nation.
Christopher's books include Blood, Class and Empire, Letters to a Young Contrarian, Orwell's Victory, The Missionary Position, No One Left to Lie To and The Trial of Henry Kissinger. His collected Literary essays can be found in Unacknowledged Legislation, and collected political essays in For the Sake of Argument and Love, Poverty and War. Christopher's most recently published book is God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Christopher describes himself as an Anti-Theist, rather than an Atheist, and he was an outspoken supporter of the removal of Saddam Hussein, a position which has alienated him from a large number of his former Comrades on the Left.
Julie Burchill has been writing her often controversial journalism for almost 30 years, for publications as diverse as The NME, The Spectator, Daily Mail, The Times, The Express and The Guardian. She was also founding editor of The Modern Review. Julie's colourful private and social life has generated almost as many column inches over the years. She has written numerous novels, one of which Sugar Rush, has been adapted for television by Channel Four. Julie has also made a number of documentaries for Sky.
Sara Lawrence is a journalist who has worked for The Mail and The Times. She has recently secured a lucrative deal to write novels for teenagers Sara and Julie are currently collaborating on a play for the BBC's groundbreaking Decades series.
Chas Newkey-Burden is a journalist and the author of a number of books including Great Email Disasters and Amy Winehouse: She Told Us She Was Trouble. Julie and Chas have co-written a book, Not In My Name: A Compendium Of Modern Hypocrisy, published by Virgin on 7th August 2008.
Interview With Julie Burchill and Sara Lawrence first broadcast on 24th November 2006.
Interview With Julie Burchill and Chas Newkey-Burden first broadcast on 15th August 2008.
Christopher T. Marsden is Professor of Law at the University of Sussex School of Law. He is the author of Net Neutrality: Towards a Co-Regulatory Solution, Internet Co-Regulation, and three other books. Ian and Chris are the join authors of Regulating Code: Good Governance and Better Regulation in the Information Age.
This week's Little Atoms is presented by Becky Hogge, with special guest presenter Bill Thompson.
First broadcast on 17th May 2013.
Martin Nowak is Professor of Biology and Mathematics at Harvard University and the recipient of a raft of international prizes. He has held major research posts at the University of Vienna, Oxford University, Princeton and now Harvard. He has published over 300 papers and has been widely praised for revolutionising the mathematical approach to biology. Martin is the author of Supercooperators: Evolution, Altruism and Human Behaviour or Why We Need Each Other to Succeed. SuperCooperators is co-authored by Roger Highfield, PhD, the editor of New Scientist magazine.
First broadcast on 29th April 2011.
Mary Roach has written for the Guardian, Vogue, GQ, Salon, Wired, National Geographic and the New York Times Magazine. She is the author of Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers, Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex and Science, and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in Space. Her latest book, which we talk about in this interview, is Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.
Little Atoms interview one first broadcast on 27th June 2008.
Little Atoms Road Trip Interview with Mary Roach can be found here.
Little Atoms interview two first broadcast on 26th April 2013.
Marlene Zuk is a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, her main research interest being behavioural ecology, the study of the evolution of behaviour. Her research centres on sexual selection and the effects of parasites on mate choice and the evolution of secondary sex characters. Marlene Zuk is the author of Sexual Selections: What we Can and Can't Learn about Sex from Animals, and Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World. Her latest book is Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells us About Sex, Diet and How we Live.
First broadcast on 2nd August 2013.
Matthew Sweet is a writer and broadcaster. He presents Night Waves and Free Thinking on BBC Radio 3 and The Philosopher's Arms and The Film Programme on BBC Radio 4. He is the author of Inventing the Victorians and Shepperton Babylon: The Lost Worlds of British Cinema - which he adapted as a film for BBC Four. His TV programmes include Silent Britain, A Brief History of Fun, The Age of Excess, Truly, Madly, Cheaply and The Rules of Film Noir. Matthew's latest book is The West End Front.
First broadcast on 10th February 2012.
London-based, Iranian-Canadian journalist and filmmaker Maziar Bahari was reporting for Newsweek magazine when he was arrested without charge during the 2009 Iranian Election Protests. He was held for 118 days until the Iranian state was forced by international pressure to release him. Maziar's book, Then They Came for Me, co-written with Aimee Molloy, tells the story of his incarceration.
First broadcast on 16th March 2012.
Irving Finkel is an archaeologist and Assyriologist, currently Assistant Keeper of Ancient Mesopotamian Script, Languages and Cultures in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum. He's also an expert on the history of board games, and the founder of the Great Diary Project. Irving is the author of numerous books, most recently The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood. Also on this week's show, astrophysicist Lucianne Walkowicz on the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Temple of Dendur.
First broadcast on 19th April 2014.
Henry Nicholls is a freelance science journalist writing regularly for Nature, New Scientist and BBC Focus as well as the broadsheets. His first book Lonesome George told the story of the last giant tortoise of Pinta in the Galapagos and was shortlisted for the 2007 Royal Society General Book Prize. Henry's latest book is The Way of The Panda: The Curious History of China's Political Animal.
First broadcast on 25th February 2011.
Matthew Kneale studied Modern History at Oxford University. He is the author of several novels, including English Passengers which won the Whitbread Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His latest book is An Atheist's History of Belief: Understanding Our Most Extraordinary Invention. Also this week, columnist Suzanne Moore on A Book of Dreams by Peter Reich.
First broadcast on 1st February 2014.
Michael Nevin is one of the country's most experienced and respected applied economists. After working as an economist for the Government of St Lucia in the late 1970s, he worked as an investment analyst with the Commonwealth Development Corporation in London in the early 1980s. He returned to the UK in 1986 to serve as Financial and Economic Manager of the London Docklands Development Corporation, sponsors of the world's largest urban regeneration programme. In 1997, he founded Caledonian Economics as a specialist project finance practice. He sold his interest in the firm in July 2007, since when he has acted for a small number of selected clients on financial and economic matters through Nevin Associates Ltd. Mike Nevin is the author of The Golden Guinea: The International Financial Crisis, 2007-2014: Causes, Consequences and Cures.
First broadcast on 7th December 2012.
Matthew Hutson has a degree in cognitive neuroscience from Brown University and a Masters in science writing from MIT. He's written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Wired, Discover, Scientific American Mind, Popular Mechanics, The Boston Globe, and Psychology Today, where he spent four years as an editor. Matthew is the author of The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane.
First broadcast on 23rd November 2012.
Molly Oldfield studied Modern History at Oxford before becoming a writer and researcher on the BBC television show QI. She has worked on a string of bestselling QI books, writes the weekly QI column for the Daily Telegraph and is a researcher on a BBC Radio 4 show, The Museum of Curiosity. She is also the author of The Secret Museum, which looks behind the scenes at the hidden treasures contained within the World's museum's archives.
First broadcast on 8th October 2013.
In this episode of Little Atoms, two philosophical interviews:
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein received her doctorate in philosophy from Princeton University. Her award-winning books include the novels The Mind-Body Problem, Properties of Light, and 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction and nonfiction studies of Kurt Gödel and Baruch Spinoza. She has received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, has been designated a Humanist of the Year and a Freethought Heroine, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her latest book is Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away.
Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster. He is a presenter of Analysis of BBC Radio 4, and a panellist on The Moral Maze. He has taught at universities in Britain, Europe, Australia and the USA, presented many TV documentaries and writes regularly for newspapers across the world including the New York Times , the Guardian, and the Australian. His books include Man, Beast and Zombie, Strange Fruit and From Fatwa to Jihad, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Orwell Prize. His latest book is The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics.
First broadcast on 19th November 2014
John O'Farrell is an author and journalist. He has published three novels, The Best A Man Can Get, This is Your Life and May Contain Nuts, a memoir of his support for the Labour Party in the wilderness years Things Can Only Get Better, and three collections of his Guardian column, Global Village Idiot, I Blame the Scapegoats and I Have A Bream. A former comedy scriptwriter for Spitting Image and Smith and Jones, he is the founder of the satirical website NewsBiscuit, and can often be seen on such TV programmes as Grumpy Old Men, Newsnight Review and Have I Got News For You. John's latest book is An Utterly Impartial History of Britain (or 2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots in Charge).
Olivia Laing's first book, To the River, was a book of the year in the Evening Standard, Independent and Financial Times and was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. Olivia is the former Deputy Books Editor of the Observer and writes for a variety of publications, including the Observer, New Statesman, Guardian and Times Literary Supplement. She's a 2011 MacDowell Fellow, and has received awards from the Arts Council and the Authors' Foundation. Olivia 's latest book is The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking.
First broadcast on 19th July 2014.
Nick Davies writes investigative stories for the Guardian, and has been named Journalist of the Year, Reporter of the Year and Feature Writer of the Year in the British press awards. Nick's books include Dark Heart: The Shocking Truth About Hidden Britain, and Murder on Ward Four. His latest book Flat Earth News exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media.
First broadcast on 6th February 2009.
Lynn Barber's interviews have won five British Press Awards and a What the Papers Say award. There are two published collections, Mostly Men and Demon Barber, both from Viking. She has also written books on Victorian naturalists, and sex - her first book was called How To Improve Your Man in Bed. Born in l944, she read English at Oxford before working for Penthouse magazine for seven years, then the Sunday Express, The Independent on Sunday, Vanity Fair, The Daily Telegraph and the Observer. She currently writes for the Sunday Times. Lynn's memoir, An Education, was recently turned into a film, with script by Nick Hornby.
First broadcast on 3rd September 2010.
In 1999 Josie Long won the BBC New Comedy Award at the age of just 17 - making her too young for the champagne that came as part of the prize. Despite the boost the award would have given to her comedy career, she took time off performing to complete her English degree at Oxford university, returning in 2003.
Following the break, she was named best newcomer in the Chortle awards in 2005, and best breakthrough act the following year. In 2006, she also scooped best newcomer in the if.comeddie awards for her solo Edinburgh debut, Kindness and Exuberance. Her next show, Trying is Good, is available on DVD. Josie is currently touring All of The Planet's Wonders (Shown in Detail) which is about "...the magic of learning and making sense of the world. It's about the little and big things in life. It covers the stars, wildlife, animals and museums, being inspired by books she has read and people she's met along the way".
First broadcast on 9th January 2009.
Peter Cave studied philosophy at University College London and King's College Cambridge. He has held lecturing posts in Khartoum and London; currently he is associate lecturer in philosophy for The Open University and City University, London, and has been invited to give lectures in various European universities.
Specialist topics include: philosophical paradoxes and absurdities; reasoning and fallacies in ethics, religion, politics and public life. He is involved in the media, most recently scripting and presenting a series of philosophical paradoxes for BBC Radio 4, set in a paradoxical fairground, and a BBC Radio 4 programme celebrating John Stuart Mill. He has taken part in many public debates concerning God and religious belief.
He is the current chair of the Humanist Philosophers. He gives talks, lectures, debates and publishes papers on a wide range of philosophical topics, often with a humorous content.
He is the author of Humanism: A Beginner's Guide, which BHA President Polly Toynbee described as "A book for our times", and of the best-selling Can a Robot Be Human? and What's Wrong with Eating People? - both books containing 33 puzzles about religious belief as well as about reasoning, logic, ethics and political themes. His most recent work is This Sentence Is False: an Introduction to Philosophical Paradoxes.
First broadcast on 2nd October 2009.
Naomi Alderman grew up in London and attended Oxford University and UEA. Her first novel, Disobedience, was published in ten languages; like her second novel, The Lessons, it was read on BBC radio's Book at Bedtime. In 2006 she won the Orange Award for New Writers. In 2007, she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and one of Waterstones' 25 Writers for the Future.
Her prize-winning short fiction has appeared in Prospect, on BBC Radio 4 and in a number of anthologies. In 2009 she was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award. Naomi broadcasts regularly, has guest-presented Front Row on BBC Radio 4 and writes regularly for Prospect and the Guardian. Her third novel, The Liars' Gospel, was published by Penguin in August 2012 an in 2012 she was selected by Margaret Atwood as her mentee as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative.
First broadcast on 22nd February 2013.
Martin Rowson is a multi-award winning cartoonist whose work appears regularly in the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Mirror and many other publications. His books include graphic adaptations of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land and Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy. Among his other books are The Dog Allusion and Stuff, a memoir longlisted for the 2007 Samuel Johnson Prize. His latest book is an updated version of Gulliver's Travels. In 2001 Martin was made Cartoonist Laureate of London by Mayor Ken Livingstone. He is also a former vice-president of the Zoological Society of London. Martin has been our guest on Little Atoms twice. The first time with...
Padraig Reidy was Deputy Editor of New Humanist, which celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2005. He's now News Editor of Index on Censorship and a presenter of an Internet Radio Show. His work has also featured in the Guardian, the Independent, Tribune, the Irish Examiner and the Irish Post, and he has made frequent appearances on BBC Radio, including The Moral Maze.
Interview one first broadcast on 9th December 2005.
The second time Martin appeared on the show Padraig had graduated to the interviewer's chair.
Interview two first broadcast on 23rd March 2012.
Masha Gessen is a journalist who has written for Slate, Seed, the New Republic, the New York Times, and other publications. Her previous books include Blood Matters: A Journey Along the Genetic Frontier, and her latest is Perfect Rigour: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century.
First broadcast on 22nd April 2011.
Andrew Mueller was born in Wagga Wagga, Australia in 1968, and has lived in London and hotels since 1990. He currently writes on various subjects for the Independent, Independent on Sunday, Guardian, Monocle, Arena, Uncut, High Life, New Humanist and anyone else who'll have him. Andrew was previously the author of Rock & Hard Places and a contributing editor of Robert Young Pelton's The World's Most Dangerous Places. His latest book is I Wouldn't Start From Here: The 21st Century and Where it All Went Wrong.
According to Little Atoms regular Jonathan Meades, "Mueller is a gung-ho Candide with a taste for places that it is wiser to avoid. His book is graphic comic, bemused and properly contemptuous of faith and ideology" (Books of the Year, Evening Standard).
First broadcast on 7th August 2009.
Nicholas Carr is the author of The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google. He is a contributor to the New York Times, Guardian, Financial Times and Wired and was formerly the executive editor of the Harvard Business Review. In 2008 he wrote an article for The Atlantic called Is Google Making Us Stupid? This was recently expanded into a book, The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember, published on 1st September by Atlantic Books. Nick blogs at www.roughtype.com.
First broadcast on 24th September 2010.
Martin Rees is Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics and Master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. He was the President of the Royal Society until 2010, and is the Astronomer Royal. A member of the House of Lords, he is a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. His awards include the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Einstein Award of the World Cultural Council and the Crafoord Prize (Royal Swedish Academy). He was the recipient of the 2011 Templeton Prize. Martin's latest book is From Here to Infinity: Scientific Horizons, which expands on hIs 2010 BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures.
THIS PROGRAM WAS THE 200TH EDITION OF LITTLE ATOMS.
First broadcast on 3rd June 2011.
Nigel Warburton is a contemporary philosopher. As well as being Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at The Open University, he is a presenter of the Philosophy Bites podcast, and teaches a popuar course on art and philosophy at Tate Modern. He is the author of several popular introductions to philosophy including Philosophy: The Basics and Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction. His latest book is A Little History of Philosophy.
First broadcast on 9th December 2011.