The Case For Doubt

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Episodes

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01Alastair Campbell On Self-doubt2012041320130503

"Self-doubt that leads to resolution of the doubts can be a remarkable source of energy and creativity".

In the last of five Essays making The Case for Doubt, journalist and broadcaster Alastair Campbell, acknowledging his reputation as a hard man while Tony Blair's spokesman and strategist, admits that self-doubt has always been an essential part of his make-up. But reflecting on Galileo's assertion that self-doubt is 'the father of all invention', he argues that it should be a creative rather than a crippling experience.

This ends the series The Case for Doubt, in which five contributors have argued that Doubt - though sometimes troubling - is meaningful and valuable, and not negative and weak.

First broadcast in April 2012.

01Mark Vernon On Political Doubt2012040920130429

"Forget that life is enveloped not just by known unknowns but unknown unknowns, and you will fall like Icarus from the sky".

In the Essay this week, five contributors - journalists Mark Vernon, Madeleine Bunting, Alastair Campbell; scientist Susan Greenfield, and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht - make The Case for Doubt - the idea that political, religious, and scientific doubt, even self-doubt, though sometimes troubling, is much more useful and valuable than fixed opinions and beliefs.

In this first Essay on doubt in politics, author and broadcaster Mark Vernon argues that a dislike of doubt in politics implies a loss of faith in politics, and that politicians - for their sake as well as ours - should stop cultivating delusions of omnipotent power.

Producer David Coomes

First broadcast in April 2012.

1/5. Mark Vernon on political doubt.

"Forget that life is enveloped not just by known unknowns but unknown unknowns, and you will fall like Icarus from the sky".

Mark Vernon argues that disliking doubt in politics implies a loss of faith in it.

02Susan Greenfield On Scientific Doubt2012041020130430

"Scientists inhabit a tilting and inconclusive world; doubt is as natural to us as breathing, even at the moment of seeming break-through".

Doubt in science is tonight's subject in a series of Essays on The Case for Doubt, in which five contributors argue that doubt is a valuable and meaningful strength, and not a crippling and negative weakness.

Baroness Susan Greenfield, a scientist who specialises in the physiology of the brain, argues that doubt among scientists should be 'as natural as breathing', even when breakthroughs occur, and that doubt in science should be integral not so much to what scientists do, as to how they think.

First broadcast in April 2012.

2/5. Susan Greenfield on scientific doubt.

"Scientists inhabit a tilting and inconclusive world; doubt is as natural to us as breathing, even at the moment of seeming break-through".

Susan Greenfield argues that doubt among scientists should be 'as natural as breathing'.

03Madeleine Bunting On Religious Doubt2012041120130501

"Doubt is a glorious reminder of our limitations as human beings, of how suspicious we should be of certainty".

Journalist and writer Madeleine Bunting makes the case for doubt in religion - why religious doubt is a 'glorious reminder' of our limitations as human beings, why we should always be suspicious of the certainty that breeds intolerance, and how the doubt she so feared as a child has now become a useful ally.

Madeleine Bunting is the third of five contributors making The Case for Doubt - that it is much more meaningful than certainty and much more valuable than fixed opinions and beliefs.

First broadcast in April 2012.

3/5. Madeleine Bunting on religious doubt.

"Doubt is a glorious reminder of our limitations as human beings, of how suspicious we should be of certainty".

Journalist and writer Madeleine Bunting makes the case for doubt in religion - why religious doubt is a 'glorious

reminder' of our limitations as human beings, why we should always be suspicious of the certainty that breeds intolerance, and how the doubt she so feared as a child has now become a useful ally.

Journalist and writer Madeleine Bunting discusses religious doubt.

04Jennifer Michael Hecht On Doubt2012041220130502

American poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht on doubt. "If we are interested in truth, and in our own freedom, we ought to celebrate that which convinces us to doubt".

Long Desc

Jennifer Michael Hecht on doubt.

"If we are interested in truth, and in our own freedom, we ought to celebrate that which convinces us to doubt".

The American poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht reflects on doubt as 'a beautiful thing' in a world where knowing is celebrated more than doubting. Hecht, who has written a history of Doubt, argues that if we are truly interested in freedom and truth, our fixed opinions and beliefs will start giving way to doubt.

This is the fourth of five Essays on The Case for Doubt - political, religious, and scientific doubt... concluding with self-doubt.

First broadcast in April 2012.

4/5. Jennifer Michael Hecht on doubt.

"If we are interested in truth, and in our own freedom, we ought to celebrate that which convinces us to doubt".

The American poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht reflects on doubt as 'a beautiful thing' in a world where

knowing is celebrated more than doubting. Hecht, who has written a history of Doubt, argues that if we

are truly interested in freedom and truth, our fixed opinions and beliefs will start giving way to doubt.

American poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht argues doubt is 'a beautiful thing'.

05 LASTAlastair Campbell20120413

5/5. Alastair Campbell on self-doubt.

"Self-doubt that leads to resolution of the doubts can be a remarkable source of energy and creativity".

In the last of five Essays making The Case for Doubt, journalist and broadcaster Alastair Campbell, acknowledging his reputation as a hard man while Tony Blair's spokesman and strategist, admits that self-doubt has always been an essential part of his make-up. But reflecting on Galileo's assertion that self-doubt is 'the father of all invention', he argues that it should be a creative rather than a crippling experience.

This ends the series The Case for Doubt, in which five contributors have argued that Doubt - though sometimes troubling - is meaningful and valuable, and not negative and weak.

Alastair Campbell on how self-doubt can be a remarkable source of energy and creativity.