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Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2012

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Sydney Opera House and the St James Ethics Centre present

Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2012
28 - 30 September 2012, Sydney Opera House

ILLAN PAPPE / SAM HARRIS / GERMAINE GREER / TIM HARFORD / JASON SILVA / JOE HILDEBRAND  / GIDEON HAIGH  / JESSE BERING    BISHOP JULIAN PORTEOUS  / JANE BUSSMANN / JASON SILVA / ELIZA GRISWOLD / ED HOWKER / SHIV MALIK / ALBERTO GIUBILINI / FRANCESCA MINERVA   PETER FITZSIMONS / SIMON LAHAM / CORMAC CULLINAN / GUY PEARSE APPLESPIEL / BRIAN MORRIS / MATTHEW LIAO  / MICHAEL ANDERSON  BRIAN MORRIS / ALEC DOOMADGEE / SAMAH HADID / RONNIE CHAN / LI CUNXIN / GEOFFREY GARRETT / JIANYING ZHA / STAN GRANT / PASI SAHLBERG / EVA COX / TARA MOSS / RICHARD HEINBERG /MICHAEL ANDERSON / CHRIS LEITHNER

From 28 – 30 September, Sydney Opera House will present the fourth annual Festival of Dangerous Ideas.

Now in its fourth year, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas is more dangerous than ever, bringing important questions to light as a catalyst for sharp debate and vibrant discussion.  Traversing a broad terrain, the festival features a host of international and local speakers. From intellectual icons to the next generation of thinkers including; a feminist icon who continues to inspire and provoke, Germaine Greer;  the last of the four horsemen of the new atheist apocalypse, neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris; new Israeli historian, Illan Pappe; alongside viral-futurist-philosopher Jason Silva, latter-day polemicists Shiv Malik and Ed Howker; comedy writer turned Kony-chronicler Jane Bussmann, Slate's favourite crazy-brave psychologist, Jesse Bering and undercover economist Tim Harford.

They will join over 40 other speakers to examine dangerous ideas including The Coming Civil War Between Young & Old, The Delusion of Free Will, All Women Hate Each Other, Israel is an Apartheid State, The Devil is Real, Genital Cutting is Normal, We are all Sexual Perverts, A Foetus is not a Person and  You are Being Greenwashed. They will also debate whether we should Abolish Private Schools and discuss “Chinamerica”, what we should do about the banks and whether your workplace is a cult.

Sydney Opera House Head of Public Programs and curator of Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Ann Mossop, says, “The Festival this year has some really electrifying dangerous thinkers who are the next generation and who really understand how to communicate their ideas.  Obviously people like Sam Harris and Tim Harford will be familiar from their books, but Jesse Bering, Jane Bussmann and Jason Silva are really going to have an impact. Jane Bussmann and Jesse Bering bring so much wit and humour to the very serious things that they talk about and Jason Silva is such a voracious and enthusiastic propagator of scientific ideas that I think people will be blown away.”

Festival Co-curator and Executive Director of St James Ethics Centre, Simon Longstaff says, “Festival of Dangerous Ideas is entering a new phase - while past Festivals have brought us contentious speakers; this one may well be the most provocative so far. Fortunately, people won’t be left to bite their tongues or fume in a hot-house of discontent. This is a live event - so rather than raging at a talking head safely tucked away on a screen, our audience can join in and challenge the ideas they find dangerous or mistaken. In that sense, Festival of Dangerous Ideas is as much about the audience as it is the invited speakers.”

For the first time, Sydney Opera House will host a preview event on the weekend prior to the Festival Sunday September 23, with Israeli “new” historian, Illan Pappe asking whether Israel is an Apartheid State.

Opening this year’s Festival on September 28, Sam Harris, neuroscientist, philosopher and one of the “four horsemen of new aesthesism” (alongside the late Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett), will argue that we need to discard The Delusion of Free Will and  change the way we think about morality, religion, ethics and law.

One of Australia’s most consistently dangerous thinkers, feminist icon, Germaine Greer returns to Sydney Opera House and the Festival of Dangerous Ideas for three separate - and equally dangerous- events over the weekend.  First up on Saturday 29 September, Greer will take on one of the Festival’s favourite tasks and demonstrate How Many Dangerous Ideas Can One Person Have?  On Sunday 30 September, Greer will also discuss, with medical researcher and advocate for male circumcision, Brian Morris whether Genital Cutting is Normal. 

Finally, Greer will join Australian author and former model, Tara Moss and feminist commentator and activist Eva Cox to discuss the notion that All Women Hate Each Other.

In a CNN live event, China ♥ America, a panel of experts on China and USA relations, will explore China’s changing relationship with America. Chaired by Stan Grant, the panel will feature author and former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, James Fallows; founding CEO of the IS Studies Centre, Geoffrey Garrett; author and economics consultant, Eric Knight and author and China representative of the India China Institute, Jianying Zha.

Leading Finnish education expert Pasi Sahlberg and a panel of speakers from all sides of the debate in Australia will consider what it would mean for education in Australia if we were to Abolish Private Schools.

American journalist and “The Undercover Economist” Tim Harford will tell us why we need to Make More Mistakes.

A Foetus is not a Person is a philosophical conversation about the ethical status of human life and what it means to be a ‘person’.

In The Coming Civil War Between Young & Old, Ed Howker and Shiv Malik discuss how the contrast between the generations has never been starker. While baby boomers were able to own their houses and have free education, their children have paid for university, struggle to own property and delay having children in the face of an uncertain future. 

Award-winning British comedy writer, author and journalist Jane Bussmann has a clear message in Bono & Bob Get Out of Africa. If you want to help Africa, sort out the perpetrators of violence and their Western accomplices, otherwise, get out!

Multi-award winning investigative American journalist, Eliza Griswold appears in two events and will argue that Justice is more Important than Freedom. Eliza will also be part of a panel including Jim Molan and chaired by Hamish Macdonald entitled, The War in Afghanistan has Just Begun.

Author and psychology professor, Jesse Berring explores what constitutes ‘normal’ sexual behaviour in We are all Sexual Perverts.

In We Are the Gods Now, Jason Silva examines whether powerful technological advancement has turned humans into gods.

In Engineer Humans to Stop Climate Change, philosopher Matthew Liao explores a possible solution to reducing our impact on the earth - engineering humans to adapt and prevent climate change.

Is the concept of privacy redundant? Victoria Doidge and Stilgherrian represent views from opposite ends of the spectrum in; I Share Therefore I Am

All Australians are Racist; Are we the tolerant and generous multi cultural country of the fair go, or do we need to recognise our intrinsic, ingrained racism in order to deal with it?

In My Workplace is a Cult, Google’s Tom Uglow and Australian author of The Office: A Hardworking History , Gideon Haigh will give their perspectives on the idea that cult-like qualities have come to characterise work for many Australians.
Jesse Bering, Stephanie Hemelryk Donald and Catharine Lumby tackle the contentious topic; Children are not Innocent.

If The Devil is Real, what difference does this make to how we think of evil? Are his malign intentions the ultimate source of evil in human affairs? And if so, does this mean that we should arm ourselves for ‘spiritual warfare’

Michael Anderson explores what would happen if it could be proven that Aboriginal people never lost sovereignty over Australia in Who Owns Australia?

In Let the Banks Fail, Chris Leithner looks at the concept that in a free society, no bank is so big or important that we shouldn’t let it fail.

Anzac Day, Best we Forget will examine whether Anzac Day’s military mateship and “noble failure” should still define Australia in the 21st Century.  - does it have meaning in contemporary Australia or is it something that, with all due respect, we need to lay aside and forget?

Experimental social psychologist Simon Laham explores The Joy of Sin and argues that even the deadliest vices can make you smart, successful, and happy.

Are we being tricked into buying ‘green’ products by seductive branding and spin? And could we be making the problem worse, not better?  Guy Pearse, research Fellow at the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland investigates in You are being Greenwashed.

By the Sea, Freedom by Applespiel is a new interactive performance work that gives you the chance to help create the Australia you have always wanted. Who knows? Maybe you will never want to leave.

Tickets for Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2011 go on sale on Monday 30th July.
Full program available at www.sydneyoperahouse.com/festivalofdangerousideas

Season Details:
Event:  Festival of Dangerous Ideas
Date:  Friday 28 – Sunday 30 September, various time
Venue:  Sydney Opera House, various venues
Tickets:  $25-45. Multipack discount available (phone bookings only)
Bookings: (02) 9250 7777 or online at sydneyoperahouse.com

Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2011 events can be viewed here: http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/FODITalks

Media Enquiries:
Alexandra Barlow, Sydney Opera House abarlow@sydneyoperahouse.com / 02 9250 7825 /                0418 656 535

Helene Fox Sydney Opera House hfox@sydneyoperahouse.com (02) 9250 7805 / 0401 711 764

Keep up to date with Festival of Dangerous Ideas: Follow us on Twitter @IdeasattheHouse #FODI
Find us on Facebook at ‘Ideas at the House’  and at sydneyoperahouse.com/FODI

 

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