The Torch

The Great Courses Podcast

THE TORCH introduces you to the fascinating professors and experts who create the Great Courses. Each episode showcases several of our top professors in a fresh light, spotlights the great work they are doing, and gives you an opportunity to learn from their incredible insights.

Separate Fact From Fiction; Reveal Facts; and Explore Fiction With The Torch!

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Separate Fact From Fiction; Reveal Facts; and Explore Fiction With The Torch!

Episode 57
February, 2017
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The truth is out there! Explore misconceptions about how your mind works, uncover overlooked history, and define two sides of the same literary coin. Join Ed Leon and three esteemed experts on this revealing edition of The Torch where we bust common myths about our own minds, expose the amazing contributions that came from the Islamic Middle Ages, and delve into the literary genres of utopian and dystopian fiction.

Do brain games help us avoid Alzheimer's? What percentage of our brain do we use? When it comes to our brains, there are many fallacies out there that we've taken as fact. Professor Indre Viskontas answers these questions and provides the truth about how our minds work.

Italy wasn't the only country to undergo a cultural and scientific renaissance that impacted the world. Professor Eamonn Gearon reveals the many contributions of the Islamic Golden Age—a period in history that lasts form roughly 750 to about 1258—which is not as well-known as it should be.

In the last decade, dystopian literature has become one of the most popular fictional categories, especially among the young adult audience. But it, and its counterpart, utopian literature, have been established genres for centuries. Professor Pamela Bedore unveils the history and influence of utopian and dystopian fiction.

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In This Podcast Listen To:

  • Professor Indre Viskontas, a Cognitive Neuroscience Affiliate at the University of San Francisco, provide the facts behind common brain misconceptions such as: Brain games help us avoid Alzheimer's, and that we only use 10% of our brain. When it comes to our own minds, there are many fallacies out there that we've taken as truth, and Professor Viskontas will shed light on what's really going on.
  • Professor Eamonn Gearon, Professorial Lecturer in African Studies at Johns Hopkins University, as he highlights a part of history known as the Islamic Golden Age. This a period lasted from roughly 750 to about 1258 and resulted in a scientific and cultural renaissance that impacted the world, including the birth of algebra, the origins of the scientific method, and the invention of the modern "teaching hospital."
  • Professor Pamela Bedore, an award-winning Associate Professor of English, address why recent popular culture and literature is so focused on dystopia, and what befell utopian literature, which is much less frequent in recent decades. She also traces the path from Thomas More's Utopia in 1560 to The Hunger Games and The Walking Dead of today.
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