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Polymaths on the Radio

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August 17, 2017

Polymaths have been fascinating to me for years now. I’ve tried to read everything I can get my hands on about them trying to learn the habits and practices of these seemingly unfathomable geniuses. Some time ago I set up a Google Alert which lets me know whenever a key word (in this case ‘polymath’) was mentioned in the media. This turned out to a rather pointless practice as until now it had rarely been triggered.

However recently while sitting in a coffee shop in Camden Town, London I opened my emails to discover that at long last the kind of detailed exploration of polymathy that I’ve always wanted to see is finally being produced by a mainstream media organisation. The British radio station BBC Radio 4 are launching a show called ‘Monkman and Seagull’s Polymathic Adventure’ on the 21st of August. It’s being hosted by two former contestants on a television quiz show in the UK called ‘University Challenge’ in which rival universities are pitted against each other in a battle of general knowledge.

I have to admit at this point some sense of frustration on my part. I’ve been in the process of creating my very own podcast exploring many of the the same ideas as the premise of this new show for over a year now. I’d literally just started recording the first episode when news of this show had come out. The more I thought about it however the better I began to feel. I’m convinced there is something to be learned by studying the strategies and behaviours of these people we venerate at polymaths. Therefore, it will surely be better for everyone that polymathy has its time in the limelight in our age of increasing specialisation. Now more than ever when we’re living longer lives offering the possibility for pursuits in a variety of different areas and when technology outperforms humans in many specialised fields, we should be taking a step back to re-evaluate this specialisation.

As well as listening to the new BBC show which will feature an interview with renowned modern polymath Stephen Fry you should also check out my podcast The Polymath Show, available on iTunes now. The show will explore not only explore in depth the big questions around the role of polymaths in our modern society but also explore the tools and techniques that can be used to actually become a 21st century polymath.

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