A Picture Held Us Captive

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Media Outlet: BBC Radio

Zia Haider Rahman wrote and presented a documentary titled A Picture Held Us Captive for the BBC on the use and abuse of metaphors in politics, economics, and science:

Metaphors are not simply there for the use of novelists or poets. They are integral to the way we think and understand - pervading our language and allowing us to conceptualise new and complex ideas, using familiar images. They are essential to areas of abstract study, where they provide the basis for new theoretical models, and play a vital role in communicating specialised knowledge to non-experts. 
But, Rahman argues, these compelling imaginary pictures can also become prisons, trapping our thought in over simplistic or entirely false versions of a more nuanced or entirely different reality. Drawing on examples from the worlds of biology, economics, business and environmental policy, he demonstrates the very real and damaging consequences these metaphors can have.


Zia Haider Rahman is a Southern New Hampshire University Fellow at New America. His first novel, In the Light of What We Know (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014), was published to international critical acclaim and won the James Tait Black Prize.