Whistleblower Edward Snowden, acclaimed author Jon Ronson, wrongfully convicted Lindy Chamblerlain-Creighton and author, competitive Scrabble player and ‘bad feminist’ Roxane Gay lead this year’s speaker line-up at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, back for its 10th year.

The theme of the 2020 lineup is Dangerous Realities. Is mass surveillance the most pressing issue of our time? Has the prevalence of internet porn changed us forever? When does, exactly, political correctness go too far, and did mob mentality cause a grieving mother to be wrongly convicted for the murder of her baby?

Porn, Mass Surveillance & A Certain Dingo / Baby Story Lead Stellar 2020 FODI Line-Up
Lindy Chamberlain, the mother who was wrongly jailed for the murder of her daughter, Azaria, arrives in court in Darwin, Australia, June 12, 1986, to attend the enquiry into her conviction. She claimed a wild dingo dragged her daughter out of the family tent when they were camping near Ayers Rock in Aug. 1980. Photo: AP.

“The experiences, provocations and insights that will emerge from this year’s festival aim to ignite a deeper examination of what it means to face the truth as individuals and as a society today,” festival director and co-curator Danielle Harvey said in a statement.

“It’s no longer about soothsaying, or pondering what might happen, it’s about dealing with the very real impacts and dangerous realities that exist now.”

FODI 2020 will take place April 3 to 5 at Sydney Town Hall, as a nod to the traditional meeting and rallying  place for communities in Sydney. You can buy tickets from January 30 here and cop the full line-up below.

Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2020 line-up


  • American whistle-blower Edward Snowden will discuss mass surveillance, appearing via live stream;
  • Author, documentary maker and gonzo-style journalist Jon Ronson returns to FODI for a third visit to speak about his recent investigations into the world of porn;
  • One of the world’s most thought-provoking authors and commentators, Roxane Gay, presents ‘The Hitch’, the oration created in Christopher Hitchens’ memory which was presented by Stephen Fry at last year’s FODI;
  • American political philosopher Michael Sandel will present on the tyranny of merit;
  • Russian-American journalist, high-profile LGBTQI activist and outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump Masha Gessen returns to FODI to question whether the future of Russia is written in its history;
  • Swedish journalist, anti-capitalist and women’s rights campaigner Kajsa Ekis Ekman revisits her 2014 FODI session on commercial surrogacy and buying babies to examine what’s changed since then, and will also discuss the crime of ecocide in a separate session;
  • Leading expert in journalism, social media and the age of fake news, Claire Wardle will uncover the world of deep fakes;
  • David Wallace-Wells, an American journalist best known for his controversial views on climate change, speaks on the impending crisis and what our future holds on an uninhabitable earth;
  • American writer and researcher Evgeny Morozov returns to FODI to discuss technology as capitalism’s newest tool;
  • Finnish educator and author Pasi Sahlberg talks about what he sees in the Australian education system;
  • American biochemist specialising in CRISPR technology Sam Sternberg explores the controversial world of human gene editing.


  • Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, the woman behind one of Australia’s most tragic episodes of trial by media and miscarriages of justice, tells her story;
  • Aboriginal Australian activist and human rights lawyer Megan Davis speaks on the Australian Indigenous narrative and truth telling;
  • Unforgivable is a collaboration that aims to ignite change through a united collective youth voice. Australian youth leaders Daisy Jeffrey, Seethal Bency, Audrey Mason-Hyde, Dujuan Hoosan and Dylan Storer share their messages with Australia alongside the all-female, Indigenous Marliya Choir in a world premiere event featuring the music of Spinifex Gum. In this session you choose the ticket price, with the provocation of how much are we willing to listen and support our youth;
  • Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is joined by journalists Peter Hartcher and Vicky Xiuzhong Xu in a discussion on the truth about China;
  • Biologist David Sinclair talks about cracking and reversing the ageing process;
  • Psychologist Joel Pearson questions whether consciousness is a lie;
  • Moral philosopher Peter Singer, migration law and refugee expert Jane McAdam and American journalist David Wallace-Wells consider whether the choices we make are creating the world that we want and whether there’s more people personally can and should do;
  • Conservative Australian commentator Kevin Donnelly, writer and social commentator Van Badham and journalist Osman Faruqi dissect political correctness and question whether it’s gone too far;
  • The deterrent power of nuclear weapons will be discussed by strategic and defence researcher Stephan Frühling;
  • FODI Principal Partner UNSW features inspired thinkers, James Halstead, Emma Jane, Lucas Lixinski and Michael Richardson on a panel on dangerous futures, questioning what will be keeping us up at night in a hundred years from now.

Dangerous art and workshops:

  • PIG is a public art experience from Dutch company Kaleider, which is a community fund that anyone can contribute to and take from; it will be situated near Town Hall in the lead up to the festival;
  • Philosopher Matt Beard will conduct two thought experiments, one delving into the ethics of giving, and another exploring the ethics of the apocalypse;
  • Period preacher Lucy Peach uses song and science to teach you how to hack your menstrual cycle.
Image: AAP