Robin Walsh: is a graduate in genetics

Robin Walsh is a graduate in genetics, and regular CW contributor. An occasional freelance writer, on topics ranging from binge drinking to Second Life, he also co-produced the Institute of Ideas’ Secularism Salon that interrogated the state of secularism today.

October 2012

Here comes the science

Where the call for ‘science’ in policymaking is legitimate – in deciding between different policy options within an already established political framework – it is technocratic and mundane; elsewhere it rapidly becomes either eccentric or authoritarian, closing down the scope for political action.

August 2011

Light from the red hat

Seeking to find our uniqueness within the claustrum or anterior cingulate cortex is like trying to unpick the internet by taking apart a single computer. Tallis’ conception of the human subject is one that is ‘embodied’ in a body in the material world as well as the social one, rather than caged only within the confines of the brain.

September 2010

Something special

Chimps have to take a step back to square one each time knowledge is transmitted, having to discover an innovation for themselves through ‘aping’ their peers rather than truly learning from others in the sense that humans do.

Books
June 2010

Reactionary, reified, religious and revoltingly inhumane

Hamilton starts his chapter on ‘denial’ by recounting the tale of the ‘cognitive dissonance’ suffered by a 1950s doomsday cult whose apocalyptic predictions failed to materialise; an ironic choice for a thinker in a tradition which has consistently predicted (as yet unrealised) ecological disaster since the 1790s.

April 2010

Problems in the prop cupboard

Whilst the old division between left and right implicitly validated a difference of opinion and allowed for conflict, evidence-based policy removes this equality of opinion.

October 2009

Science against the law

The problem with the libel laws isn’t their abuse by evil corporations, but the idea that the state has the right to regulate what we’re allowed to say.

Mere prawns

Shot in a documentary style with hand-held cameras that give it a visceral immediacy, and with truly fantastic special effects, it avoids the didacticism of other overtly ‘political’ films of recent years, preferring the traditional science fiction technique of exploring the real world through allegory.

May 2009

Notes from a young science

The perhaps slightly boring answer, that there is a ‘bit of both’ nature and nurture involved in human existence, still hasn’t answered the question where the influence of each begins and ends, and more importantly, how we might control them both.

Books
December 2008

Marxism and the Crisis

Whilst Gordon Brown and others members of the political and financial elite are talking about reviving Keynesianism, there’s also been a more encouraging renewal of interest in the ideas of Marxism.

September 2008

CAF Blog - US Elections

So what did the attendees of the inaugural meeting of the Institute of Ideas Current Affairs Forum (CAF) make of a Republican party that doesn’t care for tradition and conservatism, and a Democratic party that harks back to a golden age?

BlogsCAF Blog

Evolving consensus

Whilst on one level, being suspicious of elite organisations and challenging the unearned political authority of science is useful, Fuller misses the point that just because the elite believe it, doesn’t make it automatically wrong for the rest of us to agree.

July 2008

A different race

Malik argues we need to understand that ‘humans are able both to create social distinctions (and view them as natural or fixed) and to ignore natural differences (as irrelevant to social intercourse)’.

Books
May 2008

Demystifying secularism?

Smith suggests that ‘because of the radical equality of Christianity, expressed in the universal notion that all people are moral agents… then liberalism is but a different form of Christianity’. The individual relationship with God that characterises Christian thought thus enables the individual-centred outlook that respects human rights, so that the relationship is continued in a modern ‘secular’ form.

January 2008

Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People

Choosing not to enhance is as much a moral choice as choosing to enhance – those advocating restraint have as much as a case to answer as their opponents. Harris’ arguments need to be taken seriously by all of those with an interest in scientific development and the bigger question of what it means to be human.

Books
November 2006

The Impact of Inequality: How to Make Sick Societies Healthier

If inequality was a major contributor to obesity, heart disease and the rest, surely fixating on peoples’ individual eating habits was at best a palliative, and at worst increasing the problem, by victimising and alienating the groups that most need help.

Culture Wars was included in creativetourists’ Top 25 UK Arts & Culture Blogs 2009.