Special event
The science of belief: Colin Blakemore and Tom McLeish in conversation

Friday 26 January 2018,
18.30–19.45
BP Lecture Theatre
Tickets £5
Members/Concessions £3

Phone +44 (0)20 7323 8181
Ticket Desk in Great Court

Supported by the Genesis Foundation. With grateful thanks to John Studzinski CBE.

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Humans, through time and across the world, have consistently expressed patterns of believing and belonging through shared narrative and practice.

In this discussion, chaired by award-winning journalist, writer and BBC broadcaster Samira Ahmed, scientists Colin Blakemore and Tom McLeish examine how the cognitive impetus that drove the emergence of science might be considered to be the same impetus that fostered religion and other metaphysical beliefs.

They will discuss how science is itself at the heart of being human, and can be traced back through art, philosophy and ancient stories, including those in religious traditions.

Presented in collaboration with the Royal Society.

Tom McLeish is Professor of Physics at Durham University, Fellow of the Royal Society and Vice-President of Science at the Institute of Physics. In his acclaimed 2014 book Faith and Wisdom in Science, he argued for science to be reassimilated into the interconnected whole of human activity, including our need for religion.

Sir Colin Blakemore FMedSci FRS is Professor of Neuroscience and Philosophy at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. He was formerly Chief Executive of the British Medical Research Council. His work as a neurobiologist has contributed to our understanding of vision, and how the brain develops and adapts. He was influential in demonstrating ‘neural plasticity’ – how brain cells reorganise themselves in response to the environment after birth and even in adulthood.

Samira Ahmed is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster, and a visiting professor of Journalism at Kingston University with a special focus on culture and its overlap with politics. She presents the weekly programme Newswatch on BBC One and is one of the main presenters of the BBC Radio 4 Arts programme Front Row. Samira was previously a presenter and correspondent at Channel 4 News, where she won the Stonewall Broadcast of the Year award. She writes regularly on culture and politics in newspapers including The Guardian and The Independent, and has a monthly column in The Big Issue.


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Professor Sir Colin Blakemore.