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Distinguished writers and academics appointed patrons of Humanists UK

Writers and academics Professor Timothy Garton-Ash, Professor John Worrall, Dr Helen Czerski, and Dr Kate Fox have all been appointed as patrons of Humanists UK in recognition of their considerable contributions to culture and human understanding. They join a stable of over 170 other high-profile figures from the worlds of art, science, music, comedy, broadcasting, politics, and activism in helping to advance the charitable work of Humanists UK.

Timothy Garton Ash

Timothy Garton Ash. Photo: Liisa Past.

Timothy Garton Ash is a historian, commentator, author, and academic. He currently holds the position of Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford and is the author of ten books spanning a variety of political, historical, and cultural topics. Timothy’s work has mainly concerned the contemporary history of Europe and the European Union as well as the challenge of combining liberal democratic principles and diversity, especially in relation to free speech.

A staunch supporter of freedom of speech, human rights, and liberal democracy, Timothy first came to prominence during the Cold War as a outspoken critic of human rights violations and illiberalism within the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc.

Since then, Timothy’s essays and articles regular appear in the Guardian, the New York Review of Books, the Independent, the Times, the Financial Times, and many others. During the 1980s he was Foreign Editor of the Spectator and in 2005 he was listed in Time magazine’s world’s 100 most influential people.

Dr Kate Fox

Dr Kate Fox.

Dr Kate Fox is an anthropologist, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre, and author of popular social science. She is best known for her international bestseller Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour.

Her work has included research, publications, lectures, and broadcasts on many aspects of human behaviour and human nature. Kate is a regular guest lecturer at universities and institutes in the UK and overseas – including University of Oxford, UCL, Chatham House, The Royal Geographical Society, The Royal Society of Medicine, Brown University, University of Venice, the Science Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Intelligence Squared, and the Oxford Union. She has also been a columnist for Psychologies magazine and contributor to the New Statesman.

Kate is currently working on a new book about human nature and technology.

John Worrall

John Worrall. Photo: London School of Economics.

John Worrall is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the London School of Economics. After discovering a love for philosophy attending the lectures of Karl Popper as an undergraduate at the LSE, John went on to complete his PhD and has continued to work as philosopher in the same department ever since.

Much of John’s published work and professional interests centres on evidence; initially theories of evidence in scientific revolutions, and more recently evidence in the field of medicine. He has also written on the irreconcilable conflict between religion and science as means to understanding the universe.

On his humanist beliefs and support of Humanists UK’s work, John said:

‘There is no evidence of a creator; not only is there no evidence of an afterlife, the idea is a relic of a mind/body dualism that, insofar as it ever made any sense, has long been scientifically discredited.

‘As I advocate evidence-based everything, I am particularly keen to fight pseudoscience in all its forms. I regard teaching children that the theories of creationism and “Intelligent Design” provide equally good (or, still worse, better) explanations of the current flora and fauna of the earth as a crime against those children. I support a complete separation of state and religion (both in education and more generally); and, on the ethical side, believe that people should, in appropriate circumstances, be helped to die with dignity.’

Dr Helen Czerski

Dr Helen Czerski. Photo: Alex Brenner.

Dr Helen Czerski is a physicist, oceanographer, broadcaster, and author. Whilst Helen’s primary academic interests are those of the physics of the oceans, she describes herself as a lover of the science of the ‘everyday world’. Helen’s passion for a broad range of scientific endeavours, as well as her skill in science communication, has made her well known as the presenter of a host of popular BBC TV and radio science programmes and documentaries. She also gave a talk the impact of oceans on human civilisations to a packed house at the 2017 Humanists UK Convention.

On taking on her new role with Humanists UK, Helen said:

‘Life can be tricky and difficult and messy, but we owe it to ourselves to look on the world honestly and deal with what we observe with integrity, empathy, and respect for others. The world is changing rapidly, but our species is adaptable and our shared humanity is the best and most valuable resource we have.’

Commenting on the four appointments, Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said,

‘All of Humanists UK’s patrons are people who have, in one way or another, contributed to the promotion of human happiness and humanist ideas in the world today.

‘We are absolutely delighted to have four writers and academics of such high calibre join as new patrons and look forward to working with them across our work to advance free thinking and freedom of choice so that everyone can live in a fair and equal society.’  

Notes

At Humanists UK, we want a tolerant world where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work helps people be happier and more fulfilled, and by bringing non-religious people together we help them develop their own views and an understanding of the world around them.

Humanists UK has over 170 patrons who support its work in various ways through their expertise and prominence in various fields. Existing patrons include significant figures from the spheres of science, philosophy, human rights activism, politics, the arts, and broadcasting. The President of Humanists UK is the writer and comedian Shappi Khorsandi, who is supported by Vice Presidents Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Professor A C Grayling, and Polly Toynbee. For a full list of patrons, see https://humanism.org.uk/about/our-people/patrons.

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