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Adam Rutherford and Alice Roberts to present 2019 Voltaire Lecture

Geneticist, author, science communicator, and TV presenter Dr Adam Rutherford will deliver Humanists UK’s 2019 Voltaire Lecture on Tuesday 14 May, on the topic of ‘The return of scientific racism,’ exploring the re-emergence of bogus ‘race science’ in the modern era. As per tradition, the Voltaire Lecture will be chaired by the President of Humanists UK, Professor Alice Roberts.

One week after members were first told of the lecture, hundreds of tickets have already been sold, making it Humanists UK’s fastest-selling Voltaire Lecture to date. Those wishing to attend are strongly encouraged to book soon to avoid disappointment.

Dr Adam Rutherford

Dr Adam Rutherford is the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship science radio programme, Inside Science, as well as many documentaries, on the inheritance of intelligence, on MMR and autism, human evolution, astronomy and art, science and cinema, scientific fraud, and the evolution of sex.

On TV, Adam presented the award-winning Horizon: Playing God (BBC2, Jan 2012); The Gene Code (BBC4, Apr 2011); and the award-winning The Cell (BBC4, Sept 2009). Adam has been a scientific advisor to Björk’s movie Biophilia Live, and worked on World War Z, The Secret Service and Ex Machina.

His critically acclaimed first book, Creation – on the origin and future of life – was published in 2013, and was nominated for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize. He is also the author of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, Genetics: A Ladybird Expert Book, and The Book of Humans. Adam has a PhD in Genetics, a degree in evolutionary biology, is an honorary Research Fellow at UCL, and is a former Editor at the journal Nature.

Professor Alice Roberts

Rutherford’s lecture is the latest in a proud tradition of Voltaire Lectures held in London each year. Recent Voltaire Lecturers include historian Bettany Hughes, Humanists UK Vice President Jim Al-Khalili, commentator Nick Cohen, and neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. Bonya Ahmed’s emotional 2015 Voltaire Lecture on ‘Fighting machetes with pens’, concerning the Islamist terror faced by freethinkers in Bangladesh, won two standing ovations and worldwide media coverage.

Tickets for the Voltaire Lecture 2019 cost £15 for the general public, and £10 for students. You can get yours now at


At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

The Voltaire Lecture was established by the legacy of Theodore Besterman, biographer of Voltaire, for lectures on ‘any aspect of scientific or philosophical thought or human activity as affected by or with particular reference to humanism.’ Previous Voltaire lecturers have included: Professor Sir David King, Professor Anthony Grayling, Professor Steven Pinker, Professor Brian Cox, Professor Richard Dawkins, Professor Robert Hinde, Baroness Wootton, Bettany Hughes, Michael Foot, Kenan Malik, Natalie Haynes, Bonya Ahmed, Lord Taverne, Nick Cohen, Henry Marsh, and Sir Ludovic Kennedy. It is always chaired by the President of Humanists UK.

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