Distinguished scientist and supporter of Humanism
Colin Blakemore was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in June 1944. After winning a place at the King Henry VIII grammar school in Coventry, he went on to win a scholarship to study medical sciences at Cambridge and then completed a PhD at the University of California in Berkeley. After 11 years in the Department of Physiology at Cambridge University, he became Waynflete Professor of Physiology at Oxford University in 1979. From 1996–2003 he was Director of the Medical Research Council Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at Oxford, and he was been Chief Executive of the MRC from 2003 to 2007, when he returned to Oxford as Professor of Neuroscience.
Professor Blakemore was President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1997-1998 and its Chairman from 2001-2004. He has been described by the Royal Society as “one of Britain’s most influential communicators of science”, he is President of the Association of British Science Writers, and he has been awarded many prizes from medical and scientific academies and societies. He is committed to promoting dialogue between scientists and the public, and to defending medical research using animals despite suffering a 14-year-long campaign of threats, vilification, physical violence and even parcel bombs from animal rights extremists. He is President, Patron or advisor of a large number of medical and other charities. Over the years he has been a frequent contributor to radio and television programmes, including the BBC Reith Lecture in 1976 and the 13-part BBC2 series The Mind Machine. He writes Opinion columns for most of the national newspapers, and his books for the general public include Mechanics of the Mind (for which he won the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science), Images and Understanding, Mindwaves, The Mind Machine , Gender and Society and The Oxford Companion to the Body.
In July 2001 he was one of the signatories to a letter published in The Independent which urged the Government to reconsider its support for the expansion of maintained religious schools, and he was one of the 43 scientists and philosophers who signed and sent a letter to Tony Blair and relevant Government departments, concerning the teaching of Creationism in schools in March 2002. He wasalso one of the signatories to a letter supporting a holiday on Charles’ Darwin’s birthday, published inThe Times on February 12, 2003, and sent to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary.
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Colin Blakemore talking about Humanism in The really simple guide to Humanism
An interview with him here.
Colin Blakemore: From a scientist’s point of view, life is getting better, Independent, 4 January 2007
A 2003 Observer article by Colin Blakemore, “Where would we be without boffins?”, in which he expresses concern about “the present situation where scientists are caught between political manipulation and public incomprehension”.
A December 2003 Independent on Sunday profile: “Professor Colin Blakemore – The science of defiance”