A Dyslexic boy in a Trojan horse

by Charles October 25, 2012

‘Come in’, said the Well Known Educational Psychologist. We did. ‘Please sit down’, she said, and we did. She didn’t waste time, and quite right too. We wanted to know. ‘Tom and I have had a very interesting afternoon.’ That sounded bad. ‘He’s a very able child indeed’. That sounded worse, because it came with […]

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In the Hot Unconscious

by Charles August 19, 2012

Charles Foster’s latest book, ‘In the Hot Unconscious: An Indian Journey’, has just been published. It’s about how myths are made and perceived, and about the conversation that has to happen, and usually doesn’t, between the mystical traditions of East and West, and between the two sides of our own heads. What critics are saying: […]

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My son’s dyslexic, and I’m glad

by Charles February 16, 2012

My son is dyslexic, and I’m glad. Most people think that I am deranged or callous. But I have two related reasons, both of which seem to me to be good. The first is that his dyslexia is an inextricable part of him. I can’t say: ‘This is the pathological bit, which I resent’, as […]

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Human enhancement: A symposium

by Charles November 6, 2011

23 November 2011: 6-8 pm: E.P Abraham Lecture Theatre, Green Templeton College, Oxford. Humans have always sought to enhance themselves and their performance. Examples include education, the drinking of coffee, and the choice of reproductive partners whose genes are perceived to be desirable. But now, and increasingly, technology allows for enhancement of a kind and […]

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Ten reasons to drink real ale

by Charles March 28, 2011

Britain is rediscovering, just in time, that some good things are not mass-produced, pre-packaged, hysterically advertised and celebrity-promoted. One of those things is real ale. The stereotype of the real ale drinker is laughably out of date. If you think of matted beards, stained cardigans and huge bellies, you need to get out more. Real […]

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Greenland: vanity, seal meat and gonorrhoea

by Charles February 8, 2011

It was, of course, vanity which took me to Greenland. One of the great problems about travelling a lot, and advertising the fact in print, is that each trip has to be harder than the last. If it’s not, they’ll say that you’ve lost your nerve or slumped terminally in the suburbs, and your pride […]

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Want to publish? Tell us all your dirty secrets

by Charles February 2, 2011

Most scientific journals require contributors to declare any conflict of interest. But what about ethicists? We are much more ambitious and presumptuous in our aims than most scientists. We purport to tell our readers not which drug will reduce their blood cholesterol, or which type of plate is best for their radial fracture, but how […]

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In the wake of Leander: swimming the Hellespont

by Charles February 2, 2011

With a shout and a prayer and a curse, we leapt at dawn from a boat into the water of the Dardanelles and started to swim from Europe to Asia. It had all started in London over the umpteenth bottle of Bulgarian red. For a long time, I said, I had wanted to swim the […]

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A review of Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.

by Charles February 3, 2010

Published by Yale University Press, 597 pp. H/B (2009) : £28: ISBN 978 0 300 14878: P/B (2010): ISBN 978 0 300 168921 The world that each of us occupies is, at least in part, a creature of our brain. If we want to understand that world, we have to study our brains. In neurology, […]

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Education is child abuse

by Charles December 12, 2009

I took my son to school this morning. And I’m wondering if that was evil. Proponents of human cognitive enhancement are fond of saying that there is nothing very novel about their suggestions. There is no difference in principle, they say, between improving someone’s neural processing power by (for example) manipulation of the genome, and […]

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