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Brainwashing cover, 2016 edition Cruelty book cover The Brain Supremacy book cover The Fragile Brain book cover VSI_small

What I Do    What I Don’t Do    About My Books    Media Work    Enquiries

My name is Kathleen Taylor, and I’m a freelance science writer affiliated to the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford. I write about neuroscience and psychology. (For publications other than books, try my research page.)

What I Do

I trained as a neuroscientist after doing a first degree in philosophy and physiology, and then a doctorate, at the University of Oxford. For more details of my research, try here.

Now I write books about the best topic in the world — the science of human brains and behaviour. The science of people. What could be more enthralling?

My books to date, all published with Oxford University Press, are Brainwashing (2004, 2006, 2016), Cruelty (2009), The Brain Supremacy (2012, 2014), The Fragile Brain (2016), and Dementia: a Very Short Introduction (published 29 July 2020). For more details, see the tabs.

Brainwashing and Cruelty are for people who want to know more about the science of how beliefs can be manipulated and how people can become extraordinarily cruel. The books investigate how these things happen, what causes them, and what we can do to protect ourselves against them. The Brain Supremacy is about how neuroscience itself works, and how fast it’s advancing. As well as looking at the (terrifying? exhilarating?) implications, it covers methods of neuroimaging, optogenetics, and genetic manipulation, among much else. The Fragile Brain likewise is about the science of dementia, not the clinical realities of looking after sufferers (although it includes a list of organisations which can advise on care). The Dementia VSI is more broad-based, with less in-depth science and more on diagnosis, symptoms, and care.

What I Don’t Do

I trained as a scientist, not a lawyer, government official, policy advisor, police officer, or therapist. If you have a suspected case of brainwashing or cruelty you need to talk to one of these people, not me. Likewise, even if I had trained as a neurologist, it would be completely unethical for me to attempt to assess you for dementia – or any other brain condition – over the Internet. If you have concerns about your brain function, please take them seriously and talk to a professional medic; there’s a lot that they can do to help. (For some useful contacts, try here.)

About My Books

My writing explores questions of interest to all of us:

● how are some people able to make others change their beliefs, sometimes very radically, and sometimes at great cost to themselves? (Brainwashing)

● how can apparently normal people become cruel, even to the extent of torturing and murdering a stranger, lover, friend, or child? (Cruelty)

● how will the new brain sciences change our world? (The Brain Supremacy)

● why do brains go wrong as we age, and how can we protect them? (The Fragile Brain, Dementia VSI)

Media Work

I have done a range of national and international media work. Much of this has been written, including blog posts, articles and features for newspapers and magazines including The Huffington Post Science, the Guardian (on brainwashing and terrorism, the death of Kim Jong-il, and the brain basis of morality), the Daily Mirror (on brainwashing), and the RSA Journal (on cruelty).

I have also done spoken and video interviews for TV, radio and online sources. These include international media from Ireland, Spain, Australia, Canada and the US. UK media include Channel 4 and BBC radio stations such as the World Service (The Forum), Radio 3 (Nightwaves) and Radio 4 (Start the Week, All in the Mind, The Today Programme).

In addition, I was interviewed for the first film in the Creating Freedom trilogy, which was nominated for Best Documentary at the Raindance Film Festival.

I have spoken about the books at science cafes, academic talks, and at science and literary festivals from Hay-on-Wye, Dartington, and Lichfield to the Edinburgh and Cheltenham science festivals.

Media Enquiries

I regret that at present I’m unable to accept invitations to do interviews, give talks or attend conferences. (This is not because of Covid-19, and I don’t expect the situation to change any time soon, unfortunately.) To contact me about another query, please click here.

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