This part of the site is devoted to archiving my writings from other outlets (listed below in alphabetical order of the outlets/organisations, and then listed in order of publication), not including my Substack posts. In the ‘About’ section can be found a list of positions/roles I’ve held and experience I’ve had; here there is more detail on some of these. My profile on Muck Rack also contains all of my published writing.
Now then, here we go!
Arc Digital is a fairly new but eminent opinion (as well as cultural commentary) site- ‘the internet’s best’, according to its Twitter profile! I make no claims on that matter, but I am published with them, so…
- ‘A Tincture of Tango- Review: Our Tango World: Volumes 1 and 2‘ by Iona Italia (Society and culture sections, among others, 24th January 2020). A review of my dear friend Iona’s books on the tango world.
Areo Magazine is dedicated to free expression, humanism, liberalism, and debate, led by the formidable duo Helen Pluckrose and Iona Italia. It’s become a kind of home for me, and as of September 2019 I am an official staff writer, contributing a monthly book review. My first such article in that capacity is the review of Richard Dawkins’ Outgrowing God (see below).
- ‘Death to Fascism: A Qualified Defence of the War on Terror’ (Politics category, 15th May 2019). My first paid piece of writing, and for a prestigious outlet I greatly admire- what an honour!
- ‘A Stout Heart: Thomas Paine and His Legacy’ (Culture & Media and Politics categories, 7th June 2019, erroneously dated as the 2nd in the article).
- ‘A.C. Grayling’s The History of Philosophy– Book Review’ (Culture & Media and Review categories, 5th July 2019- again, erroneously dated in the article). Grayling sent a very kind email to Helen Pluckrose, the Areo chief editor, about my review- which made me very happy indeed!
- ‘Being Human is a Quest: A Review of Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte’ (Culture and Media category, 12th September 2019). Rushdie tweeted nice things about the review- how wonderful! See here.
- ‘An Argument Worth Having: “Outgrowing God” by Richard Dawkins’ (Culture and Media category, 21st October 2019).
- ‘Towards a Radical Hope: A Review of “Unfollow” by Megan Phelps-Roper‘ (Culture and Media category, 11th November 2019).
- ‘A Peculiar Phenomenon: Review of “The Rise of Post-Modern Conservatism” by Matthew McManus‘ (Culture and Media and Politics categories, 20th December 2019).
- ‘Does Secularism Lead to Racism? A Review of “Race in a Godless World: Atheism, Race and Civilization, 1850–1914” by Nathan G. Alexander‘ (Culture and Media category, 19th Feb 2020). This was meant to be my January contribution, but it was slightly delayed.
- ‘Big Trouble in Hong Kong: A Review of “Unfree Speech: The Threat to Global Democracy and Why We Must Act Now” by Joshua Wong with Jason Y. Ng‘ (Culture and Media and Politics Categories, 2nd March 2020. Technically my February contribution- see no. 8).
- ‘Scheherazade’s Heirs: “Sex and Lies” by Leïla Slimani‘ (Culture and Media category, 29th March 2020- back on track [see above]).
- ‘Apple Pie Holy War: “Incitement: Anwar al-Awlaki’s Western Jihad” by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens‘ (Culture and Media and Politics categories, 9th April 2020).
- ‘We Contain Multitudes: A Review of “The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity” by Toby Ord‘ (Culture and Media category, 11th May 2020).
- ‘The Faceless Ones: “Should a Liberal State Ban the Burqa?” by Brandon Robshaw‘ (Culture and Media, Politics categories, 10th June 2020).
- ‘Notes on Jihadism: “The ISIS Reader,” edited by Haroro J. Ingram, Craig Whiteside and Charlie Winter‘ (Culture and Media, Politics categories, 26th June 2020- a few days early, my July contribution).
- ‘The Spectre of Atheism: “Leaving the Allah Delusion Behind” by Ibn Warraq‘ (8th August 2020).
- ‘Conversation, Not War: A Review of “Making Sense” by Sam Harris‘ (15th August 2020). Technically my September review- but clearly published early!
- ‘David Hume Tower: A Tale of Quiet and Shameful Erasure‘ (15th September 2019). On the removal of David Hume’s name from the University of Edinburgh building.
- ‘The Delight of Sentience: “Inside Story: A Novel” by Martin Amis‘ (8th October 2020).
- ‘Lesbians, Witches and Nukes: “Other Girls Like Me” by Stephanie Davies‘ (13th November 2020).
- ‘In Defence of Argument: “Intellectual Freedom and the Culture Wars” by Piers Benn‘ (15th January 2021). A blog that has an agreement with Areo published a Spanish translation of this piece.
- ‘God Through Blinkers: “God Through Binoculars” by Danusha Goska‘ (19th January 2021). This was meant to be my December 2020 review but there were delays in writing and editing.
- ‘Not Quite the Satire You’re Looking For: “Somewhere in Europe” by P. J. Vanston‘ (5th February 2021).
- ‘Something Worth Fighting For: “Let’s Be Reasonable: A Conservative Case for Liberal Education” by Jonathan Marks‘ (9th February 2021). This was meant to be my March review, but was brought forward.
- ‘A Feminist Hero: “Prey” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali‘ (1st March 2021). Again, I’m running far in advance- this was to be my April contribution!
- ‘The Trick of Evocative Science Writing: “Books Do Furnish a Life” by Richard Dawkins‘ (20th April 2021). Again, I’m early: this was to be my May contribution.
- ‘Naming the Unnameable: Salman Rushdie, Christopher Hitchens and the Defence of Free Speech‘ (17th May 2021). My contribution, the first to be published I believe, to the special issue of Areo on free speech, to mark Iona Italia’s ascension to the editorial throne.
- ‘On Islamic Fascism: Reflections on 9/11 Twenty Years On‘ (11th September 2021).
- ‘China’s Uyghur Prison-State‘ (8th October 2021).
- ‘Constitutions, Frontiers, Revelations and Truths: New Books by Jonathan Rauch, A. C. Grayling, Erik Hoel and Salman Rushdie‘ (22nd October 2021).
- ‘The Lessons of Evolution: A Review of “A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century” by Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein‘ (27th October 2021).
- ‘Blowjobs and Makeovers: Hitchens’ Comic Writing‘ (17th December 2021). I realise the first paragraph reads as if this was released on the actual day of the anniversary, 15th December, but hey ho – you get the point.
- ‘Keeping Confrontation Alive: “A Hitch in Time”‘ (7th January 2022). Note: when I say that A Hitch in Time was published ‘last month’, it is because this piece was written in December 2021 (the book was published in November 2021). The explanation for my reference to ‘the tenth anniversary…’ is similar: I originally envisioned this piece as being published on December 15, 2021.
- ‘Human Nature and the Human Future: Emotional Amoral Egoism, by Nayef R. F. Al-Rodhan‘ (15th January, 2022).
- ‘Selfish Genery: J. Arvid Ågren’s “The Gene’s-Eye View of Evolution”‘ (28th February, 2022).
- ‘The First Freedom: Free Speech: A History by Jacob Mchangama‘ (17th March, 2022).
- ‘In Defence of Liberal Education: Roosevelt Montás’ “Rescuing Socrates”‘ (23rd March, 2022).
The Broad is an online space devoted to open, free discussion, started by students at my university. I was a junior columnist there from April 2019, providing a weekly article, until July 2019 when I became Assistant Political Editor. Shortly after the Political Editor left I stepped in as Acting Political Editor; then, between July 2019-July 2020, I held the full position as Political Editor.
Note: in December 2021, The Broad‘s website crashed and many of the articles are irrecoverable. I have linked to archived versions of my pieces where available.
- ‘Down the Persian Path: The Path of History‘ (14th April 2019). The first part of a series about the Islamic Republic of Iran and opposition to that regime.
- ‘Down the Persian Path: The Path of Resistance‘ (22nd April 2019). Second part of the series.
- ‘Down the Persian Path: Imperialism and Hypocrisy’ (28th April 2019). Part three.
- ‘Looking Back Down the Persian Path: In Place of a Conclusion’(5th May 2019). Concluding part of the series.
- ‘‘It’s a boy!’ – A rebuke to royalty’ (7th May 2019). An attack on monarchy inspired by the birth of Harry and Meghan’s first child.
- ‘The Poverty of Constitutional Monarchy’ (14th May 2019). A response to Michael Zwiauer’s piece critiquing my attack on the cult of the Windsors (see above). A couple of months later there appeared a piece by Michael Noctor discussing some issues related to the topics discussed by Michael and I.
- ‘The Trouble with Islamophobia’ (28th May 2019). The week this article was published was the same week The Broad took some time off for restructuring and suchlike, hence the long gap between this and my next piece.
- ‘In Defence of the Anglo-Scottish Union’ (14th July 2019). After this article was published I was made Assistant Political Editor- so my new duties mean that my articles will be more irregular.
- ‘Let’s call infant male circumcision what it really is: male genital mutilation’ (8th August 2019). This article engendered a response, ‘FGM has no parallel’, by Alice Wright, to which I responded in a Twitter thread.
- ‘Unpredictable politics: Gordon Brown and Salman Rushdie on Brexit, Trump and turmoil’ (29th August 2019). An account of seeing Brown and Rushdie at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Not recounted here is the fact that Eddie Izzard swooshed into the Gordon Brown event and asked him about love. The article also contains a picture of me with Salman Rushdie at the book signing after the event.
- ‘For a secular Britain: time to end religious privilege‘ (5th September 2019). The National Secular Society re-tweeted this article and included it as one of their ‘Essays of the Week’ in their 6th September newsletter– I’m honoured!
- ‘On war crimes denialism and wayward academics: an interview with Joey Ayoub’ (6th October 2019). An interview with Ayoub on his appalling treatment by Edinburgh University, his experiences with war crimes denied Professor Tim Hayward of that institution, and the broader phenomenon of war crimes denialism, particularly on the left. NOTE: I’m writing this postscript in December 2020, having thought for a while that in this article I come dangerously close to advocating the de-platforming or firing of Professor Hayward- I should have thought about this more clearly at the time, for it has long been my view that academics should be allowed to air opinions freely without their institution taking an official stance on any issue, let alone disavowing one of their own. Action against Hayward in this regard would create a dangerous precedent, that of legitimising the firing of tenured academics (I think Hayward is tenured, but the same goes for those lacking such divine status) for undesirable views. The best antidote to idiotic speech is counterspeech, so I want to make it clear that my article should be read with this interpretation in mind. Mea culpa, I should have thought more clearly whilst writing at the time, as I said. But I stand by the rest of the article and Joey (whose opinions may differ; this postscript is purely my own), for the wayward Prof. Hayward’s crackpot theories are deeply stupid, though I cringe when using the word ‘harm’ to describe speech, as I did in this piece. So read it in that vein, please; even the nuts have the right to an airing of their ‘ideas’- yes, even nuts with respectable positions. The danger of punishing academics for idiocy like this is much worse than letting them fulminate (they usually discredit themselves in the process, anyway).
- ‘Joyous foolery in the forest: a review of EUSC’s As You Like It‘ (11th March 2020).
1. Interview of me by Scott Douglas Jacobsen (30th October 2019).
Where I, incidentally, briefly served as History Editor between May and October, 2020.
- ‘A world born from mass murder: 9/11 as a turning point in global history‘ (28th September 2020). I’m not too proud of this one, actually; it’s a piece battered together from an old university essay and some new writing. But it’s clunky, I think. And I think I could have done more with it. Alas.
Darrow is a space for new writers to gain experience and connections. After my story was published (see below) Darrow in its old form was shut down to make way for a new version focused on podcast discussion called Darrow Discussions. Any involvement with the new Darrow will be noted here.
- ‘Storme Warning: A Story in Two Parts‘ (14th July 2019, Fiction Corner). The first part of a short story. I submitted it months before it was published and, since the site seemed defunct, thought it would never appear there. Unexpectedly it was published in the end. The story seems to have been published under the name of the site’s editor/owner Alastair- a mistake probably due to him publishing it through his account. After this was published Darrow shut down (see above) and so the link is broken. For the story see here. Perhaps I’ll write the second part one day.
Free Inquiry is the magazine of the US-based Council for Secular Humanism, which is part of the Center for Inquiry. It’s devoted to issues surrounding religion, humanism, secularism, and much more, and I’m proud to have been published in an outlet whose most luminous contributors include (but are not limited to) Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Arthur C. Clarke, Sarah Haider, Daniel C. Dennett, Susan Blackmore, Peter Singer, Sam Harris, Massimo Pigliucci, Isaac Asimov, Julian Baggini, E.O. Wilson, Lawrence M. Krauss, Peter Boghossian, Michael Shermer, Maarten Boudry, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Martin Gardner, Richard Wiseman, Ibn Warraq, Russell Blackford, Pervez Hoodbhoy, James Randi, Ophelia Benson, Richard Carrier, Taslima Nasrin, Jonathan Haidt, Susan Jacoby, Victor J. Stenger, Yuval Noah Harari, Karl Popper, Stephen Law, Peter Atkins, James A. Lindsay, Rebecca Goldstein, and even Mikhail Gorbachev!
This is a mighty constellation of academics, writers, thinkers, scientists, philosophers, historians, and activists- my light pales next to theirs, but is honoured to shine among them, however dimly.
- ‘Faith and the Closing of the Universe‘ (Volume 40, No. 4, June/July 2020 issue, pp. 54-56). An essay on the virtues of science and humanism versus the poverty of religion, with a contemporary angle focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. Behind a paywall but I can provide a copy if you ask.
- ‘The Quiet Erasure of David Hume Tower‘ (Volume 41, No. 2, February/March 2021 issue). A revised and expanded version of my Areo essay on the subject. Behind a paywall but I can provide a copy if you ask.
The Freethinker is one of the oldest freethought publications in the world—the online version is a descendant of the magazine founded in 1881.
- ‘Christopher Hitchens and the long afterlife of Thomas Paine‘ (20th January 2023).
Free Speech Champions Comment
On the FSC website, there is a section for us to provide opinions on topical items related to free speech.
- ‘New Podcast by Free Speech Champions Sophie Watson and Niloo Daliri‘ (5th November 2021). In which I interview Sophie and Niloo about said podcast.
- ‘Donald Trump, Free Speech Champion? Give me a break, says Daniel Sharp‘ (5th Decemver 2021).
- ‘The Rod Liddle Storm at Durham: A Response‘ (9th December 2021).
- ‘On the cowardice of Cineworld; or, why religious bullying should have no veto over free speech‘ (8th June 2022).
- ‘A Humanist’s Tale‘ (20th May 2019). Some personal reflections on my experiences with religion and my lack thereof.
Correspondence on Letter
‘Letter‘ is an online forum for corresponding with people in a thoughtful, polite, and reasonable manner. I have set up a profile and shall publish whatever correspondence may come from it here, noting the dates which the letters ranged.
Full disclosure: after my Quillette piece about Letter (see below) Dayne and Clyde Rathbone offered me a small share in the company, which I accepted. But the Quillette piece was before that, and no such gift was mentioned until after it was published- indeed, it was entirely unexpected and a (pleasant) surprise. In short- all was above board. But now I have that small share I feel I ought to disclose it in the name of openness and for future reference.
- Correspondence with Dr Iona Italia on the Iraq intervention, American interventionism, and the humanities, among other things. (16th April 2019-17th April 2019).
- Correspondence with Dayne Rathbone on health, well-being, and life choices. (7th June 2019-?). Presumably abandoned.
- Correspondence with Dr Iona Italia on the Enlightenment and Enlightenment Values. (8th June 2019-13th June 2019).
- Letter to Richard Dawkins on his books and ideas and gratitude and admiration for them (15th August 2019). I never expected a reply- the man is very busy, after all- but I sent this letter nonetheless to express warmth towards a figure who has enlightened and inspired me for many years.
- Correspondence with Nick Tippett on religion, atheism, belief, morality, and more (4th September 2019-27th September 2019).
- Correspondence with Bob Brenton on atheism, god, non-duality, and metaphysics (27th September 2019-30th September 2019). Aborted, alas, for reasons given in the letters.
- A letter in a bottle proposing a Letter book club (well, duo). The ‘letter in a bottle’ feature is the site’s matchmaking service. (6th December 2019). This led to the following conversation:
- Correspondence with Rebecca Christiansen– a proposal for a joint reading and discussion of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (15th December 2019). This led to a new thread for the discussion itself:
- Correspondence with Rebecca Christiansen on Thoreau’s Walden (26th December 2019-abandoned).
- Correspondence with Iona Italia- a proposal for a joint endeavour to use Letter to write some epistolary fiction. The proposal was accepted, and an adventure was embarked upon. (6th December 2019-
- Correspondence with Jovany Gonzalez on homosexuality. In response to Gonzalez’s letter in a bottle on the subject. (6th December 2019-?). Presumably abandoned.
- An open letter on the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘On Having Equanimity in a Crisis‘ (15th May 2020).
- Correspondence with Fard Azadfard on woke dogmatism (6th July 2020-8th July 2020, I presume, given the lack of reply from Fard since).
- Correspondence with Joshua Wong on oppression and freedom in Hong Kong (22nd July 2020-10th September 2020). It was an honour to discuss the situation in Hong Kong with the dissident democratic leader Joshua Wong.
- Correspondence with Danusha Goska on god, Catholicism, religion, evolution, and more (1st February 2021-4th March 2021). Danusha and I agreed to correspond after I reviewed her book in Areo (see above) to address issues and disagreements we have with each other’s views. The correspondence didn’t end well, but I think I come out of it smelling quite a bit rosier than Danusha.
The National Student
The National Student was an online student paper, with many sections devoted to many subjects. It was where I first got published. Sadly it shut down in the latter half of 2019. As the articles on there might be lost I have saved my stuff using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. My profile for TNS can be found here and here. Here are my posts for that site, in order of publication date (the links go to the backed-up versions on the Internet Archive):
- ‘TV Teaser: Doctor Who‘ (TV section, 7th April 2017). Ah, my first, short but sweet.
- ‘In defence of Trump’s air strikes in Syria’ (Opinion section, 7th April 2017). Getting just a touch more controversial.
- ‘Looking back at Peter Capaldi’s time in the TARDIS‘ (TV section, 14th April 2017). Ah, sweet.
- ‘Enemies of decency are everywhere – we must defeat them’ (Opinion section, 18th April 2017). From the Left and the Right and Islamism, there really are a few things wrong with the world.
- ‘Chechnya’s assault on homosexuals is an abomination’ (Opinion section, 18th April 2017).
- ‘TV Review: Doctor Who (Season 10, Episode 2)’ (TV section, 25th April 2017). I reviewed much of the 2017 series of Doctor Who, which was wonderful.
- ‘TV Review: Doctor Who (Series 10, Episode 4)’ (TV section, 8th May 2017).
- ‘TV Review: Doctor Who (Series 10, Episode 6)’ (TV section, 23rd May 2017).
- ‘TV Review: Doctor Who (Series 10, Episode 8)’ (TV section, 5th June 2017).
- ‘TV Review: Doctor Who (Series 10, Episode 11)’ (TV section, 25th June 2017).
- ‘TV Review: Doctor Who (Series 10, Episode 12)’ (TV section, 1st July 2017).
- ’12 things we love (and will sorely miss) about the 12th Doctor’ (TV section, 15th July 2017).
- ‘Friday Poem: William Ernest Henley – Invictus’ (Arts and Theatre section, 25th August 2017). This poem has moved me ever since I had it recited at my father’s funeral. I thought it fitting to contribute a piece on it to the Friday Poem section around the time of the fourth anniversary of my father’s death.
- ‘”Europe is committing suicide”: authors speak out at the Edinburgh International Book Festival’ (Arts and Theatre Section, 28th August 2017). I reported on talks by Douglas Murray, Conor Gearty and A.C. Grayling.
- ‘TV Review: Gunpowder (Series 1)’ (TV section, 24th October 2017).
- ‘TV Review: Doctor Who – ‘Twice Upon A Time” (TV section, 27th December 2017). Peter Capaldi’s swansong on Doctor Who– and I got to review it!
- ‘The Greatest Emancipator: Reflections on Charles Darwin’s Birthday’ (Technology and Arts and Theatre sections, 12th February 2019). Reflecting on the great man after some time out of writing for TNS.
- ‘Faith, Freedom and Fatwas: The Rushdie Affair 30 Years On’ (Arts and Theatre section, 14th February 2019).
- ‘The Monkey and the Aye-Aye: A Tribute to Douglas Adams’ (Arts and Theatre Section, 18th March 2019).
- ‘Reflecting on A Game of Thrones, the book that spawned a global obsession’ (Books section, 20th May 2019). A review of the first book in George R.R. Martin’s epic series to mark the airing of the final episode of the TV adaptation.
- ‘TV Review: Years and Years’ (TV section, 23rd June 2019). A review of the Russell T Davies BBC show. Contains spoilers.
- ‘Review: Russell T Davies, Edinburgh TV Festival’ (TV Section, 23rd August 2019). An account of an event featuring the great TV dramatist in Edinburgh. The ‘Netflix lament’ in the piece’s last paragraph didn’t take place at the signing but during the main event; something seems to have been lost in the editing. I’ll add that RTD was lovely at the signing. Also lost from the final piece is my funny story about the sexual acts from Queer as Folk discussed by RTD and Hilton- the event was in the Assembly Hall, the meeting place of the General Assembly of the Church Of Scotland. If only they knew- oh, the palpitations! (In the original piece I declined to mention the sexual act specifically. It was rimming.) See below for a picture from the event.
- ‘#GoodbyeTNS- You never forget your first time‘ (Living section, 27th August 2019). The National Student closed down in the latter half of 2019; this article was my last for TNS, a farewell to fond memories.
A bonus: I make a cameo in these articles.
- ‘Here’s what we are reading this National Read a Book Day‘ by Lydia Venn (Arts and Theatre Section, 6th September 2017). In which I opine on a book about the great Thomas Paine.
- ‘The Best TV Shows of 2017‘ by Anneka Honeyball (TV Section, 31st December 2017). In which I give my take on Netflix’s The Punisher.
The New Taboo
As part of my work at Free Speech Champions, I was involved in the launch of our new zine, The New Taboo, in October 2021. It’s a publication designed to inspire young people, particularly students, about the principles of free speech. I edited the second issue.
- ‘Free speech for all: lessons from Hong Kong’ (Issue 1, Autumn 2021). In print or on page 7 of the flipbook viewer here.
- ‘Editorial: The Varieties of Autonomous Experience’ (Issue 2, Spring 2022). In print or on page 2 of the flipbook viewer here.
- ‘Thomas Paine’s Radical Commitment to Free Speech: A Tradition Worth Following‘ (December 8, 2022). After issue 2, Max Mitchell took over as editor and moved The New Taboo to Substack.
New English Review
A literary and cultural magazine containing fiction and non-fiction whose contributors include the philosopher Maarten Boudry, the scholar Ibn Warraq, and the journalist Peter Hitchens among many others.
1. ‘The Last Days of an Erstwhile Emperor‘ (August 2019 issue, Stories & Poetry section). A short story.
2. ‘Fighting the New Theocrats: Review of Cynical Theories by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay‘ (August 2020 issue).
OnlySky is a multimedia project dedicated to the secular view of life. I am a columnist there.
- ‘Joseph Ratzinger, God’s own monster: An obituary before the fact‘ (15th April 2022).
- ‘A horrific ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya shows the limits of our moral attention‘ (6th May 2022).
- ‘No jubilation for the Jubilee: why the monarchy must end‘ (1st June 2022). My friend Jamie Weir, with whom I frequently and jovially disagree, wrote a piece in response to my bout of monarchy-bashing for Areo, which you can read here. Naturally, I still disagree with him, but I think these two pieces stand together quite nicely as counterpoints.
- ‘Love and anger, liberty and literature: A personal response to the attack on Salman Rushdie‘ (13th August 2022).
- ‘The Queen is dead: a republican’s response‘ (8th September 2022).
- ‘Disestablish it for its own good: The Church of England and gay marriage‘ (18th January 2023).
Pondering Primates Podcast
The Pondering Primates Podcast is the official podcast of the University of Edinburgh Atheist, Humanist, and Secularist Society, of which I was the President from 2019 until 2021 (see About page for more info). It is hosted primarily on Anchor and is available through iTunes and other platforms. Collected here are the episodes of the podcast to which I have contributed or of which I was the host.
- Season 2 Episode 1: Dr Iona Italia- India, migration, Areo, and much more! (29th September 2019). My first episode as host- forgive my amateurishness; luckily Iona makes up for it with her eloquence and insight. The first series was meant to end with a grand finale featuring the previous committee and the new one, including yours truly, but audio problems meant it couldn’t be published.
- S2 E2: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: an open discussion between believers and non-believers- Live! (4th Oct 2019). In which I chair an open discussion on atheism and religion, after an event on the 4th hosted by the Society showing the documentary Collision, featuring debate and interaction between Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson.
- S2 E3: Prof. Frank Cogliano on Thomas Jefferson- Live! (14th Oct 2019). In which I interview Frank and chair a question and answer session after a talk he gave for the Society on a Friday 11th October (the interview and question session are recorded, but the talk isn’t).
- S2 E4: A Conversation with Josep Martí Bouis (21st October 2019). I talk to theology student and sharply dressed friend Josep about our disagreements over theology, faith, religion, morality, and more.
- S2 E5: Halloween Special: Professor Chris French on ghosts and science (28th October 2019).
- S2 E6: A Chat with Duncan Sutherland on Film and TV (29th October 2019). In which I chat with my dear friend Duncan.
- S2 E7: Helen Pluckrose (5th November 2019).
- S2 E8: Adam Ramsay- Open Democracy, fascism, and fundamentalism (11th November 2019).
- S2 E9: Maryam Namazie- Apostasy, Blasphemy, Dissent, Islam, and Dancing (18th November 2019).
- S2 E10: Prof. Richard Wiseman- science, skepticism, psychology, and more (25th Nov 2019).
- S2 E11: Aayushi Gupta on the Philosophy and Practice of Photography (22nd Jan 2020).
- S2 E12: Prof. Matthew McManus on Postmodern Conservatism and Jordan Peterson (29th Jan 2020).
- S2 E13: Dr Nathan G. Alexander on the history of race and atheism (5th February 2020).
- S2 E14: Ben Sixsmith discusses conservatism, agnosticism, literature- and much else besides! (12th February 2020).
- S2 E15: Seth Andrews- atheism, activism, politics, Trump, Game of Thrones, and more! (3rd March 2020).
- S2 E16: Psychology, fear, and more from Los Angeles with Dr Patrick Lockwood (7th March 2020).
- S2 E17: Conrad Hamilton part 1- critiquing Jordan Peterson (11th March 2020).
- S2 E18: Conrad Hamilton part 2- a long digression on China (and some more on Jordan Peterson) (16th March 2020).
- S2 E19: Peter Hitchens: coronavirus, dissent, conformity, Scotland, history, and literature (24th March 2020). Recorded not long before Boris Johnson’s announcement of a national lockdown on 23rd March 2020.
- S2 E20- Andrew Copson: Humanism, Humanists UK, secularism, and writing (31st March 2020).
- S2 E21: Finale with a Philosopher- A.C. Grayling on Brexit, coronavirus, humanism, the history of philosophy, and more (5th May 2020).
- S2: A Coda and a Farewell (5th May 2020).
- S2: Summer Special: Dr. Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens on Anwar al-Awlaki’s western jihad (14th June 2020). An unexpected extra episode!
A bonus: I make a cameo as one of the questioners in this series 1 episode: S1 Episode 7: On Spirituality with Rev Dr Liam Fraser- Live!.
Quillette– as august a publication as it is a hated one, being published in its pages no doubt makes me a fascist in the eyes of some. But I’m proud to be published in a magazine which can boast the likes of Steven Pinker and Jerry Coyne among its contributors and which devotes itself to reason and heterodoxy. Along with Areo and Letter it is one of the internet’s prime venues for continuing the traditions of the Enlightenment.
1. ‘Against Literalism—The Satanic Verses Fatwa at 30’ (9th August 2019, Books, Literature, Review, and Spotlight sections). A celebration of Salman Rushdie’s fine novel, and more broadly the literary and the ironic as set against the literal, in the year which marks the 30th anniversary of the fatwa against its author. The original title, minus the word ‘fatwa’, was slightly inaccurate as this year, 2019, is the 30th anniversary of the fatwa, not the book, which was published in 1988! Still, there was something neat about the irony of the book not being literally 30 years old- it rather chimed with the article’s gist, I think.
2. ‘A New Republic of Letters‘ (1st September 2019, History, Media, and Top Stories sections). A discussion of Letter and the history of letter-writing. See above for more details on Letter and my involvement with it.
I was a columnist for Retrospect Journal during my second year at university. It is the University of Edinburgh’s School of History, Classics, and Archaeology’s student run journal. I briefly served as deputy editor in the summer of 2018 but had to give it up after a medical emergency which meant I had to take the year out of university. As well as contributing online articles (including short stories) to the journal, I wrote for two of its physically published editions:
- ‘Thomas Paine: The Greatest Rebel’ available from p. 30 of Retrospect Journal issue no. 21: ‘Individuals and Communities’. Autumn/Winter edition 2017-2018, journal launched in the HCA building on 22 January 2018.
- ‘The Beginnings of Justice: The Story and Influence of the Magna Carta’ available from p. 27 of Retrospect Journal issue no. 22: ‘Justice and Persecution’. Spring/Summer edition 2018, journal launched in HCA building on April 6 2018. It shall forever annoy me that I wrote the wrong dates for Henry II’s reign (1154-1189, not 1135-1189 as it says in the article).
Below are my contributions to the journal’s website, in order of date of publication (note: due to delays in publication, many of these pieces were published a while after they were written):
- ‘The Long March Home’. (16 October 2017). A Napoleonic short story.
- ‘Napoleonic Prisoners and Edinburgh Castle: A Brief Examination’. (9 December 2017).
- ‘‘Frankenstein’: A Celebration of 200 Years of Thrilling Horror’. (12 December 2017).
- ‘Notes from the Late Antique and Medieval Postgraduate Society on Experiencing Medieval Spaces’. (13 December 2017).
- ‘June 1940′.(9 February 2018). A short story set during the Fall of France.
- ‘Gombrich’s A Little History of the World’. (9 February 2018). A review of Gombrich’s wonderful little book.
- ‘Dr Manuel Fernández-Götz and Dr Mirko Canevaro speak to Retrospect about their recent appointments to the Young Academy of Europe’. (28 February 2018). With Alfie Garland.
- ‘Austerlitz and an Empire’s End: Napoleon and the Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire’. (31st July 2018).
- ‘A review of ‘The Whiskey Rebellion: Trump: One Year On’, a live podcast recording’. (1 August 2018). I attended a live recording of Professor Frank Cogliano’s and Dr David Silkenat’s (both of the University of Edinburgh) American history podcast and reviewed it.
- ‘A Review of ‘Napoleon the great? A debate with Andrew Roberts, Adam Zamoyski and Jeremy Paxman’ from Intelligence Squared’. (5 August 2018).
- ‘The End of the Old World’.(6 August 2018). A short story set during the French Revolution.
- ‘Book review: Peter Clarke’s ‘Hope and Glory: Britain 1900-2000’’. (6 August 2018).
- ‘A Recommendation of Mary Renault’s ‘Alexander’ trilogy’.(6 August 2018).
- ‘Historical attraction review: ‘The Real Mary King’s Close’’. (7 August 2018).
- TV Review: ‘Julius Caesar Revealed’’. (7 August 2018).
- ‘The Two Houses’. (7 August 2018). A short story set in a coffee shop of the 18th-century Enlightenment.
In addition, I also contributed to the Retrospect Podcast in 2017 (and possibly early 2018- my memory fails me) though the episodes where my heavenly voice featured seem to have been lost from the page. Alas.
A Repository of my Own
Essays and suchlike written originally for this, my own website. As noted in the ‘About’ section, I’ll be focusing my efforts on my Substack, so that is where future original pieces outside of official publications shall be posted.
- ‘Churches, Tragedy, and a little Comedy: A few Personal Reflections on some Recollections’ (15th March 2019). My first proper piece for this site.
- ‘In Sickness and in Health: A Letter to my Appendix’ (17th April 2019).
- ‘A dispatch from the Humanist Society Scotland conference’ (25th May 2019). My account of the 2019 event.
- ‘Taking the Vanity Fair Proust Questionnaire‘ (8th June 2019). In which I answer questions from the aforesaid questionnaire, which are designed to reveal one’s ‘true nature‘. Oh dear.
- ‘Britain’s pygmy politicians: some reflections on the 2019 election, written the day after‘ (28th December 2019).
- ‘The top fifteen books I read in 2019‘ (28th December 2019).
- ‘The Death of a Decade (and the End of a Year)‘ (6th January 2020).
- ‘The seventeen best books I read in 2020‘ (29th December 2020).
- ‘Some end of year reflections: plagues, parties, and penury‘ (31st December 2020).
Scottish Secular Society blog pieces
- ‘On Humans, Humanism, and All Other Life’ (the article mistakenly lists date of publication as 3rd March 2019- perhaps this was when I submitted it. In any case it was in fact published on 24th March 2019, or maybe in the very early hours of the 25th).
Edited by Russ Smith, the old MUGGER, Splice Today is meant “[t]o provoke, irritate, delight and confuse readers who are bored or dissatisfied with current online journalism.” I hope I’ve lived up to that standard.
- ‘Rudy Giuliani’s Miserable Legacy‘ (December 5, 2022).
Below are pieces, in order of date of publication, that I contributed to ‘The Student’, the University of Edinburgh’s student run newspaper, the world’s oldest (founded by Robert Louis Stevenson and counting Gordon Brown among its alumni).
- ‘The Kurds deserve support, not intransigence, from the international community’ (Comment section, 5 October 2017).
- ‘The New Jacobites: The SNP vs. The Monarchy’ (Comment section, 18 October 2017).
- ‘Robert Burns Night: a kitsch memorial that is worth celebrating‘ (Comment section, 29th January 2020). The link is to the online version, published February 11th 2020; it was first published in print on 29th January, picture below:
Two for Tea podcast
Two for Tea is Areo‘s associated podcast. It’s mostly hosted by Iona Italia, the Areo editor, but I make occasional appearances—usually as a co-host, sometimes as a guest.
- I guest-hosted 22nd April 2021, interviewing Iona about some big changes at Areo Magazine. See here.
- On 15th December 2021, I appeared as a guest with Ben Burgis and Matt Johnson to discuss Christopher Hitchens on the tenth anniversary of his death. See here and here.
- In April 2022, I co-hosted the podcast with Iona; we spoke to J. Arvid Ågren about his book on the gene’s-eye view of evolution. See here.
- In May 2022, I co-hosted with Iona a discussion with the writer Matt Johnson about the war in Ukraine. See here.
- Also in May 2022, I co-hosted with Iona an interview with Steven Pinker on his latest book, Rationality. See here or here.
Uncommon Ground Media
1. ‘Of Demons and Musketeers: The Four Horsemen’ (Book Reviews section, 27th March 2019). An essay considering the ‘New Atheists’.
2. ‘Eros and Thanatos, Love and Death: an Enduring Entanglement’ (Main Story, Opinion, and World sections, 17th June 2019). An essay on the persecution of gay men throughout the world.
The Washington Examiner
- ‘A free speech crisis in the cradle of the Enlightenment‘ (5th May 2022). Also in print (the digital edition of the magazine can be viewed here).
For other, more random things.
- ‘Photos of readers‘- I was featured on Jerry Coyne’s website, in some photos I took while a tad tipsy (4th February 2020). Includes pictures of a first edition of Darwin’s Origin which I saw in the archives at Edinburgh University.
- Debate hosted by the Black Ed movement on the renaming of David Hume Tower at the University of Edinburgh in which I spoke against such a move (13th July 2020, video uploaded 24th July 2020). Unfortunately I had some connection issues so there is a lot I missed and a lot I’d have liked to say/responded to. I’m the one with the greyed out screen appearing via audio only. Additionally, the recording seems to have cut out some of the stuff at the beginning, including my introduction. Nonetheless, an interesting discussion.
- My conversation with Obaid Omer on his Dangerous Speech podcast (14th October 2020). It was supposed to be about David Hume Tower but we ended up talking more about other things, alas! I would make some corrections, add some things, and articulate a little differently in retrospect, but it was a fun and interesting conversation.
- On 6th July 2021, I co-hosted, with Inaya Folarin Iman, a Free Speech Champions drop-in with the writer and activist Jonathan Rauch, in which we discussed trolls, disinformation, free speech, cancel culture, and more, inspired by his new book The Constitution of Knowledge. See here for the recording of the event.
- On 26th July 2021, I was a member of the panel questioning Lionel Shriver and Tomiwa Owolade for a Free Speech Champions drop-in on literary censorship. See the recording here.
- On 19th September 2021, I, along with a couple of my FSC comrades, was invited to be part of the live audience for Andrew Doyle’s Free Speech Nation show on GB News and I got to ask a question, thus making my TV debut! See here for the clip.
- On 23rd September 2021, I spoke with Mathew Giagnorio on his Modes of Inquiry podcast about many things, including: dissidence in Islam, woke culture, free speech, and Free Speech Champions. See here.
- On 23rd December 2021, I collaborated with Iona Italia to choose the best of Areo in 2021. See here.
- I appeared on Darren Grimes’s GB News show to discuss free speech on campus on May 28th 2022. See here, here, or here.
- After the stabbing of Salman Rushdie in August 2022, I returned to Mathew Giagnorio’s Modes of Inquiry podcast to discuss Rushdie, literature, free speech, and more. See here (audio only) or here (video, so you can watch me light up a cigarette or two during the conversation).
- On November 6th, 2022, Jerry Coyne wrote up an anti-religion piece I wrote for my Substack. Read my piece here and Jerry’s kind review here.