Healing Brain Seminar: June 1982


A weekend symposium at the Mount Royal Hotel, London W1

June 26-27, 1982

The Institute for Cultural Research
in collaboration with
The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge, U.S.A.

The modern world is a very different place from the world in which we were originally designed to live. Therefore many of the problems we currently face have their roots in our evolutionary history.

In this centenary year of Charles Darwin’s death, this symposium will take a timely new look at the theories of evolution, starting with Darwin and the controversy that again surrounds him and leading on to present day discoveries about our evolutionary past that have bearing on the future of us all.

The talks will throw light on the why and how of much of human behaviour by considering the evolution of sex differences, diseases of civilisation and aspects of social, biological, cultural and psychological development.

These two days will show that studies of our evolutionary growth have an importance well beyond the academic since many serious health and social problems can perhaps be linked to unrealistic expectations of ourselves in our current society. By investigating how our biological characteristics influence our behaviour, how we are predisposed to act in society at large and in personal relationships, we may even reach a more optimistic view of our future.


Professor R J. Berry studied genetics under Sir Ronald Fisher at Cambridge and then moved to University College London to research in J. B. S. Haldane’s department under Hans Gruneberg. Professor Berry is professor of Genetics in the University of London and is now in the Zoology Department at University College London. His main interests are in the genetical processes affecting variation in natural populations. He is the author of Teach Yourself Genetics, Adam and the Ape, Neo-Darwinism and the two volumes in the New Naturalist series, Inheritance and Natural History and The Natural History of Shetland.

Peter Brent is a novelist and biographer. His most recent work, published last year, is a biography of Charles Darwin. From this, his interest in the present controversies dividing evolutionists has developed and his current project is a book entitled The State of Evolution.

Dr. Brian Goodwin is Reader in Developmental Biology at the University of Sussex, where he is at present the Chairman of Biology. He was born in Montreal, Canada, and studied biology at McGill University but he took his PhD in embryology under the eminent biologist, C. H. Waddington, at Edinburgh University.

Dr. Tim Halliday is Lecturer in Biology at the Open University. In his research career, which he began at Oxford, his primary interest is sexual behaviour, particularly of amphibians, and the various evolutionary pressures that have shaped it. He has published a number of papers and books on sexual behaviour and on conservation.

Richard Leakey has been Director of the National Museums of Kenya since 1974. During the 1960s he was co-leader of several palaeontological expeditions in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. He also leads the Lake Turkana Research Project, a multi-national interdisciplinary investigation of Kenya’s Northern Rift Valley. He is Chairman of the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya Association and Trustee of the East African Wild Life Society. His most recent book, The Making of Mankind, was the companion to his celebrated television series.

Mary Midgley was, until 1980, a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Newcastle. In the 1950s, when she gave up lecturing at Reading University in order to bring up a family, she developed her interest in animal behaviour and evolution. Amongst her publications is Beast and Man, which is concerned with the continuity of man with other species.

Dr. Robert Ornstein is Professor of Human Biology at Stanford University, California, and is President of the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge. His major research interests have included the psychology of meditation and the cognitive functions of the two hemispheres of the brain. He is author of The Psychology of Consciousness.

Dr. David Sobel is Chief of Preventive Medicine at the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Centre at San Jose and Instructor in the Department of Epidemiology and International Health at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco. He directs the medical programme for the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge.

Donald Symons is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California in Santa Barbara where he teaches courses in physical anthropology and the sexual behaviour of primates and humans. He wrote and directed a film on the behaviour of rhesus monkeys. His publications include The Evolution of Human Sexuality.


Peter Brent

• What the man said: Darwin’s life and achievements
• Critics then and now
• Framework for new thinking

Professor R. J. Berry

• How Darwin’s ideas have stood the test of time
• Contributions of the last hundred years
• Steps in the new synthesis

Dr. Brian Goodwin

• Questions left unanswered
• An alternative approach to evolution
• The nature of organisms and how they evolved

Richard Leakey

• The case for natural selection
• What the fossils show
• Natural selection and man’s ancestry

Dr. T. R Halliday

• The individual in evolution
• Do groups evolve?
• Understanding- social systems

Dr. David Sobel

• Illness as barometer of adaptability
• Evolution overload in a high speed society
• Handling the health hazard

Dr. Donald Symons

• Human sexuality
• Male and female patterns of sexual activity
• Female attractiveness
• Reproductive roles

Mary Midgley

• How did culture evolve?
• ‘Cultural genes’: do they exist?
• Inherited tendencies – their part in culture

Dr. Robert Ornstein

• Modern man, un-modern mind?
• Patterns of thinking
• Imposed limitations on cognitive styles
• Dilemmas in decision-making