Professor Robert Winston – A Review

Robert Winston made no concessions to the faint hearted with his fascinating talk that explored the ethical considerations increasingly brought to bear on a medical profession now able to make quite extraordinary genetic modifications to the human body.

Plunging headlong into a potted history of eugenics, Winston revealed a quiet anger at the horrors this bogus discipline has excused. In what was sometimes a scattergun presentation, he demonstrated was how prejudice, fear and confirmation bias have mapped out a poisonous route that has led to everything from Nazi atrocities to Trump’s campaign of hate. Yet this message begs a question. How can he then justify his own work into genetic disorders – how far should we try and winkle out rogue genes before descending back down the slippery slope of designer humans?

Winston has railed against religious and political obstructions to work he considers of unparalleled importance, yet is humble enough to show a palpable unease as to where the line should be drawn. His abiding message is to be respectful, but also critical, of experts, politicians and special interest groups, be literate in the science that governs what it means to be human, and most importantly, to think for yourself.

By David Vass