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About me

About Martin Cohen

Twitter: @docmartincohen

I am an author specializing in popular books in philosophy, social science and politics. Recent books include I Think Therefore I Eat, which I would call a kind of crossover book with a taste of philosophy certainly, and some psychology, but lots of food science.

More typical of my work perhaps is 101 Philosophy Problems or Critical Thinking Skills for Dummies or indeed my look at how scientists work - a book called Paradigm Shift. Maybe this last one sounds rather technical but is actually a great deckchair read, taking a look at many perplexed and perplexing issues in life, from religion to science, from food fads to black holes in space.. There's some awful warnings, sure, but also plenty of good news in debunking some of the diet myths - and in the wonders of foods like... chocolate.

In the past I have taught philosophy and social science at a number of universities in the UK and Australia, and I was involved in a research project exploring ways to shift philosophy teaching away from the the mere study of philosophical facts and toward a view of philosophy as an activity. I am currently a visiting research fellow in the philosophy department of the University of Hertfordshire, UK.

I'm also an activist environmentalist, and count stopping a bypass through the Wharfe Valley in Yorkshire as one of my proudest achievements. My contribution included, to be sure, evaluating and in this case dismantling the government arguments for the project. In green circles, Some years back, I wrote a discussion paper on environmental concerns for the European Parliament and separately was invited by the Chinese government to present a paper on ecological rights and indigenous communities. I am sometimes considered rather suspect though for having written an influential series of articles in the Times Higher (London) about the politics of the climate change debate.

As an editor and as a writer, my strategy has always been to allow space for as wide a range of ideas as possible - and I'm always open to articles by non-specialists with unusual and original ideas. If you'd like to suggest an article for me, please do drop me a line - twitter is usually quickest.

p.s. I am currently based in Aquitaine, France, but travel often to the US and UK.



Thanks to Neil Kerber for this great pic. I'm afraid I really DO look like this!

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Chewing over FOOD!

Readers who know my strong slant towards FRUIT AND VEG in I Think Therefore I Eat, will maybe be puzzled to find me taking on the vegans recently. Nonetheless, that is where I felt the truth of the extraordinarily complex food arguments lies and philosophy takes us where the truth is whether we like it or not!
The Observer (London) even accused me of waging ‘culture wars’ and wondered: Is it possible that a combination of well-meaning philanthropists and large agricultural concerns have united to exploit health fears for financial gain, while neglecting the nutritional shortcomings in their recommendations? Anyway, in the event I was delighted to work with the brilliant Frédéric Leroy on this article, which basically follows up a request he received from the influential European Food Agency to raise public awareness about the complexity of food issues and the implicatons of simple ‘one size fits all’ solutions.

Our piece kicked off a public information campaign which included coverage…

Arguing about Nuclear Power

2012 was the year my book on nuclear power, or to be precise energy economics, came out. Put that way, it sounds technical, and quite different from philosophy ‘as it is normally known’ - but I think the book fits quite well within that broad sweep of social science which has philosophy at its heart.

Anyway, here is a book that looks a hot issues in energy politics, quite a lot at economics, a bit at climate science, and definitely includes plenty of bad arguments. Not mine! All those rotten arguments produced by the nuclear lobby, and their many supporters. We call them the seven nuclear myths.

The book followed the infamous Fukushima disaster, coming out just one year later, and naive readers might imagine I was 'inspired' (if that's the right word) to write it by the events in Japan. But not at all, books like this take years of research and I had started working on the project long before. In addition, I worked closely with my co-author, the brilliant but enigmatic An…

Seeing the world another way

‘No Holiday’ is my book that came nearest to being made into a film! At least, I had a very nice dinner (with my researcher, Paula C.) on the idea of it - and a small options deal. Alas, the film (it would have been for TV, a documentary) never happened. But I can still see this book as having all the ingredients of a great series. Why? Because, in the spirit of all travel writing, it is about strange places and extraodrianry sights.

As the publisher put it:

‘In this first Disinformation Travel Guide, Martin Cohen visits exotic locations (80 of them!) but with a different aim than the usual travel book: to seek out the suffering and injustices, not to skirt them. We will see the dark red waters of ‘Murdering Creek’ in Australia, silent testament to the ongoing genocide of the world’s oldest people... we will visit the olive groves of Palestine where the helicopter gunships of the Israeli Army patter by like so many gigantic marauding insects, and we will queue up to see not museums and…