Column in The Independent newspaper. Wednesday 21 January 2004
What’s the biggest cause of unhappiness in society?
Living for the future instead of in the present; having false expectations, rather than accepting things as they are and getting on with life. As a society we have too many choices, which leads to too many fears and too many hopes.
What’s the one thing you would do if you were Prime Minister?
Legalise all drugs. Cannabis, heroin, ecstasy and cocaine are all potentially extremely dangerous if wrongly used and can be wonderful if correctly used. At the moment they are in the hands of the nastiest criminals on the planet. They have all the control and profits. Prohibition means we can’t even educate our children on proper use. We have only drug abuse.
What’s your most annoying habit?
I talk too much and too loudly. That’s why I spend most of my time at home by myself.
Who would most like to play Twister with?
Richard Dawkins. I’d like to loosen him up.
Should private schools be abolished?
The process would be painful. But I’d love to live in a country where they weren’t allowed, where education was fair and everyone went to their local school. Then pupils and parents would have to make the most of it.
Was Diana murdered?
On balance I would say no.
What keeps you awake at night?
My partner, Adam Hart-Davis, snoring. If it’s really bad I go to the spare room. Thank goodness he doesn’t do it all the time.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt in life?
That in the end nothing matters and everything is impermanent. It’s a hard lesson I learnt partly through practising Zen meditation for 20 years as a method of letting go, and partly through science. If you really think about evolution and why we human beings are here, you have to come to the conclusion that we are here for absolutely no reason at all. That can be very scary, but it can also be comforting.