Robin Ince
Exeter Northcott

If science is the new rock”˜n’roll, Robin Ince may look more ”˜dad rock’ than post-modern punk. But both physicists and music fans know better than to judge by appearances.

Temporarily released from the Infinite Monkey Cage ”“ the Radio 4 science-meets-comedy show he co-hosts with Professor Brian Cox ”“ Ince is louder, angrier and funnier on stage than on air. He paces and rants and over-gesticulates like a chemically-enhanced schoolteacher, invoking parallel universes and theoretical cats, and constantly referencing his scientist/philosopher/atheist heroes, Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell, Richard Feynman and (of course) Charles Darwin. Daily Mail readers, devotees of alternative medicine and promoters of so-called Intelligent Design must prepare to be offended (although, as Ince himself points out, “in an alternative universe you loved the show”.)

But beyond the geek wit and intellectual in-jokes, there’s a serious side to all this. The most important quote of the evening is, “Bigotry and science really don’t go well together’. While any woolly-minded, evidentially-challenged thinking is fair game for Ince, what really gets him VERY ANGRY is the use of half-baked pseudo-facts to ”˜justify’ prejudice, intolerance and oppression. As evidenced by his furious, scathing and spot-on piss-takes of racists, homophobics and religious fundamentalists.

Oh yes, the true, equality-seeking spirit of punk is here, and this time it’s backed up not by loud chords but hard facts. Ince doesn’t want to blind us with science ”“ he wants to use it to open our eyes.

Philippa Davies

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