Why do you blog? > I enjoy writing (when the Muse descends). I like finding things out and sharing my discoveries. It's a good way of participating in a wider debate.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Being shortlisted for the Orwell Prize.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > The day Heresy Corner vanished from the internet as a result of some technical problem with Google's Blogger platform. The physical sensation in the pit of my stomach was indescribable.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Get noticed. Also, do your research.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Charles Darwin, Voltaire, David Hume, John Stuart Mill.
What are you reading at the moment? > Strange Days Indeed by Francis Wheen. It's a reassuring reminder that, despite all the doom and gloom around at the moment, things were actually much worse in the 1970s.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Inspector Morse; Rumpole of the Bailey; Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The ones I most enjoyed, I think, were Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco and The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
What is your favourite poem? > 'Kubla Khan'.
What is your favourite movie? > Heathers.
What is your favourite song? > 'Va pensiero'.
Who is your favourite composer? > Bach. But I also have a thing for Shostakovich.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I used to be quite in favour of the European Union.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > The scientific method.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Politicized Islam.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail – a very bad book indeed which I read at an impressionable age. It taught me to be suspicious of overarching explanations, and how to detect bullshit.
Who are your political heroes? > Cicero, Disraeli, Douglas Carswell.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > From J.S. Mill: 'The worth of a state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it; and a state... which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands, even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no great things can really be accomplished.'
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I would abandon the 'precautionary principle' in favour of a proper understanding of probability.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > Me.
What would you do with the UN? > I would reform the Human Rights Council so that only countries with good human rights records were eligible for membership.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > The exhaustion of resources.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > History has had an upward trajectory so far. I have endless faith in human ingenuity and ability to come up with new solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. But we're probably in for a bumpy few decades.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Don't procrastinate.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Courage.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Tediousness.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > I lie every day. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Watching football; buying lottery tickets.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Virtually everything.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I think I would do everything differently.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > New England.
What talent would you most like to have? > Musical ability.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > A highly-paid newspaper columnist.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Monty Python (like the Beatles, never as good on their own).
What animal would you most like to be? > An unusually intelligent parrot.
[A list of all the normblog profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]