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Speakers Bureau Spotlight: Andy Thomson


Andy ThompsonCharlottesville, Virginia

Dr. Thomson is a psychiatrist in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has a private practice of general psychiatry and forensic psychiatry as well as serving as a staff psychiatrist at the University of Virginia's Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy and the Counseling and Psychological Services of the University of Virginia Student Health Services. Born in Washington, D.C. he received his B.A. degree from Duke University and his M.D. from University of Virginia School of Medicine. Robert Wright's book The Moral Animal introduced him to the emerging discipline of evolutionary psychology. It is that new lens of evolutionary psychology that informs his recent work on a comprehensive psychological formulation of suicide terrorism. He is a board member of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

From Thomson's recent paper on suicide terrorism, "We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brother (and Occasional Sister): The Dynamics of Suicide Terrorism," a description of the influence of religion on suicide terrorism:

While religions may inspire good deeds, religions also facilitate terrorism...If we truly want to understand suicide terrorism at its most fundamental level, we have to face the horror of our evolutionary history, the murderous legacy it has left in all men, and the vulnerability to suicide in each of us. We must see religion's very structure grants it potent ability to hijack men's and women's suicidal capacities and men's propensity for coalitionary killing...Will any leader step forth and indict religion, hold it responsible for its contribution to this nightmare?

Dr. Thomson gave a lecture on suicide terrorism hosted by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science at the Atheist Alliance International 2007 conference. We have the first segment here; you can find the second part and the Q&A session on YouTube. Thanks to Josh Timonen and Wayne Marsala of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science for filming and producing these videos.

Points of interest and ideal speaking topics are the same:

  • Suicide Terrorism
  • Psychology of Religion
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Human Evolution and its implications for everyday life
  • Clinical applications of Evolutionary Psychology

The SSA can help bring Dr. Thomson to speak at your campus or event! Find our more about the Speakers Bureau and what it can do for you at www.secularstudents.org/speakers.

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