Recorded: 09 Sep 2003
My first—I mean I saw Jim on stage before I met him as it were, I think in London. And like everybody I was struck by, you know, his eccentricity of manner. But when I met him, you know, I suddenly discovered this extraordinary dissonance between what appears to be a sort of distracted manner, and what is actually an extremely perceptive person whose two steps ahead of you, not two steps behind you in the conversation. And his unquenchable thirst for new knowledge and new information which is the absolute hallmark and characteristic of him. And the ability to say exactly what he thinks. I mean there is very little trimming to conventional things to say. You know, there’s always something challenging about what Jim has to say, and I found that very exciting over the years, getting to know him better. I have enormous amount of time for his abilities.
Matt Ridley is a journalist and a leading science writer. He earned his Ph.D. in zoology from Oxford University in 1983. He worked as a correspondent and editor for The Economist, a columnist for Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph and as editor of The Best American Science Writing 2002.
His books include Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature; Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation; Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters ; Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human; and Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code. His books have been short-listed for many literary awards.
He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Ridley is the honorary life president of the International Centre for Life, Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s park devoted to life science that he founded in 1996. He is chairman of Northern Rock plc, and other financial services firms.
In 1996, Ridley first visited Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and made James D. Watson’s acquaintance. In 2006 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and is a visiting professor at the lab.