Reflecting on recent science news stories and current events, authoritative thinkers unpack the implications for society. Naked Reflections is chaired by Ed Kessler, Founder President of the Woolf Institute.

You can subscribe to the Naked Reflections podcast series at and through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Android subscription platforms.

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What is Naked Reflections?

In this 15-minute clip, we combine material from three of our episodes to give you a glimpse into our fascinating series.

Love the Other

It’s easier said than done...

Turning the Other Cheek

Tell the Ukrainians to turn the other cheek and you’d probably get short shrift. So what does this advice really mean?

The Politics of Music

In the blue corner: National Anthems and military marches; in the red corner: protest songs. Politics and music often coincide...

Good Luck

A light- hearted discussion about positive thinking in bad times...

Time to stop talking

Is it sometimes necessary or even productive to stop negotiating?

Eight billion and counting

Is the world population, at eight billion and rising, too high?

Refugees and Migrants

The UK asylum system is broken. The Woolf Institute Commission on the Integration of Refugees aims to help fix it...

The National Health

Are we witnessing the collapse of the NHS in real time?

Faith in Mental Health

We reflect on the secular and the religious approaches to mental ill health and find that they are not mutually exclusive

Modern Slavery

The Slave Trade was abolished in 1807, but modern slavery still blights society...

Hope and Fear

We all face death, and this sense of an ending is expressed in religion and art. Does science provide a more comforting perspective?


Hatred is a powerful human emotion. It can motivate individuals and nations, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Feeding Body and Soul

In a world of threatened resources and growing population, how should we eat sustainably and responsibly?

Blasphemy on the Big Screen

When the film LADY OF HEAVEN was released, there were vigorous protests and Cineworld withdrew the film. What was going on?

Summer Special: QAnon and Sex

Extracts from two of our favourite episodes, combined into a Summer Special covering QAnon and Sex..

Discipline versus Creativity

Can you have one without the other?

Odds on Either Way

Gambling can take place in a bedroom, on the High Street or on a train. Is it’s ubiquity a problem for a few or for many?


Irish writer Rose Doyle talks to Ed Kessler about her son’s suicide...

Fortress Europe

Victor Orban coined the phrase Fortress Europe, expressing a desire for Christianity to keep Islam at bay.

Memory and Memorising

Memory is mysterious and we are only now beginning to understand how it works in our brains..


Many families in the UK open their homes to provide refuge for fleeing Ukrainians. What is the history and the future of sanctuary?

With God on "our"side

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop Kirill of Moscow both got into trouble recently for mixing up religion with politics...


There’s a pizza joint in Washington DC where a cabal of satanic child abusers meets to brag about their exploits


Is diaspora community just a posh phrase for immigrant community?

Believing and Belonging

Is religion as much about community as communion?

The F Word

Is there a science of forgiveness?

The Great Awoke-ning

For an adjective which is defined simply as “alert to racial prejudice”, WOKE seems to attract a lot of controversy...

Getting Ready to Die

Dying is a necessary and inevitable part of living. So why are we so hung up about it?


What does mainstream religion make of the Kama Sutra?


Genocides, and why we as a species are capable of such things.

Blessed Algorithms

In many ways, A.I. has crept up on us without us noticing. Beth Singler and Hope McGovern assess the current state of play

Climate Change and Human Behaviour

Cop 26 has been and gone. Are we any the wiser? Or are we on a cliff edge

Musical Networks

What’s the link between C20th Muslim pop music and Victorian synagogue music?

Speaking of Silence

Silence is much more than the absence of noise or speech. It can be contemplative, defiant, truthful or evasive

Reflecting on Wisdom and Greatness

What is wisdom and how do we measure it? It’s different from brilliance but it’s difficult to pin down.

Where do religious beliefs come from?

Ask a person of faith and they’ll probably say God. But is it that simple?

Gender and Socitey

When it comes to the politics of gender, both the religious and the scientific establishments have some hard questions to ask of themselves

Reflecting on Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking's family recently donated his entire archive, from juvenile scribbles to final scientific papers, to the nation...

Reflecting on a Blinding Light

At the darkest time of the year, we explore the theological and aesthetic significance of light in all its forms...

Reflecting on Living in Harmony

We discuss the ancient shared musical heritage of the Middle East and offer some graphic musical illustrations..

Covid Vaccines and Religious Groups

Why were COVID infection rates so high in some Muslim and Jewish communities?

Reflecting on the Good Friday Agreement

The Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland is under pressure. What does the future hold?

Building a sustainable future

How we can build more sustainably and improve the urban environment we've inherited.

Does interfaith work?

Is interfaith just slappy, clappy sarees, samosas and steel bands, or a serious engagement with difference?

Talk the Talk

Marking 100 editions of Naked Reflections, Rowan Williams and Chris Smith discuss the merits and dangers of eloquence

Reflecting on Paganism

There's more to paganism than someone who takes their clothes off and dances round a stone circle.

How to Disagree Amicably

We seem to be drowning in a rising tide of anger and rancour. How can we disagree better?


There’s a disturbing amount of antisemitic material on social media, and hate postings in general are rife.

Reflecting on Terrorism

Neither the Torah nor the Quran are short of violent calls to arms. So is this where terrorism comes from?

Wet Markets and Lab Leaks

The theory that the COVID epidemic escaped from a lab in Wuhan is gaining traction

Reflecting on Big Pharma

“Big Pharma” is sometimes painted as a greedy villain, protecting its patents at any cost. But is this fair?

Confused by Cryptocurrency?

Paypal handles it, and Bitcoin is now legal currency in El Salvador. So what’s next for the crypto currency revolution?

Get Rich Quick!

The gap between rich and poor is getting ever wider. Or is it?

Reflecting on Decadence

There’s more to decadence than eating too much chocolate cake. It can be an artistic movement with serious intent for times of uncertainty.

Summer Break: Childhood, and the blame game

Exploring the concept of childhood through literature, psychology, religion and education and how we play the blame game.

Summer Break: Nudges and Manuscripts

From encouraging positive action around pensions to restoring old masters and manuscripts too fragile to touch.

Lost in Translation

It's crucial to science, diplomacy, theology and literary culture, but it's not always easy to get a translation right

Space Oddity

Could space be where the next arms race plays out?

Black and British

Black Britons 70 years after Windrush


Does justice have to be served to bring about reconciliation? Or does the memory of some harms just fade away with time?

Reflecting on Multiculturalism

What is it, and do we accept it?

Reflecting on Policing

A Metropolitan Police commissioner and a criminology PhD student discuss policing...

Diversity in Sport

​Beyond the glory and the drama of football, what is the impact of increasing cultural, ethnic and religious diversity in the sporting arena?

Troubled Minds

What’s the best way to deal with everyday difficulties or trauma when they occur?

Group Think

What makes for good collaborative thinking?

Religious Relics

If we believe something is sacred, does it make it so?

What makes a good leader?

Does leading on the sports field differ from leading a political party?

Mysteries of Quantum Mechanics

Quantum theory has practical applications in everyday life but remains an enigma for most of us...

Reflecting on Voting

'Do elections still belong to the people?'

Is Failure an Option?

And does failure get any easier...

Reflecting on Islamophobia

Islamophobia can take many forms. But why does it happen?

Reflecting on Antisemitism

Antisemitism is a deep rooted problem with a long history...

Working in Harmony

April is Autism Awareness Month, a global event to improve the understanding of this condition...

Hope Springs Eternal

A sense of hope seems to be essential to human wellbeing, but could it be delusional?

Reflecting on Communication

When communication goes wrong, bad things happen...

Reflecting on Corruption

Are we as honest as we would like to think?

Diabesity and COVID-19

Are we in danger of putting all our eggs into the COVID basket and ignoring the dangers of worldwide obesity?

Bionic Soldiers: Playing God?

Are robot wars a real possibility?

Restoring Old Masterpieces

How do you deal with a manuscript that’s so fragile you can’t touch it, or an old canvas that needs touching up?

Reflecting on War Crimes and Justice

Two distinguished peace makers discuss war crimes, conflict and justice...

Reflecting on Addiction

Addiction can take many forms and it’s worth remembering that none of us are immune to its temptations...

Movement of People

The movement of peoples seems to be as old as the hills they move across. We take the long view...

Biology's Holy Grail

Claims for a game-changing A.I. breakthrough in biological science were made recently by Google. True or hype?

Who gets the blame?

Where does blame end and responsibility begin? Why do we find it so difficult to take responsibility for our mistakes?

What does science make of creation?

How the accounts of creation in scripture compare with the latest biological research...

Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine first?

How are we prioritising whom to immunise against Covid-19 first? And is that the right way?

Magic Thinking

Some Christmas magic, but not as we know it...

America's Choice of President

Reflecting on the contested aftermath of the American Presidential election and Trump's legacy

Good Grief

Immortality is a fantasy so we better get real about death and dying...

Resolving Conflict

What does it take to make an effective peacemaker?

Living Together

How good are we, in Britain, at living together?

Conflicts over minerals

Is the way we mine the minerals for electric car batteries and mobile phones fair or responsible?

Reflecting on Natural Disasters

Insights into acts of God, and how to prepare for them...

Covid-19: saving lives vs saving the economy?

The tough moral and ethical choices facing us as we struggle to deal with second wave of the COVID pandemic...

Documenting the history of writing

A look at the long history of writing, from tablets to tablets...

Zoonosis: how new diseases appear

When a pathogen jumps from an animal to a human, bad things can happen...

Nudging you to act...

Is nudge theory a euphemism for psychological manipulation?

How humble are great scientists and artists?

Should we reconcile our drive and ambition with a need for humility?
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