This column’s topic was prompted by Dr Hannah Critchlow’s book ‘The Science of Fate. Why your future is more predictable than you think’ (Hodder & Stoughton, 2019), which I spotted – among other random volumes – inside my warm and cosy office at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, where I now work as a Writing Fellow. Left behind by the room’s previous occupiers, they varied in subjects and were scattered higgledy-piggledy on the shelves.

Dr Critchlow, a leading British neuroscientist (and my fellow Magdalene Fellow), whom I subsequently met at one of the Fellows’ lunches, used to be based in that office until taking up a protracted overseas assignment, after which she was assigned a new room in the college, but some of her books remained in her old office that became mine. So, coming across ‘The Science of Fate’, which I read with her kind permission and very much enjoyed, particularly her thoughts on ‘biological determinism’ and scientific...

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