This interview was written by Andrew Sweeney and published in Tableaus, June 1995. It is reproduced here with Mr Sweeney's permission. Of course it is now rather out of date (especially the "bachelor" bit – which is now "happily married with a child") but is entertaining enough to keep.
Dr Robin Craig, Ph.D., has to be one of Mensa's most eligible bachelors.
He's intelligent. Educated. Independent. Successful. Articulate. He lives and works on Queensland's Gold Coast and writes one of the longest-running, most popular, most controversial series ever to appear in Tableaus — namely, Philosophical Reflections. He's still young at 39. On the phone with your humble scribe, he's relaxed, confident, affable, with a ready wit and a laconic charm.
"And I'm single," he adds, making sure I get that right for this interview. "I joined Mensa to meet people. Especially women."
Robin was only 24 and already earning his Ph.D. in molecular genetics when he co-founded his own research company, Genesearch Pty Ltd, in 1980.
"Molecular genetics involves genetic engineering, cloning, gene-sequencing and the like. With Genesearch, I do mainly research, plus microbe genetics, genetic engineering and computer programming. I'm a biotechnologist."
In 1984, Robin moved Genesearch from Sydney to the Gold Coast to take advantage of the business climate. Surrounded by new faces, Robin joined Mensa for companionship, and found not only stimulation, but a new voice.
"I began writing articles as a response to things which irritated me. I read an article in the International Journal on the subjective nature of quantum mechanics, which I thought was nonsense, so I wrote a reply.
"One thing that disappoints me about Mensans is that they don't seem to be interested in ideas. I thought a society of highly-intelligent people would be.
"At a Mensa party, a man I was talking with summed up the attitude of everybody there by saying 'Everybody here has an opinion, and they're all right!' I thought, 'Right, it's about time I sorted these people out!'"
Robin sat down at his home computer and began writing the first instalment of Philosophical Reflections.
"I intended it to be an occasional series. I was just going to write when I had something to say."
Robin has continued to write Philosophical Reflections on an occasional basis over the past couple of years.
"One reason for the occasional nature of the series is that I've got other things to do. I work full-time, I write computer programs, I haven't always got time to sit down and write articles.
"The other reason is they're getting harder to write. The first instalments were easy. I was writing about reality, which can be experienced. Now I'm writing about ethics, which have to be derived. Before I started writing Philosophical Reflections, I used to think philosophy was a load of rubbish.
"Since about the time of Kant, philosophy has become increasingly divorced from reality. Philosophers have been asking questions such as 'Is there a reality?', 'Are there ethics?', 'Should there be ethics?' Philosophy should be practical. It should tell people how to live. You can't do that when you're questioning whether there's a reality."
If philosophy should tell people how to live, where does that leave religion?
"Religion was a precursor to philosophy. It was an early attempt at telling people how to live, at getting people's thoughts in order about the world. It's become outdated. Religion is essentially mystical, which is inimical to observational philosophy."
When asked if Robin's outlook is anti-religious or merely a-religious, he readily agrees with the former.
"My outlook is anti-religious, anti-mystical. Religion allows people to make assertions without justifications: 'It's good because God says so'.
"You can't damn all religions on that basis. But a religion that allows people to kill in the name of their God... Take the Islamic fundamentalists who believe they're justified in trying to murder Salman Rushdie because their God wants them to. They don't have to justify it in any other way than by saying it's their God's wish."
Confident in his opinions, what does Robin think of the opinions he gets in response to Philosophical Reflections?
"Until recently, I've been disappointed with the response. Before, I used to get only one or two letters, often from people who'd only read the subheads, or who'd read my articles quickly and mistaken what I'd written. I got letters saying I'd said things I hadn't. Now the letters show that people are at least reading what I'm saying."
For all those reading what he's saying now, what's the ideal eligible bachelor's ideal woman?
"Intelligent. Rational. A sense of humour. And slim." Necessarily slim? "I prefer slim."
And what should be the basis of her philosophy? "Rationality," Robin says firmly, then adds, chuckling, "By definition, that means she agrees with everything I say."
Original article © 1995 Andrew Sweeney
Robin is happy to announce that his bachelorhood is over. In March 1999 he married his Dagny Taggart. It may be possible that she doesn't actually agree with everything he says!
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe, were life.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world,
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars.
And tho' we are not now the strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will,
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
— Excerpt from Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
- Robin is a founder and director of Genesearch Pty Ltd, a biotechnology company specialising in microbial growth, products and genetics; and a founder and director of ThoughtWare Australia Pty Ltd, developers of i.on my software as well as having expertist=e in human resources and project management.
© 1996 Robin Craig: first published in First published in Tableaus: Original article © 1995 Andrew Sweeney.