John Mitchinson is a writer and publisher and co-founder of Unbound, the world's leading crowdfunding platform for books. He was previously Director of Research and a senior writer for the BBC TV show 'QI'. He is co-host of the popular books podcast Backlisted and a Vice-President of the Hay Festival. He writes a monthly column, 'The Upside Down', for Byline Times
THE UPSIDE DOWN: Making Better People – Why Eugenics Refuses to Die
Even if we could make fitter, cleverer humans, would that make them more valuable people?
THE UPSIDE DOWN: The Point of Wasps
John Mitchinson on why we should cut the pub garden pest some slack.
THE UPSIDE DOWN: The Limits of Charm – Britain's Worst Ever MP
John Mitchinson on the life and times of Ignácz Trebitsch and the prescient lessons our politicians can take from his grisly demise.
THE UPSIDE DOWN: Learning to Love Weeds
John Mitchinson explores why weeds force us to think differently about what is and isn't 'natural'
THE UPSIDE DOWN: Show Me the Money – the Story of the First Journalist
John Mitchinson recounts the life of Daniel Defoe, the Patron Saint of Freelancers and Master of Aliases, who hustled journalism into existence three hundred years ago.
THE UPSIDE DOWN: Is Alexander Dugin Putin's Brain?
John Mitchinson on the ideologue who revived 'Eurasianism'. Is Dugin really the Rasputin behind a more aggressive Kremlin? Or is he another post-truth prank?
THE UPSIDE DOWN: Why Britain Owes So Much to the Navvies
John Mitchinson explores the transformational contribution, too easily overlooked, by the labourers who built the country's canals and railways.
THE UPSIDE DOWN: Gene Genies
John Mitchinson turns his curious eye towards the Brave New World of Epigenetics – what is ‘On’ rather than ‘In’ our Genes.
THE UPSIDE DOWN: Early and Often – A Short History of Fixing Elections
John Mitchinson on the not-so-recent history of rigging the vote, bribing voters with booze and voter suppression, using whiskey
THE UPSIDE DOWN: Mould Breakers – the Magic and Mystery of Shrooms
If this column were to have a mascot, it would be a mushroom. Fungi are everywhere, they are important, they are deeply weird and we know very little about them.
THE UPSIDE DOWN: Dead Centre – the Collective Avoidance of Dying
For most of us in the so-called developed world, death is rarely confronted head-on. At best, it’s ‘the rumble of distant thunder at a picnic’.
THE UPSIDE DOWN: Search Me –when did Google Become So Shallow?
As Facebook and other global tech giants come under scrutiny over the way they amass our data, John Mitchinson reveals how Google has less information
THE UPSIDE DOWN: Wetworld – the Most Unlikely Thing in the Universe
We live in strange times. Familiarity is draining from our lives; old political alignments are dissolving; the weather is unpredictable and violent. But perhaps we should try harder to embrace the strangeness: after all, we are made from the most unlikely thing in the universe.