Control: the dark history and troubling present of eugenics

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Friday 4 February

Theatre / Online

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London
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Tickets are now available

  • Credit: MIKI Yoshihito via Flickr


Theatre audience: £16/£10/£7 Members
Livestream audience: pay what you can

Event description

Throughout history, people have sought to improve themselves, and society, by eliminating disease. They want to enhance desirable qualities in their children or control populations with rules about who can procreate and who can live. 

Join Adam Rutherford as he discusses how new techniques in genetics and gene editing prompt the urgently needed discussions about improving the 'quality' of the population. And how the ideas underlying eugenics are not merely historical.

In this talk, Adam explores the science, history and future of eugenics, and the practice of population control by selective procreation.

Event type

This is a theatre event, where the speaker and audience in our theatre are joined by an online audience.

Tickets to attend in person or to watch the livestream are both available from this page.

At the moment we are encouraging all of our guests and staff to continue wearing a face covering if they are able to, and to maintain a social distance wherever possible. However, the decision is now at your discretion.

Thank you for being respectful of individual choices and for being considerate of everyone’s comfort and safety.

About the speaker

Dr Adam Rutherford is a science writer and broadcaster. He studied genetics at University College London, and during his PhD on the developing eye, he was part of a team that identified the first genetic cause of a form of childhood blindness.

He has written and presented many award-winning series and programmes for the BBC, including the flagship weekly Radio 4 programme 'Inside Science' and 'The curious cases of Rutherford & Fry' with Dr Hannah Fry.

He is the author 'Creation', which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Prize, 'A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived', 'The Book of Humans' the Sunday Times bestselling 'How to Argue with  a Racist'  and the co-author of 'Rutherford and Fry's Complete Guide to Absolutely Everything (Abridged)'.

Adam's latest book, 'Control: The Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics' is available from Amazon and all good bookstores. 


Doors to the theatre will open at 6.30pm. The event will begin at 7.00pm.

The live stream will go live at 6.55pm, and the introduction will begin at 7.00pm. If you register but miss the live stream, the video will be available to you via the same link for up to a week after the event date.


Our accessible public toilet is on the ground floor. The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the pavement, via a lift. There is space at floor level in the theatre for four wheelchair users.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email:

Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop. 

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free. If you arrive by taxi and need step free access, ask to be dropped off round the corner on New Bond street. Here the curb is level with the road and the pavement follows round to the entrance of the Ri.

Carers can receive a free ticket to an event by emailing:

The Royal Institution is part of the Amazon Affiliate Programme and book links on this page are affiliate links, which means it won't cost you any extra but we may earn a small commission if you decide to purchase through the link. All proceeds help support the charitable work of the Ri. Affiliate disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate The Royal Institution earns from qualifying purchases.

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