This is the website for Doctor Dean Burnett, neuroscientist, lecturer, author, blogger, podcaster, pundit, science communicator, comedian and numerous other things, depending on who’s asking and what they need.
Previously employed as a psychiatry tutor and lecturer at the Cardiff University Centre for Medical Education, Dean is currently an honorary research associate at Cardiff Psychology School, as well as a Visiting Industry Fellow at Birmingham City University.
However, Dean is currently a full-time author, previously known for his satirical science column ‘Brain Flapping‘ at the Guardian, which ran from 2012 to 2018. This led to his internationally acclaimed bestselling debut book ‘The Idiot Brain‘, which has resulted in several further books and even more interesting brain stuff.
Dean Burnett was born and raised in Pontycymer, a former mining village in the South Wales valleys, which explains his strong Welsh accent and occasional working-class chip-on-the-shoulder. In truth he was actually born in Bridgend General Hospital, which was shut down, abandoned and demolished soon after.
From the age of two until around fifteen he lived in the popular community pub The Royal Hotel, where he acquired his interest in performing and surreal sense of humour. The pub has since closed down and is now derelict.
He completed his GCSEs and A-levels at Ynysawdre Comprehensive School, a local comprehensive school which has since been absorbed into a larger conglomerate super school. It’s at this point that Dean first suspected that time travellers were trying to erase his existence from history.
Dean then attended Cardiff University to complete a BSc in Neuroscience. After graduating he worked several jobs, mostly in catering, but then spent nearly two years embalming cadavers for the local medical school, which was as bad as it sounds. This is when Dean first attempted stand up comedy as he figured how could it be any worse than the day job, and has yet to kick the eventual habit of making himself look stupid for the amusement of others on stage.
Eventually he returned to Cardiff University as a member of the Psychology School where he completed a neuroscience PhD in the role of the hippocampus in configural learning. However, a run of bad lack with his experimental results and several embarrassing appearances in the local media meant Dean’s academic credibility and career prospects were essentially ruined, so he channelled most of his energies into comedy, writing and science communication. This eventually resulted in a regular blog on the Guardian website in 2012, and everything else just flowed from there.
Media, writing and performing work
Dean currently keeps a (semi) regular blog ‘Brain Yapping’ over at the Cosmic Shambles network.
As well as his maintaining his Guardian blog for 6 years, Dean Burnett has also written for The Telegraph, Buzzfeed, GQ, BBC Focus, Lonely Planet Guide, Women’s Health, The Lancet, LA Times, ReThink (the mental health charity), The Big Issue, Wales Weekend Magazine, New York Moves Magazine, Pitchfork, New York Magazine, and many more
Since the publication of his first book, Dean Burnett has appeared on numerous radio programmes and channels, including Radio 4 Midweek, Loose Ends, Radio Wales, Absolute Radio, Monocle Radio, NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ with Terry Gross, CBC (Canada), Science Cafe, Radio 5 Live, Steve Wright in the Afternoon, Fubar Radio, ABC (Australia) and loads more
Dean has performed or spoken on stage alongside (or on the same bill as) notable names like Simon Pegg, Jo Brand, Robin Ince, Prof. Brian Cox, Helen Czerski, Helen Keen, Russell Howard, Tony Law, Elis James, Simon Munnery, Andy Parsons, and so many others.
His TV appearances, though fewer in number, include Sunday Brunch, Wales Live, Sky News, Ducks Quacks Don’t Echo, and Sky News a few more times.
He is a regular at literary and science festivals all around the UK, and has even been asked to talk as far afield as Holland, Belgium, Italy, Indonesia, Canada and Colombia.
Dean Burnett’s first book, The Idiot Brain, has (since debuting in February 2016) been sold to over 20 countries, sold hundred of thousands of copies, and been a bestseller in nations like Canada and Mexico.
His second book, The Happy Brain, was published in May 2018 and is building up a similarly large readership.
He has several more books in the works, the most imminent of which is his first book for teens, Why Your Parents Are Driving You Up the Wall and What To Do About It, for Penguin-Random House.
He also wrote a thesis, which has thus far been read by about 6 people. Two of them were the markers who didn’t like it that much, and one was his gran who didn’t really follow what was being said.
Dean Burnett lives in Cardiff with his wife, children and cat. That’s as personal as you’re getting here.