Heresy Heresy

In the Advent Term the Lower Sixth again rose magnificently to the challenge of the Heresy Project, relishing the opportunity to produce an exceptional range of feisty, deliberately heretical, well-researched extended essays challenging over-dominant intellectual orthodoxies. They were as quirky, knowing and punchily questioning as ever; and I sense this generation would not share the author Ronald Firbank’s despair that ‘the world is so dreadfully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain’. It was nearly impossible to make a final decision on the shortlist, and about twenty more essays could have made Lancing’s heretical pantheon. There was some truly outstanding writing: caustic, nuanced and tautly well researched, arguing for an extraordinary diversity of heretical causes with real flair, wit and intelligence.  


Lancing’s long tradition of forceful, urbane and deeply learned independence of thought remains gloriously undimmed. TikTok’s algorithmic enchantments were unravelled, the Revd Malthus re-evaluated and the possibility of a perfect circle dismissed! After much debate, a grand jury in the Common Room of Dr Kerney, Dr Herbert, Mr Harman and Mrs Mole finally agreed on the winners from the shortlist; and Isabelle K, Eamon R and Fin S were jointly awarded top prize. Their three essays were notable for the impressive rigour of their research, the rich texture of their arguments and the gleeful delight they showed in attacking their heretical targets: just the high-level intellectual qualities looked for by the very best universities.   


The heretical shortlist included: 

Rayna C: ‘The perfect circle does not exist’. 

Paddy J: ‘To what extent can it be said that a carnivore diet is more beneficial than the plant-based diet of veganism?’ 

Nerea K-M: ‘Celebrities have more influence in society than political leaders. How far do you agree?’ 

Charlie S: ‘TikTok in question’. 

Max W: ‘Climate change is not destroying the world, but overpopulation is’. 

James W: ‘Does nationalism work in a globalised world, or is it an outdated concept?’ 

Ria Y: ‘Free choice in marriage is overrated’.  


Lancing’s winning heretical trinity comprised: 

Isabelle K: ‘Some people are born criminals. How far do you agree?’ 

Eamon R: ‘Science or slaughter? An argument for animal testing in the biomedical industry’. 

Fin S: ‘Elite athletes are born not made’. 

Dr Damian Kerney – Head of History and Sixth Form Enrichment 


When asked about the inspiration for their writing, our pupils wrote: 

"I have always been interested in Psychology, especially in the nature vs nurture debate and developmental psychology. At A Level, we have the chance to study many aspects of Psychology but I wanted to read around the subject and explore the idea of criminality. For my Heresy essay I wrote about whether or not people can be born criminals. I researched the ways in which genetics and childhood experiences can contribute towards the development of a criminal and concluded that “the formation of a criminal is a complex labyrinth of interactions between both nature and nurture. One cannot simply be born a criminal, but not everyone can become one either”. 

Isabelle K 


"As a student of the Sciences enthralled by the medical field, I wrote ‘Science or Slaughter? An Argument for Animal Testing in the Biomedical Industry’. I chose to tackle this contentiously thorny topic as it covered such a pressing but divisive issue. In keeping with the heretical spirit of the competition, I chose to defend this practice, disdained by a vocal few as slaughter and needless savagery. As one who empathises with animals, research for this essay made me apprehensive concerning animal testing’s blood-stained ledger; and yet I chose to put on the mask of the heterodox and perform my role as the radical, defending the practice to which I owe my very life. I argued that while a world without animal testing would be ideal, its necessity in preventing human suffering from disease cannot be ignored when the only alternatives at our disposal are so cruelly lacking in comparison. Supported by examples of historical successes and the ethical framework provided by legislative safeguards, I emphasised its indispensable contribution to saving human lives. By shedding light on its pivotal role in eradicating plagues like smallpox and developing medical treatments we take for granted today, I underscored its significance in humanity’s conquest over nature in our battle against death. "

Eamon R


"I’ve always been fascinated with the biology of the human body, and the limits that we can push ourselves to if we want something badly enough. As I love sport, the two areas combine well to create an interesting topic of debate: Do we develop the skills that make us great sportsmen and women or are we born being able to do somersaults and cartwheels? This is the main topic I focused on in my essay, and the idea came about when I had just watched the marathon world record being broken in October 2023. I remember thinking, even if I trained from the beginning of my life, I still don't think I could be able to run that fast. This was the spark that ignited the title of my essay, ‘Elite athletes are born and not made’. Every human is different and the genes we possess differ from the person sitting next to us. I thought surely this has a significant impact on the sporting ability we possess and however hard we train it might not be enough to be the best in the world."  

Fin S