Helier and Raoul Robinson were born in 1928 on the island of Jersey, of an English father and a Polish mother. Their father was a schoolmaster who kept a chemistry lab at home, and during the Nazi occupation of the island from 1940-1945, he personally taught his children and a few others in a private school. It was their father who imparted to them a deep appreciation of the scientific method.
Both of the twins went to university in England before setting out on their individual careers. Raoul studied plant pathology at the University of Reading, and Helier took electrical engineering at Imperial College London.
Following university, Raoul joined the British Overseas Civil Service. His further training in Trinidad and Barbados lead him to a posting in Kenya, where he spent 17 years. He then joined the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and worked in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and other countries.
One of his first observations in Kenya was the course of a re-encounter disease of maize that was destroying much of the country's main staple. While scientists tried desperately to breed new varieties, farmers were simply keeping the best seeds of each crop and planting them for the next crop. Within 5-7 years, the crops grown by farmers were highly resistant to rust, while the scientists had still not produced a successful variety.
As a result of this observation, and some seminal theories by J.E. Vanderplank, Raoul pioneered his work on durable resistance to crop pests and diseases. His breeding technique allows plants to be selected for resistance by ordinary growers with very little training or equipment. He has also revolutionised the theoretical aspects of crop entomology and plant pathology.
Raoul was influential in the production of a number of successful horizontally resistant crop varieties, including potatoes in Kenya; coffee in Ethiopia; and beans in Mexico. He was awarded an honourary doctorate by Colegio de Postgraduados in Mexico, and has twice been nominated for the World Food Prize.
His books range from simple how-to manuals, to in-depth discussion of the application of systems theory to crop pathosystems.
After Helier left engineering, he joined an Antarctic expedition as a diesel-electric generator mechanic, at Port Lockroy. This position gave him a lot of time to think. Following that, he spent three years in the Canadian Arctic, at Baker Lake and Resolute Bay, which gave him even more time to think.
The result of all of this thinking was a passion for philosophical understanding that continues to this day. Helier left the Arctic and completed a PhD in philosophy at the University of Toronto, during which time he made the bittersweet discovery that many of his philosophical theories had been previously described by some of history's great thinkers.
Helier then took a teaching position at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. He spent many years advancing and refining his philosophy, resulting in the publication of his first book, Renascent Rationalism, in 1975.
Since that time, he has written two further books: Belief Shock is a somewhat simplified presentation of his ideas, intended for a general audience; and Relation Philosophy is a rigorous explanation of his theories, well-grounded in mathematics and physics. Interestingly, it is the latter, despite being the most technically challenging of his books, that has proven most popular.
With rationalist philosophy being very much out of fashion over the last century, Helier has had great difficulty in finding acceptance and recognition for his work. If you read any part of his books he would greatly appreciate any feedback you may have on this site's forums.