Mobile version
spiked plus
About spiked
What is spiked?
Support spiked
spiked shop
Contact us
Summer school
Top issues
Arab uprisings
British politics
Child abuse panic
For Europe, Against the EU
Free speech
Jimmy Savile scandal
Parents and kids
View all issues...
special feature
The Counter-Leveson Inquiry
other sections
 Review of Books
 Monthly archive
selected authors
Duleep Allirajah
Daniel Ben-Ami
Tim Black
Jennie Bristow
Sean Collins
Dr Michael Fitzpatrick
Frank Furedi
Helene Guldberg
Patrick Hayes
Mick Hume
Rob Lyons
Brendan O’Neill
Nathalie Rothschild
James Woudhuysen
more authors...
RSS feed

abc def ghi jkl mno pqrs tuv wxyz index
Survey home
First thoughts
Final thoughts
Survey responses
RSS feed
Michael Baum
Gustav Born
K Eric Drexler
Marcus du Sautoy
Harold Kroto
Paul Lauterbur
Leon Lederman
Bernard Lovell
Sophie Petit-Zeman
Ingo Potrykus
Jack Pridham
Simon Singh
Jack Steinberger
David Colquhoun
research professor of pharmacology at University College London, editor of the Improbable Science Page, and pioneer in the understanding of ion channels

Since I showed no talent at school, I went to work as an apprentice in a pharmacy.  There I discovered William Martindale’s Extra Pharmacopoeia, which I read avidly. It was more interesting than the work. I soon realised that the homoeopathic pills that were made up in the shop were junk, and that I did not want to work in a shop forever.  That developed in me an interest in how one could distinguish truth from fiction – that is, in science.

After that I started to work, and I got into pharmacology. As an undergraduate at Leeds, I was influenced as much by a statistician – BL Welch – as by the pharmacologists.  Statisticians, not philosophers, seemed to be the people who knew about scientific inference.  That interest bore fruit when I became interested in single ion channel biophysics, and met a brilliant statistician – Alan G Hawkes – with whom I collaborated on the stochastic theory that was needed for my science.

As a postgraduate in Edinburgh, I was active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and became interested in distinguishing truth from fiction in politics as well as in medicine.  In the 1960s, rationalism was fashionable. But in the post-1980 age of endarkenment, the distinction between myth and reality has become ever more urgent.

See David Colquhoun‘s website.