Managerialism and quackery endanger a noble enterprise.

David Colquhoun

Wednesday, September 7 2011 at 8:00PM

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David Colquhoun

What's the talk about?

David Colquhoun, PhD, FRS, is a noted British pharmacologist. He held the A.J. Clark Chair of Pharmacology at the University College of London (UCL) from 1985 to 2004, Honorary Director of the Wellcome Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology, and is now is an Honorary Fellow (2004) and research assistant at UCL.

Since 2001, Dr Colquhoun has run DC’s Improbable Science, a wildly popular blog and website (with 2,209,000 hits) and Twitter account (with over 2600 followers). These sites are dedicated to critical assessment of various sorts of pseudoscience, such as “Alternative Medicine” and much managerialism and science fraud. Lately he has taken an interest in more general problems of inference in clinical trials, science policy, and science communication. He has been particularly critical of a number of United Kingdom universities that offer science degrees incorporating pseudoscientific courses such as homeopathy and acupuncture.

In December 2009, Dr Colquhoun won a freedom-of-information judgment, requiring the University of Central Lancashire to release details of their undergraduate course in homeopathy.

Dr Colquhoun is well known as author of Lectures in Biostatistics (Clarendon Press 1970; Oxford University Press, 1996). With statistician Alan G. Hawkes, he developed the stochastic theory needed for the interpretation of single-ion channel experiements, and the methods of maximum likelihood inference of mechanisms from experimental records with exact allowance for missed events. This has resulted in a series of experimental and theoretical papers about single-ion channel mechanisms. Besides UCL, Dr Colquhoun has worked at Yale University in America and at the University of Southampton.

Earning his PhD in 1964 at the University of Edinburgh, where he studied the binding of immunoglobins to lung tissue, Dr Colquhoun became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1985.