Science in an Age of Endarkenment: Scientific Fraud, Quackery, Religion and University Politics

On the evening of Friday January 25th the University of Toronto Secular Alliance, Freethought Association of Canada, Centre For Inquiry Ontario, and Skeptics Canada are teaming up with University College London professor, Royal Society member, and noted skeptic Dr. David Calquhoun to present Science in an Age of Endarkenment: Scientific Fraud, Quackery, Religion and University Politics at the University of Toronto. This is the UTSA’s feature presentation for the 2007/08 academic year and will be a must-see for skeptics and scientists in the Toronto area.


Toronto, Ont. (January 6, 2008)—The University of Toronto Secular
Alliance, in coordination with the Centre for Inquiry-Ontario, will
present “Science in an Age of Endarkenment – Scientific Fraud,
Quackery, Religion and University Politics” with Dr. David Colquhoun,
Fellow of the Royal Society, at 7:00 p.m. Friday, January 25 at the
University of Toronto’s McLeod Auditorium, 1 King’s College Circle.  A
catered reception with the speaker will precede the event from 5:00 to
6:30 pm at the Centre for Inquiry Ontario at 216 Beverley St.

Dr. Colquhoun will be available to conduct interviews on Friday
January 25. The press is invited to the reception before the main
event from 5pm-6:30pm at 216 Beverley St.

Increasing numbers of Canadians are turning to the use of
complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) like homeopathy and
chiropractic, yet many of these controversial treatments remain
unproven and based on pseudoscience.

Public institutions are becoming increasingly involved in the
regulation and administration of education of CAM products and
therapies. In 2006, the Ontario government passed legislation to
regulate the practice of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and in
2007 Ryerson University became the first publicly funded university in
Ontario to offer training in TCM. Yet the scientific and medical
communities remain critical of these practices.

In the UK a number of universities offer full Bachelor of Science
degrees in alternative medicine. Dr. David Colquhoun, longtime critic
of CAM in academia, has written extensively on the topic including a
recent publication in Nature. Dr. Colquhoun runs a popular weblog
( devoted to criticism of scientific fraud
and pseudoscience, with a particular focus on CAM.

In 2007 Dr. Colquhoun was forced to remove his website after the
husband of a British herbalist complained to the provost of University
College London, where Dr. Colquhoun is an esteemed professor of
pharmacology. This resulted in an outcry from the global scientific
community, citing an infringement of Dr. Colquhoun’s academic freedom
and the sacrifice of science for political purposes. Two weeks later,
Dr. Colquhoun’s website was reinstated.

The University of Toronto Secular Alliance welcomes Dr. Colquhoun
January 25 for a presentation on alternative medicine, science
education, and academic freedom.

About the speaker:
Dr. David Colquhoun is a research professor of pharmacology at
University College London (UCL). He previously held the A.J. Clark
chair of Pharmacology at UCL, and was the Hon. Director of the
Wellcome Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology.

The University of Toronto Secular Alliance is one of Canada’s leading
campus-based organizations dedicated to promoting a secular and
humanistic worldview. It aims to promote science, reason and critical
inquiry, and the importance of evidence and freedom of inquiry in
issues relevant to the University of Toronto and beyond.

The Centre for Inquiry-Ontario, located in downtown Toronto, is
Canada’s premiere venue for humanists, skeptics and freethinkers.  In
operation since March 2007, CFI hosts a wide range of educational
programs, social and community services, multimedia initiatives and
research and publication projects.

6 Responses to “Science in an Age of Endarkenment: Scientific Fraud, Quackery, Religion and University Politics”
  1. Kate says:

    Hey Ron, thanks for posting this. But the date is the 25th of January.

  2. quotesqueen says:

    Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World made a real impact on me when I read it several years ago. Unfortunately, things are worse instead of better…

  3. ronbrown says:

    I’m not familiar with that writing. I actually haven’t read or viewed any of Sagan’s work. I’ve heard that Cosmos is really good.

  4. quotesqueen says:

    Oh, my, you must read (oops, I try not to give advice, but I am very enthusiastic about this book by Sagan)! He is the rare scientist who writes really well. As you might suspect, it’s about the rise of faith, new age spirituality, belief and the disrespect science is given in today’s world (the whole concept of leaving the enlightenment behind, shades of the dark ages). I’ve just finished Alan Alda’s Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, in which he urges young graduates in the sciences to proselytize for science, too.

  5. ronbrown says:

    Wow. Sounds very good. Another great science writer is Steven Pinker. I loooove his writing. Academic, accessible, funny, intriguing, WONDERFUL. How’s THAT for an endorsement?

    Unfortunately, I don’t suspect that I’ll be adding much new reading any time soon. I’m trying to get through the entire Bible—I’m about 55 pages into the sum of over 1200—this is gonna take years…. There’s also the Qur’an. My top priority is writing on wisdom (e.g., Buddhist philosophy). Then I have a few CogSci books that I’ve started (e.g., Pinker’s How the Mind Works, Hauser’s Moral Minds). I also am interested in Pinker’s latest book The Stuff of Thought, but it’s huuuge (around 600 pages, I think). I wish I was a fast reader, as opposed to an extremely slow one…

  6. oh i love alternative medicines, they are usually effective but with lesser bad side effects compared to conventional medicatio “

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