MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Chapter 5 of my memoir is entitled ‘OFF WITH HIS HEAD’. It describes the role that Prince Charles played in promoting what he now likes to call ‘integrated medicine’. The weird thing is that he was instrumental in creating my Exeter chair…and eventually in getting it shut down. Here is a short sample to whet your appetite:

With the wisdom of hindsight, it is clear to me now that my hope of bringing the scientific method to bear on alternative medicine was doomed from the start. Reason cannot negotiate with unreason any more than fire and water can commingle peacefully. In either case, a great deal of spitting and hissing is bound to ensue—and precious little else.

Soon after arriving in Exeter, in 1993, I learnt of the long-standing interest Prince Charles had in alternative medicine: he had asked via my Vice Chancellor for a copy of my inaugural lecture, and I remember being delighted at this request. As I never give lectures or speeches from a script, I even composed a summary specifically for him. In return, I received a polite note of thanks from one of his secretaries. This is great, I thought.

I was thrilled that someone as influential as Prince Charles would be interested in my work. What could be better than having support in such high places? Surely, there would come the time when I could meet the Prince and have an open exchange of views. I had no doubt that he would be keenly aware of the obvious necessity for rigorous research—in fact, he often enough had publicly stressed it—and would thus support my research endeavours.

How wrong can one be? Prince Charles turned out to be no supporter of my work. To the contrary: he seemed to be a staunch advocate of unreason and a formidable opponent of any attempt to bring science or critical thinking to bear on alter-native medicine. What is more, subsequent events suggested to me that his intervention played a part in the closure of my unit.

4 Responses to Wonderland (5): a ‘moral and intellectual weakling from the usurping House of Hanover’ makes his mark

  • Amazon US finally shipped a copy and I should get to start the book if it is delivered today.

    I wish we could get the quack division of the NIH shut down. It has become expensive. It has produced no helpful results but it does give Imaginary Medicine a patina of respect as something being researched. It is like the advertizing for Preparation H. It was “doctor tested” with no information as to what they found. Consumer Reports suggested – not much.

  • “Wet your appetite” is a good way of saying it, although it is really “whet your appetite” as in “to sharpen your appetite.” The two words sound just the same so it’s easy to forget to put the “h” in. In all fairness, one of the worst spellers I ever came across was also a first-class writer. I would trade good spelling for good writing any day!

  • If there ever was a good case to end the monarchy in Britain, he is it.

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