I’m sad to report that John Maddox, former editor of Nature, has died. He was one of those fellows who shaped the direction of science for quite a long period of time with the power of one of the most influential science journals in the world.
I suspect every scientist of my generation read his editorials in our weekly perusal of the journal. The one I remember most vividly, and probably the one that got the most attention in general, was his ferocious denunciation of Rupert Sheldrake’s work — he went so far as to say that if ever there was a book suitable for burning, it was that one. So of course, I had to read it (that’s one of the pitfalls of calling for the destruction of books). And then, also of course, I discovered that Maddox was right on the money — that book was an astonishing pile of B.S. masquerading as science, and it’s true that Sheldrake is still peddling his nonsense.
We’ve lost a vigorous skeptic and humanist.