A Scientist in Wonderland


A memoir of searching for truth and finding trouble.


Edzard Ernst

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This is the story of my life as a doctor and a scientist. Despite a youthful ambition to become a jazz musician, I eventually studied medicine and became a medical research scientist, taking up appointments in Germany, Austria and finally in England. My reverence for the pursuit of truth through the application of scientific methods, coupled with a growing interest in the history of medicine during the Nazi era, did not always endear me to my professional colleagues.

At the time I was appointed to the world’s first chair in alternative medicine, this was an area of health care that had never been studied systematically, and was almost entirely dominated by outspokenly evangelic promoters and enthusiasts — among them, famously, HRH Prince Charles — many of whom exhibited an overtly hostile, anti-scientific attitude towards the objective study of their favoured therapies. Clashes were inevitable, but the sheer ferocity with which advocates of alternative medicine would go in order to protect their field from scrutiny came as a profound surprise.

This memoir provides a unique insight into the cutthroat politics of academic life and offers a sobering reflection on the damage already done by pseudoscience in the field of medicine.


Professor Ernst writes regularly for Spectator Health. He was recipient of the 2015 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science

His latest book SCAM So Called Alternative Medicine is  published by Imprint Academic in June 2108


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