|John Royden Maddox|
27 November 1925|
Penllergaer, Swansea, Wales, UK
|Died||12 April 2009(aged 83)|
|Occupation||chemist, physicist, journalist, editor|
|Children||Bronwen Maddox, Bruno Maddox|
Early life and studies
John Royden Maddox was born in Britain on 27 November 1925, at Penllergaer, near Swansea. He was the son of Arthur Jack Maddox, a furnaceman at an aluminium plant. He was educated at Gowerton Boys’ County School. From there, aged 15, he won a state scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford, where he read chemistry, and King's College London, where he became a physicist.
He then became the science correspondent at the Manchester Guardian, a post he held until 1964.
From 1964 to 1966 he was the coordinator of the Nuffield Science Teaching Project; after which he was appointed editor of Nature, a role he held from 1966 to 1973 (and 1980–95).
He was director of the Nuffield Foundation from 1975-79.
Maddox lived in London, and spent time at his cottage near Brecon in south Wales, where he and his wife, Brenda Maddox, were involved in the local community. They had two children, Bronwen and Bruno Maddox.
The Sheldrake editorial 1981
When the book A New Science of Life by British biologist Rupert Sheldrake was published in 1981, proposing the theory of morphic resonance instead of DNA as the basis for shapes and behavior in nature, Maddox denounced it fiercely in an editorial titled "A book for burning?" in which he argued that Sheldrake's ideas were pseudoscience. Maddox concluded that the book should not be burned but placed "among the literature of intellectual aberrations". He elaborated in a 1994 BBC documentary on Sheldrake's theory: "I was so offended by it, that I said that while it's wrong that books should be burned, in practice, if book burning were allowed, this book would be a candidate (...) I think it's dangerous that people should be allowed by our liberal societies to put that kind of nonsense into currency. It's unnecessary to introduce magic into the explanation from [sic] physical and biological phenomenon when in fact there is every likelihood that the continuation of research as it is now practiced will indeed fill all the gaps that Sheldrake draws attention to. You see, Sheldrake's is not a scientific theory. Sheldrake is putting forward magic instead of science, and that can be condemned, in exactly the language that the popes used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reasons: it is heresy".
The AIDS Editorial 1983
Maddox penned an editorial in April 1983 entitled "No Need for Panic about AIDS", stating that "for strictly prophylactic purposes, male homosexuals should be persuaded to change their ways...The pathetic promiscuity of male homosexuals is the most obvious threat to public health, but is probably no more serious now than it was before homosexuality ceased to be illegal." He described AIDS as a "perhaps non-existent condition".
Big Bang Denial
In the late 1980s, as evidence for the Big Bang origin of the Universe accumulated, Maddox, who favored the Steady State theory, penned an editorial denouncing the theory as "philophically unacceptable" (because he saw it giving a foothold to Creationists) and "over-simplistic" and he predicted its demise within a decade (when results from the Hubble Space Telescope would become available).
Honours / Affiliations
- Beyond the Energy Crisis
- Revolution in Biology
- The Doomsday Syndrome
- What Remains to Be Discovered: Mapping the Secrets of the Universe, the Origins of Life, and the Future of the Human Race. ISBN 0-684-82292-X (hardcover, 1998), ISBN 0-684-86300-6 (paperback, 1999)
- Gratzer, W. (2010). "Sir John Royden Maddox. 27 November 1925 -- 12 April 2009". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 56: 237. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2009.0024.
- "Obituary: Sir John Maddox", The Times, 13 April 2009.
- Gratzer (2007). "Nature - the Maddox years". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature06241.
- Gratzer, W. (2009). "Obituary: John Maddox (1925–2009)". Nature 458 (7241): 983–984. doi:10.1038/458983a. PMID 19396135.
- Maddox, J. (1995). "Valediction from an old hand". Nature 378 (6557): 521–523. Bibcode:1995Natur.378..521M. doi:10.1038/378521a0. PMID 8524367.
- "Homeopathy Part 1". ABC TV. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- Maddox, John (24 September 1981). "A book for burning?". Nature 293 (5830): 245–246. Bibcode:1981Natur.293R.245.. doi:10.1038/293245b0.
- A Book For Burning on YouTube
- "No need for panic about AIDS. Acquired immune deficiency disease, now frequent among male homosexuals in the United States, is not this century's black death. The most urgent need is to understand what is going on". Nature 302 (5911): 749. April 1983. Bibcode:1983Natur.302..749.. doi:10.1038/302749a0. PMID 6843647.
- "Down with the Big Bang". Nature 340 (6233): 425. 1989. doi:10.1038/340425a0.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: John Maddox|
- John Maddox interview (1997)