David Robert Grimes

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David Robert Grimes
David Robert Grime Portrait.jpg
Born1985 (age 36–37)
Skerries, Dublin, Ireland
Alma materDublin City University
AwardsJohn Maddox Prize

David Robert Grimes (born 1985) is an Irish science writer with professional training in physics and cancer biology, who contributes to several media outlets on questions of science and society. He has a diverse range of research interests and is a vocal advocate for increased public understanding of science. He was the 2014 recipient of the Sense About Science/Nature Maddox Prize for "Standing up for Science in the face of Adversity". He is a fellow with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Early life[edit]

David Robert Grimes, from a Skerries family, was born in Dublin in 1985.[1] Grimes spent over a decade in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.[2][1] As a student he was a keen musician and actor, with an interest in science.[3][third-party source needed] He undertook his undergraduate degree in applied physics at DCU, serving on the Student Union as faculty-wide Science and Health Convenor 2005–2006,[1] and on the DCU drama committee,[4] graduating in 2007 with a DCU Internal School Award, the Lyman Medal for physics.[5]

Professional biography[edit]

Grimes did doctoral work on ultraviolet radiation physics at Dublin City University funded by an Irish Research Council award,[6] under Neil O'Hare and Greg Hughes, and graduated with a Ph.D. in 2011.[7] He did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oxford with Mike Partridge, and focused on medical physics and oncology,[8][9] including a 2015 research work on oxygen-radiation interactions (the "oxygen fixation hypothesis and oxygen enhancement ratio")[10][non-primary source needed]—about which he blogged[11]—and literature reviews on modelling tumour oxygen distribution and hypoxia in 2014[12] (which received media attention[13]), and on non-invasive imaging in 2017.[14][third-party source needed]

As of January 2018, Grimes had worked with Centre for Advanced and Interdisciplinary Radiation Research (CAIRR), and the School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen's University Belfast, in Belfast, United Kingdom.[15][16][17][18]

As of 2022, Grimes is a fellow with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.[19]

Other research interests[edit]

He has a number of other research interests, including with regard to dubious beliefs in general; a 2016 research analysis of common scientific conspiracy claims was performed using a Poisson statistical framework.[20] The work suggests that massive conspiracies should quickly collapse, and was widely covered in the media.[21][additional citation(s) needed] His writing includes consideration of dubious medical practices, including a 2012 review piece critical of homoeopathic claims, presented from a physics perspective.[22][non-primary source needed]

He is also the author of a 2014 research study on the physics of string-bending that occurs during electric guitar playing,[23][non-primary source needed] which was covered extensively in the media.[8][additional citation(s) needed]

Science outreach[edit]

Grimes is best known for science journalism and outreach, and has contributed to numerous publications, including Irish Times,[24] The Guardian,[25] the BBC, and other outlets.[26] His pieces focus on aspects of science and society, as well as debunking pseudoscience on topics that can be controversial in the public mind, such as vaccination, climate-change, gun control, nuclear power, public health and scientific misconceptions.

Grimes has advocated secularism in the Irish education system.[27][28] He criticised Irish religious conservatives for misrepresenting the research on abortion and same-sex marriage for political purposes, acknowledging that, while they were entitled to ethical misgivings, their policy of "misrepresenting research... to bolster religious views is a transparently cynical exercise".[29][30][31][32] The piece claiming misrepresented research prompted a strong rebuttal from John Murray, also in The Irish Times, that took Grimes to task, claiming various factual and interpretive errors in his piece.[33]

Fluoride and cannabis campaigns[edit]

Grimes has been critical of anti-fluoride campaigns, in particular a 2013 Sinn Féin bill to ban fluoride in water.[34] This stance made him the target of conspiracy theorists, and prompted a campaign to have him removed from his university post.[35] The bill was ultimately defeated.[36]

Grimes has also been publicly critical of a medicinal cannabis campaign by People Before Profit, specifically cure-all claims made by representatives of the campaign. He has particularly criticised dubious claims linking cannabis to cures for cancer and autism,[37] saying that these positions are not supported by the evidence and could put patients at risk.

Criticism of anti-vaccine movement and false balance[edit]

Grimes has been particularly vocal against the anti-vaccine movement, focusing on assertions by anti-HPV vaccine groups whose arguments, Grimes says, consist of "anecdotes, emotive appeals and easily debunked assertions", opining that "lives of countless young men and women count on us being guided by evidence rather than rhetoric."[38] In 2016, following controversy around the film Vaxxed, Grimes was drawn into a debate with former doctor Andrew Wakefield on Irish radio. Grimes later wrote of his reluctance to take part in the debate, and how providing Wakefield with any platform is false balance.[39] He was extremely critical of the decision by Regent's University to host Wakefield, explaining that "Wakefield is a long-debunked fear merchant."[40]

Grimes was also part of a subsequent successful campaign to have screenings of the movie pulled in both London and at the European parliament.[41][42]

Advocating for evidence-based medicine[edit]

Grimes has drawn attention to charlatans who take advantage of vulnerable people using pseudoscience, particularly autistic people and cancer sufferers. Equally, he has been vocal about crowdfunding for dubious medical conditions and clinics, such as the Burzynkski clinic in Texas, US, stating that while emotive, "... raising money for such causes does not help sufferers one iota – it benefits only those with the audacity to push false hope at great expense.".[43]

Grimes has written at length about questionable treatments for conditions such as electromagnetic hypersensitivity which, evidence suggests, is a psychological rather than physiological illness, criticising clinics who claim to offer cures for the ailment.[44][45] Grimes has been particularly critical of homoeopathy, both in academic work and in popular press, which has led to angry responses from homoeopaths.[46][47]

Public understanding of science[edit]

Grimes states that a major challenge in communicating about science is not strictly information deficit but rather ideological bias, and that motivated reasoning is a vital factor to acknowledge. To support this claim, he points to the evidence that political leanings influence whether one accepts the scientific consensus on climate change.[48] Similarly, he has argued, both in popular media and academically, that acceptance of nuclear power, gun control and vaccination is strongly influenced by ideological beliefs.[49][50] Grimes argues that overcoming our implicit biases and gaining a better understanding of the scientific method would improve our decision making and benefit both society and individuals.[51][52]

Awards and honours[edit]

In recognition of his efforts to present science despite hostility, Grimes was joint recipient of the 2014 Sense About Science / Nature Maddox Prize for standing up for science in the face of adversary,[53] and was commended by Cancer Research UK for being "... an excellent media ambassador for CRUK, and for his efforts to dispel misconceptions in science and medicine".[54] In 2015, he was also inducted into the Dublin City University Alumni Wall for his research and outreach work.[1]

Published works[edit]

Popular works[edit]


  • Grimes, David Robert (5 September 2019). The Irrational Ape: Why Flawed Logic Puts us all at Risk and How Critical Thinking Can Save the World. Simon and Schuster – via Google books. Also published as Good Thinking: Why Flawed Logic Puts Us All at Risk and How Critical Thinking Can Save the World. in North America.


  1. ^ a b c d "DCU Alumni Wall 2015". DCU Website. 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  2. ^ Lodge, Kane & D.R. Grimes (30 December 2016). "Interviews, Science: Interview with Dr David Robert Grimes" (interview). The Freethink Tank [online magazine]. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  3. ^ Grimes, D.R. (and Peter McGuire, editor) (10 January 2017). "Why I Became... Six Successful People Discuss Their Career Paths..." The Irish Times. Retrieved 11 December 2019. {{cite news}}: |author= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "Committee Vice-Chair: DCU Drama". redbrick.dcu.ie. Archived from the original on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  5. ^ DCU Staff (22 November 2019). "School of Physical Sciences, Undergraduate Programmes, Prizes & Awards: Internal School Medal Awards, Medals for Best Overall Performances in 4th year/degree, Lynam medal". DCU.ie. Dublin, IE: Dublin City University, School of Physical Sciences. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Research.ie awards 2007–2008". Archived from the original on 23 June 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  7. ^ Grimes, David Robert (November 2011). Development of a radiation computation dose model for use in ultraviolet phototherapy. doras.dcu.ie (doctoral). Dublin City University. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b "The physics of lead guitar playing | University of Oxford". University of Oxford. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  9. ^ Grimes, D.R. (18 January 2015). "Dr David Robert Grimes". Oxford, UK: self, University of Oxford. Archived from the original (staff webpage) on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  10. ^ Robert Grimes, David; Partridge, Mike (4 December 2015). "A mechanistic investigation of the oxygen fixation hypothesis and oxygen enhancement ratio". Biomedical Physics & Engineering Express. 1 (4): 045209. doi:10.1088/2057-1976/1/4/045209. PMC 4765087. PMID 26925254.
  11. ^ Grimes, D.R. "A Breath of Fresh Air–Shedding Light on Oxygen, Radiation and Cancer Treatment". Oxford, UK: self, University of Oxford. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  12. ^ Grimes, David Robert; Fletcher, Alexander G.; Partridge, Mike (2014). "Oxygen consumption dynamics in steady-state tumour models". Royal Society Open Science. 1 (1): 140080. Bibcode:2014RSOS....140080G. doi:10.1098/rsos.140080. PMC 4448765. PMID 26064525.
  13. ^ The Royal Society (25 September 2014), Oxygen dynamics in tumour models, retrieved 21 July 2017
  14. ^ Grimes, D.R.; Warren, D.R.; Warren, S. (25 May 2017). "Hypoxia Imaging and Radiotherapy: Bridging the Resolution Gap". Br J Radiol. 90 (1076): 20160939. doi:10.1259/bjr.20160939. ISSN 0007-1285. PMC 5603947. PMID 28540739.
  15. ^ Prue, Gillian; Grimes, David; Baker, Peter; Lawler, Mark (1 January 2018). "Access to HPV vaccination for boys in the United Kingdom". Medicine Access @ Point of Care. 2: 2399202618799691. doi:10.1177/2399202618799691.
  16. ^ O’Leary, Mel; Boscolo, Daria; Breslin, Nicole; Brown, Jeremy M. C.; Dolbnya, Igor P.; Emerson, Chris; Figueira, Catarina; Fox, Oliver J. L.; Grimes, David Robert; Ivosev, Vladimir; Kleppe, Annette K.; McCulloch, Aaron; Pape, Ian; Polin, Chris; Wardlow, Nathan; Currell, Fred J. (16 March 2018). "Observation of dose-rate dependence in a Fricke dosimeter irradiated at low dose rates with monoenergetic X-rays". Scientific Reports. 8 (1): 4735. Bibcode:2018NatSR...8.4735O. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-21813-z. PMC 5856745. PMID 29549265.
  17. ^ Grimes, David Robert; Currell, Frederick J. (31 August 2018). "Oxygen diffusion in ellipsoidal tumour spheroids". Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 15 (145): 20180256. doi:10.1098/rsif.2018.0256. PMC 6127169. PMID 30111663.
  18. ^ Grimes, D. R. (9 July 2019). "A dangerous balancing act: On matters of science, a well-meaning desire to present all views equally can be an Trojan horse for damaging falsehoods — Queen's University Belfast". EMBO Reports. Pure.qub.ac.uk. 20 (8): e48706. doi:10.15252/embr.201948706. PMC 6680130. PMID 31286661. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  19. ^ "Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Elects 14 New Fellows from Six Countries". Skeptical Inquirer. 1 February 2022. Archived from the original on 17 September 2022. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  20. ^ Grimes, D.R. (26 January 2016). "On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs". PLOS ONE. 11 (1): e0147905. Bibcode:2016PLoSO..1147905G. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147905. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 4728076. PMID 26812482.
  21. ^ Berezow, Alex (26 January 2016). "Maths study shows conspiracies 'prone to unravelling'". BBC News. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  22. ^ Grimes, D.R. (1 September 2012). "Proposed Mechanisms for Homeopathy are Physically Impossible". Focus Altern Complement Ther. 17 (3): 149–155. doi:10.1111/j.2042-7166.2012.01162.x. ISSN 2042-7166.
  23. ^ Grimes, D.R. (23 July 2014). "String Theory–The Physics of String-Bending and Other Electric Guitar Techniques". PLOS ONE. 9 (7): e102088. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...9j2088G. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102088. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 4108333. PMID 25054880.
  24. ^ "Search". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  25. ^ "David Robert Grimes". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  26. ^ Grimes, David Robert (12 November 2014). "Conversation: Challenging Claims and Standing up for Science". Which?. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  27. ^ Grimes, David Robert (7 May 2012). "Evil, militant anti-Christian secularism is simply a myth". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  28. ^ Grimes, David Robert (26 February 2015). "Richard Dawkins is right: children need secular education, where all rights are respected". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  29. ^ Grimes, David Robert (29 June 2012). "Facts still sacred despite Ireland's spectrum of conflicting views on abortion". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  30. ^ Grimes, David Robert (26 June 2013). "Strong religious convictions are no excuse for misrepresenting research". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  31. ^ Grimes, David Robert (12 August 2015). "A scientist weighs up the five main anti-abortion arguments" (blog). The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  32. ^ Grimes, David Robert (22 May 2015). "Why the bad science of the no campaign shouldn't sway Ireland's voters". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  33. ^ Murray, John (3 July 2013). "There is no evidence to suggest we should abandon traditional marriage as basis of our society". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  34. ^ Grimes, David Robert (4 April 2014). "Politicians should stop pandering to anti-fluoridation campaigners". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  35. ^ Kubota 2016-01-27T13:07:23Z, Taylor (27 January 2016). "How to Tell If Conspiracy Theories Are Real: Here's the Math". livescience.com. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  36. ^ O'Regan, Michael. "Proposal to end water fluoridation on health grounds rejected in Dáil". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  37. ^ Grimes, David Robert (15 May 2017). "The rise of the cannabis cult: don't believe the hype about medical marijuana | Spectator Health". Spectator Health. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  38. ^ Grimes, David Robert (11 January 2016). "We know it's effective. So why is there opposition to the HPV vaccine ?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  39. ^ Grimes, David Robert (8 November 2016). "Impartial journalism is laudable. But false balance is dangerous". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  40. ^ Watson, Leon (16 February 2016). "Disgraced anti‑MMR vaccine doctor Andrew Wakefield gets invitation to university in London". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  41. ^ Chivers, Tom. "A Cinema in London Has Pulled A Documentary by a Disgraced Anti-Vaccine Activist". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  42. ^ Grimes, David Robert (1 February 2017). "Three men make a tiger: Letter to President Tajani regarding EU parliament screening of anti-vaccine documentary 'Vaxxed'". Three men make a tiger. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  43. ^ Grimes, David Robert (30 August 2016). "Fundraising appeals for the desperately ill are moving, but evidence is crucial". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  44. ^ Grimes, David Robert (17 February 2016). "Household electromagnetic radiation doesn't make you ill or give you cancer. Here's why". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  45. ^ Chivers, Tom. "A Charity Could Face Investigation Over Its Adverts That Claim W-iFi And Mobile Phones Make People Ill". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  46. ^ "Homeopathy does not work beyond a placebo effect". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  47. ^ "David Robert Grimes's ignorant "Opinion" in Irish Times – Stephen Blendell Homeopath". Stephen Blendell Homeopath. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  48. ^ "Denying climate change isn't scepticism – it's 'motivated reasoning'". The Guardian. 5 February 2014. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  49. ^ Grimes, David Robert (29 August 2014). "Libertarian ideology is the natural enemy of science". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  50. ^ Grimes, David Robert (26 January 2016). "On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs". PLOS ONE. 11 (1): e0147905. Bibcode:2016PLoSO..1147905G. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147905. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 4728076. PMID 26812482.
  51. ^ "The way we argue now". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  52. ^ "Society would benefit from a better understanding of what is and isn't science". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  53. ^ "2014 John Maddox Prize – Sense about Science". senseaboutscience.org. Archived from the original on 21 July 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  54. ^ "Cancer Research UK – Research Engagement Prizes" (PDF).

External links[edit]