In 1998, I received a letter from a fellow scientist. To paraphrase the contents (since the letter was long ago destroyed), why was I being such a miserable excuse for a human being and scientist for deliberately corrupting the minds of young people worldwide by preaching ‘pseudoscience’? Wow. What could I possibly have done to induce such ire in a fellow scientist? Here are some hints: I did not deny that HIV causes AIDS or question the reality of climate change; I did not favour creationism over evolution or preach the benefits of cold fusion. No, much worse. A full page story in the science section of the New York Times had just revealed that I, a ‘real scientist’ and a professor at the University of Massachusetts, had a side-line gig as a science adviser for the TV series The X-Files.

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