The British government recently appointed a new minister of science, and he’s quite a character. Aside from being a millionaire with a PhD in robotics who left his position in the Ministry of Defense (a body that has been known to house interesting sorts) to race sports cars, Lord Paul Drayson of Kensington is also, he says, a wee bit psychic. In a recent interview with the U.K. Times, he professed to have “an uncanny ability ‘like a sixth sense’ to know and predict some events instinctively.”
Drayson returned to the government last month, when he was given a cabinet seat and made the Minister of State for the newly-created Committee for Science and Innovation. While his background has long combined science and business—he was the co-founder of PowderJect Pharmaceuticals, one of the country’s biggest suppliers of vaccines and other drugs—it hasn’t been without scandal. In 2002, when Drayson was still running the company, it recalled its supply of a tuberculosis vaccine after it failed to meet “end of shelf life” specifications. The recall came amid whispers that the company had secured large vaccine contracts with the government because Drayson was a generous donor to the party in power.
In the interview this week, Drayson clarifies that he’s not claiming “extra-sensory” or paranormal powers; rather, his future-seeing talents are more the “hyper-instinctual” variety, circa Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, a book Drayson admires:
“Gladwell’s book is about the ability of the human being to know something, but not to know why they know it” [said Drayson]. “This struck a chord with me, because in my life there have been some things that I’ve known and I don’t know why.”
Drayson described the ability as “like a sixth sense” and said it could be linked to the way humans have evolved.
Given the subsequent criticism of the book, including but not limited to claims that its thesis is completely bass-ackward wrong, it may be wise for the new science minister to expand his reading list. Or maybe he can turn his preternatural instincts to solving Britain’s huge public misconceptions of climate change—and, for that matter, vaccines.