Joseph A. Schwarcz, known to his students, and many via his science popularization efforts as Dr. Joe, is an author and a professor at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. He is the director of McGill's Office for Science & Society, which is dedicated to demystifying science for the public.[1]


Schwarcz earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry at McGill in 1973. He is known through his many books, weekly column in the Montreal Gazette,[2] weekly radio show on CJAD 800 in Montreal and CFRB 1010 in Toronto, and frequent segments on the Discovery Channel Canada. He has also had a show on Discovery Canada in the past (Science to Go).

Dr. Joe is of Hungarian birth. He is well known for his informative and entertaining public lectures on topics ranging from household chemicals to the chemistry of love. Dr. Joe formerly taught at Vanier College and Dawson College, and there established a series of courses designed to bring chemistry to the common student, and later to the general public through public lectures. This was then replicated at McGill University. Dr. Joe is an amateur magician and often describes how "supernatural feats" can be done by ordinary means, with a scientific explanation to boot. Uri Geller, the mentalist, is a common target for debunking.

Schwarcz was nominated by McGill University as one of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Nifty Fifty Speakers. At the festival, he spoke about his work and career to middle and high school students.[3]

In November 2011, Lorne Trottier gave $5.5 million to McGill to fund Schwarcz's efforts to educate the public about quackery and to "battle against charlatans." It is believed to be the largest single gift for science promotion in Canada.[1]

Selected bibliography

  • Monkeys, Myths, and Molecules Separating Fact from Fiction, and the Science of Everyday Life (2015, ISBN 978-1-77041-191-3)
  • Is That a Fact?: Frauds, Quacks, and the Real Science of Everyday Life (2014, ISBN 978-1-770-41190-6)
  • Dr. Joe's Health Lab: 164 Amazing Insights into the Science of Medicine, Nutrition and Well-being (2011, ISBN 978-0-385-67156-9)
  • Dr. Joe's Brain Sparks: 179 Inspiring and Enlightening Inquiries into the Science of Everyday Life (2010, ISBN 978-0-385-66930-6)
  • Science, Sense & Nonsense (2009, ISBN 978-0-385-66604-6)
  • Brain Fuel: 199 Mind-Expanding Inquiries into the Science of Everyday Life (2008, ISBN 978-0-385-66602-2)
  • An Apple A Day: The Myths, Misconceptions and Truths About the Foods We Eat (2007, ISBN 978-0-00-200764-1)
  • Let Them Eat Flax: 70 All-New Commentaries on the Science of Everyday Food & Life (2005, ISBN 1-55022-698-3)
  • The Fly in the Ointment: 70 Fascinating Commentaries on the Science of Everyday Life (2004, ISBN 1-55022-621-5)
  • That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles: 62 All-New Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life (2004, ISBN 1-55022-520-0)
  • The Genie in the Bottle: 68 All New Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life (2001, ISBN 1-55022-442-5)
  • Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs: 67 Digestible Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life (2001, ISBN 0-8050-7407-4)


  1. ^ a b Seidman, Karen (16 November 2011), "Dr. Joe serves notice to quacks: $5.5-million gift for Office for Science", The Montreal Gazette, retrieved 8 December 2011 
  2. ^ Columnists: Joe Schwarcz, Montreal Gazette, 2011, retrieved 7 September 2014 
  3. ^ The Nifty Fifty (times 2), USA Science and Engineering Festival, 2011, retrieved 9 December 2011 
  4. ^ The McNeil Medal for the public awareness of science, Royal Society of Canada, 2011, retrieved 9 December 2011 
  5. ^ Howard, Judy (16 October 1998), Canadian Wins Top Chemistry Reporting Award, American Chemical Society, retrieved 9 December 2011 
  6. ^ "AU Names in the News: Dr. Joe Touring the Country", the Insider (Athabasca University) 2 (10), p. 10, June 13, 2011 
  7. ^ "Joe Schwarcz.(Distinction)(2005 Sanford Fleming Medal from the Royal Canadian Institute)", Canadian Chemical News, 1 October 2005, retrieved 9 December 2011 
  8. ^ Canada annual awards ceremony and dinner, Society of Chemical Industry, 25 March 2010, retrieved 9 December 2011 
  9. ^ Montreal Medal Award Recipients, Chemical Institute of Canada, 2011, retrieved 9 December 2011