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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 65
they charged, were casting "doubt on the whole system of rewards and prizes in the field of scientific research and discovery," by awarding Bancroft a medal "for his extraordinary views on the effects of sodium thiocyanate and for his theory of agglomeration—or maybe it is conglomeration . . . "44 Chauncey D. Leake, professor of pharmacology at the University of California Medical School, was more direct:
There is not objection to Professor Bancroft amusing himself in biologic speculation. But one may justifiably object when he claims scientific validity for what is certainly speculative on his part, even though he may try to disguise it by plausible argument, superficial experimentation, and selected reference to the scientific literature.45
Noting that potassium thiocyanate was known to be toxic to human beings and that he and other pharmacologists had been unable to confirm Bancroft's results, Leake concluded that "it is reprehensible for him [Bancroft] to claim scientific validity for the application of his notions to medical fields."46
Appalled to discover that their would-be medalist was being charged with quackery, the Nichols Award Committee hurriedly sought to dissociate themselves from the controversy. Three weeks before the medal was to be presented, the chairman of the committee asked Bancroft to accept the award for his work on applications of the phase rule rather than for his "agglomeration theory." Bancroft, nettled by their fickleness, told the committee's chairman that he would refuse the medal before he would accept an alteration in the announced terms of the award. Taking Bancroft at his word, the awards committee announced that Bancroft had declined to accept the honor and that no award would be made in 1933.47
Bancroft, ever ready to cast himself in the role of righteous dissenter, never abandoned his belief in his colloid