On the night of the 1st of December, at a glittering dinner at the Melbourne Arts Centre for the Australian Skeptics National Convention, the annual Skeptics awards were announced.
These cover both positive and negative awards for good works and,at the other end of the scale, the Bent Spoon for the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudoscientific piffle.
And the loser is …
The Bent Spoon award – the least sought-after award in Australia – went to Fran Sheffield and her organisation Homeopathy Plus for “continued promotion of some of the most ludicrous claims for an already ludicrous product”. Australia’s consumer watchdog body, the ACCC, described some of those claims, regarding homeopathic treatment of whooping cough, as “misleading and deceptive”.
The winner of the more positive 2012 Skeptic of the Year award is the lobby group, Friends of Science in Medicine.
Australian Skeptics issues the SotY award every year to the individual or group that has done the most for skepticism in Australia during the last year.
Tim Mendham, executive officer of Australian Skeptics Inc, said the award to the Friends of Science was well-deserved, unanimously supported by all Skeptics group.
“Friends of Science was only formed at the end of 2011, and instantly became a major force in bringing Australia’s universities to task for running courses in unproven and over-hyped medical treatments such as chiropractic, naturopathy, acupuncture, reflexology etc. FSM quickly garnered support from hundreds of academics and senior medical researchers from Australia and overseas, including past Nobel Prize and Australian of the Year recipients.
“The fact that Meryl Dorey, president of the Australian Vaccination Network (the notoriously anti-vaccination group) described the FSM as “An organisation [that] slithered out of the primordial medical sludge” is proof enough that in a short period of time, the Friends had really got under the skin of those proponents of un-scientific and unsupported alt med practices.
Also honoured were Ken Greatorex from Victoria and Dr. Richard Gordon from NSW, both of whom received life membership of Australian Skeptics for their dedicated service over many years.
The “Fred Thornett Award” for promotion of reason was given to high school teacher Adam vanLangenberg from McKinnon Secondary College in Melbourne, for his work in founding the school’s sceptical club.
A special lifetime achievement award was given to James Randi, perhaps the world’s most famous skeptic (and bete noire of Don Lane) who was visiting Australia for the convention.