Investigating pseudo-science and the paranormal from a responsible scientific viewpoint

Bent Spoon Nominations

The nominations for 2014 are:

Nominee: Elaine Hollingsworth

Nominated by: David Dodd
Date: 03/05/2014

For the film One Answer For Cancer (

Elaine Hollingsworth promotes attacks on medicine and a single cure for all types of cancer, and also runs the following websites:

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Nominee: Dr MaryAnne Demasi

Nominated by: Ilijas Milisic
Date: 14/06/2014

I would like to nominate Dr MaryAnne Demasi for the Bent Spoon Award for the two-part series called “The Heart of the Matter” she made for the ABC Catalyst program that dealt with the link between cholesterol and heart disease.

To quote an SMH article, “The program focused heavily on the opinions of US experts — one of whom believes vaccines can cause autism and another who promotes chiropractic and chelation for heart problems — while a number of high-profile Australian experts were not used.”

The series completely disregarded research and genuine scientific evidence which shows a strong link between cholesterol and heart disease, but worst of all, GPs reported a massive increase in patients wanting to go off statins after having seen the series.

Dr Demasi’s report was badly researched, gave credibility to and presented individuals who were non-experts as being reliable experts, and the fallout of the series was patients refusing to comply with statins to regulate their LDL/HDL levels.

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Nominee: The Institute of Public Affairs and Andrew Bolt

Nominated by: Tony Goodfellow
Date: 31/08/2014

I nominated the Institute of Public Affairs and Andrew Bolt for their climate change denialism, promoting anti-intellectualism through contradicting established evidence and causing harm through stopping adaptation and mitigation efforts by their obfuscation. For examples see below. I also nominate them for misusing the word skeptic

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Nominee: The Premium Wine Card

Nominated by: Various
Date: 16/10/2014

A credit card sized plastic card that claims to be able to change the taste of wine, water and other drinks simply by rubbing it against the glass holding the liquid sounds too good to be true. To quote the web site :

“The Technology
The Premium Wine Card contains an embedded set of precise frequencies that produce a long-lasting natural resonance. The resonance can be transferred to wine through the wine glass.”

More so-called explanations and videos can be seen at

It almost seems like a page from the “Power Balance” book of advertising. It goes without saying that if these claims were true, the inventors would be in line for a Nobel Prize or even two! But at least there is some good advice mixed in with the new age double talk.

“The Premium Wine Card does NOT affect the alcoholic content of the wine.
The resonance from the embedded frequencies will enhance the taste of the wine but not alter the alcoholic content of the wine in any way. Be aware that 100ml of red wine is equivalent to one standard drink under the Australian Alcohol Guidelines.“

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Nominee: Dr Larry Marshall

Nominated by: Peter Rowney
Date: 20/10/2014

I would like to nominate newly appointed head of the CSIRO, Dr Larry Marshall for the Australian Skeptic’s prestigious Bent Spoon Award for the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle.

It was recently reported that Dr Marshall is promoting the “technology” of divining or dowsing for water, as a solution to Australia’s drought problems. He claims that he’s “seen people do this with close to 80 per cent accuracy” but has “no idea how they do it,” and that “the CSIRO can ‘push the envelope’ with such projects and contribute to improving agricultural productivity”.

Perhaps Dr Marshall is unaware of the Australian Skeptic’s prize of $100,000 for anyone who can successfully locate underground water by divining or dowsing with a consistent success rate above that of random chance. With recent funding cuts the CSIRO could certainly do with the extra money.

The fact that a diviner can sometimes find water is no more impressive than a fisherman sometimes catching fish or a punter sometimes backing a winner. In Australia there have been several conclusive blind trials done on dowsing and divining, clearly showing that even sincere practitioners suffer from confirmation bias, an effect that the head of any science organisation should be familiar with.

I feel that Dr Marshall is an ideal candidate for the Bent Spoon Award. As the head of the CSIRO and a spokesman for science in Australia he is responsible for representing science as an evidence based discipline and not one based on anecdotes and confirmation bias.

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Nominee: Fran Sheffield of Homeopathy Plus!

Nominated by: Various
Date: 3/11/2014

For pestering the World Health Organization (WHO) to use homeopathy in the fight against Ebola in Africa. It would be laughable if not such a serious matter. Yet another sad example of her disconnect from reality.

To quote the petition by Homeopathy Plus!

WHO: End the suffering of the Ebola crisis. Test and distribute homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks.

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