Merit Awards

Every year at our National Convention, we put the skeptical spotlight on people who have contributed significantly to the causes of skepticism and critical thinking.

Skeptic of the Year

Skeptic of the Year is awarded occasionally – not every year – to someone who has close ties with the Skeptical movement and been particularly active over the past year. We name someone Skeptic of the Year because they have been exceptional even by the very good standards of activity of the Australian Skeptical community.

The following skeptics have been honoured so far:

  • Prof Derek Freeman (1996)
  • Prof Peter Doherty (1997)
  • Prof Mike Archer (1998)
  • Cheryl Freeman (1999)
  • Prof John Dwyer (2000)
  • Dr Paul Willis (2002)
  • Lynne Kelly (2004)
  • Dr Karl Kruszelnicki (2006)
  • Loretta Marron (2007)
  • Stop the AVN (2010)
  • Loretta Marron (2011)
  • Friends of Science in Medicine (2012)
  • Prof Simon Chapman (2013)
  • Peter Tierney (2014)
  • Dr Ken Harvey and Mal Vickers (2016)
  • Christine Bayne (2017)

The Thornett Award for the Promotion of Reason

The Thornett Award for the Promotion of Reason commemorates Fred Thornett, a Tasmanian Skeptic who died in 2009. In true awards fashion, we call it “The Fred”. The Fred acknowledges a member of the public or a public figure who has made a significant contribution to educating or informing the public regarding issues of science and reason. In addition to a commemorative certificate, $2000 (as of 2018) is awarded to the recipient or to a charity or cause of their choice.

Fred winners have been:

  • Toni and David McCaffery (2009)
  • Ken McLeod (2010)
  • Wendy Wilkinson (2010)
  • Dr Ken Harvey (2011)
  • Adam vanLangenberg (2012)
  • Sonya Pemberton (2013)
  • Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters (2014)
  • Catherine and Greg Hughes, Light for Riley (2015)
  • Jill Hennessy MP, Victorian Minister for Health (2016)
  • Dr John Cunningham (2017)
  • Dr Ian Musgrave (2018)
  • Guy Nolch (2019)

The Barry Williams Award for Skeptical Journalism

The Barry Williams Award for Skeptical Journalism is awarded for journalistic work that critically analyses or exposes issues related to pseudoscience or the paranormal. The award is dubbed “The Wallaby” after Barry’s alter ego of Sir Jim R Wallaby, which he used for some of his more whimsical pieces published in The Skeptic magazine.

Wallaby winners have been:

  • Jane Hansen (2018)
  • Liam Mannix (2019)

Eureka / Critical Thinking Prize

These two prizes have now been discontinued, however the honour roll deserves a mention due to the calibre and achievement of the winners.

Australian Skeptics had been major sponsors of the Australian Museum Eureka Awards from its foundation until 2005. The following are the winners of the Eureka for Critical Thinking:

  • Dr Trevor Case  (1996)
  • Dr Amanda Barnier (1997)
  • Dr Melissa Finucane, (1999)
  • Mr Richard Kocsis (2000)
  • Dr Tim van Gelder (2001)
  • Dr Robert Morrison  (2002)
  • Prof  Brendan McKay (2003)
  • Cheryl Capra, (2004)
  • Dr David Henry and Ms Amanda Wilson (2005)

Note: There was no 1998 Prize due to date changes in the Eureka event.

When we withdrew from the Eurekas, we decided to award our own Critical Thinking Prize. The following are the winners of the Australian Skeptics Critical Thinking Prize:

  • Dr Martin Bridgstock (2006)
  • Kylie Sturgess (2007)
  • Peter Ellerton (2008)