The 2012 Pigasus Awards

Magician and skeptic James Randi recently announced the winners of his annual Pigasus award. The awards go to five individuals, associations, or institutions which have been particularly harmful to the public in the past year. The reason he has this annual award is, as he says, because “no amount of evidence will ever convince the true believer,” whether that belief regards ghosts, precognition, or the ability to talk to those from beyond the grave. So here are the five categories, with their winners…

Category: Scientist

Winner: Daryl Bem

Daryl Bem made a big splash in the news last year when his parapsychology research was published in a prestigious journal. Essentially, it supported the idea that precognition – being able to see the future – was real. Not only was the methodology lacking, and the data analysis shoddy, but it was debunked several times since then.

Category: Funding

Winner: Syracuse University

Syracuse University is, on the whole, a respected university from which many bright people graduate. However, the university still funds the use of “Facilitated Communication,” a bogus intervention that is supposed to allow a nonverbal person to communicate. It is continuously debunked and re-debunked basically every year. I’m astonished that this is still being supported.

Category: Television

Winner: TLC (The Learning Channel)

TLC certainly promotes a lot of nonsense; and even The History Channel in recent years has produced a lot of TV shows that are far more interested in speculation than reviewing real evidence. For example, the show “Battles BC,” which looks at records from the bible and puts them together using a little bit of geographical and archeological evidence with a whole lot of speculation. But TLC doesn’t even try to use scientific evidence to makes its point. They go straight for the crowd-pleasers – the stuff that gets ratings, whatever that may be. Unfortunately, that means junks like psychics and mediums.

Speaking of which…

Category: Performer

Winner: Teresa Caputa (the “Long Island Medium”)

Say hi to Teresa Caputa, who talks to the dead people. At least, that’s what she says in her show. Her TV show, the Long Island Medium, is going into its second season on TLC. No one here in Japan knows who she is, but presumably she got this award because she is gaining a following in the United States.

Category: Refusal to Face Reality

Winner: James Van Praagh

James Van Praagh had been exposed by James Randi decades ago, and yet he still has a successful career as a medium. In fact, Randi talked about that in his TED talk when he came to speak in 2010.

The announcement video is here:

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