2005 Award recipients

Category #1: Scientist who said or did the silliest thing related to the supernatural
We’ve chosen Brenda Dunne as the scientist who’s said the silliest things this year. Brenda is the PEAR Laboratory Manager, and is responsible for conducting studies on how humans can influence the movement of objects using only their minds. While by our definition this is as paranormal as it gets, Brenda says "We are not in the business of demonstrating ’paranormal’ abilities." Really? Is there some normal explanation for these things? PEAR’s website says: "...the experimental results display increases in information content that can only be attributed to the influence of the consciousness of the human operator." Only? To top it off, she claims that the JREF $1 Million prize is a "scam," which is easily disprovable, should she only care to look. So Brenda could win the prize by applying for the million and demonstrating these abilities, but today, she’s winning a Pigasus instead.

Full details (Here).

Category #2: The funding organization that supported the most useless study.
We honor the Auckland City Council of Auckland, NZ for providing the Foundation For Spiritualist Mediums (FSM) with NZ$2500 (US$1800) of taxpayers’ money to teach people to communicate with the dead. To quote one FSM councilor, "There are a lot of people who have problems communicating with the spirit world and don’t know how to deal with it." Fortunately, some council members objected to this expenditure and had the amount reduced from the original NZ$4500. The defending members supported the decision as contributing "to Auckland city’s community vision." Well, if they’re already having visions, perhaps they don’t need the assistance of the FSM.

Full details (Here).

Category #3: Media outlet that reported as factual the most outrageous claims
The prize goes to the US television network ABC for their airing of the "Primetime Live" specials on "John of God." This Brazilian "healer," named João Teixeira, continues to divert people with serious illnesses from conventional medical treatment. He provides them with such services as eyeball "scraping," forceps up-the-nose (TAM attendees saw Todd Robbins perform the same trick with a spike) and spirit trances. ABC was kind enough to interview me for the special, but instead of airing the interview I gave, they chose to show only a small bit of me quoting someone else. The rest of the "documentary" was concerned strictly with propping up this trickster. I was not contacted for the followup special. ABC had an opportunity to educate the public about a potentially dangerous scam, but demurred presumably in search of ratings.

We must question whether “John” and his retinue entered the USA as entertainers or as tourists. The former classification would require a formal working visa; the usual procedure of these “healers” is to not declare the real purpose of crossing the border – to swindle the desperately ill with carnival tricks and showmanship – but to enter as wide-eyed tourists.

This con artist has tightened conditions so that only the terminally gullible can gain admission to his show. There will be no media persons allowed in, he will do none of his up-the-nose or quick-slash miracles, and a daily rate of $130 – $360 for the whole three-day circus – rather limits admission to the desperate.

ABC-TV has exhibited no remorse, nor second thoughts, about their shameless endorsement of John of God, and no apologies to the hundreds of USA residents who – as a direct result of their sloppy coverage – likely made the futile journey to Brazil in search of cures.

ABC-TV remains mute.

Full details (Here) | Randi Video Discussion from TAM (Here)

Category #4: The "psychic" performer who fooled the greatest number of people.
This year’s award goes to Allison DuBois, whose conversations with the dead are depicted on the NBC-TV show "Medium." Allison is nothing special as "psychics" go, but by getting NBC to create a show "inspired by [her] real-life research," Allison gets credit for reaching an audience of millions without actually having to do much of anything.

An example of Allison’s "work" is found (Here).

Category #5: The most persistent refusal to face reality
This year’s award goes to the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, for their refusal to denounce the infamous Cha/Wirth study in which it was "shown" that the fertility of Korean women increase two-fold when they were prayed for by long distance Christians. The designer of the study, Mr. Daniel Wirth, now resides in Federal prison. Despite the involvement of dozens of doctors and scientists, as well as the President of Columbia University, the Journal for Reproductive Medicine has still not retracted this obviously flawed experiment. This study was mentioned in last year’s Pigasus Awards, let’s hope they don’t make it a "three-peat."

More information can be found on the commentary pages (Here) and (Here).