As several groups are apparently giving out awards, I decided I would start some of my own – The Golden Woo Awards for outstanding work in the promotion of Woo in the previous year. It’s a bit like the Golden Globes, only for, er, Woo.
Now, some of you might notice that the award titles look similar to Randi’s Pigasus Awards, with just the words “paranormal,” “occult” etc replaced with Woo, and might think I’ve just run out of ideas for posts and purloined Randi’s idea as my own. (Cough.) Clearly that isn’t true as I have at least one extra category that Randi doesn’t have. However, if you were to view this post as my Golden Globes in advance of Randi’s Oscars... then you could. Perhaps the great man might even read this and get some ideas for April 1st?
OK so here goes – the Golden Woos for 2008. I hope you’ll find them entertaining.
The scientist or academic who said or did the silliest thing related to Woo
Michael Egnor for his tireless support of Intelligent Design Creationism, and especially his many recent assaults on materialism. For an example of the latter, see his article ‘Waiter, My Steak Isn’t Altruistic Enough!’. A snippet:
There is no shared property yet identified by science through which brain matter can cause mental acts like altruism. Material substances have mass and energy. Ideas have purpose and judgment. There is no commonality.
As Steven Novella wrote, this is utter rubbish on many levels.
The funding organization that supported the most useless Woo study
Stanford University, for a clinical trial on Energy therapy: Where mysticism meets science. Ten years after Emily Rosa demonstrated that Therapeutic Touch practitioners can’t detect the energy field they claim to manipulate, people still want to study this nonsense.
The media outlet that reported as fact the most outrageous Woo claim (AKA the “Larry King” prize)
Joint winners – the Haunting Reality TV program and the British Sunday Express newspaper. For not only making up stories about the abduction of Madeleine McCann, the four year old English girl who disappeared in Portugal in May 2007, and pretending these were obtained “psychically.” That would have been bad enough. But these clowns also produced a drawing of the man they say abducted the child, and reproduced it on the TV show and in the pages of the newspaper, apparently not caring that their made-up picture might get some totally innocent man into trouble.
The Woo who wrote the most drivel containing the most logical fallacies
This has to go to Deepak Chopra, for whom it should really be a lifetime award for achievement above and beyond. For an example, please read Leave the Sinking Ship: An Open Invitation to the Wall Street Journal to Get on Board for Integrative Health Reform – an entire article based around six logical fallacies, one unsupported claim and no discernable content. A snippet:
Over the last three decades, millions of Americans, and a dedicated group of physicians and practitioners have front-line, hands-on experience with integrative health care. Via concerted research and clinical practice, international scientists and practitioners, have progressively uncovered the root causes and the most effective treatments for health maintenance and restoration. This is science’s cutting edge.
Because we can all remember the “cutting edge” Woo that has found the root causes and cures for cancer, AIDS etc. Yeah.
In future years I will rename this award the “Chopra”, in honor of this year’s honoree, who will sadly be excluded from consideration in future. (Otherwise no one else would ever stand a chance.)
Irony Award, for being completely oblivious to the hypocrisy of their own actions or words in defense of Woo
To the producers of Expelled, a movie complaining about how proponents of Intelligent Design are discriminated against and are being “Expelled” from their academic positions, who expelled PZ Myers from a theater where the movie was being shown, despite his having a valid ticket. Apparently “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” was not just the film’s title, it was its marketing strategy.
Hitler Zombie Award (aka “The Godwin”) for appropriating Hitler to make the most outrageous Woo claim
Again to the producers of Expelled and Ben Stein, for claiming that evolution leads to atheism leads to eugenics leads to Holocaust and Nazi Germany.
The most persistent refusal to face reality
The mercury militia, for continuing to insist autism has to be something to do with vaccines despite the mounting weight of contrary studies. This award is given for the continued heroic moving of goalposts to include numerous ambiguous “toxins” as well as the “too many too soon” mantra in the face of more and more evidence that it’s not MMR and not Thimerosal.
The most ridiculous or bigoted act using religion as its justification
A hard one to judge, since there were so many contenders. An almost infinite number, actually. But for sheer mean spiritedness I’m going to give the award to the proponents of Proposition 8 in California, who not only campaigned to remove the right to marry from gay people, but who even now are actively campaigning to have the gay marriages that were performed before the ban, retroactively disallowed. That takes a considerable amount of determined hate, of the sort that only religion can readily inspire, and for that they get the award. Numerous people were involved in this valuable work, but to keep it simple the award can be accepted by either Rick Warren or the Mormon Church.
That’s it. Perhaps I missed someone, in which case please nominate any special people I may have missed, in the comments.