Bad Astronomy

2011 JREF Pigasus awards

Every year, the James Randi Educational Foundation picks the people or organizations who have done the most to promote antireality nonsense and get the public to believe in provably untrue silliness. This dubious honor is called the Pigasus Award after Randi’s official mascot, the flying pig, as in “XXX will be true when pigs fly” – values of XXX include homeopathy, faith healing, dowsing, etc. The awards are appropriately given out every April 1.

This year’s crop has just been announced. I was not surprised to see Richard Hoover listed there for his extremely shaky announcement of life in a meteorite. Hoover published his claims in the Journal of Cosmology, and while I was pretty clear in my posts about the extremely shaky nature of this journal, the JREF simply calls them “crackpot”. Heh.

I do have a quibble with the awards this year though. Our old friend Andrew Wakefield – the defrocked, debunked, and discredited founder of the modern antivax movement – was given the “Refusal to Face Reality Award” for his ongoing (and wrong) claims that vaccines cause all sorts of health problems from gastric distress to autism. But it’s not clear he’s refusing to face reality at all. In fact, the point could be made that he may be simply cashing in on parents’ fears, in which case he is facing reality quite squarely.

But that’s merely a quibble. The important thing is that Wakefield’s ignominy is highlighted. And he’s just one of the five, so head over to the JREF site and read about the others who topped this year’s list of this year’s bottom of the barrel.

Image of flying pig is actually of a necklace pendant created by Skepchick Surly Amy, who has tons of great sciencey and skeptical accessories for sale.

Related posts:

- Has life been found in a meteorite?
- Followup thoughts on the meteorite fossils claim
- BREAKING: BMJ calls Andrew Wakefield a fraud
- A comic takedown of antivax icon Andrew Wakefield