Bent Spoon Award
The Bent Spoon Award is an award given by Australian Skeptics, "presented to the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudoscientific piffle". The award is named in allusion to the practice of spoon bending by supposed psychics.
Australian Skeptics facetiously describes the trophy as a piece of gopher wood supposedly from the Noah’s Ark, upon which is affixed a spoon that was rumoured to have been used at the Last Supper. The spoon was supposedly bent by energies unknown to science and was gold-plated through an Atlantean process. Although established in 1982 and first awarded in 1983, only one copy of the trophy exists, as "anyone wishing to acquire the trophy must remove it from our keeping by paranormal means" and no winner has yet overcome this obstacle.
The winner should either be an Australian or have carried out their activities in Australia.
List of winners
The award has always been announced at Australian Skeptics' annual convention. Prior to 1989, when the convention was held over Easter weekend, the award covered activity occurring during the calendar year prior to the convention, and the year designation reflected when the winner conducted his or her activities. At the 1989 convention, the organisation moved its conventions to later in the year and changed the award period to cover the time between conventions. Therefore, there was no 1989 award, and since that time the year designation has reflected the year in which the award was announced.
- 2018: "Holistic health and fitness Youtuber" Sarah Stevenson for spreading misinformation about health to her online following of over 1 million people despite lacking any health qualifications. Stevenson, through her online brand "Sarah's Day" claimed that she had cured her pre-cancerous condition through a regimen of “the power of natural medicine, food, lifestyle changes and prayer”.
- 2017: The National Institute of Complementary Medicine and the University of Western Sydney for their "continued promotion of disproved and unproved alternative medicine practices" on their website.
- 2016: The Social Sciences Department of the University of Wollongong, PhD recipient Judith Wilyman, and supervisor Brian Martin for Wilyman's social science vaccination thesis, which they alleged was "riddled with errors, misstatements, poor and unsupported ‘evidence’ and conspiratorial thinking".
- 2015: Pete Evans, for his support of the Paleo diet.
- 2014: Dr Larry R. Marshall, Chief Executive, CSIRO, for his support of water divining.
- 2013: Chiropractors' Association of Australia and the Chiropractic Board of Australia for failing to ensure their own members — including some committee members — adhere to their policy announcements.
- 2012: Fran Sheffield, founder of Homeopathy Plus!, which markets "homeopathic vaccination" for the treatment and prevention of serious infectious diseases including but not limited to meningococcal disease, along with homeopathic "remedies" for the treatment and prevention of domestic violence and acute radiation sickness among other things.
- 2011: RMIT University (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) for its outstanding work in teaching pseudoscience.
- 2010: Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) for its "draft science curriculum".
- 2009: Meryl Dorey and the Australian Vaccination Network
- 2008: Kerryn Phelps.
- 2007: Marena Manzoufas, Head of Programming at the ABC for authorising the television show Psychic Investigators and for putting it on air in the Catalyst timeslot.
- 2006: Pharmacists of Australia who sell quackery and snake oil in places where consumers should expect to get real medical supplies and advice.
- 2005: The ABC television program Second Opinion, for presenting an uncritical perspective on alternative medicine, even encouraging its use.
- 2004: The New Inventors for giving consideration to the AntiBio water conditioning system.
- 2003: The Complementary Healthcare Council - an industry group consisting of manufacturers and practitioners of alternative therapies and products that lobbied hard to keep scrutiny to a minimum and sought taxpayer funding for advertising.
- 2002: Gentle Heal Pty Ltd for selling homeopathic products that clearly label themselves as vaccines, such as "Hepatitis C Vaccine".
- 2001: The Lutec "Free Energy Generator" - a device claiming to produce 30 times more output than input, but which actually outputs 33% of input power.
- 2000: Jasmuheen for continuing to claim people can live solely on air and light, despite repeated exposure as fallacy.
- 1999: Mike Willesee for obtaining the assistance of scientists and theologians on a TV show, then ignoring their input
- 1998: Southern Cross University for publicising one of its academics' support for "empowered water", and for both offering a degree course in naturopathy while simultaneously conducting research into the validity of naturopathy
- 1997: Viera Scheibner for her high-profile anti-immunisation campaign
- 1996: Marlo Morgan
- 1995: Tim Macartney-Snape for promotion of the beliefs of Jeremy Griffith, self-described prophet and founder of the World Transformation Movement
- 1994: Commonwealth Attorney General's Office
- 1993: Tonight Live on Channel 7
- 1992: Allen S. Roberts - fundamentalist pastor who stated he visited the site of Noah's Ark
- 1991: Women's Day magazine, for "spurious New Age nostrums"
- 1990: Mafu (Penny Torres Rubin) - a channeled ancient entity
- 1989: (None awarded)
- 1988: Diane McCann - prominent new age proponent, proclaimed the City of Churches was the location of part of Atlantis.
- 1987: Anne Dankbaar - Adelaide psychic
- 1986: Peter Brock - promoted an energy polariser which was claimed to turn old cars new via the power of a crystal
- 1985: The Findhorn Foundation for bringing Rev. Willard Fuller, a psychic dentist who promised to turn fillings into gold and repair decaying teeth, to Australia
- 1984: Karen Hunt - psychic archaeologist
- 1983: Dennis Hassell - Melbourne mystic
- 1982: Tom Wards - psychic
- Other satirical awards
- Golden Raspberry Awards for bad film work
- Darwin Awards for sublimely idiotic self-removal from the gene pool
- Pigasus Award for paranormal fraud (U.S.)
- Stella Awards for outrageous lawsuits
- Bad Sex in Fiction Award
- Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year for odd book titles
- Ig Nobel Prizes for questionable scientific achievements
- Williams, Barry. "History of the Bent Spoon Award". skeptics.com.au. Australian Skeptics. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- "Ken Ring coverage wins skeptics' Bent Spoon award". The New Zealand Herald. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- Mendham, Tim. "A bad day for Sarah". Australian Skeptics. Archived from the original on 13 October 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
- "The Bent Spoon Award, Nominations, Past Winners". skeptics.com.au. Australian Skeptics. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- "2016 Skeptics awards – Spoon to Wilyman, Skeptic of the Year to Harvey and Vickers". www.skeptics.com.au. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
- "Skeptics name winners of Bent Spoon award". pharmacynews.com.au. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
- Mitchell, Georgina (18 October 2015). "Pete Evans given award which recognises 'quackery'". MSN. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- Smith, Bridie (3 December 2012). "Skeptics confer spoon accolade". The Age. Victoria, Australia. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- "Meryl Dorey and the AVN win 2009 Bent Spoon". Australian Skeptics. 29 November 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- Williams, Robyn (presenter); Williams, Barry (guest) (1 December 2007). "Australian Skeptics Awards 2007". The Science Show. transcript. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Radio National.
- News from The Australian
- "Mortal, pestle and bent spoon". 6minutes.com.au. Cirrus Media. 30 November 2006. Archived from the original on 8 September 2007.
- Dayton, Leigh (29 November 2006). "Bad slot for mumbo jumbo". Science & Nature. The Australian. Archived from the original on 9 December 2006.
- Rodrigues, Marilyn (8 December 2002). "Conversation: Michael Willesee, journalist and producer -…the presence of Jesus". The Catholic Weekly. Archived from the original on 18 June 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- Dale, David; Knox, Malcolm, eds. (6 December 1995). "Stay In Touch: Visionaries". News and Features. The Sydney Morning Herald. Melbourne. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- Walker, David (7 July 1993). "Seven earns a bent spoon". The Age. Victoria, Australia. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- West, Andrew (30 March 1988). "The 1988 Bent Spoon award is up for grabs". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 22 December 2013.