NZ Skeptics

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NZ Skeptics
Formation1986; 37 years ago (1986)
FoundersBernard Howard, David Marks, Denis Dutton, Gordon Hewitt, Jim Woolnough, Kerry Chamberlain, Ray Carr[1]
TypeNonprofit organization
Legal statusIncorporated Society, Registered Charity[2]
Craig Shearer[3]
Main organ
Formerly called
New Zealand Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

NZ Skeptics is a New Zealand incorporated society created in 1986, with the aim of promoting critical thinking.[4] The main areas of interest to the NZ Skeptics are claims of psychic abilities, alternative medicine, creationism and other pseudoscientific claims. At its founding in 1986, it was known as the New Zealand Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (NZCSICOP). In 2007 the name was formally changed to NZ Skeptics Incorporated.


NZ Skeptics was co-founded (as the New Zealand Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) by David Marks, Denis Dutton, Bernard Howard, Gordon Hewitt, Jim Woolnough, Ray Carr and Kerry Chamberlain in 1986.[1] Other similar organisations exist in the USA (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry), Australia (Australian Skeptics) and India (Indian CSICOP). Denis Dutton was the first chair. Vicki Hyde took over as the first chair-entity (a title devised by Hugh Young both to be all-inclusive and to parody inclusiveness[5]) from 1997–2010. Gold (his only name), who founded the New Zealand Skeptics in the Pub, was chair-entity from 2010–2014. Mark Honeychurch was chairperson between 2014 and 2017.[3] Craig Shearer is the current chairperson.[3] Vicki Hyde continues in the society as a media spokesperson. The English spelling of the word "skeptic" was chosen over the British spelling "sceptic" to more closely associate with the American organisation, and to avoid negative connotations of "being cynical and negative". In 2007 the committee decided to formally change the name to NZ Skeptics Incorporated (NZSI).[6]

The society does not address the topic of religion, not only because there are other organisations better equipped to deal with it, but also because religion is not testable unless the supporter makes a specific claim. The founders felt that people with religious beliefs could also be skeptical of claims of the paranormal and did not want to exclude them.

Due to a concern that the word "skeptic" was being confused by the public and media with respect to climate change NZSI made the following statement in 2014:[6]

The New Zealand Skeptics Society supports the scientific consensus on Climate Change. There is an abundance of evidence demonstrating global mean temperatures are rising, and that humans have had a considerable impact on the natural rate of change. The Society will adjust its position with the scientific consensus.

Logo of the NZ Skeptics used until 2015

In 2015 NZSI adopted a new logo that incorporates a kiwi, koru and a question mark,[7] and released a new website and journal.[6]

In 1989 after its first conference NZI had 80 members; by 1999 there were over 500 members.[8] Some notable skeptics such as James Randi, Richard Dawkins, Susan Blackmore, Ian Plimer and John Maddox had visited in that time.[8]

When people ask me who the Skeptics are, I reply “We’re the guys that say the Emperor’s not wearing any clothes and how come no-one else has noticed.”

— Vicki Hyde 1995[9]


SkeptiCamp Wellington – 2013

NZ Skeptics holds an annual conference during the New Zealand summer. Conferences generally alternate between the three major New Zealand cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, with other cities hosting as and when there is sufficient interest.

NZ Skeptics produces a quarterly journal,The New Zealand Skeptic, which they send out to all members. The journal has been produced continuously since 1986, shortly after the society's inception.

On 30 January 2010, members in Christchurch participated in a mass overdose, a protest against the selling of homeopathic remedies in pharmacies.[10] The protest was in line with similar activities held on the same day by the 10:23 campaign in the UK.[11][12]

The first New Zealand SkeptiCamp was held at the Black Dog Brewery in Wellington.[13]

Skeptics in the Pub events are held throughout New Zealand in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.[7]

Sue Nicholson[edit]

"Psychic medium" Sue Nicholson at 2013 conference

Sensing Murder psychic Sue Nicholson spoke at the 2013 Wellington conference about her 21 years of experiences as a psychic medium. Organiser Vicki Hyde applauded Nicholson's willingness to speak at the conference, saying "many people working in this profession are very reluctant to expose themselves to any critical scrutiny." Hyde is quick to add that "critical" in this case "involves a spirit of genuine interest and inquiry", even if proof of spirits from the after-life continues to be elusive.[14]

Nicholson talked about her life history as a psychic for 18 minutes and opened up the lecture for questions.[15]: 18:40  Despite being skeptical, the audience remained respectful and questioning.[16][17]

Nicholson stated that her friends told her not to attend the conference, but she said, "I believe in healthy discussion, and we all have our opinions and that’s great. I’m not here to prove anything. I’m not here to convince you. We all have our thoughts, we all have our ideas and that’s how the world goes around."[15]

3 News attended Nicholson's lecture and wrote, "But despite a colourful performance from Ms Nicholson, this lot remains unconvinced."[18] Nicholson agreed to talk at the conference with the stipulation that the $500 speakers fee would be donated to a Women's Refuge."[7][15]

The organisation has remained critical of psychics such as Nicholson. In 2018, NZ Skeptics denounced those who claim they can help locate missing persons, contacting families with information. Referring to one such case, NZ Skeptics Society chair Craig Shearer insisted those "grief vampires" never actually helped police solve a disappearance.[19]


In 1988 NZCSICOP member Trevor Reeves wrote a series of letters about psychic Shona Saxon and sent them to the editor of the Dunedin Star Midweek paper, to the Citizens Advice service, to the Dunedin police, and to social welfare. Saxon sued Reeves for malice, claiming embarrassment, humiliation and loss. According to Saxon, Reeves stated that she was "misleading people", "persuading people to go off their prescribed medications" and "upsetting disturbed people... on welfare benefits". The high court judge ruled in favor of Saxon. "[e]ssentially because he did not believe that Ms Saxon had deliberately set out to deceive clients". The judge held that Reeves' "statements were actuated by malice... by gratuitously attack[ing] Ms Saxon's personal integrity." Saxon was awarded a total of $12,000 damages, $6.000 against Reeves and $6000 against Allied Press Ltd.[20] Reeves appealed to the High Court and the damages awarded against him were reduced to $4,500.

Because of the way the NZCSICOP public statements were worded, they were not a party to this action, and escaped what could have been a crippling penalty. The constitution provides suspension or expulsion of any member who brings the society into disrepute. Reeves left NZCSICOP shortly after the judgment was made.[21] The case is recorded as Saxon v Reeves High Court Dunedin A39/87.[22][23]


NZ Skeptics has been vocal in the fight against the government use of the pseudoscience of dowsing in New Zealand. The Carterton District Council uses dowsing to find underground pipes and cables despite the NZ Skeptics evidence that dowsing has been discredited.[24] The Wellington City Council paid the Downer Group to use dowsing to find buried water pipes in early 2019. The City Council and a Downer Group representative both stated they were satisfied their work despite complaints by the NZ Skeptics.[25] The Wellington City Council and the Downer Group were co-awarded the Bent Spoon Award for 2019.[26]


The annual NZ Skeptics Conference hosts a wide range of local and international speakers. The location usually alternates between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Hamilton, but has also been held in Rotorua and Queenstown.[27][28] In 2019, the conference was held at the Christchurch Arts Centre / Te Matatiki Toi Ora from 29 November to 1 December.[29]

International guests have raised New Zealand's general awareness of skepticism. In July 1993 James Randi toured New Zealand, visiting Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington. "However, those unable to see him in person had plenty of opportunity to see him on TV, hear him on radio and read about him in newspapers and magazines. He was tireless in submitting himself to the punishing round of interviews, etc, arranged by our enthusiastic Media Representative. Every interviewer wanted to see him bend spoons, and he left behind him a trail of bent and broken cutlery, the bill for which was not negligible."[30][31]

George Hrab travelled to the North Island on 1 December 2014, stopping over in Wellington for a special skeptics dinner event. Seating was limited to twelve, and tickets were auctioned in a blind auction on the NZ skeptic website.[14]

List of Conferences
Dates Location Speakers Themes and notes
8–10 August 1986 Dunedin "What is Pseudoscience?" and "Psychics, Clairvoyants and Cold Reading" by Denis Dutton, "Creationism and the Misuse of Biology" by Gordon Hewitt, "The Australia-New Zealand Stop-over for International Psychics" by Mark Plummer (Founding Chairman, Australian Skeptics), "Psychics I Have Known" by David Marks First conference held at the University of Otago. Registration $5–$10.
1989 Christchurch Firewalking held
1992 Wellington "UFO update" by Felke de Bock,[32] "E-Meter" by Eric Geiringer,[33] "The Placebo Effect" by Bill Morris[34]
3–5 September 1993[35] Christchurch "Police Use of Psychics" by detective Ian Holyoake,[36] "Naturally Skeptical" by Margaret Mahy,[37] "Satanic Panics" by Michael Hill, "Maori Science" by Mike Dickison, "The Manna Machine" by Feike de Bock[30] Membership moves to over 300 persons.[30]
1994 unknown Dave Wilson, "Grand Interplanetary Hoax of 1952" by John Scott[38]
1995 Auckland "Active Skepticism" by Vicki Hyde,[9] "Pseudo-medicine" by John Scott[39]
1996 Hamilton Malcolm Carr,[40] Big Muffin Serious Band[41] Held at the Chanel Conference Centre[42]
1997 Vicki Hyde, "Political Correctness at the Supermarket" by Jay Mann,[43] Denis Dutton, Mike Bradstock, Alan Clarke, David Novitz, Debra Nation, George Balani[44]
1998 Wellington "Satan’s Excellent Adventure in the Antipodes" by Michael Hill,[45] "Can Sharks Save the Human Race?" by Paul Davis,[46] "Real Memories of False Facts" by Maryanne Garry[47] John Welch opened conference with "do-it-yourself acupuncture". Conference attendees over 140.[48]
1999 Auckland "Hedgehogs, Counselling and the End of the World" by Annette Taylor,[49] "The Danger of Absolute Safety" by Felicity Goodyear-Smith,[50] "The Global Messenger Hoax And The Misinformation Economy" by John Scott,[51] "Reading Cats’ Paws" by Ken Ring, "Philosophical Skepticism Based on the Work of David Hume" by James Allen "You Are Not Alone" Conference title[52] "From ERA to EAV, the Sorry Saga of the Black Box" by David Cole[53]
2000 Dunedin Ian Plimer, David Marks,[54] Bill Peddie, Barbara Benson, Warwick Don, "Kaikoura UFOs" by Bill Ireland, Richard Mullen[55] Theme Evolution, Creationism and Education[56]
21–23 September 2001 Hamilton Bernard Howard, "Gulf War Syndrome" by John Welch, Nick Kim, Mike Clear, Raymond Richards, Doug Edmeades[57] Held at the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls
13–15 September 2002 Christchurch "How To Stop a Witch-Hunt" by Lynley Hood[58] Held at St. Andrews College
19–21 September 2003 Wellington "Science and Environmental Policy – Challenges and Opportunities" by Bruce Taylor[59] Held at the Victoria University
10–12 September 2004 Christchurch "The Mesmerisation of the Media" by David Mcloughlin,[60] "Why are we crying into our beer?" by Owen McShane[61] Held at St. Andrews College
30 September – 2 October 2005 Rotorua "Skeptics and the environment" by Keith Garratt,[62] Raymond Bradley, "Maria Duval scam" by Martin Craig, Harry Pert, Kinsley Logan, John Petrie, Hamish Campbell[63] Held at the Millennium Centre, Rotorua Boys High School
29 September – 1 October 2006 Auckland Jonathan McKeown-Green, Te Radar, Grant Christie, Judith Goodyear[64] Held at King's College; 20th Anniversary Celebration
21–23 September 2007 Christchurch Michael Woolf, Geoff Diggs, Mark Orton[65] Held at St. Andrews College
26–28 September 2008 Hamilton Matthew Dentith, Nikos Petousis, Felicity Goodyear-Smith, Alison Campbell, Nathan Grange, Kamya Kameshwar, Zachary Gravatt, Martin Wallace, Glynn Owens, Vincent Gray, Lisa Matisso-Smith Held at Waikato Dioesan College[66]
25–27 September 2009 Wellington Bernard Beckett, Matthew Dentith, John Robinson Documentary Poisoning Paradise: Ecocide in New Zealand was shown and dissected by the Skeptics as a "political push to stop 1080 poisoning that isn’t based on sound scientific facts."[67]
13–15 August 2010 Auckland Mental magic by Wayne Rogers Firewalk on Friday the 13th, conference registration $60–80.
26–28 August 2011 Christchurch Mark Quigley, Kylie Sturgess, Michael Edmonds, Martin Bridgstock, Mark Ottley 150 in attendance[68]
31 August – 2 September 2012 Dunedin Michael Edmonds, Nick Barbalich, David Winter, Richard Walter, Ewan Fordyce, Andrew Scott, Colin Gavaghan, Jean Fleming, Mark Ottley, Dave Veart Held at Otago University[69][70]
6–8 September 2013 Wellington Kylie Sturgess, Siouxsie Wiles, Martin Manning, Matt McCrudden, Pamela Gay, Aimee Whitcroft, David Bulger, Elf Eldridge, Sue Nicholson, Vicki Hyde, Peter Griffin, Loretta Marron Keynote Pamela Gay[71][72] Free conference registration for anyone using psychic powers revealing contents of a sealed envelope.[14]
5–7 December 2014 Auckland George Hrab, Steven Novella, Rebecca Watson, Jay Novella, Bob Novella, Evan Bernstein, Helen Petousis-Harris, Steven Galbraith, Nicola Gaston, Michelle Dickinson, Toby Ricketts, Ben Albert, Ngaire McCarthy, Siouxsie Wiles, Vicki Hyde, Karen Toast Conger, Darcy Cowan, Mark Hanna Pricing $195–155, live recording of the SGU podcast. SGU quiz show on Friday night run by George Hrab.[73][74]
20–22 November 2015 Christchurch Siouxsie Wiles, Kim Socha, Mike Joy, Karl Haro von Mogel, Shaun Holt, Colin Gavaghan, Grant Jacobs, Douglas Campbell, Karen Healey, Vicki Hyde, The Nerd Degree podcast Called "Apocalypse How?"[75][76]
2–4 December 2016[77][27] Queenstown Richard Saunders, Loretta Marron, Susan Gerbic, Andrew Digby, Mark Hanna, Tania Lineham, Catherine Low, Mark Bryan, Scott Kennedy
24–26 November 2017 Wellington Cara Santa Maria, Joseph Bulbulia, Haritina Mogosanu, Tracey McDermott, Ken McLeod, Kevin Hague, Dr Alison Campbell, Dr Vanessa Jordan, Dr Jonathan Broadbent, Vinny Eastwood Theme – Get Thee To The Nunnery![78]
16–18 November 2018 Auckland Ian Bryce, Russell Brown, Professor Kathleen Campbell, Dr Gavin Ellis, Associate Professor Jennifer Frost, Dacia Herbulock, Dr. Daniel Hikuroa, Dr Justine Kingsbury, Dr Nick Kim, Kathleen Kuehn, Dr. Alex Taylor, Dr. Simon Connell Venue – Butterfly Creek[79]
30–1 November December, 2019 Christchurch The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, Steven Novella, Susan Gerbic, Cara Santa Maria, Professor David Wiltshire, Jacinta Cording, Professor Maree Hackett, Mark Edward Main venue – The Great Hall, in the Christchurch Arts Centre[80] and pre-conference gathering at a reputed haunted house[81]


A number of awards are presented at the annual conference dinner,[82] notably the 'Bravo Award' for "critical thinking in the public arena",[83] the 'Bent Spoon Award' for "the most gullible or naive reporting in the paranormal or pseudo-science area"[84][85] and the 'Skeptic of the Year Award' (created in 2014).[86] The name "Bent Spoon" is a reference to the psychic power claimed by Uri Geller.

Denis Dutton Skeptic of the Year Award[edit]

Denis Dutton 2010

A founder of New Zealand Skeptics, Denis Dutton was a "thought-provoking, good-humoured and inspirational critical thinker" who the group decided to honour with a yearly prize... "to the skeptic who has had the most impact within New Zealand skepticism. The award comes with a year’s free membership to NZ Skeptics and $100 prize money."[87] Other former recipients have included: Mark Hanna, Daniel Ryan, Siouxsie Wiles, Helen Petousis-Harris, Lance O’Sullivan, and Jessica Macfarlane.[88]

Denis Dutton Skeptic of the Year Award details
Year Recipient Reason
2014 Mark Hanna For tirelessly battling pseudoscience via the ASA, MedSafe and many other means, and for creating the Society for Science Based Healthcare.[87]
2015 Daniel Ryan For his work as President of Making Sense Fluoride, including giving a presentation to Hutt City Council – as well as his efforts helping to run the Society for Science Based Healthcare, NZ Skeptics and the Skeptical Activism group in Wellington[87]
2016 Siouxsie Wiles For her continued efforts to bring skepticism to the media. This year alone she's taken on MPs, anti-vaxxers and Mike Hosking, tackled topics such as e-cigarettes and the zika virus, and appeared in her regular radio slot "Skeptical Thoughts" with Graeme Hill on RadioLive.[87][89]
2017 Helen Petousis-Harris and Lance O’Sullivan For their courageous and highly visible contributions to the promotion of immunisation and vaccination in New Zealand.
2018 Jessica Macfarlane For her tireless efforts as editor of the NZ Skeptics quarterly journal
2019 No individual winner No individual winner
2022 David Farrier [90]

Bravo Award[edit]

New Zealand Skeptics recognises "media professionals and those with a high public profile who have provided food for thought, critical analysis and important information on topics of relevance to our interests."[91] According to co-founder Bernard Howard, the Bravo award was meant to be a "carrot" to journalists to reward and encourage good critical thinking in their reporting.[8]

Bravo Award details
Year Recipient Organisation Reason
1995 Kim Hill, Maryanne Ahern, Heather Church National Radio Kaimanawa Wall critical coverage
1995 Simon Collins City Voice 21 March 1995 article on the "Tabaash phenomenon", an investigation into a Wellington channeller
1995 David McLoughlin Christchurch Civic Creche case TV documentary
1995 Mark McNeill First Hand Productions TV documentary on false memory syndrome
1996 TVNZ Assignment For the shows The Doctor Who Cried Abuse and Ellis Through the Looking Glass
1996 Vincent Heeringa Metro Magazine Weird Science and Suppressed Inventions and other Discoveries
1996 Noel O'Hare New Zealand Listener For False Memory Syndrome
1997 Simon Sheppard The Sunday Star-Times Apocalypse Soon
1997 Jan Sinclair The Sunday Star-Times Loving the Aliens
1997 TVNZ's Fair Go Psychics who give "lucky lotto numbers"
1998 Nick Smith For working against psychics in the Olivia Hope and Ben Smart disappearance
1998 Angela Gregory Northern Advocate "0900 psychic hotlines"
1998 Noel O'Hare New Zealand Listener Health columnist
1998 Greenstone TV The Mighty Moa
1999 Roderick Mulgan Grace Wellness column in Grace
1999 Pamela Stirling New Zealand Listener Article on Quantum Booster and on Cellasene
1999 Brian Rudman The New Zealand Herald Article on quantum radio frequency booster
2000 Michelle Hollis consumer Article on how to assess medical claims
2000 New Zealand Association of Rationalists & Humanists For work with Ellen Greve "Jasmuheen"
2000 Kim Hill National Radio Interview of John Read
2000 Matt Philp New Zealand Listener God's Classroom
2001 Susan Wood Fiordland moose interview
2001 T.W. Walker Christchurch Press Gardening column
2001 Denise Tutaki Horowhenua-Kapiti Chronicle Calling 0900 Psychic… Okay, now tell me something I don’t know
2001 Pippa MacKay Commentaries on cancer remedies
2002 Lynley Hood A City Possessed: the Christchurch Civic Creche Case
2002 Noel O'Hare New Zealand Listener Health columns including Silent Spring Fever and Get your snake oil here
2002 Diana Wichtel A Monstrous, Lethal Arrogance
2002 Joe Bennett Press columns
2003 Alan Pickmere Alternative medicine claims in Northland
2003 Barry Colman Publication of transcripts from the Christchurch Civic Creche case
2005 Rose Hipkins Campbell Live, TV3 Comments regarding Intelligent Design
2005 Chris Barton Mannatech’s sugar-coated moneymaker
2005 Tim Watkins New Zealand Listener Star Power
2005 Jeremy Wells Eating Media Lunch Article psychic and medium business
2006 David Russell Consumer Institute Leadership in critical thinking
2006 Linley Boniface The Dominion Post Clairvoyants dead wrong
2007 Tristram Clayton 3 News Psych Addictive
2007 Annette King Attempt to provide standards and accountability via the Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill
2008 Kathryn Ryan Interviews with psychic Deb Webber and Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Levy
2008 Royal Society of New Zealand 2008 Big Science Adventure video competition
2008 Raybon Kan The Sunday Star-Times The column I see dud people
2009 Colin Peacock and Jeremy Rose Mediawatch on Radio New Zealand National "Every week Colin and Jeremy cast a critical eye on New Zealand media."[67]
2009 Rob Harley and Anna McKessar TV One Documentary The Worst That Could Happen[67]
2009 Hannah Ockelford Closeup Filtering the Truth[67]
2009 Rebecca Palmer The Dominion Post The Devil’s in the Details[67]
2010 Kate Newton The Dominion Post Item on Victoria University's embarrassment over the homeopathy course it was offering
2010 Jane Luscombe 3 News A informative look at the belief that amber teething necklaces leach a substance to help babies with pain and depression.
2010 Linley Boniface The Dominion Post Column Why psychics should butt out of the Aisling Symes case
2011 Jan Wright
2011 Philip Matthews Marlborough Express Article on 1080
2011 Janna Sherman Greymouth Star Sceptics revel in Hokitika ‘earthquake’ non-event
2012 Margo White New Zealand Listener Health columns
2012 Clive Solomon Whanganui District Health Board Supporting evidence-based medicine as the core focus for hospital care
2013 Shelley Bridgeman The New Zealand Herald Article Can we communicate with dead people?
2013 Darcy Cowan SciBlogs Getting the Immunisation Awareness Society status corrected within the Charities Register
2014 Graeme Hill Radio Live Challenging of pseudoscience on Radio Live
2014 Russel Norman Green Party
2014 TV One Breakfast Show TV One Coverage of the dangers of Miracle Mineral Solution.
2015 Ben Albert University of Auckland Excellent submission and submitting a letter to the Editor of the NZ Medical Journal
2015 Adam Smith Massey University Rebuttal in the Herald to TV3's emotional 3D programme on Gardasil
2015 Rosanna Price Stuff Skeptical angle on All Black, Waisake Naholo’s "miracle" natural cure
2015 Simon Mitchell University of Auckland Rebuttal of claims made in an NZ Herald article entitled: Hope is in the air: Hyperbaric chambers – the real deal or a placebo?
2016 Lachlan Forsyth Newshub Writing pro-vaccine articles and publicly taking on the anti-vaxxers[92]
2016 Jess Berentson-Shaw The Spinoff Skeptical parenting articles[92][93]
2016 Laura Walters Stuff Article on 2016 New Zealand earthquakes providing scientific explanation for origin.[92][94]
2016 Rachel Thomas Stuff Article debunking superfoods[92][95]
2016 Mark Hanna[96] & Mark Honeychurch NZ Skeptics Provided data to The New Zealand Medical Journal detailing scientific research into Chiropractic[92]
2017 Rob Stock Stuff For his article about money wasted on supplements
2017 Duncan Grieve NZ Herald for his article criticising "Sensing Murder"
2017 Simon Maude Stuff For his article discussing Naturopathy and cancer sufferers speaking out
2018 Elanor Black Stuff For the article: I tried a Shakti mat and it wasn’t relaxing for fun
2018 Sarah Lang North and South Magazine For the article: Breastfeeding: Why is it such a battle ground?
2018 James Mustapic Spinoff TV For the clip: Repressed Memories: Sensing Murder, the show that refuses to die
2018 Jacob McSweeny Whanganui Chronicle For the article: Whanganui woman says her $4000 water machine is a life-changer, but experts say otherwise
2018 David Farrier The Spinoff Special mention – The mystery of Zach, New Zealand’s all-too-miraculous medical AI
2019 Noel O’Hare North & South magazine For the article "Psychics like Jeanette Wilson are moving into the wellness industry and it’s dangerous"[97][98]
2019 Farah Hancock Newsroom For the article "Homeopathic treatment claims to ‘cure’ autism in NZ"[99][98]
2019 Tom O’Connor Stuff For the article "Snake oil claims allowed to go on too long"[100][98]
2022 Kate Hannah and Dr. Sanjana Hattotuwa of The Disinformation Project, Byron Clark, Marc Daalder, Stuff Circuit [90]

Bent Spoon Award[edit]

Spoon (21619616885).jpg

The Bent Spoon Award is "named in honour of Uri Geller".[42] Throughout the year, selections are considered for the Bent Spoon award. Ideas are sent to the officers whom gather and retain all ideas until the committee reviews candidates. Those considered "truly ridiculous", along with selections from outside New Zealand, are not usually considered. Typically, a dozen nominees are selected and voted on by the executive officers. The announcement is usually made in the few weeks leading into the annual conference in order to "help boost interest".[101] Candidates considered must be "important enough to deserve attention", people who "should know better", and be "wilfully misleading with intent to profit."[102] According to Chair-entityship Vicki Hyde in 1996, the group saw an increase in calls from the media which begin with '"We don’t want to get the Bent Spoon so we thought we’d better check with you guys…"' It is gratifying to note that such calls have increased over the past four years."[9]

Bent Spoon Award details
Year Recipient Reason
1992 Consumers' Institute Alternative medicine article
1993 Country Calendar Biodynamics as a serious pest control option
1994 TV3 Satanic Memories documentary
1995 Ministry of Justice Hitting Home report on domestic violence[101][102][103][104]
1996 New Zealand Qualifications Authority For seriously considering awarding a Bachelor of Science status for a course at Aoraki Polytech on naturopathy[42]
1997 Correspondence School Numerology lessons in maths class
1998 TV2 For misleading the public over the truthfulness of an alleged documentary on alien abductions
1999 Paul Holmes Coverage given to the Liam Williams-Holloway case
2000 Wellington Hospital Supporting healing hands therapy by its nurses
2001 TopShelf Production Hallelujah Healing documentary on faith-healing
2002 Jeanette Fitzsimons For supporting the concept of biodynamic's "etheralised Cosmic-Astral influences" as a means of ridding New Zealand of possums[105]
2003 Justice Minister Phil Goff For refusing to open the can of worms that is the Christchurch Civic Creche case (Goff was awarded the first-ever Bent Can Opener Award from the New Zealand Skeptics)
2004 20/20 For reporter Melanie Reid's 22 August segment "Back from the Dead" profiling Taranaki medium Jeanette Wilson
2005 Tertiary Education Commission For identifying homeopathic training as a nationally important strategic priority for New Zealand
2006 Diana Burns Come and Be Healed the article in the Listener on Brazilian medium and "miracle-worker" João de Deus
2007 TV3 news and Current Affairs and Carol Hirschfeld For her 31 August interview with self-proclaimed energy healer and clairvoyant Simone Simmons, who claims to be visited regularly by the spirit of Diana, 10 years after the death of the Princess of Wales.
2008 Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Levy For promoting psychics as "just another tool" in the investigative policing toolbox, helping the "exploitainment" show Sensing Murder
2009 Clyde and Steve Graf For their documentary Poisoning Paradise – Ecocide in New Zealand which claims that 1080 kills large numbers of native birds, poisons soils, persists in water and interferes with human hormones.
2010 Rural Women New Zealand and Fonterra For supporting homeopathic practices on the farm, thereby indicating an ignorance of basic science and a lack of concern for animal welfare.
2011 Gullible media outlets and personalities For taking Ken Ring's earthquake prediction claims at face value
2012 Consumer magazine For continuing to promote homeopathic products as a viable alternative to evidence-based medical treatments
2013 Hamilton City Council For ignoring the evidence of the public health value of fluoridation
2014 Steffan Browning For signing a petition that called on the World Health Organisation to "End the suffering of the Ebola crisis, by testing and distributing homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks."
2015 Pharmacy Council For suggesting, when faced with the fact that pharmacists were not complying with their Code of Ethics, that a viable solution was to change their Code of Ethics
2016 The New Zealand Herald For publishing a variety of pseudoscience articles presented as fact without refutation[106]
2017 New Zealand Veterinary Association For their attempt to balance the need for evidence-based treatments for animals with the desire of veterinarians to sell unproven therapies
2018 TVNZ – Seven Sharp & Hilary Barry For coverage of a story about health fears from mobile phone towers. The story featured a woman who has built a wall to keep out radiation after two mobile phone towers were built near her home. After the segment Hilary Barry expressed her opinion that she "wouldn’t want to live beside two" phone towers and that she "would be tempted to build a wall like Marta has".[107]
2019 Wellington City Council and contractor Downer Group For showing the most egregious gullibility in 2019 for the contractor's use of water divining to find underground pipes[108]
2021 Simon Thornley "For stand[ing] out as an academic who has opposed NZ’s approach to dealing with COVID."[109]
2022 Sean Plunket [90]

Photo gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Our History". NZ Skeptics. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Society Status". NZ Skeptics. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Officers and Committee". NZ Skeptics. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  4. ^ "NZ Skeptics". NZ Skeptics. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  5. ^ "The changing of the guard". NZ Skeptics. 1 November 2010. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "History". NZ Skeptics Incorporated. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Saunders, Richard (15 March 2015). "The Skeptic Zone #334". The Skeptic Zone. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  8. ^ a b c Howard, Bernard (31 January 1999). "Ah Yes! I Remember It Well". NZ Skeptics. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  9. ^ a b c Hyde, Vicki (31 January 1996). "Active Skepticism". NZ Skeptics. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Plea for pharmacists to ditch stock". 30 January 2010.
  11. ^ "Liverpool anti-homeopathy campaigners stage protest". BBC News. 30 January 2010.
  12. ^ "Mass "overdose" in Leicester city centre". Leicester Mercury. 30 January 2010.
  13. ^ "The first New Zealand Skepticamp". New Zealand Skeptics. YouTube. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  14. ^ a b c "In the News". NZ Skeptics. Archived from the original on 30 December 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  15. ^ a b c Susan Nicholson’s talk at the 2013 NZ Skeptics Conference. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  16. ^ Griffin, Peter. "A psychic faces a room of skeptics". Sciblogs. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  17. ^ "NZ Skeptics Communicating... with the Other Side". NZ Skeptics. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  18. ^ Parkin, Rachel. "TV psychic tries to convince sceptics". Newshub. 3 News. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  19. ^ Lawrence, Meghan (20 September 2018). "Family rejects psychic's disturbing premonition about missing Northland woman Theres'a Urlich". New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 22 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  20. ^ "The Psychic Medium". Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  21. ^ Warwick, Don (31 July 2006). "The first 21 years". NZ Skeptics. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  22. ^ "BF238C" (PDF). Dunedin Registry. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
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