Pigasus Award

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Pigasus Award
Pigasus Award
Awarded forParanormal fraud
CountryUnited States
Presented byJames Randi
First awarded1982

The Pigasus Award is the name of an annual tongue-in-cheek award that was presented by noted skeptic James Randi. The award seeks to expose parapsychological, paranormal or psychic frauds that Randi had noted over the previous year.[1] Randi usually made his announcements of the awards from the previous year on April 1 (April Fools' Day).


The award was originally called the Uri trophy, after Uri Geller, and was first announced in the appendix of Randi's book Flim-Flam!. The 1982 edition lists the award's "recipients" in 1979, 1980 and 1981.

In Flim-Flam!, Randi states:

The trophy consists of a stainless-steel spoon bent in a pleasing curve (paranormally, of course) and supported by a base of plastic. Please note that the base is flimsy and quite transparent. I am personally responsible for the nomination of the candidates. The sealed envelopes are read by me, while blindfolded, at the official announcement ceremony on April 1. Any baseless claims are rationalized in approved parapsychological fashion, and the results will be published immediately without being checked in any way. Winners are notified telepathically and are allowed to predict their victory in advance.

— (Randi 1982, pp. 327f)

The bent spoon trophy is a reference to Geller's claimed spoon-bending abilities.

The logo of a winged pig was designed for Randi's website by German artist Jutta Degener in 1996.[2] The name "Pigasus" was chosen by Randi from suggestions e-mailed to him.[3] The term is a portmanteau pun combining the word pig with the mythological Pegasus, a reference to the expression "when pigs fly".

Randi did not present any Uri Award for a number of years after its inception in Flim-Flam!, but in 1997, it was revived and the name was changed to "Pigasus" after the winged pig. Randi announced the recipients through his e-newsletter SWIFT! in which he said: "The awards are announced via telepathy, the winners are allowed to predict their winning, and the Flying Pig trophies are sent via psychokinesis. We send; if they don't receive, that's probably due to their lack of paranormal talent."[4]

The Pigasus Awards have not been presented every year. There was no mention of recipients for 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2002.


Flim-Flam! specifies that the winner of the Pigasus Award falls in one of four possible categories:

  1. The scientist who said or did the silliest thing relating to parapsychology in the preceding twelve months.
  2. The funding organization that supports the most useless parapsychological study during the year.
  3. The media outlet that reported as fact the most outrageous paranormal claim.
  4. The "psychic" performer who fools the greatest number of people with the least effort in that twelve-month period.

(Randi 1982, p. 327)

The 2003 Pigasus awards featured only categories 1 and 4.[4] The 2005 awards added a fifth category "for the most persistent refusal to face reality".[5]


Category 1 – Scientist[edit]

  • 1979 – Professor William A. Tiller, who said that although the evidence for psychic events was very shaky and originates with persons of doubtful credibility, it should be taken seriously because there is so much of it.
  • 1980 – Isaac Bashevis Singer, for declaring a belief in demons.
  • 1981 – Charles Tart, for discovering that the further in the future events are, the more difficult it is to predict them.
  • 1996 – Scientist/physicist Ed May, who headed the CIA "remote viewing" project.[6]
  • 1999 – The Kansas State Board of Education for removing the teaching of evolution from the state's educational agenda.
  • 2001 – University of Arizona Psychology professor Gary Schwartz for studies in parapsychology.
  • 2003 – South African Minister of Health Manto Tshabala-Msimang for endorsing alternative medicine for treating AIDS.
  • 2004 – Rogerio Lobo, professor/chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University who co-signed a paper titled Does Prayer Influence the Success of in Vitro Fertilization-Embryo Transfer?[7]
  • 2005 – Brenda Dunne, Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab manager, for the doublespeak of promoting studies whose "experimental results display increases in information content that can only be attributed to the influence of the consciousness of the human operator", while simultaneously insisting that PEAR is "not in the business of demonstrating 'paranormal' abilities".
  • 2006 – Biologist Rupert Sheldrake for research funded by Trinity College, Cambridge on his theory of "telephone telepathy", supposed precognition experienced by the recipients of telephone calls and e-mails,[8] (i.e. knowing who is calling before picking up the phone or viewing the caller ID.)
  • 2007 – Intelligent Design promoter and professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University Michael Behe for his book The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism.
  • 2008 – Colin A. Ross, for claiming that he can shoot electromagnetic radiation from his eyes.[9]
  • 2009 – Mehmet Oz, for his promotion of energy therapies such as Reiki.
  • 2010 – NASA Engineer Richard B. Hoover and the Journal of Cosmology; Hoover for claiming unfounded evidence for microscopic life found on meteorites and the Journal of Cosmology for publishing articles advancing the scientifically unsupported idea that life began before the first stars formed and was spread throughout the early universe on meteors.[10][11][12]
  • 2011 – Daryl Bem, for his shoddy research that has been discredited on many accounts by prominent critics, such as Drs. Richard Wiseman, Steven Novella, and Chris French.[13]
  • 2013 – Stanislaw Burzynski, for "[selling] expensive cancer cures by administering ‘antineoplastons’, costing his customers tens of thousands of dollars, and which have never been shown to be efficacious in controlled trials."[14]

Category 2 – Funding[edit]

Category 3 – Media[edit]

Category 4 – Performer[edit]

Category 5 – Refusal to face reality[edit]

  • 2005 – Journal of Reproductive Medicine, for refusal to denounce the now-discredited Cha/Wirth paper, Does Prayer Influence the Success of in Vitro Fertilization-Embryo Transfer, that JRM published. (Paper co-signer Rogerio Lobo won the 2004 Pigasus Scientist award.)
  • 2008 – Kevin Trudeau[9]
  • 2009 – Scientologists
  • 2010 – Andrew Wakefield, the researcher who launched the modern anti-vaccine panic with unfounded statements linking the MMR vaccine with autism that were not borne out by any research.[10][11][12][17][18]
  • 2011 – James Van Praagh, who pushes theories about ghosts despite being debunked by Randi several times.[13]
  • 2012 – Mehmet Oz, for his continued promotion of quack medical practices, paranormal belief, and pseudoscience.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pigasus Awards". Randi.org. 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  2. ^ The Randi Hotline – 1996: Contest time!
  3. ^ The Randi Hotline – 1996: The Name of the Pig
  4. ^ a b The 2003 Pigasus Awards
  5. ^ James Randi's Swift – March 31, 2006
  6. ^ a b c d James, Randi (April 1, 1996). "The Pigasus Awards: 1 April 1997". James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
  7. ^ Flamm, Bruce (Sep 2004). "The Columbia University 'Miracle' Study: Flawed and Fraud". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d James, Randi (April 1, 2007). "The 11th Annual Pigasus Awards: Awarded April 1, 2007". James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
  9. ^ a b c d e Van Bockstaele, Bart B. (5 April 2009). "The 2008 Pigasus Awards have been announced". DigitalJournal. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d e Mestel, Rosie (April 1, 2011). "Dr. Oz, Andrew Wakefield and others, um, 'honored' by James Randi". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  11. ^ a b c d Moye, David (1 April 2011). "Skeptic Mocks NASA Researcher With 'Flying Pig Award' for Finding Life on Meteorites". AOLnews. Archived from the original on 2 June 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  12. ^ a b Plait, Phil. "2011 JREF Pigasus awards". Discover Magazine. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  13. ^ a b c d e "2012 Pigasus Awards Announcement". YouTube. 30 March 2012. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  14. ^ a b c d e D.J. Grothe. "JREF's Pigasus Awards "Honors" Dubious Peddlers of "Woo" (VIDEO)". Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  15. ^ Davis, Eric (2003-11-25). "Teleportation Physics Study" (PDF). fas.org. Federation of American scientists. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-06-28. Retrieved 2022-09-19. This study was tasked with the purpose of collecting information describing the teleportation of material objects, providing a description of teleportation as it occurs in physics, its theoretical and experimental status, and a projection of potential applications.
  16. ^ Fisher, David (15 May 2005). "$2500 grant helps to talk to the dead". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  17. ^ a b c d Barrett, Stephen. "Consumer Health Digest #11-07". National Council Against Health Fraud. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  18. ^ a b Perry, Susan (4 April 2011). "Andrew Wakefield, Dr. Oz, others given 'awards' for promoting medical nonsense". MinnPost. Archived from the original on 19 June 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011.

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