Updated January 4th, 2013
by Dave Thomas : nmsrdaveATswcp.com (Help fight SPAM! Please replace the AT with an @ )
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2012
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2011
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2010
o The "Reverse Climategate" Award goes to John Mashey, who showed that the report Congress requested on global warming from statistician Edward Wegman was plagiarized from the very climate scientists the report criticized.
o The "Better Late than Never" Award goes to the medical journal the Lancet,, for finally retracting the flawed 1998 study which launched the "Vaccines Cause Autism" scare.
o The "Ludicrous Litigation" Award goes to Ohio teacher John Freshwater, who was terminated by the school board for preaching, teaching Creationism, bashing Catholics, and using a Tesla coil to etch crosses on students' arms. Freshwater was represented by his attorney R. Kelly Hamilton, whose incomprehensible filings did little to help the teacher. He ended up paying almost half a million dollars to one student's family and lawyers, and dropped his lawsuit against the school board after seeing the board's requests for discovery.
o The "The Truth will Set You Free" Award goes to top "Intelligent Design" theorist William Dembski, who finally admitted that "I'm an old-earth creationist" in an article about his recent book The End of Christianity. In that book, Dembski stated "Noah’s flood, though presented as a global event, is probably best understood as historically rooted in a local event." This caused a lot of heartburn for his employer, the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and soon Dembski was eating crow, pronouncing that "As a biblical inerrantist, I believe that what the Bible teaches is true and bow to the text, including its teaching about the Flood and its universality." So much for "following the evidence wherever it leads!"
o The "Innovative Language" Award goes to Sandia labs physicist Mark Boslough, who coined the term "ClusterPuck" to describe how pseudoscientists such as climate change deniers attack mainstream science: by ignoring the rules of the game, and unleashing volleys of flawed arguments again and again. In a real hockey game, only one puck is played at a time. But deniers don't actually have to score any goals, they need only disrupt the game by sewing confusion and manufactured controversies.
o The "Way to Spin That Experiment" Award goes to Jesse Ventura, former wrestler and governor of Minnesota. When Ventura hired New Mexico Tech to do thermite tests on steel beams for Ventura's 9-11 episode of "Conspiracy Theory" on TruTV, the actual test results (complete failure of thermitic beam-cutting) were left on the cutting room floor. Instead, Ventura simply showed video of the thermite test, then asked his team members "Anyone got any doubts?" This gave the desired impression that the tests had been successful.
o The "Execution of Creationists?" Award goes to Oklahoma's Durant Daily Democrat newspaper, et panel cleared a wide range of bills Wednesday, allowing measures on the death penalty for child rapists and teaching the Bible in public high schools.
o The "Demand Better Evidence" Award goes to Pope Benedict XVI, who said in May that the Shroud of Turin relic "should be seen as a photographic document of the 'darkest mystery of faith' - that of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. ..."
o The "Consistency is a Hobgoblin" Award goes to resigned Rep. Mark Souder, who starred in the anti-evolution movie Expelled, and often remarked on how evolution destroys morality. Reason for resignation last May: an adulterous sex scandal.
o The "What if they had a Debate, and No One Came?" Award goes to Richard Gage and Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth, for the September 9th "mock debate" which was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. While not one skeptic of "Truth Movement" claims agreed to participate in the media circus, clips of their statements were played anyway, which the "9/11 Truth" team then "debated."
o The "Satire Has Its Place" Award goes to Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. Not only did Stewart needle 9/11 Truthers in the run up to the October 30th "Rally to Restore Sanity" in Washington, D.C., but Stewart's dedicated Comedy Channel reporting on the failure of Congress to act on the 9/11 First Responders' Bill was crucial to getting the bill passed in the last days of the legislative session.
o The "We Didn't Mean to Make a Death Ray" Award goes to Las Vegas Vdara hotel. One facade of the hotel is a concave curved surface, bearing hundreds of highly-reflective window coatings, and faces the sun during the day. Guests became concerned when their scalps began tingling, and their personal effects began melting and smoldering while poolside.
o The "Voters can Exercise Peer Review Too" Award goes to Art Robinson, who lost his bid for a congressional seat in Oregon. Robinson, whose fudged data has endeared him to climate change deniers, was being picked apart in scientific sessions at the Geological Society of America's conference even as the election was held on Nov. 2nd, 2010. Robinson also demonstrated his confusion about the speed of light and how it affects remote feeds during a pre-election interview on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.
o The "Reason Prevails" Award goes to Denver, Colorado, which strongly rejected a ballot initiative that called for the city to create the globe's first government-sponsored commission for investigation of extraterrestrial matters.
o The "Editors Always Trump Scientific Consensus" Award goes to FOX TV. A leaked memo on December 16th showed that FOX managing editor Bill Sammon told all FOX journalists "never to report on global warming without IMMEDIATELY questioning the prevailing scientific consensus." The leaked memo was written on December 8, 2009, just after Fox White House correspondent Wendell Goler reported on-air that 2000-2009 was the warmest decade on record, and that the scientific consensus for human impact on climate change was strong.
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2009
o The "Frivolous Lawsuit Award" Award goes to American Freedom Alliance, which is suing the California Science Center for canceling a contract to show the creationist film 'Darwin's Dilemma.' The AFA expects this to be the biggest trial since Dover 2005. It won't be.
o The "Still Clueless After All These Years" Award goes to self-anointed 'psychic' Sylvia Browne, who toured Albuquerque recently with Montel Williams.
o The "Heights of Hypocrisy" Award goes to Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, whose ministry just gave out thousands of copies of Darwin's 'Origin of Species' on college campuses. The trick: lacing the free books with creationist canards and an altar call. The hypocrisy: stealing the introduction nearly verbatim from Tennessee biologist Stan Guffey. What's that 8th commandment again?
o The "Only a Coincidence" Award goes to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed a bill with a letter having this curious property: the first letter of each line spells out F___YOU. Odds of this happening by chance: one in 500 billion.
o The "Putting the FUN Back Into Fundamentalism" Award goes to Pat Robertson and the CBN Website, which on Oct. 29th warned its readers of the 'real threat we face this season: Demons may be lurking in our Halloween candy.'
o The "Super Sneaky Sleuthing" Award goes to Ben Radford, of the Skeptical Inquirer, who explained both the mystery of the Kimo Ghost and the 'best police psychic case of all time,' involving the underwhelming predictions of Nancy Weber.
o The "Shroud Gets Competition" Award goes to 2009, which saw both a duplication of the creation of a shroud like the famous one at Turin (and most likely medieval in age), and also the discovery of a genuine shroud from the time when Jesus was supposed to have lived. The latter didn't have any exotic images, but did carry some leprosy germs.
o The "Over the Top" Award goes to Media, which over-reacted to news of fascinating fossils of an early primate (Darwinius masillae) and an ancient hominid (Ardipithecus ramidus) with spin like this (courtesy Sky News): 'Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilized skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution … the 'eighth wonder of the world' … this transitional species finally confirms Charles Darwin's theory of evolution...'
o The "Train Wreck in Progress" Award goes to Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who signed a pro-'Intelligent Design' bill into law last year. This year, it was announced that complaints about creationist course material now allowed in schools by the law will be handled by the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), a conservative religious group that promotes the 'traditional family' and 'biblical principles.'
o The "Jindal Versus the Volcano" Award ALSO goes to Bobby Jindal. During the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address, Jindal complained about wasteful spending, citing '$140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.' Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.' Silly Jindal – there are no volcanoes in Louisiana! His state would save much more by not monitoring hurricanes.
o The "At Least It's Not Astrology" Award goes to Miyuki Hatoyama, the wife of Japan's new premier (Yukio Hatoyama). Miyuki wrote in a book published last year "While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus."
o The "Hang In There" Award goes to Christina Comer, the fired Texas science educator who dared mention a talk critical of intelligent design to colleagues. Comer has appealed her case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
o The "Beer is the Staff of the Universe" Award goes to Dr. Andrew Walsh, a Queensland astrochemist who searches for molecules and chemicals in space. He says he has found seven of twelve 'essential beer constituents' out there.
o The "Expelled Again!" Award goes to Ben Stein, [Schadenfreude] who was sacked by the New York Times for endorsing a sleazy 'free credit score' bait-and-switch operation. [/Schadenfreude]
o The "Perpetual 'Something' - But It Aint 'Motion'" Award goes to Dennis Lee, whose “hydrogen assist fuel cell” was demonstrated to be worthless by Dateline NBC, with the help of skeptical engineer Eric Krieg. Now the FTC is after him. Perhaps the Past is finally catching up to Lee, of 'FREE ELECTRICITY' fame?
o The "SB433, We Hardly Knew Ye" Award goes to NM state senator Kent Cravens,, who sponsored a creationist bill regarding "USE OF SCIENCE IN TEACHING BIOLOGICAL ORIGINS." It never even get out of committee before the 60-day session ended.
o The "Even Higher Heights of Hypocrisy" Award goes to Dennis Balthaser, the Roswell UFOlogist who decided to attack NMSR's Dave Thomas for not checking his facts. However, his attack was based on an unattributed article in a minor Internet newsletter, that had originally been written by Robert T. Carroll for the Skeptic's Dictionary. Thomas didn't remember writing what Balthaser attacked, but found Carroll easily after Googling a few phrases. Crack investigator, that UFO guy (not).
o The "Innovative Way to Propel Your State Into the Nineteenth Century" Award goes to Oklahoma's Rep. Todd Thomsen, R-Ada, who put forward to the House of Representatives a bill that '...strongly opposes the invitation to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published statements on the theory of evolution and opinion about those who do not believe in the theory are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma.'
o The "With Friends Like These, Who Needs Creationists?" Award goes to The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which placed several billboards up in Albuquerque this fall. While most of the billboards present pro-free-thought messages well, the one blaring "Praise Darwin -- Evolve Beyond Belief" makes the same mistake creationists do - demanding people choose between religion or science. Will creationists cite such ads as evidence that evolution is Atheism? You betcha!
o Finally, the "What an Anniversary!" Award goes to both Galileo and Charles Darwin. The former celebrated the 400th year of his advancement of the telescope, while the latter celebrated both the 200th anniversary of his birth, and the 150th year after publication of his 'Origin of Species.' Their work is still well worth recognizing.
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2008
o The "No $$$ for Indoctrination" Award goes to Ken Ham(director of Answers in Genesis/ Creation Museum), who protested the '$2.1 million grant to even further indoctrinate the 5 million visitors a year at the Grand Canyon.' The problem? An "interpretive walking timeline trail that focuses on Grand Canyon vistas and rocks is being created with the help of scientists at the University of New Mexico, the National Park Service and a $2.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation." Ham's reaction? "The evolutionary establishment are certainly worried—just makes me more zealous than ever to expand the Creation Museum and disseminate creation/gospel/worldview information more widely than ever."
o The "Worst. Movie. Evah." Award goes to Expelled(subtitled 'No Intelligence Allowed'), which featured Ben Stein droning on and on about the supposed persecution of "Intelligent Design" scientists, while blaming Hitler and the Holocaust on Darwin and evolution. Discussion about the movie "went viral" on the Internet, when biologist P.Z. Myers was ironically expelled from a showing he had signed up for. The producers should also have expelled Myers' co-attendee, Richard Dawkins, but didn't recognize him. Both Myers and Dawkins were featured at length in the film.
o The "Any Day Now" Award goes to Dennis Lee(long-time "Free Electricity" promoter), who took out a full-page in Newsweek to pitch the "PICC" (Pre-ignition catalytic converter). Lee said the gadget was shown to provide 200 mpg in his "Research Facility." Outside of Lee's "Lab," however, the device is as elusive as Elvis. The search for a working model, or even a satisfied customer, goes on.
o The "What's In A Name?" Award goes to Dr. Spencer Lucas(NM Museum of Natural History and Science), who played a key role in the "Aetogate" controversy (regarding naming rights for an ancient alligator-like creature in northern New Mexico). Ultimately, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology decided there wasn't enough evidence to prove the allegations, but harshly criticized the state's Department of Cultural Affairs for botching their investigation.
o The "Family Values My A--" Award goes to Kevin Jackson(former mayor of Rio Rancho, NM, and onetime leader of a NM creationist group, NMFC), who was forced to resign in a financial scandal. It turned out that Jackson, whose group preaches about the sanctity of marriage, actually abandoned his first family in Texas in the 90's, getting a new one for his stint in New Mexico.
o The "Can't We All Just Get Along?" Award goes to Creation Science Association for Mid-America president Tom Williswho asked in his newsletter "Should Evolutionists Be Allowed to Vote?" (The answer, obviously, was "NO!")
o The "Hop on the Bandwagon to the 19th Century" Award goes to Gov. Bobby Jindal(Louisiana), who signed the "The Louisiana Academic Freedom Act." The act ensures that science teachers and students have the "academic freedom" to discuss creationism in science classes.
o The "It Was Just a Joke" Award goes to Rick Dyer and Matthew Whittonwho used a Sasquatch costume to stage a "Bigfoot Corpse" hoax in Georgia. After Whitton told Atlanta reporters that the entire affair was a "joke that got out of hand," he was fired from his job as a police officer. His boss cited the need for police "credibility and honor" as reasons for the termination.
o The "Just Say NO (to Creationism)" Award goes to the Vaticanwhich decided to exclude "proponents of creationism and intelligent design" from its upcoming 2009 conference on evolution and religion. In other news, the Vatican announced that there was no conflict between the idea of God and the presence of advanced, intelligent extra-terrestrials.
o The "Alley OOPS" Award goes to Gov. Sarah Palin(Alaska), John McCain's veep candidate. Stephen Braun, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer observed on Sept. 28th that "Soon after Sarah Palin was elected mayor of the foothill town of Wasilla, Alaska, she startled a local music teacher by insisting in casual conversation that men and dinosaurs coexisted on an Earth created 6,000 years ago -- about 65 million years after scientists say most dinosaurs became extinct -- the teacher said. ..."
o The "Ghost is (Not) in the Details" Award goes to Ben Radford and Mike Smith(Albuquerque area skeptics), who investigated the strange case of the KiMo Ghost. The story, involving KiMo theatre crewmembers leaving treats for the ghost of a young boy killed at the theatre in the 50's, featured tales of performances ruined by the miffed ghost after management stopped the "treats." On digging in to the actual history, however, Radford and Smith found that the "ruined performance" never even happened.
o The "That's no Crucifix – It's an X" Award goes to John Freshwater(Ohio science teacher), who interspersed lessons on creationism with "demonstrations" involving etching crosses on students' arms. What did the students learn? When the sister of one of Freshwater's pupils asked her brother how old a rock she'd found was, he shared his science lessons with her: "Science can't be trusted. Science can't teach us anything."
o The "Barnum & Bailey Three Rings" Award goes to The State of Texas(currently in the process of adoption of new science standards in schools), which "balanced" three mainstream scientists on a standards review committee with three advocates of "Intelligent Design Creationism."
o The "Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out" Award goes to Leonard Lee Rawson and Steve Komadina(former senators in the New Mexico legislature), who lost their seats in close races in the Nov. 4th election. Rawson once waved a stuffed monkey in the Roundhouse, saying "This isn't my uncle." Komadina sponsored an ill-fated anti-evolution bill in the 2007 NM session.
o The "How to Debate a Creationist" Award goes to Russell Humphreys(a physicist, formerly at Sandia, known worldwide for his writings on young-earth creation and a 6,000-year old planet), who was scheduled to debate the Age of the Earth with Dave Thomas on Dec. 7th in Albuquerque, NM. Humphreys canceled the debate, saying he needed to sell his house and move to Georgia. That reminds me, which came first - the chicken, or the egg?
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2007
o The "If It Sounds True, It IS" Award goes to PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility), who at the very end of 2006 reported that "Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees." Although this claim was quickly debunked by several sources, including Michael Shermer, it was never corrected by PEER, and went on to be memorialized in a Doonesbury cartoon strip. (January)
o The "Psychics – What Are They Good For? Absolutely Nothin'!" Award goes to Sylvia Browne and James Van Praagh, both of whom, back in 2003, told the anguished parents of kidnapping victim Shawn Hornbeck that their son was dead. Shawn was rescued, very much alive, in early 2007, after being imprisoned for four years. (January)
o The " 'Academic Freedom' is the New Creationism" Award goes to New Mexico State Sen. Steve Komadina and State Rep. 'Dub' Williams, for their sponsorship of the latest pro-"Intelligent Design" (ID) bills in the NM Legislature. Williams gracefully tabled the bill after stiff opposition from the science and educational communities. (Spring 2007)
o The "Welcome Back from the 19th Century" Award goes to Kansas, which finally restored evolution science to state school standards. (February)
o The "Thanks, Chaps, for Helping the US Not To Look TOO Ridiculous" Award goes to Canadian and British Defence Ministers. The Brit official was found to have hired psychics to find Osama Bin Laden, while the Canadian minister called on governments worldwide to reverse-engineer the Roswell alien ship in an effort to stem global warming. (February)
o The "Stealthier than the Cheshire Cat" Award goes to the New Mexico Science Foundation, whose glossy Einstein-laced website appeared science friendly at first take, but which turned out to be the usual garbage, created in a curious group effort by both young-earth and ID creationists. (February)
o The "Putting Limbo In Limbo" Award goes to the Vatican, which released a report "reversing limbo's basic tenet that unbaptized babies who die may not go to heaven". (April)
o The "Character DOES Count" Award goes to Kevin Jackson, whose group formerly sent creationist textbooks to New Mexico's science teachers. Jackson was forced to resign as mayor of Rio Rancho after an extensive series of still-unresolved financial scandals. The "CDC" Award also goes to Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Louisiana Senator David Vitter, whose pro-creationism stances were overshadowed by various scandals.
o The "What If They Gave a Museum, and Nothing Was Real" Award goes to Ken Kam and Answers in Genesis, for opening a multi-million dollar "museum" that shows dinosaurs living happily in Eden with Adam and Eve. (May)
o The "Who Ya Gonna Call? Ghost Busters!" Award goes to Ben Radford of the Skeptical Inquirer, who reproduced a strange-looking ghostly apparition appearing on a Santa Fe court's parking lot security video by releasing lady bugs in front of the same camera under similar conditions (time, angle of sun, etc.). (June)
o The "Religion Means Forgiveness" Award goes to the Discovery Institute, whose spokesman Robert Crowther dismissed death threats alleged to have been made by staunch creationist Michael Korn against Colorado University-Boulder biologists as not due to "creationists, or even very religious people."" (July). The Award also goes to Pastor Wiley Drake of Buena Park, CA, for calling for "Imprecatory Prayer" to bring God's Wrath down upon Americans United for Separation of Church and State (August), and to English backpacker Alexander C. York, sentenced to five years in Australian prison for the murder of Scotsman camper Rudi Boa there, following an argument in which Boa criticized creationism. (December)
o The "Focus on Your OWN Family" Award goes to James Dobson's Colorado ministry Focus on the Family, which condemned criticism of the Kentucky creation "Museum" in May, and denounced the "Harry Potter" books as un-Christian in July. In a reversal of traditional ID doctrine, however, "Focus" managed to get top ID theorist William Dembski to admit that "The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God." (December)
o The "Masters of (Creation) Science Education" Award goes to the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), whose move to Texas was part of a plan to win Texas accreditation for a creation-based MS in Science Education degree. (December)
o The "So What If It's Pseudoscience – Let's Just Be 'Neutral' " Award goes to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), which fired science expert Christina Comer for simply FYI-ing colleagues about a talk on ID creationism by Louisiana philosophy professor Dr. Barbara Forrest. (November)
o The "Remind Me To Avoid Nepal Air" Award goes to Nepal's state-run airline, which "sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft."
o The "Self-Made Martyrs" Award goes to Ben Stein and the "EXPELLED" movie. The movie's website lashes out at scientists who "unfairly persecute" ID academics with a video showing Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins and Genie Scott flashing their undies while dancing the Can-Can. The film's producers conned scientists into being filmed by disguising the name and intent of their movie. However, both Stein and television pundit Bill O'Reilly forgot about the "ID is NOT Creationism" memo on Oct. 22nd, when O'Reilly asked Stein " ... do you think thought that people who believe in creationism are being persecuted in America?" Stein answered "There's no doubt about it. We have lots and lots of evidence of it in the movie. ..." (October)
o The "Just Say NO to ID" Award goes to The Rio Rancho, NM School Board, which rescinded a confusing policy passed two years ago to promote discussions of Intelligent Design in science classes. (December)
o The "Caught Plagiarizing the Cookie Jar" Award goes to William Dembski, who denied making illegal use of a Harvard University video on molecular motions in a cell, only to be caught out referring to Harvard's work in the new ID book "Design of Life." (November/December)
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2006
o The "Just Keeps Going" Award goes to Martin Fleischmann, the once-famous "Cold Fusion" pioneer, who is now acting as "senior scientific adviser" for D2Fusion, a company claiming to be working on cold fusion-powered home heaters (March 24th).
o The "You Dodged a Bullet" Award goes to the Rio Rancho School Board, which amended its Intelligent-Design friendly "Science Policy 401," removing creationist-inspired language, and leaving what already exists in state standards (April 10th).
o The "Better Late than Never" Award goes to John Humphreys, a British sculptor who once made props for the Dr. Who and Max Headroom television programs, for confessing to creating the models used in the nfamous "Alien Autopsy" film (April 16th).
o The "Now THAT'S Convoluted!" Award goes to the Canadian Hockey League, for making a set of playoff rules so arcane and elaborate that the Daily Reporter Herald (Colorado) compared the CHL actions to the times "when Taco Bell announced it had purchased the naming rights to the Liberty Bell on April 1, 1996, or when an April 1998 newsletter of New Mexicans for Science and Reason announced the Alabama legislature had changed the value of Pi to the 'Biblical value' of 3.0. ..." (June 10th).
o The "Coolest Connection Between Ancient Egypt and Outer Space" Award goes to physicist Mark Boslough, who appeared on a National Geographic television show to explain that a piece of exotic glass found in one of boy pharoah Tutankahmen's necklaces was most likely formed 29 million years ago, when a large meteor disintegrated above the Libyan desert, melting sand into glass without leaving a telltale crater (July/Sept.).
o The "National Lab for Hire" Award goes to Sandia National Labs, for letting a parade of young-earth creationists promote their pseudoscience and hawk their books in the Steven Schiff Auditorium (Feb., March, Sept.).
o The "Thanks for Saving Us from Being Total Losers" Award goes to Turkey, the only nation with less acceptance of evolution and more belief in creationism than the Unuted States (Aug. 10th).
o The "So, How Do You Explain THAT to the Conspiracy Nuts?" Award goes to NASA, which announced that it had somehow lost the original tape of the first landing on the moon (Aug. 14th).
o The "Can I still Orbit as an Independent Candidate?" Award goes to Pluto, the former planet recently down-graded by the International Astronomical Union (Aug. 25th).
o The "Scientists of America - Unite!" Award goes to Scientists and Engineers for America (Sefora.org), which opposes governmental adoption of unscientific views for ideological reasons (Sept. 28th).
o The "You can Stop Freaking Us Out Any Time Now" Award goes to The Bush Administration, for demanding political "reviews" of USGS reports, for shutting down vital science libraries, for letting Karl Rove misrepresent stem cell research, and much, much more (Jan. - Dec.).
o The "Scientific Consensus Is What We Says It Is" Award goes to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), who had the government publish his 64-page tract called "A Skeptic's Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism. Hot & Cold Media Spin Cycle: A Challenge To Journalists who Cover Global Warming" (Dec. 8th).
o The "Better Late than Never II" Award goes to The U.S. Department of Energy, which finally abandoned across-the-board screening of employees with polygraph tests (Oct. 5th).
o The "Thousands or Billions? Even 288 Years Can Seem Like a LONG Time" Award goes to Kent Hovind, the barnstorming young-earth creationist evangelist, for his conviction on 58 counts of federal tax fraud (Nov. 2nd).
o The "Judith Regan of Creationism" Award goes to Ann Coulter, whose book "Godless" included a pathetic rant against evolution (June).
o The "New Word: Pignorant" Award goes to Jonathan Wells, whose new book "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design" contained so many egregious falsehoods that the scientific critics decided to shorten the phrase "Pig Ignorant" to simply "PIGNORANT" in order to cope (Sept.).
o The "Last Nail in The Coffin of ID" Award goes to William Dembski, who absolutely destroyed any remaining credibility Intelligent Design may have had, when he responded to Judge John E. Jones' powerful ruling of December 2005, not by defending ID in science journals, nor in courts of law, but by parodying the judge's decision with an Internet video that featured animated farting sounds. The Awards Committee had the most trouble with this award, as several members wanted to name it the "Not So Noble Gas" Award. However, all members were agreed that Dembski edged out Wells and Coulter, and did the most damage to ID this year. (Dec.)
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2005
o The "SpinMeister" Award goes to the Discovery Institute, for the un-blog-like practice of censoring reader comments, most ironically on a web post complaining about New Mexico's public television station "censoring" creationist infomercials. (Jan. 8th)
o The "Spiro T. Agnew Elocution" Award goes to Albuquerque Tribune columnist Jeffry Gardner, for describing NMSR members as "rabidly anti-Christian voices that squeak like greaseless wheels in the so-called science community"(responding to NMSR support for PBS affiliate KNME). (Jan. 20th)
o The "Elmer Fudd" Award goes to William Dembski, the ID mathematician, who incorrectly omitted 59 from a list of prime numbers between 0 and 100, in a discussion of information and evolution. Kentucky letter writer Bill Holt made the presentation on Feb. 27th: "Dembski is a scientist like Elmer Fudd is a hunter. ..."
o The "Yellow Brick Road to the 19th Century" Award goes to Kansas, which put on an elaborate show trial of evolution last summer, then used the staged event to justify dumbing-down of science standards in the fall.
o The "If Only She'd Known" Award goes to Psychic Ana, whose prominent Albuquerque billboard included an appeal to listen to Ana on now-defunct "Wild 106.3 FM."
o The "Best Transitional Fossil" Award goes to "cdesign proponentsists,"a phrase found in draft editions of the "Intelligent Design" book "Of Pandas and People," for which all references to "creationists" were being changed over to "Design proponents" after the 1987 Supreme Court decision against creationism. This find, presented at the Dover ID trial by Barbara Forrest, helped Judge Jones come to the right decision.
o The "Best Decision" Award goes to Judge John Jones (District Court, PA), for his stellar decision recognizing the "breathtaking inanity" of the Dover area school board in trying to sneak ID into science classes.
o The "Lesser of Two Evils" Award goes to "Number of the Beast" 666, which was found to actually be 616 in old copies of the Bible.
o The "Jurisprudence/ Schmurisprudence" Award goes to Santa Fe judge Daniel Sanchez, who gave TV host David Letterman a restraining order to protect a woman who thought Letterman was really talking to her whenever he mentioned "Oprah" on his show.
o The "Louis Farrakhan of Christianity" Award goes to Pat Robertson, who suggested that God should punish the citizens of Dover, PA for not supporting creationist school board candidates.
o And the "top scientific breakthrough of 2005" Award goes to Evolution, so named by Science on Dec. 22nd 2005.
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2004
o The "Gee, Thanks" Award goes to Heel Inc., a homeopathic manufacturing company that refused an $8 million industrial revenue bond offered by Bernalillo County, New Mexico. Heel is getting its own expansion funding.
o The "Traveling Scientists" Award go to Spirit and Opportunity, the NASA rovers that have been doing splendid Martian geology for most of 2004, and are still going..
o The "Not the E-Word!" Award goes to Kathy Cox, Georgia State Schools Superintendent, who said she removed references to evolution from the proposed biology curriculum because it is "a buzzword that causes a lot of negative reaction." She was forced to recant.
o The "Amen, Brother Jimmy!" Award goes to President Jimmy Carter, who said he was "embarrassed by Superintendent Kathy Cox's attempt to censor and distort the education of Georgia's students... there can be no incompatibility between Christian faith and proven facts concerning geology, biology, and astronomy. There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat earth in order to defend our religious faith."
o The "Right On!" Award goes to Darby, Montana High School students, a third of whom protested the school board's decisions to question evolution, carrying signs like one which read "Creationism in a cheap tuxedo." The board action was later withdrawn.
o The "Why Stop There?" Award goes to "the Day After Tomorrow," the schlocky Art Bell movie about a one-week plunge into a new Ice Age. Surprisingly, the movie's official web site posted its own fairly decent rebuttal.
o The "House of Cards" Award goes to the Columbia U. authors of an Intercessory Prayer Study. The study was published three years ago in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine. One of the authors pled guilty in 2004 to fraud charges in Federal Court; a second claimed only to have provided editorial assistance; and a third isn't talking.
o The "ID is Content Free!" Award goes to ID creationist William Dembski, who said in 2004 that "... intelligent design makes no claims about the origin or duration of the universe, is not committed to flood geology, can accommodate any degree of evolutionary change, does not prejudge how human beings arose and does not specify in advance how a designing intelligence brought the first organisms into being. ..."
o The "Teach the Controversy (unless it bothers Creationists)" Award goes to ID creationist Phillip Johnson, who said in 2004 that "I have consistently said that I take no position on the age of the earth, and that I regard the issue as not ripe for debate yet...."
o The "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Church-State Separation" Award goes to the Washington Times Foundation, which staged an elaborate "coronation" of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who owns The Washington Times, as humanity's "savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent." The ceremony was held in the in Senate's Dirksen Office Building,and several congressmen attended.
o The "Better Luck Next Time" Award goes to the New Mexico State Supreme Court, which renewed New Mexico's status as the only state allowing polygraphs in court, despite pleas from the state attorney general's office and others that polygraph tests were bad science and poor evidence.
o The "But You WERE the Federal Government" Award goes to NM Governor Bill Richardson, who said "Clearly, it would help everyone if the U.S. government disclosed everything it knows" in the foreword to a new Sci Fi channel pulp book about the recent Roswell UFO "dig." The Albuquerque Tribune got it right from Skeptical Inquirer editor Ken Frazier: "If he thinks the government is covering something up, why didn't he do something about it when he was in the federal government?"
o The "Honesty is its Own Reward" Award goes to NIDS, the National Institute for Discovery Science (Robert Bigelow's pro-UFO thinktank in Nevada), which announced on Oct. 15th that it was shutting down indefinitely because of steep declines in alien/UFO cases in recent years.
o The "At least he had a beard" Award goes to Barnes and Noble, which published an autobiography of Charles Darwin in 2004 with a cover mistakenly bearing the image of the famous bearded British 19th-century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.
o The "Never a Dull Moment" Award goes to Homo floresiensis, the hobbit-sized hominids from just 18,000 years ago that surprised even the most jaded naturalists.
o The "Gotcha!" Award goes to Oded Golan, the Israeli collector who was the source of the supposed "James, brother of Jesus" ossuary. Golan has been charged with forgery by his government in a major investigation.
o The "To Boldly Stay Home" Award goes to Patrick Stewart (Star Trek's Capt. Picard), who said "I'm a bit of a wet blanket when it comes to the whole business of space travel," in comments encouraging robotic space exploration over expensive manned efforts.
o The "Boy Who Cried Over-Unity" Award goes to Dennis Lee, who has announced yet another demonstration of his supposed "free electricity" machines (a perpetual motion scam) for July 4, 2005. These demos have been promised for years and years, but have yet to happen. This year's new batch of suckers will probably see the light in a year or three, at least.
o The "Don't Stop Now - It's Getting Good" Award goes to the Theory of Evolution, which still struggles for popular acceptance while finding stupendous experimental support and utility in science. In 2004, the evolution of irreducibly complex features was documented for flagellum motors and colorful coral proteins; more transitions were found between fish and amphibians (nostrils and fins-to-legs), the handedness of primordial amino acids was better understood, a single gene was found to be capable of giving mice long, bat-like fingers (explaining rapid evolution of bats), the natural history of the Uterus was developed, a gene common in Tibetans was found to improve oxygen intake, and a possible common ancestor of all the great apes, including humans, was found. Not a bad year, except for that "popular" thing. National Geographic gets a commendation for helping in that regard.
o The "A Tough Year for You Too?" Award goes to Intelligent Design, which, despite its popularity with church groups and politicians, had some problems in 2004. The first peer-reviewed ID paper was published (Meyer 2004), but it had no original work, neglected most of the relevant literature, and was condemned by the publishing society's board, which criticized the now-retired editor, who happens to be a creationist "baraminologist." However, Meyer's paper was heartily endorsed by the Raelians (of cloning fame), who also did a nude pictorial in Playboy. ID people managed to sneak in attacks on evolution in Ohio, but blatantly pro-ID board actions in Georgia and Pennsylvania appear to be backfiring, to the horror of the deep thinkers at the pro-ID Discovery Institute. The federal suit against the Dover, Pennsylvania board is a real threat to Intelligent Design, because the board wasn't as careful as most ID creationists in concealing their motives.
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2003
o The "And You Expected?" Award goes to former ABC science journalist Michael Guillen, who was surprised by negative reactions to his involvement with the Raelians, Clonaid, and unproven claims of an actual human clone.
o The "Well Done" Award goes to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), for the excellent parody of long lists of "Scientists Opposed to Darwinism." The NCSE response was its own pro-evolution list, but one restricted only to scientists named Steve or Stephanie.
o The "Aw Shucks - You Make Us Proud" Award goes to State Rep. Dan Foley, who got the legislature to name the 2nd Tuesday of February as "Extraterrestrial Culture Day."
o The "Size Isn't Everything" Award goes to the Crab Nebula's Pulsar Core, which was found by scientists at New Mexico Tech to be only as large as a beach ball.
o The "Who Needs Viagra" Award goes to the History of Sex, increased greatly this year by discoveries of the oldest male organ (a soft-bodied sea creature of 425 million years ago) and the oldest male-female differentiation in a land animal (tusk sizes, 260 million years ago).
o The "Don't Be Such a Downer, You'll Live Longer" Award goes to the 20-Pound Carp in New York City that an obscure sect said spoke dire warnings in Hebrew. The owner butchered it anyway.
o The "Still Embarrassing After All These Years" Award goes to Jack Brock, the Alamogordo pastor who gained world attention by burning Harry Potter books. Pictures of that book-burning are now on permanent display at the Holocaust Museum.
o The "bIjatlh 'e' yImev!!" Award goes to the State of Oregon, which at first included Klingon in a list of about 55 languages needed by an office that treats mental health patients, and then withdrew it after the story broke.
o The "No Duh" Award goes to Glen Newey, a political scientist at Britain's University of Strathclyde, whose study showed conclusively that politicians lie.
o The "Shouldn't Your 15 Minutes Be Over Already" Award goes to Erich von Daeniken, who is still capitalizing from his wacky "Chariots of the Gods" books.
o The "The End Is Where?" Award goes to Nancy Lieder, whose internet and Art Bell warnings of Planet X and TEOTWAWKI (the End of the World as We Know It) somehow failed to materialize during the May 2003 "Impact."
o The "Gotcha" Award goes to Discovery Media, producer of overtly religious films like "Heaven and Hell" and "Exodus Revealed," which forgot to cover up their connections to their supposedly secular Illustra Media branch, which is churning out "Intelligent Design" videos for the Discovery Institute to peddle on PBS.
o The "Hire Steven Spielberg?" Award goes to Roswell, after that city's annual UFO festival was panned as the "Lamest City Celebration Ever" by The Plainview Daily Herald.
o The "Good Parting Shot" Award goes to the State Board of Education, which was dissolved by voters in the fall. One of their last acts was implementation of excellent new science standards, despite Intelligent Design creationist protests.
o The "Polyanna" Award goes to Creation Science Fellowship and to IDNet-NM, for their praise of new standards they had bitterly opposed previously, all for the nefarious purpose of misrepresenting the new standards as "ID-friendly."
o The "You Have a Candor Problem" Award goes to IDNet-New Mexico, which commissioned a Zogby Poll in which thousands of Sandia and Los Alamos scientists supposedly endorsed Intelligent Design by 4-to-1. It turned out the sample size was ridiculous, and primarily only ID-friendly scientists were actually polled. After public rebukes by both Sandia and Los Alamos leaders, IDNet-NM publicly said it would stop using the poll, but still went on defending it ("The Math is the Math") in letters to state board members.
o The "Hey, News means New Info" Award goes to IDNet-NM, whose website's "New Mexico News" page is still stuck in July of 2003. The Sandia Poll is mentioned, but not the fact that Sandia called it "Bogus," nor that IDNet leader Joe Renick promised to stop using it. No mention is made of the Board's August vote, which rebuffed IDNet demands, either.
o The "Job Had It Easy" Award goes to Sharon Dogruel and Steven Sanchez of the State Department of Education, for patiently putting up with IDNet-NM letters, briefings and demand sessions for months.
o The "Warp Factor 5, Number 1" Award goes to Wesley Clark, who described belief in Man's eventual discovery of faster-than-light travel as "my only faith-based initiative."
o The "Candor Problem? How About Perjury?" Award goes to Saami Shaibani, a physicist and declared young-earth creationist, who also acts as an expert witness in criminal investigations. It seems he lied to the court about being a professor at Temple Univ. The Jury will disregard this evidence, please.
o The "Yet More Lack of Candor" Award goes to Raymond V. Damadian, who took out full page ads in the Washington Post and the New York Times to complain about being passed over for the Nobel prize in medicine (for magnetic resonance imaging), but who now claims "I don't care about the Nobel." Did we say Damadian's a creationist too? Curious pattern here!
o The "Best Characterization of Creationism from a Southwestern Perspective" Award goes to Robert T. Pennock, Associate Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Michigan State University, for his quip at Texas textbook hearings: "When it comes to science, the intelligent design movement is all hat and no cattle. ..."
o The "Jayson Blair" Award goes to Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporters Matt Frazier & R. A. Dyer, who managed to completely misrepresent New Mexico's stand on creationism, all while copying from each other, during 2003.
o The "VooDoo Investors" Award goes to the Bernalillo County Commission, which approved Industrial Revenue Bonds for a manufacturer of homeopathic (homeopathetic?) remedies.
o The "Profiles in Courage" Award goes to ABC News, which was courageous enough to point out the common flaws in Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories like those in Oliver Stone's movie JFK. A breath of fresh air!
o The "Thanks for Nothing" Award goes to Polygraphs, which were used to clear the now-confessed 'Green River' killer back in 1984.
o The "Finally, Some Candor" Award goes to ID leader Phillip Johnson for saying "What's at stake isn't just the first chapter of Genesis, but the whole Bible from beginning to end, and whether or not nature really is all there is."
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2002
o The Ostrich Award goes to Los Alamos National Labs for their quick solution to problems of widespread theft turned up by a pair of investigators: firing the investigators. Hiding your head in the sand is a bad way to go. By the way, the top lab leaders responsible are now looking for work.
o The George Orwell Award goes to New Mexico and other Powerball States, for their clever spinning of "We made the odds a LOT harder!" into "Win Bigger Jackpots!"
o The "Rosy Glasses" Award goes to Jody Sjogren of Ohio's chapter of IDNet, the Intelligent Design Network, for her inspired reaction to the Ohio Board of Education's December approval of science standards which declare that "Intelligent Design" will not be taught in science classes: "We're the first state to have the words intelligent design included."
o The "Foot In Mouth" Award goes to Phillip Johnson, leader of the Intelligent Design movement, for this comment: "We once knew who the true God was and were able to proclaim it frankly. But since about 1960 we've been hiding from that. We've been trying to pretend that all religions are the same." (Christianity Today, Dec. 3, 2002).
No, Phil, we've been trying to say that all religions have the same rights under the constitution. It's called freedom of religion. Something the Founders thought up. You should read about it.
o The "Did Pat Robertson Put You Up To It To Criminalize Cloning?" Award goes to the Raelians and Clonaid for their sensational and (at time of press) unsupported claims of successful human cloning, all for a sect that believes all humans were cloned by aliens a few millennia ago. The Raelians also came out in favor of teaching "Intelligent Design" in schools.
o The Jack Brock Award goes to the Rev. Douglas Taylor of the Oneness Pentecostal Church, for his innovative "tearing apart" of Harry Potter books (Boston Globe, Nov. 15th. 2002). Brock is the Alamogordo, NM pastor who last year burned Potter books in a pagan-style stone henge.
o The "Welcome Aboard" Award goes to the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) for their excellent resolution explaining why Intelligent Design does not belong in science classes.
o The "What? Missed Another Deadline?" Award goes to Dennis Lee, who promised to demonstrate his "over-unity free electricity" devices to millions of witnesses by July 4th 2002, then by December 28th 2002, and now by who knows when. The holdup: the millions of witnesses were busy this year. It just means Lee is gearing up for the next sucker tour.
o The "Rocky" Award goes to Buzz Aldrin for belting the jerk who was trying to force him to swear on a Bible that he'd been to the moon..
o The "Fond Farewell" Award goes to Bigfoot (a.k.a. prankster Ray Wallace), who died this year at the age of 84.
o The "This is why it's impossible to debate creationists!" Award goes to William Dembski, for these comments in the same interview: "The most prominent design theorist, Michael Behe, is on record to holding to common descent (the evolutionary interrelatedness of all organisms back to a common ancestor). No design theorist I know wants to teach that evolution didn't happen. ... All it will take is a few school boards and individuals to stand up against this pressure, and in short order we'll see a Taliban-style collapse of the Darwinian stranglehold over public education. ..." (July 2nd edition of School Board News).
o The "Taos Hum" Award goes to Kokomo, Indiana.
o The "Sorry, Wrong Number" Award goes to Youree del Harris ("Miss Cleo") of Los Angeles ("Jamaica") for seeing her company lose millions in fraud suits, while she escaped charges herself.
o The "Maybe if we changed the Name" Award goes to Cliff Carnicom, who has railed against "chemtrails" on his Santa Fe website for years. Now he wants us to call them "AEROSOL OPERATIONS" instead. Is it because Carnicom knows everyone thinks "chemtrails" people are nuts?
o The "Space Case" Award goes to Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who introduced a space weapons bill that mentioned "chemtrails" (making him a patriot to Carnicom), then withdrew it (oops, now Carnicom says he's a Traitor!!!)..
o The Rock and Rule Award goes to The Supreme Court, for their Jan. 7th, 2002 decision not to take up the case of anti-evolution teacher Rodney LeVake. It was a victory for schools that require teachers to teach given subjects, even if the teacher disagrees with the details.
o The "Joseph Who?" Award goes to President G. W. Bush, whose administration is busy applying political litmus tests to appointees for dozens of formerly independent scientific panels. Politicizing science is a really bad idea, Mr. President. Think about what happened when Joe Stalin tried it. Key word: "Lysenko."
o The "College of Arts and Science Fictions" Award goes to The University of New Mexico for lending archaeological support and credibility to an unbelievably horrid "Roswell" puffumentary aired November 22nd on the Sci Fi channel..
o The Mr. Magoo Award goes to David Rudiak, whose preposterous analysis of grainy images of a 1947 "memo" turned out to be Sci Fi channel's "smoking gun" evidence..
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2001
It's time once again for NMSR's annual awards. Here we go!
o The True Millennium Award goes to Norway. ABC News reported on Jan. 2nd, 2001 that "The Y2K computer glitch hit Norway's national railroad company a year later than expected. The bug was discovered when none of the company's new 16 airport express trains or 13 high-speed, long-distance Signatur trains would start early in the morning of Dec. 31."
o The "Bite the Hand that Feeds You? Butt the Man that Bleeds You!!" Award goes to Waheeb Hamoudah's sheep. Hamoudah, of Egypt, was age 56 upon his death. He was grooming a sheep for the Muslim feast of sacrifice, Eid al-Adha, in early March and "had been feeding the sheep he had tethered on the rooftop when it butted him. Neighbors found Hamoudah lying bleeding and concussed on the ground below, with several broken bones, Monday. He died soon after reaching hospital." (Reuters reported this on Jan. 2nd, 2001.)
o The Valentine Award goes to the Kansas State Board of Education, which overturned the creationist-inspired science standards adopted by the previous board in 1999 with more reasonable standards, on February 14th, 2001.
o The Splendid Use of Plain English Award goes to Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who wrote in an MSNBC Report on 21 Feb. that "The media flubbed the headline for the biggest news event in the past 50 years of science. The reporters and TV talking heads who crammed the Washington, D.C., press conference on Feb. 12 did understand that the details they were hearing about the human genome offered the story of a lifetime. But, they missed the real headline. Their stories should have simply said, 'Darwin vindicated!'... The genome reveals, indisputably and beyond any serious doubt, that Darwin was right - mankind evolved over a long period of time from primitive animal ancestors. Our genes show that scientific creationism cannot be true. The response to all those who thump their bible and say there is no proof, no test and no evidence in support of evolution is, 'The proof is right here, in our genes.'... The theory of evolution is the only way to explain the arrangement of the 30,000 genes and three billion letters that constitute our genetic code. The history of humanity is written in our DNA. Those who dismiss evolution as myth, who insist that evolution has no place in biology textbooks and our children's classrooms, are wrong. The message our genes send is that Charles Darwin was right."
o The Consistency Award goes to Roger X. Lenard, who managed to make easily-documented mistakes in each of five sentences in the concluding paragraph of his Essay 5A (Information Theory and Physics, Feb. 2001) in the NMSR/CSFNM debate series. See NMSR's Essay 5B (March 2001) for details of the demolition.
o The "Gee, So Creationists Stage Fights like Professional Wrestlers?" Award goes to Kent "Dr. Dino" Hovind, who promotes himself as the "Hulk Hogan" of the creationism debate circuit.
Image from www.drdino.com, Video # 208-Wayne State University-Detroit debate with William Moore, September 24, 1998. http://www.drdino.com/img/products/208.jpg
o The "Now THAT'S Credibility" Award goes to Arkansas State Representative Jim Holt, who sponsored House Bill 2548, an obvious attempt to get creationism back into schools. Holt obtained the testimony of Kent Hovind in hearings on the bill. Many of HB2548's statements about "fraud" in science textbooks can be directly traced to the religious tract "Big Daddy," produced by Jack Chick tracts. That's right - a comic book! As columnist Don Michael of the Northwest Arkansas Times wrote on April 5, 2001, "If it isn't troubling to know your legislators voted for a bill that used a comic strip as its source, try visiting Hovind's Web site." The bill was defeated.
o The Hypersensitivity Award goes to Access Research Network, a leading organization of Intelligent Design proponents, which accused the Lodestar Planetarium at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science of abject naturalism! This assessment was based on an editorial in the Albuquerque Tribune. And what was so offensive to ARN? Perhaps these words from the Trib's editorial..."Without being bombarded with hard-core equations or technical terms, you'll get a firm grounding in the core scientific principle of cosmic evolution without necessarily shattering any spiritual beliefs you might have. In fact, this show might strengthen them." Is it just me, or are the ARN folks a tad too sensitive?
o The Eugenics Award goes to DNA pioneer James Watson, who called for "ridding society of genetic defects" on April 16th.
o The Time to Move On Award goes to the British Flying Saucer Bureau, which hunted for extra-terrestrial activity for half a century. It closed its doors because of an unfortunate lack of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). (Sydney Morning Herald, April 23.)
o The Little Space Probe that Could Award goes to Pioneer 10. Transmissions from Pioneer 10 were unexpectedly picked up on April 28th of 2001.
o The "So, No Slavery Before 1859?" Award goes to Louisiana State Rep. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, who sponsored a resolution condemning Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, saying it would "shine a light on the history of racism." The measure was passed by the state's House Education Committee. It later was passed in the Louisiana house, but only after the anti-"Darwinism" statements were removed. Governor Foster called the original measure "weird."
o The "Tol'ya So" Award goes to NASA for the 24 May press release: "New high-resolution images and 3D altimetry from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft reveal the Face on Mars for what it really is: a mesa." NASA also had this to say: "Some people think the Face is bona fide evidence of life on Mars -- evidence that NASA would rather hide, say conspiracy theorists. Meanwhile, defenders of the NASA budget wish there was an ancient civilization on Mars."
o The "Astrology Doesn't Work" Award I goes to Mangal Raj Joshi, the Nepalese royal astrologer, who admitted that "No-one expected it [the massacre of the royal family in a hail of bullets]." Joshi also said "I am not able to explain what happened, but it is terrible. Heavenly planets control the situation on the ground and sometimes we are unable to explain them adequately."
o The "Astrology Doesn't Work" Award II goes to the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT), which granted accreditation to the Astrological Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona. (August 30th).
o The "Astrology Doesn't Work" Award III goes to the www.astroinsight.com website, which published its predictions for the month of September, 2001 on August 31, 2001. The seers said "Compared to August the month of September is likely to be relatively a lot less stressful for most of the world, especially from natural and man-made accidents, terrorism, and violence standpoints. Also, after the first week of September, expect some relief to the volatile region of Israel and Palestine. ..."
o The "Shucks, Too Bad" Award goes to medium John Edward, host of "Crossing Over." Edward had planned to air attempts to communicate with the spirits of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks during November sweeps, but swift and massive negative reactions resulted in cancellation of the idea in less than a day.
o The Foot In Mouth Disease Award goes to Jerry Falwell, who said the following a few days after the Sept. 11th terror attacks: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.' ..." Pat Robertson shares the award for agreeing with Falwell.
o The Foot In Mouth Disease Runner Up Award goes to Ken Cumming of the Institute for Creation Research, who equated the Sept. 11th terror attacks with the PBS "Evolution" series shown later in September. Cumming said "Both events have much in common. The public was unaware of the deliberate preparation that was schemed over the past few years to lead to these events. And while the public now understands from President Bush that 'We're at War' with religious fanatics around the world, they don't have a clue that America is being attacked from within through its public schools by a militant religious movement called Darwinists." Hmmm... I wonder if the Taliban taught their schoolboys about evolution. (We know they didn't teach the girls about it, at least...)
o The "Thanks for Supporting the Laws of Thermodynamics" Award goes to NM Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who slapped "Free Electricity" promoter Dennis Lee with a Temporary Restraining Order at his Sept. 17th stop in Albuquerque during his 2001 nationwide tour. Lee called the Restraining Order "the most meaningless piece of paper you'll see in your whole life," and said that he wasn't selling investment opportunities -- he said he wasn't selling anything. He said he would GIVE free energy certificates away. But after six hours of non-stop shilling, Lee finally revealed that he only "gives" certificates to people who pay money to sign up with his local dealers.
o The "You know, they teach Thermodynamics in Schools" Award goes to NM State Board of Education member David Vickers, who manned the tables in support of Dennis Lee's show at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
o Honorable Mentions: Holocaust Denier David Irving loses appeal... TV psychic Miss Cleo gets busted... God-Man Sai Baba is caught soliciting sex with male devotees...
o The "Thanks, but we knew that" Award goes to Phillip Johnson, who has identified the "Intelligent Designer" at last! Steve Maynard, in the May 7 Tacoma News Tribune, wrote "Johnson said he and most others in the intelligent design movement believe the designer is the God of the Bible."
o And NMSR's TOP 2001 Award -- The Pagan Pride Award -- goes to minister Jack Brock and his Christ Community Church of Alamogordo, New Mexico. The church sponsored a Harry Potter book burning on December 30th, 2001. The front page of the Albuquerque Journal for Dec. 31st showed the bonfire in the middle of a nice circle of upright stones, called a "henge" in the good old Pagan days. Those old Pagans are proud of you and your flock, Brock! Thanks to Bill Fienning and Kim Johnson for noticing the stone henge independently.
Leader of Flat Earth Society, Charles Johnson, Dead at 76.
Fred Hoyle, who coined the term "Big Bang" but didn't accept it, dead at 86.
Tom Manaster, enthusiastic NMSR and CESE member, dead at 56, on Jan. 4, 2001.
"Piltdown Man" and "Shroud of Turin" Debunker E.T. Hall, an Oxford University professor, dead at 77.
Milton Rothman, physicist and skeptic.
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2000
o The IBID Award goes to Roger X. Lenard, who is writing the debate essays for the Creation Science Fellowship of New Mexico. Lenard has made numerous claims without citations, but one claim in particular earned him this year's IBID. That was his Essay 1A claim that there were evolutionist skeptics of reptile-to-bird evolution. But all the references Lenard suggested or supplied turned out to be skeptics of DINOSAUR-to-bird evolution. He never did get around to finding the experts skeptical of REPTILE-to-bird transition for us.
o The FREE SPEECH FOR ALL WHO AGREE WITH ME Award goes to Clifford Carnicom, who maintains a website dedicated to the proposition that contrails from jets are laced with poisons or biochemical agents. Here is the introduction to Carnicom's "CHEMTRAIL CRIMES AND COVERUP" message board:
"The objectives of this message board have been reorganized and redefined. The purpose here is to continue research and to support activism on the chemtrail issue. The assumption is that chemtrails do exist, and this message board is no longer a forum for debate. The hundreds to thousands of citizens that form this group within are now encouraged to network and organize at a higher level. Those that choose to continue to debate will need to establish or locate a forum elsewhere. This board is dedicated to individual and organized activism and continued research. The top level link for this forum is located at: http://pub8.ezboard.com/bchemtrails and primary energies will be directed to that point. Participation within this message board is a privilege. Clifford E Carnicom Nov 4 2000."
Carnicom's award was sealed by his refusal to even respond to repeated invitations to him to talk to NMSR about the threat of chemtrails.
o The FREE SPEECH FOR ALL WHO AGREE WITH ME Runner-Up Award goes to Kathleen Dixon, the director of the women's studies department at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, told a local newspaper 'We forbid any course that says we restrict free speech.' "
o The BROKEN ABACUS Award goes to Answers in Genesis, which totally misrepresented the results of a People for the American Way survey which found that 79% of Americans want evolution taught as science, while only 29% want creationism taught as science. Answers in Genesis presented the results as "79% of Americans expressed support in some way for the teaching of creation in public schools." And even their math was wrong: 16+13+17+29 equals 75, NOT 79!
o The STELLAR SOUND BITE Award goes to Paul R. Gross of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, author of "Politicizing Science Education" for this comment:
"Because to revile evolutionary science, 140 years after the Darwin-Wallace insight, as 'Darwinism' is ignorance or rabble-rousing. It is as silly as would be sneering at NASA's space engineering as 'Newtonism' (which in the same trivial sense it is)."
o The CREATIVE FINANCING Award goes to the International UFO Museum and Research Center of Roswell, NM, for their offer to pay $1,000,000 dollars for an authentic piece of the Roswell spaceship. "IUFOMRC will pay 50 percent of all net revenues earned by the museum through exhibiting the artifact until its original owner or owners receive a total of one million dollars." Perhaps it doesn't even matter if the artifact is real, as long as enough people pay to see it.
o The ROYAL LINK Award goes to Britain's Prince Philip and Princess Anne for their reasonable statements on genetically modified food, and a ROYAL WEENIE Award to Prince Charles, who is mortified of the stuff.
o The TELEVISION NUTWORK Award goes to FOX TV, which was taken in by a "Clone Jesus" Hoax in October, was still hedging its bets on the reality of the "face on Mars" in September, and was gushing about real-life people with the same telekinetic powers as the characters of the "X-Men" movie in July.
o The WAY TO DEMONSTRATE STATISTICS Award goes to Bob Park, who happened to be standing in the right place, near a large tree, at exactly the wrong time, when the tree fell on him. NMSR's best wishes to Bob for his perseverance in the face of adversity!
o The CREATIONISM IS BAD ECONOMICS Award goes to Linda Holloway, former pro-creationism member of the Kansas state board of education, who spent $5.55 per vote in her losing re-election bid, while pro-science challenger Sue Gamble spent just $1.46 per vote in her winning bid. Creationists fared poorly in the primary and general elections, and now are in a 3-7 minority.
o The FOOT-IN-MOUTH Award goes to William Dembski, an intelligent design advocate from Seattle's Discovery Institute, who headed the Michael Polanyi center at Baylor University. When the university made Dembski a delicately-arranged compromise offer to continue the center under a new name, Dembski displayed his collegiality by proclaiming "Dogmatic opponents of design who demanded the Center be shut down have met their Waterloo." He was fired shortly thereafter, and now is being portrayed as a martyr on the intelligent design op-ed trail.
o The THERE GOES THE PATENT OFFICE Award goes to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which made a job-discrimination ruling that belief in fringe or pseudo-scientific notions like "cold fusion" or extraterrestrial abductions may have the same workplace protections as freedom of religion.
o The I WANT TO BELIEVE Award goes to Michael Guillen of ABC's Good Morning America, who recently gushed on-air about how respectable the studies of "auras" is becoming. It's sad to see a network capable of such excellent science reporting embarrassed by Guillen's gullible reports.
o The PSYCHOTIC JUNK FOOD Award goes to Burger King, which ran a "Save a Chicken - Eat a Burger" promotion based on the movie "Chicken Run," in which lovable animated chickens do their stuff. Other food items - including CHICKEN TENDERS - were packaged in "Chicken Run" boxes. Sick, sick, sick!
o The World Wide Wonder Award goes to April Holladay, who still dutifully sends in her column to NMSR Reports, even though her Wonderquest column has gone national at USA Today 's web site. Way to go April!
o The PROVE MARK TWAIN RIGHT Award goes to the United States Congress, which rejected pleas from Energy Department officials and Senator Pete Domenici, and approved polygraphs for 5,000 more employees of the department's nuclear weapons complex, for a total of about 20,000 to be tested.
o The STAYING POWER Award goes to the 250-million-year old bacteria found 2000 feet below ground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).
o The P.T. BARNUM Award goes to the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), which believed an April Fool's joke in a 1997 Discover magazine, and reported to listeners that Neanderthals played musical instruments such as a "tuba made from a mammoth tusk."
o The WISHFUL THINKING Award goes to Edward Helmore of the Guardian, who wrote that the new chief of the major US tabloids, David Pecker of American Media, was cutting back on coverage of aliens, Elvis, Bigfoot, and such. Helmore said "Weekly World News [will focus] on nonsense such as the wedding of the world's fattest man. ... After banning adverts for psychic healers and miracle remedies, the titles have begun to attract new advertisers." Sorry, Edward. The cover of the Jan. 2nd, 2001 issue of Weekly World News proclaims "LOCH NESS MONSTER CAPTURED!...We've caught the last dinosaur on earth! ..ADAM'S BODY FOUND IN NOAH'S ARK." And there are still those ads for psychics and an "authentic shaman." Oh well!
o The THIS ISN'T SALEM ANYMORE, TOTO Award goes to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where a student was expelled for casting spells on her teacher, who claimed to have become sick as a result..
o The CAN'T GET NO RESPECT Award goes to "Intelligent Design" creationist Jonathan Wells, who didn't convince Canadians to vote for young-earth creationist Stockwell Day, and who hasn't gotten very far in convincing the scientific community of the need to include "Intelligent Design" as a working scientific hypothesis. But, he HAS convinced the Hare Krishna society that there are problems with evolution. That's progress!
THE BEST AND WORST OF 1999
o The Jurisprudence Award goes to Phillip E. Johnson, who wrote in The Wall Street Journal on August 16, 1999, in a piece called "The Church of Darwin," that "A Chinese paleontologist lectures around the world saying that recent fossil finds in his country are inconsistent with the Darwinian theory of evolution. ... When this conclusion upsets American scientists, he wryly comments: 'In China we can criticize Darwin but not the government. In America you can criticize the government but not Darwin.'" Johnson refused to reveal the name of the Chinese paleontologist, however, thus violating the basic right of the accused to confront one's accusers. We knew Phil Johnson was lousy at science... now it's obvious he's also clueless about the Law, his supposed field of expertise!
o The High Five Award goes to Bob Park of the American Physical Society, who summed up the Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE) in Albuquerque (June 3rd-5th) with these words: "Alas, to wear the mantle of Galileo it is not enough that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment, you must also be right."
o The "Can't Fool Them Big City Reporters" Award goes to New York Times journalist Michael Janofsky, who wrote on Oct. 10th, 1999 that "Among those protesting the new [pro-evolution] standards was Paul Gammill, a retired engineer and the father of three children who attended Albuquerque public schools. He echoed the concerns of many creationists, telling the board that evolution is "arbitrary and dogmatic." He insisted that his view has nothing to do with religion, but in an interview before his testimony he said a belief in God is not compatible with acceptance of evolution." (Emphasis added - ed.) Good work, Michael!
o The "Game Over, Man" Award goes to Nostradamus, whose centuries-old prediction of Mongol terror in July of 1999 fizzled out. MORE>
o Secretary of Energy (and New Mexican) Bill Richardson has been awarded the Man of La Mancha Award for his recommendation of mandatory polygraph (lie-detector) testing for employees in national labs. In the Oct. 15th Science, Michael Phillips notes in a letter that he and others analyzed polygraph tests in a report published by A. S. Brett, M. Phillips, J. F. Beary III, in Lancet i (no. 8480), 544 (1986). Writes Phillips in Science, "If the polygraph were merely useless, it would not be so bad. Unfortunately, it is harmful because it generates a large number of false-positive test results that may incriminate people who are telling the truth. Suppose 1000 people were screened, and 50 of them were liars. The polygraph would generate positive results in 38 out of 50 liars and in 351 of 950 truth tellers, that is, more than nine false positives for every true positive. The polygraph gives the wrong answer 9 times out of 10, and who would want to use a fire alarm or cancer test that was wrong 90% of the time?"
o Face on Mars proponents Michael Bara and Richard C. Hoagland, of The Enterprise Mission (see http://www.enterprisemission.com/ ), receive the "A Century Ago We Would Have Been Dismissed As Insane Crackpots...But Now There's The Internet" Award for their consistently warped stories of plots within subplots within conspiracies. Here's a taste of their copyrighted Millennial ponderings, from their web page.
"Times Square New Year's Eve Ball Drenched in Hyperdimensional Symbolism"
"We love stuff like this. Just when it seems that our critics start piling on and blasting us as having "gone too far" with our linkages of various events and the "hyperdimensional" or Egyptian symbolism associated with them, along comes NASA or a major news organization to bail us out and drive the point home in an undeniable way. Whether it be Malin putting out a "happy Face" crater image when everybody is waiting for the latest Cydonia images, or NASA dropping a tetrahedral shaped Mars Pathfinder at 19.5° by 33° on the red planet, we can always count on new developments to make the nay Sayers squirm and pipe down for a bit. There seem to be a never ending supply of these "hints" that make the critics so uncomfortable, so obviously off base, that they must just shut up about it and hope that everyone forgets it in a few months.
Case in point -- the new Times Square Millennium Ball. When we first saw this new glass globe, constructed especially for the New Millennium celebration by the Waterford Company, we were struck by the geometric shapes drawn all over the face of the ball. But it was only when we looked at a close-up that we realized that those little dark triangles, carefully placed at the vertices of a series of equilateral triangles covering the ball, were nothing less than actual, three dimensional tetrahedrons. As we looked further, we discovered that within the lattice work of crossing beams on the front were more triangles, and that the lattice work itself was arranged in patterns that included a veritable medley of Hyperdimensional symbolism . ... But then it got better. The announcement and first presentation of this new "crystal ball" was made by the Waterford company on April 20th, 1999, a consistently used NASA "ritual date." April 20th was important to the Nazi faction within NASA because it is the birthday of the Führer, Adolf Hitler. On two occasions, they managed to land on the Moon on this date...[yada3]
You know, one of the things we love most around here is being right (see ... well heck, just read the whole Enterprise Mission page ...). But what we love even more is those quintessential moments when our yapping, noisemaking critics are exposed as the dupes they are if they try to play the "coincidence card" one more time. In this case, we can just sit back, munch our popcorn and watch the whole weird affair unfold before our very eyes, confident in the knowledge that there have already been more "coincidences" around this one than you can shake a stick at (or should we say, "magick wand?").
Well, how about it guys? Awfully quiet out there ..."
o Charles Lucas Jr. and the rest of the gang at Common Sense Science received the "Cannot Forward - No Address Available" Award. Lucas, when not promoting flawed creationist arguments against radiometric dating, likes to espouse the theory of Charged Rings. Forget about neutrons, neutrinos, and the rest of Quantum Mechanics. According to Lucas, atoms are really static sets of charged rings. Electrons are actually far bigger than protons. The group had a really hysterical website at <http://www.cormedia.com/css/>, but then they announced that they were moving over to <http://www.commonsensescience.com>. Sadly, they forgot to actually set up the web site at their new address. For a week now, anyone who clicks on the old site is now sent into a brick wall. All they see is "This site does not have a DNS entry...try again!" Sorry, Charlie! (Biographical note: Lucas' work is reviewed favorably by Tom Willis, one of the midwest creationists who helped draft the Kansas anti-evolution standards.)
o The Kansas State Board of Education is awarded the "Wake the Sleeping Giant" Award for their notorious anti-science vote in August of 1999. Viewed as a creationist victory, the decision sparked a fierce reaction in the scientific community.
o The "Way To Go" Award is presented to several worthy individuals, including Dr. Marshall Berman and fellow members of the New Mexico State Board of Education, for their pro-science vote on October 8th of 1999. The Award also goes to Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan, whose eloquent statement supporting evolution (Oct. 15th, Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican) blew to smithereens the main argument of all creationists, from ardent young-earth Flood believers all the way to supposedly secular Intelligent Design proponents. This main argument is that evolution is incompatible with God or religion; in other words, that evolution is atheism. Sorry, you creationists - you'll be needing another argument now.
o Speaking of creationists, New Mexico's own celebrated creation physicist, D. Russell Humphreys, receives the "Stasis" Award for his refusal to evolve even a little bit. In 1999, Humphreys finally updated his three-year old brochure on "Evidence for a Young World." You'll recall that NMSR published a detailed response to the 1996 version of Humphreys' brochure. Several citizens requested our NMSR flyer in the wake of its mention in the Albuquerque Journal. I was very curious to see how Dr. Humphreys responded to our blistering critique of his young-earth claims, which I'd forwarded to him for his review right after its publication years ago. But Humphreys' 1999 brochure was identical -- word-for-word -- with his 1996 version, except that "1996" had been replaced by "1999." NMSR is pleased to announce the re-printing of our Humphreys analysis. (Actually, we still have copies of our old one. No changes were required! And it's as blistering as ever!)
o The "Flop of the Millennium" Award goes to Y2K.
o Creationists were mighty busy this year. The "Put Up Or Shut Up" Award goes this year to Jonathan Sarfati of the Kentucky-based ministry Answers in Genesis. Sarfati had a 1999 book entitled "Refuting Evolution," and billed it as a response to the National Academy of Sciences' book "Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science." Sarfati makes the standard creationist pitch of equating evolution we can observe with "microevolution" or "variation within a kind," and argues that "macroevolution" has never been observed. (Never mind that its effects have been observed numerous times -- see, for example, "the Fossil Record.") Sarfati says the actual Creationist model lies between the "tree-of-life" branching of species used in evolution and what he calls a straw-man "lawn" of separate species, with several blades of grass appearing simultaneously (one "blade" per species or "kind.") Sarfati envisions an "orchard" in which a small number of trees represent the original created kinds. There is variation within each "kind" (so each tree in the orchard looks like the branching of evolution), but no commonality between separate trees ("kinds").
Our challenge to Dr. Sarfati and Answers in Genesis is simple: List The Kinds. That's right, do something that no creationist has ever had the guts to do: define what the "baramin" (kinds) actually are.
Dr. Sarfati, until you or other creationists at Answers in Genesis actually identify each and every tree in your hypothetical "orchard," we'd appreciate it if you stopped whining about evolution.
If you do provide this list, then please explain why the nesting of characters within groups extends well beyond your hypothesized "kinds." Surely you don't think vertebrates are a single "kind" -- but how does your orchard theory explain the similarities between all vertebrates?
o Dr. Wen Ho Lee has received this year's award for "Worst (Alleged) Misuse of a Company Computer for Personal Reasons."
o The P. T. Barnum Wannabee Award goes to "Free Electricity" huckster Dennis Lee, whose big 1999 tour turned out to be a big Flop. We're still waiting to see real "free electricity" machines operating in New Mexico, which Lee claimed would occur before the end of 1999.
o The P. T. Barnum "One Born Every Minute" Award goes to "Dr. Dino" himself, creationist speaker Kent Hovind, who on May 7th, 1999, in a packed room in Philadelphia, urged his audience to study convincing new evidence of humans living with dinosaurs. Hovind's evidence, a web site at www.darwindisproved.com, turned out to be the annual NMSR April Fool's prank.
o Our "Maintaining Metric Awareness" Award this year goes to NASA.
o The Codebuster Award for 1999 goes to Brendan McKay and colleagues for their blistering refutation of the Bible Code, published in Statistical Science (May 1999). The original article by Witztum, Rips, and Rosenberg supporting the codes appeared in Statistical Science in 1994, and the lack of a refutation in years since was used by code believers to indicate an inability to refute the codes, thus showing they are genuine. Well, that argument doesn't fly anymore. What now, code gurus?
o Time Magazine, for recognizing the importance of science in the 20th century by naming Albert Einstein as Person of the Century. Politicians come and go, but equations last forever. Stephen Hawking wrote "a Brief History of Relativity" for Time. In it, he says "The Nazis launched a campaign against "Jewish science" and the many German scientists who were Jews (their exodus is part of the reason Germany was not able to build an atom bomb). Einstein and relativity were principal targets for this campaign. When told of publication of the book One Hundred Authors Against Einstein, he replied, Why 100? If I were wrong, one would have been enough."
o Our final award is another "Put Up Or Shut Up" Award, this one for Cold Fusion proponent Eugene Mallove. Richard L. Garwin of IBM notes in the 27 August 1999 Science (page 1357) that Mallove had predicted cold fusion home heating units would be a reality by 1994. We're still waiting, Eugene.
THE BEST AND WORST OF 1998
o This year was pretty rough on creationists. At the beginning of 1998, things were looking good for them. Answers in Genesis, a Kentucky-based evangelistic organization, issued a glowing report on creationist advances in New Mexico back in April of 1998. Their report credited the New Mexican "setbacks to evolution" to creationists like Russell Humphreys and Roger X. Lenard.
But what the heck happened then? By year's end, several creation proponents (elected and appointed) found themselves removed from the State Board of Education, and replaced by scientists or citizens with no "anti-evolution" agendas. A desperate move to pack the textbook committee backfired, and a re-energized Board soundly rejected a poorly-written anti-evolution text, 12 to 2. The Albuquerque Journal ran a cartoon wittily contrasting the scientific and creationist methods, and an Albuquerque Tribune cartoon showed a crumpled wizard's hat, labeled "creationism," tossed in the trash outside the Board of Education building.
o And so our first Award goes to the year 1998 itself, for hosting a sea change in New Mexico's battles over biology. Wonder what 1999's gonna be like?
o The Maxwell Smart "Missed it by that much, chief" Award goes to Brian Marsden, whose predictions of an extremely near-Earth passing of a major asteroid in 2028 were soon overturned with improved data.
o Second runner-up for the Maxwell Smart:: Stock analysts who predicted a poor year for the stock market in years with an AFC win at the Superbowl. (Recall the Denver Broncos won in Jan. '98....)
o The Ralph Waldo Emerson "Consistency" Award goes to outgoing State Board of Education member Roger X. Lenard, who first strongly endorsed Sandia creationist Russell Humphreys for a position on the NM textbook commission, and then explained the eventual inclusion of other creationists, and the rejection of many teachers or mainstream scientists, by saying "Our pre-eminent objective was to not have single-issue ideologues..."
o The Jesse Jackson "Rainbow Diversity" Award also goes to Roger X. Lenard, who halted the textbook selection process because of claimed lack of "diversity," then proceeded to pack the panel with Albuquerque Anglos (many of whom just happened to be creationists or sympathizers...)
o A stunning, unprecedented third Award, the "Blind Leading the Blind Award," goes to Roger X. Lenard, for promoting an anti-evolution text's adoption by all New Mexican schools without even bothering to read it first.
o The Ralph Waldo Emerson Consistency Runner-Up Award goes to outgoing State Board of Education member Millie Pogna, who repeatedly complained about being mislabeled a creationist in all the papers. Then, she alone joined Roger Lenard in voting for an anti-evolution text, as it was soundly rejected.
o The "P.T. Barnum" Award for Innovation goes to Art Bell, who quit his paranormal-based radio show "forever," only to return a few weeks later, tanned, trim, and ready.
o The "Nostradamus Cracked Crystal Ball" Award goes to Psychic Friends Network, the psychic phone connection which couldn't see the chapter 11 looming in its own future.
o The Orson Welles Award for Best New Urban Legend goes to Mark Boslough for his "Alabama legislature passes pi=3 law" parody on April 1st. (Dave Thomas, honorable mention, for posting it on the Internet).
o The Gabby Hayes/Sidekick Award goes to Aztec, New Mexico, for their effort to start a festival celebrating the town's invasion by aliens in 1948. (Turns out the stories were started by a couple of oil swindlers making a fast buck.) Roswell - don't worry. You're way ahead.
o The "Quantum Spin Doctor" Award for the most astonishing definition of science goes to Steven Dapra, who wrote in the September Prime Time that "...any piece of evidence can be re-interpreted to fit into a Creation Science model -- so in the final analysis the evidence proves nothing. Interpretation is everything."
o The "Unclad Emperor" Award goes to student Emily Rosa, whose cunning science fair experiment demolished some claims of Therapeutic Touch.
o The Ankylosaurus Award (Armor-Plated Against Reason) goes to Richard Hoagland of Placitas, who still finds anomalies galore in the new, high-resolution NASA pictures of his fabled "Face on Mars" (which reveal that it looks much more like a dusty hill than a face...)
o The Barney Fife Award goes to Stanton Friedman, whose crack analysis of Roswell photographs revealed that the crumpled note in the general's hand says "crash"... or does it say "disk" ?
o The "Error, Divide By Zero" Award goes to astrologer Ralph Genter, for his clear presentation of the importance of infinity in astrology.
o Best New Bumper Sticker, from Minnesota: "My Governor can Beat Up Your Governor." Runner-up, from New Mexico: "Yeah, but My Governor can Outrun Your Governor."
THE BEST AND WORST OF 1997
BEST CREATIONIST QUOTE OF 1997: "The proponents of the bill [Senate Bill 155] swept into Santa Fe with an arrogance that was breathtaking, even within the puissance-laden halls of the Legislature." - School Board member Roger Lenard, criticizing New Mexico's scientists for supporting a bill to upgrade our state's science standards to same quality as the rest of the nation's, and for expressing their opinions on what children should be taught about their own profession. [submitted by Mark Boslough]
AND THE RUNNER-UP FOR BEST CREATIONIST QUOTE OF 1997: "New Mexico evolutionists pulled out all the stops to get their bill [SB 155] passed, even dragging a Nobel Laureate in physics, Professor Murray Gell-Mann (who invented the quark theory), out of retirement to testify for them. Gell-Mann's testimony showed great ignorance of creation science; apparently he was just parroting what his handlers had told him..." Creation Research Society, an article entitled "Creation Wins Some More in New Mexico," by D. Russell Humphreys, Ph.D. [submitted by Dave Thomas]
BEST COMET: Hale-Bopp
BEST DEFENSE OF A COMET UNJUSTLY ACCUSED OF BEING AN ALIEN PATSY: Alan Hale, who encouraged those suspicious of a Hale-Bopp cover-up to take the drastic step of getting some binoculars and having a look at the comet for themselves. (Note: this award was issued word-for-word last year, and is being re-issued this year simply because of its spooky prescience).
MOST UNJUSTLY CRITICAL TELESCOPE CONSUMERS: Marshall Applewhite and his "Heaven's Gate" cult members, who returned a telescope to the shop where they bought it because it couldn't show them the Hale-Bopp companion ship trailing behind the comet.
MOST DANGEROUSLY UN-CRITICAL CULT MEMBERS: this award also goes to Marshall Applewhite and his "Heaven's Gate" cult members, who embarked on dubious travel arrangements despite not having confirmed reservations.
WORST SCIENCE "DOCUMENTARY": "Best UFO's Ever Caught on Tape," FOX
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