Each year the New Zealand Skeptics announces the Bent Spoon Award for the New Zealand organisation which has shown the most egregious gullibility or lack of critical thinking in public coverage of, or commentary on, a science-related issue.
We can all think of publications which run ridiculous and unbelievable stories as a regular part of their material. These are not Bent Spoon candidates. Instead we look for organisations and media outlets that tend to command credibility in the mind of the public, and who should have an accurate approach to information gathering and distribution. They are the ones who are rapped over the knuckles with the Bent Spoon when their professional standards lapse.
|2019||Wellington City Council and their contractor Downer||For using dowsing to find buried water pipes.
The story was picked up by several media outlets, including Newsroom and Stuff:
|2018||TVNZ – Seven Sharp & Hilary Barry||For coverage of a story about health fears from mobile phone towers.
The story featured a woman who has built a wall to keep out radiation after two mobile phone towers were built near her home.
While the main segment had some balance, including statements from the Ministry of Health and Peter Griffin from the Science Media Centre. But after the segment Hilary Barry expressed her opinion that she “wouldn’t want to live beside two” phone towers and that she “would be tempted to build a wall like Marta has”.
|2017||New Zealand Veterinary Association||for their attempt to balance the need for evidence-based treatments for animals with the desire of veterinarians to sell unproven therapies|
|2016||NZ Herald||for credulous journalism, repeatedly publishing articles that clearly disregard the weight of evidence|
|2015||Pharmacy Council||for suggesting, when faced with the fact that pharmacists were not complying with their Code of Ethics, that a viable solution was to change their Code of Ethics.|
|2014||Steffan Browning||for signing a petition that called on the World Health Organisation to “End the suffering of the Ebola crisis. by testing and distributing homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks.” Read more…|
|2013||Hamilton City Council||for ignoring the evidence of the public health value of fluoridation Read more…|
|2012||Consumer magazine||for continuing to promote homeopathic products as a viable alternative to evidence-based medical treatments|
|2011||Gullible media outlets and personalities||for taking Ken Ring’s earthquake prediction claims at face value|
|2010||Rural Women New Zealand and Fonterra||for supporting homeopathic practices on the farm, thereby indicating an ignorance of basic science and a lack of concern for animal welfare. Read more…|
|2009||Clyde and Steve Graf||for their documentary “Poisoning Paradise – Ecocide in New Zealand” which claims that 1080 kills large numbers of native birds, poisons soils, persists in water and interferes with human hormones. Read more…[Ed – link no longer active]|
|2008||Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Levy||for promoting psychics as “just another tool” in the investigative policing toolbox, helping the “exploitainment” show Sensing Murder Read more…|
|2007||TV3 news and Current Affairs and Carol Hirschfeld||for her August 31 interview with self-proclaimed energy healer and clairvoyant Simone Simmons, who claims to be visited regularly by the spirit of Diana, 10 years after the death of the Princess of Wales. Read more…|
|2006||Diana Burns||for “Come and Be Healed” the article in the Listener on Brazilian medium and “miracle-worker” Joao de Deus Read more…|
|2005||Tertiary Education Commission||for identifying homeopathic training as a nationally important strategic priority for New Zealand Read more…|
|2004||20/20||for reporter Melanie Reid’s August 22 segment “Back from the Dead” profiling Taranaki medium Jeanette Wilson.|
|2003||Justice Minister Phil Goff||for refusing to open the can of worms that is the Christchurch Civic Creche case (Goff was awarded the first-ever Bent Can Opener Award from the New Zealand Skeptics).|
|2002||Jeanette Fitzsimons||for supporting the concept of biodynamic’s “etheralised Cosmic-Astral influences” as a means of ridding New Zealand of possums|
|2001||TopShelf Production||for the “Hallelujah Healing” documentary on faith-healing Read more…|
|2000||Wellington Hospital||for supporting healing hands therapy by its nurses|
|1999||Holmes||for the coverage given to the Liam Williams-Holloway case|
|1998||TV2||for misleading the public over the truthfulness of an alleged documentary on alien abductions|
|1997||Correspondence School||for numerology lessons in maths class|
|1996||NZQA||for seriously considering awarding a Bachelor of Science status for a course at Aoraki Polytech on naturopathy|
|1995||Justice Department||for the “Hitting Home” report on domestic violence Read more…|
|1994||TV3||for the “Satanic Memories” documentary|
|1993||Country Calendar||for covering biodynamics as a serious pest control option Read more…|
|1992||Consumers’ Institute||for their Alternative Medicine article|