Since the call for responses to the awarding of the Bent Spoon to the Justice Department’s Hitting Home report, we’ve received responses from 16 people, some of which of which have been published in this and the previous Skeptic. Others were in the form of private commentaries or conversations. One member contacted the authors of the report directly for clarification and further comment, and passed on the correspondence that ensued.
Our thanks to those who took the time to find and study the report and respond.
Five committee members have taken a closer look at the report and the award, and have supported the decision. While noting that it would not be possible to canvass all members about Bent Spoons (or get all members to necessarily agree), they have also made suggestions for broadening the decision-making process in the future.
Of the formal responses received, 14 supported the award, with comments ranging from a single sentence to a five-page analysis; two argued against the award (one of these came from a non-member).
In three responses, criticism was levelled directly at the press release announcing the Bent Spoon, primarily for poor choice of wording. Without being overly defensive, it is difficult to tackle a major, detailed report such as this one within the confines of a standard, 500-word press release using the pithy phrasing that the media will take note of.
While I could argue the points individually (surely one can still use the term “fine print” metaphorically), that would not be appropriate at this stage, given the general support for the award. We do try and be as professional as possible in our media dealings — if some members feel that we could have done better in this case, then we acknowledge that criticism and will strive to do better.
The selection process for the awards (outlined in the last Skeptic) appears to have met with general acceptance. Suggestions for broadening the selection group have been noted and we look forward to a more inclusive process — and a greater number of nominations — in the coming year.
The controversial and, in some respects, highly emotionally charged aspects of this debate — from the AGM discussion on — could well have seen this process disintegrate into a very messy, personalised fight that would not have done anyone, individually or the Skeptics as a whole, any good. But it has not.
A couple of responses suggested that this discussion should not have taken place, raising concerns that it could damage the credibility and effectiveness of the Skeptics as an organisation.
However, that we are able to have major differences of opinion, yet remain willing to argue rationally and reasonably, is, I believe, a reaffirmation of the sorts of principles for which the Skeptics stand and makes me, for one, proud to be a member.