2011 Enlightener & Obscurantist Awards

i-230db6e878da54fec87ff8136882123f-Hjarnkontoret-barn-svt-ny-180.jpgThe Swedish Skeptics, of whom I am the chairman, have just announced their annual awards for 2011 [ab].

The Swedish public TV show Hjärnkontoret receives the Enlightener of the Year award,

“…for their excellent science coverage directed towards children. Hjärnkontoret has aired for 16 years and thus contributed to the upbringing of the entire current generation of students and young scientists at Swedish universities. Thanks to its welcoming format and accessible time slot on public television, Hjärnkontoret reaches out to children of all backgrounds, thus widening and democratising the recruitment of future scientists. Furthermore, the show increases knowledge and appreciation of science among the public at large.”

The Enlightener of the Year receives a cash prize of SEK 25 000 ($3600, €2800).

The Board for the Environment of Mora and Orsa municipalities receives the Obscurantist of the Year anti-award, as it

“… has disregarded scientific knowledge when dealing with so-called electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

Since 2006 the Board has dealt with a complaint including demands that the municipality force cell phone operators to decrease radiation from their antennas. This radiation was said to cause a number of health problems. The Board for the Environment has spent considerable resources on investigating this demand without acknowledging the fact that controlled scientific experiments have never been able to demonstrate any hypersensitivity effects of radio waves. Instead the Board has alleged that the science is uncertain and that a link cannot be excluded. …

People who believe that they are hypersensitive to electromagnetic fields usually experience real symptoms. But there is no scientific support for their interpretation of the cause. Instead, we are usually dealing with a psychosomatic condition. Accepting the sufferers’ interpretation in opposition against scientific medicine is actually a disservice to the people involved.”

See Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Nyheter, Dagens Medicin, Expressen, SR P4 Dalarna, Mobil.se, Dalarnas Tidningar, Dala-demokraten, Eskilstuna-kuriren, Dalarnas Tidningar again, Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe. I will add links to more coverage as I find them.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

10 thoughts on “2011 Enlightener & Obscurantist Awards”

  1. Obscurantists (but outside your jurisdiction):
    “Precious bodily fluids”… Michigan Community Bans Fluoride in Water http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2011/12/28/michigan-community-bans-fluoride-in-water/
    — — — — — — — — —
    Are boobs portals to a parallel universe? A burning question for the Skeptics! http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/files/2011/12/boobsdontworkthatway.gif
    (found at “Teaching girls that pretty isn’t pretty enough”)
    — — — — — — — —
    Conflict between fundamentalists and archaeology; Stanford archaeologist questions the role of human rights in site preservation http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-01-stanford-archaeologist-role-human-rights.html


  2. Question for non-Swedish readers: Do you have any TV program aimed at children that is similar to Hjärnkontoret?
    -As I see it, the major advantage of the program is not to recruit future scientists, but to help create new generations of well-informed laymen(and women). We who care must not abandon them to horoscopes and reality shows.

    I have often met grown-up people with excellent judgement and maturity in non-scientific areas* that have an Achilles heel for altmed, parapsychology or spiritual charlatans.
    {*people significantly smarter than me}
    -There was no Hjärnkontoret on the telly in their childhood.


  3. In Denmark there’s “Store Nørd” ( http://www.dr.dk/ramasjang/noerd/index.htm ) and “Lille Nørd” (“Big Nerd” and “Little Nerd” – for real). “Lille Nørd” is aimed at smaller children and focus mainly on nature/animals while “Store Nørd” is aimed at older children with a focus on physics and chemistry.

    Back in the 80’s (1982-91 I think) there was “Vitek” (name made from videnskab and teknik, science and technic) that dealth with both hardcore science (what is an atom? what is time and is time travel possible?) and more down to earth subjects (how does a CD work? what use is there to a PC?).


  4. I don’t know how persistent the above link is. Here’s the text: Der Polizeichef von Värmland, Dan Persson, hat Mitarbeiter verteidigt, die im Rahmen der Suche nach einem verschwundenen älteren Mann den Rat einer Wahrsagerin eingeholt hatten. Man berücksichtige sämtliche Hinweise, sagte Persson nach massiver Kritik unter anderen von Seiten der zentralen Polizeibehörde in Stockholm. Die Ermittler in Torsby hatten auf Empfehlung der Wahrsagerin in einem ausgedehnten Territorium nach einem „blauen Haus mit weiβen Balken“ gesucht, in dessen Nähe sich der Mann befinden solle. Bislang bleibt der über 80-Jährige aber verschwunden.

    A police chief (in Sweden!) defends the actions of police officers who asked a fortune teller for help when looking for a missing person. Her advice didn’t result in the missing person being found, though.


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