2014 Enlightener & Deceiver Awards

Last spring I stepped down from the chair and the editorial board of the Swedish Skeptics, but I remain an enthusiastic member of the association and we have a really strong executive board these days. Now they have announced the Swedish Skeptics’ annual awards for 2014.

The Enlightener of the Year award is given to Viralgranskaren, “The Viral Investigator”, a column in the Swedish version of the free subway newspaper Metro. Here journalists Jack Werner, Linnéa Jonjons och Åsa Larsson investigate claims that go viral on the social media: everything from fake celebrity deaths to racist propaganda and food safety alarmism. “The Viral Investigator also gives its readers practical advice about how they can become better investigators, and about the tell-tale signs to identify stories that are probably fake.” In November Werner, Jonjons and Larsson received The Swedish Grand Journalism Prize for Innovator of the Year.

The Deceiver of the Year anti-award is given to one of the country’s main morning TV news shows, TV4 Nyhetsmorgon. They have “repeatedly aired pseudoscientific and false claims, dealing among other topics with psychology, psychiatry, medicine and veterinary medicine”.


2012 Enlightener & Deceiver Awards

The Swedish Skeptics have announced their annual awards for 2012. Both the Enlightener award and the Deceiver award are given to the editorial staff of programmes on Swedish national radio.

Medierna is a weekly media criticism show. They roast journalists in an excellently skeptical fashion and have during the year touched upon mistreatment of subjects such as climatology, alternative medicine and vaccination.

Nyhetsguiden is a daily news analysis show. In April and May they ran several anecdote-based antivaccine stories about the ongoing effort to vaccinate prepubescent girls against the cancer-causing HPV virus. This was particularly irresponsible as the Swedish public has a heightened vulnerability to antivax propaganda after the nationwide swine flu vaccination programme was found to correlate with a heightened incidence of narcolepsy. Nyhetsguiden also flirted with climate denialism in November. This kind of reporting is alas what often happens when the science beat is left to general news reporters.