It was Alan Henness who persuaded me and helped me to start this blog. He probably feared that, after my retirement from my Exeter post, I might stop being a nuisance to Prince Charles and other quacks. The blog certainly prevented this possibility!
The very first post on my blog went live on 14 October 2012 – and exactly 5 years later we received the ‘Ockham Editor’s Choice Award’! I say ‘we’, because without Alan the blog would not exist, without the many comments by fans and critics it would not be such fun, and without the guest bloggers it would not be as good. And it is largely for this blog that I got the award, I guess.
In case you did not know about the Ockham Awards, here is what the website tells us:
The Skeptic Magazine’s Ockham Awards were founded because we wanted to draw attention to those people who work so hard to get a great message out there. The Ockhams recognise the effort and time that have gone into the community’s favourite skeptical blogs, skeptical podcasts, skeptical campaigns and outstanding contributors to the skeptical cause.
One of the most important elements of the awards are that the shortlists are selected by you – the public. The awards are always judged on a number of criteria:
2. Success of outreach, both in terms of absolute numbers (how many people did they reach?) and how ‘intrepid’ that outreach was (are they preaching to the choir or getting new people interested in skepticism?)
3. Relevance to the UK ‘scene’ and, therefore, the bulk of their readership. This doesn’t mean that the candidate has to necessarily be UK-based – last year’s winners included overseas and international short-listers – just that they should cover content that is relevant and known in the UK.
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In my initial post of 14/10/12, I stated:
“My blog is not going to provide just another critique of alternative medicine; it is going to be different, I hope. The reasons for this are fairly obvious: I have researched alternative medicine for two decades. My team and I have conducted about 40 clinical trials and published more than 100 systematic reviews of alternative medicine… For 14 years, we hosted an annual international conference for researchers in this field. I know many of the leading investigators personally, and I understand their way of thinking.”
Five years and more than 1 000 posts later, I am happy to report that:
- writing this blog has been much more fun than I originally expected,
- it also has been a steep and endless learning curve,
- I received more insults and personal attacks than ever before (and contrary to some detractors, not a farthing in payment from anyone),
- luckily, I also made many new friends.
I feel deeply honoured to have received the Award. It is a generous appreciation of our small efforts in decreasing the ignorance and stupidity that seems to be all around us today – sadly not just in the realm of alternative medicine (but that would be the subject of another blog).
I thank everyone who contributed to our blog’s success and hope you keep the comments coming.