The “Golden Plank in Front of the Head” is a satirical negative prize awarded since many years by the Vienna Sceptics. It is given to people and organisations who seek money, fame or influence with scientifically refuted theories, although they should have known better long ago. From miracle healers to divining rods – the world of esoteric nonsense is large and wide. At the “Golden Plank” award ceremony, the year’s highlights are presented and the most outstanding of them is chosen.
It is goof fun – I remember that once even Charles Windsor had been nominated – and have reported about this award before; e.g.:
- German association of doctor-homeopaths receive prestigious award
- The most preposterous piece of pseudoscientific piffle of the year
- Professor Harald Walach, pseudo-scientist of the year
An Austrian paper just reported the good news that, after the interruption due to the pandemic, the previously yearly event is happening again:
The years of the pandemic and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine have led to even the most nonsensical counterfactual and anti-scientific theories finding an audience. Often enough, these claims themselves came along in the white cloak of science – but in doing so, they twisted the findings of scientific studies or referred to those that were highly questionable.
The list of possible candidates is correspondingly long … some of the masterminds of the anti-vaccination and anti-pandemic movement such as the doctor Maria Hubmer-Mogg, her colleague Andreas Sönnichsen, who called the Covid vaccinations “the biggest medical scandal of all time”, and the psychiatrist Raphael Bonelli.
Political scientist Ulrike Guérot qualified as a candidate on several occasions – both with her claims during the pandemic and on the Russian war against Ukraine (“thus it becomes clear that Ukraine was given the role of starting a war with Russia on behalf of the West”).
But also former science journalists like Peter F. Mayer, who continues to twist scientific studies at will on a daily basis with his tkp blog, and Bert Ehgartner have made their sweary contributions to vaccination scepticism in Austria, which now also affects many other life-saving vaccinations. The role of some media and their representatives in the recent dissemination of anti-scientific nonsense and conspiracy ideologies, which are sometimes themselves more or less cleverly disguised as satire, should not be underestimated.
Finally, in recent months, one or the other politician – keyword: “Science is one thing, facts are another” – has manoeuvred himself into a promising position. Among the parties, the MFG, which has made anti-science part of its programme, comes to the fore. But the climate change small talkers of the ÖVP and FPÖ would also deserve a censuring mention – as well as that Austrian ruling party that has its own anti-nuclear spokesperson.
We don’t want to prejudge your favourites here, however, and look forward to receiving as many suggestions and reasons as possible. There is a separate page to officially nominate them. From all online submissions, a jury will select three finalists and finally this year’s winner. In addition, as is tradition, a “Golden Board for Lifetime Achievement” will also be awarded.
The awards ceremony will take place on 5 October 2023 in the Vienna Stadtsaal. This year, for the first time, there will also be an audience award, which will be decided live by the guests. Martin Puntigam from the Science Busters and Andre Wolf from Mimikama will host the evening. The laudations will be given by medical historian Daniela Angetter-Pfeiffer, psychiatrist and neurologist Heidi Kastner and health scientist and epidemiologist Gerald Gartlehner. According to the organisers, it will be an evening to learn, to laugh and to shake one’s head.
If you want to nominate someone of your choice (I believe they consider international charlatans as well), you can do it here: Das Goldene Brett 2023 – Der Negativpreis 🏆 (goldenesbrett.guru)