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Bent Spoon, Skeptic of the Year, Bravo Winners Announced

For Immediate Release


The New Zealand Herald has won this year's Bent Spoon Award from the NZ Skeptics for credulous journalism, being cited for repeatedly publishing articles that clearly disregard the weight of evidence.

The NZ Herald has a history spanning over 150 years, and has been known as a respected publication with New Zealand's highest circulation. However, recent editorial policy seems to include publishing trashy "clickbait" stories, many of them sourced from international publications with little regard for the truth, and "advertorial" material that is printed without clearly identifying the vested interest of the author.

From multiple stories on how to win the lottery, to articles with titles like "A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims", the NZ Skeptics say that the paper can no longer be considered a reliable source of informed news.

In particular, the NZ Skeptics single out the regular column "Sandra Clair's Opinion" in the Herald’s “Lifestyle” and “Health & Wellbeing” sections. While her involvement with a company selling plant medicine products is not concealed, her columns regularly propagate discredited information about the alleged benefits of plant products for a variety of serious health conditions.

While the NZ Skeptics are aware that some effective medicines have been derived from plants, this has been on the basis of clear evidence and responsible testing practices. The alternative health industry has a very poor track record with regard to herbal health products, including heavy metal contamination, inappropriate plant sources, adulteration, and even spiking of products with other materials.

Siouxsie Wiles is this year’s winner of the Skeptic of the Year award. Siouxsie is frequently to be found on the TV or radio, explaining in a down-to-earth manner why she is skeptical of many strange claims that find their home in the media. This year she’s taken on MPs, anti-vaxxers and Mike Hosking, tackled topics such as e-cigarettes and the zika virus, and appeared in her regular radio slot “Skeptical Thoughts” with Graeme Hill on RadioLive.

This year’s Bravo awards were won by Lachlan Forsyth, Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw, Laura Walters, Rachel Thomas, Mark Hanna and Mark Honeychurch, for a variety of great articles in the media. More details can be seen at http://skeptics.nz/awards/bravo.

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