December 6, 2013

I am very grateful for two awards recently bestowed on me.

Profuse thanks to Robert P. Balles and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, notably Executive Director Barry Karr, for the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking, 2012, given “for a published work that best exemplifies a healthy skepticism, logical analysis, or empirical science.” This was for my book of that year, The Science of Ghosts: Searching for Spirits of the Dead, published by Prometheus Books.

I received my handsome plaque and $2,500 at the CFI Summit conference in Tacoma, Washington, October 25, 2013. In presenting the award, Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier kindly said of me that I was “the epitome of a skeptical investigator,” adding: “Both in the quality and quantity of his investigations and writings, he is a wonder, a true national treasure—international treasure really, because he investigates and is read everywhere he goes around the world. . . .” (Thanks again, Ken.)

I received another award the very next day (and so it was necessarily bestowed in absentia) at the Kentucky Freethought Convention. I was one of several recipients of the Charles Chilton Moore–John Scopes Award, honored for their work in science education and freethought. I am most grateful to Ed Hensley and the others responsible for this honor.

I was in distinguished company. The other awardees were Edwin and Helen Kagin, Emmett Fields, Frank Lovell, Dick Renfro, Charles Sohner, and—tah dah—Eugenie Scott, Director of the National Center for Science Education. She had also been awarded a lifetime achievement award at the CFI Summit. I see a pattern here. I said jokingly to colleagues that I felt like I was playing second fiddle to Genie, but then quickly added that I can remember when I was lucky to play third or even fourth fiddle—obviously now coming up in the world! Seriously, congratulations, Genie.

I’m still waiting for CSI’s prestigious Award of Valor—so prestigious it has never been given. Some even say I made it up, but I hope to convince people otherwise. Maybe if Eugenie Scott gets it, I’ll have a chance. . . .

Meanwhile, thanks again to the people and organizations responsible for these recent awards. I am truly grateful.