Every year on April 1st, the James Randi Educational Foundation announces the recipients of the Pigasus Awards. They go to psychics, pseudo-scientists, faith healers, and the like — and the people who enable them.
Among the “winners” this year:
- NASA Engineer Richard B. Hoover, who recently announced for the third time in 14 years that he had found evidence of microscopic life in meteorites
- CVS/pharmacy, for their work to support the manufacturers of scam “homeopathic” medications who sell up to $870 million a year in quack remedies to U.S. consumers
- Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has done such a disservice to his TV viewers by promoting quack medical practices
- Andrew Wakefield, the researcher who launched the modern anti-vaccine panic with unfounded statements linking the MMR vaccine with autism that were not borne out by any research, even his own
There’s also a special “comeback” award for televangelist Peter Popoff… who went bankrupt decades ago after he was exposed (by James Randi) as a con-artist… but is right back on TV offering “supernatural debt relief” and “Miracle Water” on infomercials airing on BET.
This business is so lucrative that according to recent IRS documents, Popoff took in $23.5 million and paid himself and his immediate family more than $1 million in one year alone.
There’s something strange about Popoff receiving this award, though. The reason he’s receiving this distinction is because he’s getting rich by making false promises to gullible people. Is that really any different from certain megachurch pastors?
The only major difference I can think of is that the pastors may sincerely believe they’re helping people… but when that much money comes rolling in, there has to be a voice in their head that says, “The more I tell people what God will do for them, the richer I get! Must. Keep. Making. Bigger. Promises.” Even if they’re not consciously thinking that, they’re still perpetuating a false myth instead of deliberate conning.
So if Popoff gets the Pigasus Award, then those pastors making over $1,000,000/year on the backs of people who buy into their lies ought to receive at least an honorable mention, no?