On June 28th, 2015, at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood, the Independent Investigations Group (IIG)–a network of skeptical organizations affiliated with CSI–presented its ninth annual IIG Awards recognizing the promotionof science in the popular arts. The “Iggies” are the only such award offered in North America and the event drew the usual unique crowd of artists, scientists and fans.
The first award was presented by comedian Jim Coughlin to the documentary feature “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.” The movie was particularly relevant at CFI-Los Angeles in Hollywood where we are surrounded by ominous Scientology buildings.
Truly Terrible Television Award
The second presentation was the “Truly Terrible Television Award.” presented those shows that display a shocking lack of skepticism. This year these was no contest; it was won by “The Dr. Oz Show.” Comedienne Hannah Gansen presented the framed certificate printed on “genuine imitation parchment.” Of course, “The Dr. Oz Show” wasn’t in attendance. . . or so we thought.
The face of “Oz The Great and Powerful” appeared on the video screen. The omnipotent floating head (actually actor Ron Lynch) declared in the third person that Oz had become super-powered by his great medical advice. However, once the video screen was retracted, it turns out that “Oz” was sitting in a wheelchair, breathing from an oxygen tank, and transmitting his image through an iPad camera. Taking pity on the decrepit man, Hannah handed him the certificate, and Oz promised to put it on his wall “where is medical license should be.”
The third award returned us to a more serious tone. Academy Award Nominated actor Robert Forster presented an award to “Houdini” – Lionsgate Television’s exhaustive mini-series chronicling the life and times of the great-great-grandfather or skepticism. There to accept the award was Hollywood legend Nicholas Meyer (“Star Trek,” “The Day After”) who wrote the screenplay, an adaptation of his father’s biography of Houdini. Also in attendance was Gerald W. Abrams, executive producer of “Houdini” and accomplished producer of historical dramas. Said Meyer, “I thank Gerry [Abrams] for the really wonderful opportunity he gave me and the great time we had putting this movie together. The icing the cake is this award which we were far from expecting, so thank you all very much.”
Houdini Hall of Honor
Forster remained on the stage to present our last award – induction into the Houdini Hall of Honor. The HHH also includes Carl Sagan, James Randi, Joe Nickell, Martin Gardner, Isaac Asimov, Ray Hyman, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Eugenie Scott.
This year the honor went to Richard Wiseman who’s “Quirkology” web site features endlessly entertaining videos which challenge the viewers pre-conceived notions thanks to clinical psychology and good old magic tricks. Wiseman accepted the award via a pre-recorded video in which he denounced psychics as paranormal events seemed to be occurring all around him.
The IIG is proud to present this one-of-a-kind event every year. More surprises are planned for the tenth annual awards show.