"It's fun to go into the dark"
Natalia Demina, TrV
Are you sure you're hurt? Maybe, God forgive me, RAEN?" exclaimed one of the readers of our newspaper, having learned who became the new honorary academician of the LIAR (Liar Academy of Pseudoscience). On October 6, the majority of the jury members of the anti-award "LIAR-2018" spoke out for the fact that the contribution of corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Oleg Ilyich Epstein to pseudoscience is the most significant. The vote took place right in front of the participants of the forum "Scientists against Myths", held the day before in Moscow.
Earlier, the Materia Medica Holding company, of which Epstein is the director, received the anti-award "For the most harmful pseudoscientific project", awarded annually as part of the ceremony "For Loyalty to Science". This time, in the final, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences left far behind him (according to the votes of 13 jury members) three candidates at once: a biologist Sergey Savelyev, historian Evgeny Ponasenkov and farmer Herman Sterligov.
The jury explained its choice by both rational and aesthetic considerations. "Homeopathy, no matter how it is presented, is a harmful thing, because it drags holographic properties of bioplasma, laser properties of biofields, quantum frequency characteristics of non–existent substances, etc. into academic textbooks. I want to protect my son, a medical student, and all other medical students from this, who will grow up on such textbooks and then treat people with pacifiers," said a member of the jury, a medical journalist Alexey Vodovozov. "I like the corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Oleg very much Epstein, and I decided to give him the most precious thing in this room – a reptilian sculpture. After all, this is a wonderful work of art, and I am very sorry that in my scientific practice there was no pseudoscientific work that would give me a chance to win this reptiloid," the jury member, an astronomer, said to the laughter of those present Vladimir Surdin.
Anthropologist Stanislav Drobyshevsky noted that he voted for Epstein because, in his opinion, "this is pure pseudoscience, but from the position of a real science, [specialists] with real [scientists] titles in scientific journals claim that this is science. And even the government gives awards for this, and at the same time the person is a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and this is quite sad."
Biologist Mikhail Nikitin stressed that he did not vote for Herman Sterligov, because "this cunning businessman will even turn black PR to his advantage and still earn money from it, and he does not disguise himself as a scientist." Nikitin also supported Epstein's candidacy, as "the Materia Medica company was noted for advertising its homeopathic medicines as a replacement for vaccinations against tick-borne encephalitis and borreliosis."
Jury member historian Igor Kurukin said that he did not vote for Ponasenkov, even though he distinguished himself in the field of pseudo-history, because he is "small, there is not enough scale; no, to suggest in his book that Kutuzov was a secret admirer of Napoleon, a democrat at heart and was ready to let the French into Moscow..." But the imagination was not enough, and that's why the voice of this jury member went to a man who "knows how to make money out of nothing."
In turn Nikita Sokolov from the Free Historical Society also supported Epstein's candidacy, as he "poses a clear and direct threat to people's lives." Nevertheless, he considers Mr. Ponasenkov "an extremely dangerous phenomenon in the long term": "No pseudoscience can exist without the debauchery of the humanitarian sphere. First, it is necessary to corrupt the humanities so that strict communication becomes impossible, and then pseudoscience in natural science and exact fields becomes possible." In his opinion, "Evgeny Ponasenkov is an example of a successful scoundrel in the humanitarian sphere."
Historian of Science Igor Dmitriev, having supported the idea of the anti-award, LIED and quoted the phrase "It's fun to go into the dark," admitted that he voted for Ponasenkov, since he is extremely charming. Interestingly, there were also adherents of pseudo-history in the hall, who demanded a microphone, and then, without receiving it, launched a sound clip from the balcony through a portable speaker designed to disrupt the ceremony. But it was done so clumsily that it looked like a pre-invented part of the action. And all this only added spice and fun to what is happening on the forum.
During the online voting among the viewers of the online broadcast, Oleg Epstein was ahead of other candidates, gaining 31.2% of the votes from more than 600 respondents.
In the comment TrV-Science Mikhail Gelfand noted that Oleg Epstein has made great progress. He "developed an inhuman release activity", "if in a large Academy he is just a member of the Academy, then in the Academy of Lying Pseudosciences he is a whole academician." Mikhail Gelfand was surprised and pleased that not only representatives of natural sciences, but also humanitarians voted for Epstein's candidacy: after all, the latter had strong temptations to vote for the biologist Saveliev, who "carries crap in the humanities", or for the pseudo-historian Ponasenkov.
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