But now, the man who some claim is the scientific equivalent of the boy who cried wolf, is getting honored for an achievement some say is dubious.
Every April 1, the James Randi Educational Foundation hands out Flying Pig Awards to dubiously honor what founder James Randi describes as "the most deserving charlatans, swindlers, psychics, pseudo-scientists and faith healers -- and on their credulous enablers, too."
Hoover's theory is that life began before the first stars formed and was spread throughout the early universe on meteors. Although AOL News and others reported on his findings, Randi's foundation points out that the theory is unsupported by scientific evidence -- or by many scientists.
It doesn't take a pseudo-psychic to predict that Hoover, who is based in Huntsville, Ala., is not amused by the honor.
"I've never heard of them, but they might be able to make more intelligent claims if they actually read the paper," Hoover told AOL News. "There are a number of papers in peer-reviewed literature detailing this research. There's nothing that hasn't already been reported by independent research."
And while the Randi Foundation has never paid out on its standing offer of $1 million to anyone who can prove psychic ability under laboratory conditions, it's predictable that Hoover will not be mentioning his Flying Pig Award on his curriculum vitae.
"I stand by what I said, but I don't want to get into mud slinging," he said. "I showed images of micro-fossils in meteorites that experts in the field recognize as the fossilized remains of prokaryotic microorganisms."
Besides Hoover, the Randi Foundation is handing out a Pigasus Award to TV doctor Mehmet Oz. Randi is amazed that the Harvard-educated cardiac physician insists on promoting faith healing and quack "energy medicine" such as Reiki on his syndicated TV show.
"This year, he really went off the deep end," Randi said. "In March 2011, Dr. Oz endorsed 'psychic' huckster and past Pigasus winner John Edward, who pretends to talk to dead people. Oz even suggested that bereaved families should visit psychic mediums to receive (faked) messages from their dead relatives as a form of grief counseling."
Other Flying Pig Awards and their recipients:
- "The Funder Pigasus Award" goes to CVS/pharmacy, which Randi says continues to sell "homeopathic" medications despite clinical trials that prove homeopathy is useless.
- "The Performer Pigasus Award" goes to televangelist Peter Popoff, who recently made $23.5 million in one year by offering "supernatural debt relief" through infomercials on BET. However, Popoff went bankrupt in 1987 after Randi exposed him for using a secret earpiece to receive information about audience members from his wife.
- "The Refusal to Face Reality Award" goes to debunked autism researcher Andrew Wakefield, 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. Although various respected medical journals have called his work an outright fraud, and evidence suggests he falsified data in order to exploit the panic for financial gain, Randi says Wakefield continues to believe he is the victim.
To date, none of them have responded back.
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