The IIG Awards

Paul Provenza, James Randi and James Underdown
Paul Provenza, James Randi and James Underdown

In 2005, the Independent Investigations Group (IIG) approved the creation of an awards program to recognize the promotion of Scientific and Critical Thinking in mainstream entertainment, i.e. movies and television. The awards are presented annually. They are presented to those movies or television programs providing the best and worst examples of scientific and critical thinking during the previous year, as nominated and voted by the members of the IIG. The ‘good’ award is presented to the production(s) which had the most positive presentation of scientific, rational, and critical thinking during the previous year. The ‘bad’ award is presented to the worst example. These awards are now affectionately referred to as the "Iggies".

The first Award ceremony took place in 2007, honoring (or poking fun of) shows from 2006. All ceremonies take place in the Steve Allen Theater at the Center for Inquiry in Hollywood, California.

Exempt

IIG Award trophies and Hall of Honor Plaque
IIG Award trophies and Hall of Honor Plaque

This award program is intended to recognize material in the popular, mainstream media, i.e. "Hollywood" dramatic titles. Productions aimed at a skeptical or scientific audience are normally exempt from consideration, although there have been exceptions. An educational or science-related production is alwayseligible for the appropriateaward, should it fail to deliver good science according to its mandate.

Award Presentation

Besides the award winners and members of the IIG, the press and various local dignitaries are also invited to be present when the awards are presented at the Center for Inquiry in Hollywood, California. The awards are hosted by the chair of the IIG, with guest presenters for each category, including IIG members and occasional celebrities. The award ceremony is open to the public and is one way to help raise funds for our investigations and raise awareness about the IIG to the general public.

Awards Given

There are three (and sometimes four) categories of award recognition:

  1. Induction into Houdini’s Hall of Honor as mentioned above. Recognizes a substantial career devotion by an individual to the Scope of the awards.
  2. The ‘Iggie’ trophy . Recognizes a significant contribution for a specific project (movie, TV episode, article, book, etc.) related to the scope of the awards over the preceding 12 months (roughly). It’s usually given to the people responsible for producing the item (producer, director, writers, and so on).
  3. The Truly Terrible Television , and its counterpart, the Mostly Miserable Moviecertificate.
  4. Special . Occasionally we add a special category to recognize science shows, documentaries, educational material, or some other type of award. If it doesn’t appear in a given year below, it means the special category wasn’t awarded that year.

There is another, special category of award, which is the induction of an individual into the IIG "Houdini Hall of Honor," named after Harry Houdini, the role model for the IIG and all other investigators of the supernatural, and the first inductee. Houdini was really a major force attempting to educate the public about phony psychic mediums through his entertainment, completing the prerequisite for inclusion in these awards. Inductees are listed on a perpetual plaque which is displayed on the wall at the headquarters of the IIG in Los Angeles. The other inaugural member, along with Houdini, is Carl Sagan. The inscription on the plaque reads as follows:

"For their commitment to educating the public in skeptical thinking through entertainment, these individuals are inducted into the IIG Hall of Honor"

Past Winners
2007 Harry Houdini (Ehrich Weiss) for 2006
Carl Sagan
2008 James "Amazing" Randi
James Randi accepted his award in person, and performed a little magic as well.
Appearances on video congratulating Randi:
Penn & Teller
Michael Shermer
Phil Plait
Adam Savage
2009 Joe Nickell
Joe Nickell accepted his award in person
Appearances on video congratulating Nickell: James Randi
Michael Shermer
Eugenie Scott
Ben Radford
2010 Martin Gardner
2011 Isaac Asimov and Ray Hyman
Ray Hyman accepted via prerecorded video
2012 Neil deGrasse Tyson

Recognizes a significant contribution for a specific project (movie, TV episode, article, book, etc.) related to the scope of the awards over the preceding 12 months (roughly). It’s usually given to the people responsible for producing the item (producer, director, writers, and so on).

Past Winners
2007 TV series “Psych”, Episode: Pilot. (USA Network)
Accepting for Psych: Daniel Hsia, staff writer
TV Series “The Simpsons”, Episode: “The Monkey Suit” (Fox Network)
Accepting for the Simpsons: J. Stewart Burns, writer
2008 "In the Shadow of the Moon" (Discovery Films)
Accepting for "Shadow of the Moon": Duncan Copp, Producer
"Phenomenon" (NBC, Granada Entertainment)
Accepting for "Phenomenon": Dwight Smith and Michael Agbabian, Producers
2009 "Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil" (Comedy Central) episode: Disney vs. Scientology
"Religulous" (Lion’s Gate)
2010 "Eureka" (SyFy/NBC Universal)
"Mentalist" (CBS)
2011 Dr. Dean Edell (for his many contributions in radio, TV, and publishing)
Phil Plait’s "Bad Universe" (Discovery Channel)
Phil Plait accepted via prerecorded video
2012 Tim Minchin International live performer
"Big Bang Theory" (CBS)
"Through the Wormhole" (Science Channel)
"South Park" (Comedy Central)
Snopes.com Informational website
Past Winners
2007 "The Montel Williams Show" for episodes featuring Sylvia Browne (CBS) “Psychic Detectives” (Courtroom TV channel)
2008 "Ghosthunters" (SyFy)
2009 "Psychic Kids, Children of the Paranormal" (A&E) "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" (Premise Media Corp) Michael Shermer and Eugenie Scott appeared in a video clip to explain ‘their side’ of the interviews they did for "Expelled" Special appearance by Ron Lynch as Ben Stein
2010 No award in this category this year. Concentrated on the positive shows instead.
2011 "Oprah Winfrey Show" "Dr. Oz" Special appearance by Emery Emery as the Dr. Oz / Oprah producer.
2012 "Ancient Aliens" History Channel

Occasionally we add a special category to recognize science shows, documentaries, educational material, or some other type of award. If it doesn’t appear in a given year below, it means the special category wasn’t awarded that year.

Past Winners
2008 "Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!" (Showtime)
"Is It Real" (National Geographic)
Accepting for "Is it real": French Horwitz via prerecorded video clip
2009 "Mythbusters" (Discovery Channel)
Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman accepted via by prerecorded video
Actress Amanda Peet (for her appearances promoting vaccination)