About mentioning those dirty secrets, those elephants in the room!



The Whistle Blowers Award is for those people who, like the child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, have the chutzpah to speak up and say aloud what many people actually perceive and think, but few dare to express.

These are people who have a wonderful fondness for the naked truth.  Unlike the innocent child in the Emperor’s court, they often are aware of the personal danger of this—although sometimes surprised at the extent of this danger.  They were chosen because they call a spade a spade, call it as they see it—and have very good vision.  They are often artists, scientists or philosophers, but whatever their vocation, they are people who believe truth is to be preferred over reassuring lies—even if the truth is unsavoury or offensive or casts the human race in a less than favourable light.  These are brave people I would personally like to thank publicly for their efforts.

If I, the unrepentant sceptic, can be said to have irrational faith in one thing, it is that truth outs.  Those I’ve selected for my “Whistle Blowers Award” are those who are blowing a whistle to draw attention to the ‘unmentionable’ elephants trampling on reason and human rights—and thus confirming my faith that truth does eventually out.

D.  D’Sinope


Olympia Nelson
Identification: Eleven-year old girl rightly proud of  the picture her mother (a professional photographic artist) took of her at age six and which graced the cover of Art Monthly Australia, but which Prime Minister Kevin Rudd found offensive.
Spoke up publicly, like the child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, about her ruler’s moral and intellectual nakedness.  She turned the tables on him and said she found his remarks about her picture “offensive”.

Ivan Illich
Identification: Philosopher, social critic, teacher, and author of Deschooling Society, a book whose relevant criticism of the educational system is even more justified today than when it was published in 1971.
Wrote some of the most intelligent, clear-headed criticisms of mom-and-apple-pie ideas about education I’ve ever come across.   And he practised what he preached, demonstrating by community involvement how offering learning opportunities to those who want to learn is far more effective than institutional education.

Steven Weinberg
Identification: Eminent American physicist, and Nobel laureate in Physics for his contribution to unified field theory and the author of books for the intelligent layman including The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe and Dreams of a Final Theory.
Aside from his major contributions to pure science, bravely speaking out against the dangers of pseudo-science, academic epistemological relativism, the misuse of scientific knowledge, and the evils of religion—in such books as Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries and Glory and Terror: The Coming Nuclear Danger.

Brian Dunning
A non-partisan sceptic who serves up a truly healthy intellectual meal weekly on his Skeptoid podcast.
Casting a sceptical eye not just on obviously nonsensical parapsychology silliness, religious craziness, and conspiracy theories, but also at the secular holy cows of current  ‘right-thinking’ and allegedly educated liberals.

Stephen J. Barrett
Central to founding of the National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF), and the webmaster of QuackWatch , an extremely comprehensive website dealing with medical quackery, medical ethics and consumer protection from dangerous ‘alternative’ medicine.
Public service education about making rational choices regarding medical treatment—choices based not on conspiracy theories about the medical establishment, but rather on objectively evaluating the pros and cons of the various real medical treatments currently available.  He has doubtless saved many lives by dissuading people from turning to quack cures and quack practitioners (both those with and those without M.D. after their names).

Lenny Bruce
Infamous and brilliant stand-up comedian, writer, social critic and satirist who managed to offend just about everyone in the 50’s and 60’s and was persecuted and prosecuted for his saying what many thought but dared not say—and certainly couldn’t have said as wittily and acerbically as he did.
Reinstated comedy in its traditional role as the last holdout for folks who mention the elephants in the room and make fun of those who avert their gaze.  Did much to combat through mockery the appalling self-censorship that threatens contemporary democracies.

Richard Feynman
Nobel Laureate in physics widely considered up there with Einstein for his contributions to our understanding of the physical world.
Accomplishment:  Aside from his incredible contributions as a scientist, for explaining in commonsensical language the real role (and value) of science.  And for casting a sceptical eye on the presumptuous social sciences.  Examples include the video of him musing on the social sciences and his public address at the 1955 autumn meeting of the National Academy of Sciences.