The ARRIA Prize: a sad reptiloid for Russia's “outstanding pseudoscientists”
VRAL (VRunic Academy of Pseudoscience) is a project of the scientific and educational portal Anthropogenesis.ru and the Evolution Foundation. Members of this prestigious organization on an elective basis are people who "have made an outstanding contribution to Russian pseudoscience." Candidates for academicians are chosen by readers of popular science resources through online voting, and anyone can nominate. In this case, neither the personality of the scientist, nor the theme of his work matters: businessmen and writers, parapsychologists and HIV dissidents, holders of scientific degrees and simply distributors of pseudoscientific ideas have the same chance of being called.
History of the Academy of Pseudoscience
The procedure for awarding the title of academic pseudoscience takes place in several stages. During the semi-final, candidates are nominated in specially created groups of such popular social networks as VKontakte and Facebook. After that, the jury, consisting of the organizers of the portal and invited experts, selects the 10 most popular candidates, and then votes for those who will reach the final. The election of the academician is held as part of a ceremony at the forum “Scientists Against Myths”. Finalists who took 2nd and 3rd places are awarded the title of “Corresponding Member of ARAL”, and the winner is solemnly awarded the diploma of the Honorary Academician of the Runic Academy of Pseudoscience and the main prize - the statuette “Sad Reptiloid”. The unique design of the prize was developed by the talented sculptor Nikita Makletsov and depicts a pensive reptiloid sitting on the Egyptian pyramid.
The first cycle of the “Honorary Academician of VRAL” award took place in 2016. As a result of the vote, satirical writer Mikhail Zadornov (nominated for his love of the etymology of Russian words), as well as Anatoly Fomenko, author of the pseudo-historical work “New Chronology”, was announced as a member of the VRAL. The winner, who earned the title of academician, that year was Irina Ermakova, the main activist of the Russian anti-GMO movement, claiming that genetically modified foods were created by an alien civilization. The top ten semi-finalists also included Ernst Muldashev, Igor Prokopenko, Valery Chudinov and other prominent supporters of pseudo-scientific theories.
VRAL-2017: outstanding pseudoscientists
On October 21, 2017, the “Scientists Against Myths-5” forum was held, at which the second ceremony of awarding the titles of the “Lieutenant Academy of Sciences” took place. This time, the jury was represented by Russian anthropologist and popularizer of science Stanislav Drobyshevsky, television and radio host Ivan Zatevakhin, astrophysicist Boris Stern and others. Each of the jury members delivered a lecture designed to expose false and pseudoscientific research within the framework of a particular field of science. Ph.D. Andrei Kizilov revealed the secrets of the Caucasian dolmens, the Sumerologist Vladimir Emelyanov spoke about popular myths regarding the culture of ancient Babylon, and UN expert in the field of environmental change assessment Nikolai Dronin declassified the “global conspiracy of climatologists”.
According to the results of the voting, the title of “Honorary Academician of VRAL” was awarded to Grigory Alfeev (aka Metropolitan Hilarion ), who made “an invaluable contribution to the implementation of theology in the Russian education system” and in 2016 headed the Joint Thesis Council on theology. In addition to him, last year’s candidate, Igor Prokopenko, deputy director general of REN TV channel, author and producer of such sensational projects as Theory of Delusions, The Most Shocking Hypotheses and Military Secret, also entered the finals. Finally, Olga Kovekh, the chief doctor of HIV-dissident groups and communities, denying diseases such as HIV, viral hepatitis, Ebola virus and the benefits of vaccination, became the third finalist.