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CSI Awards Balles Prize

June 13, 2011

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) will award its 2010 Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking to Steven Novella.

Novella is the director of General Neurology at Yale University School of Medicine. He is also the editor of Science-Based Medicine, a blog dedicated to exploring issues of science in medicine. His practice includes general neurology with a special interest in neuromuscular disease. His research interests include ALS, myasthenia gravis, neuropathy, and erythromelalgia.

The Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking is a $1,500 award given to the author of the published work that best exemplifies healthy skepticism, logical analysis, or empirical science. Each year, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry selects the paper, article, book, or other publication that has the greatest potential to create positive reader awareness of important scientific issues.

“Steven is being recognized with this honor not for a particular article or publication, but instead for the tremendous body of work including the Skeptics Guide to the Universe, Science-Based Medicine, Neurologica, SKEPTICAL INQUIRER column “The Science of Medicine” and the tireless travel and lecture schedule on behalf of skepticism,” said CSI Executive Director Barry Karr. “The truly most amazing thing is he does this all on a volunteer basis.”

The prize will be presented to Novella by Kendrick Frazier, editor of SKEPTICAL INQUIRER and a member of CSI’s executive council, at the Friday evening banquet during CSIcon in New Orleans, October 28, 2011.

This prize has been established through the generosity of Robert P. Balles, an associate member of CSI, and the Robert P. Balles Endowed Memorial Fund, a permanent endowment fund for the benefit of CSI. CSI’s established criteria for the prize include use of the most parsimonious theory to fit data or to explain apparently preternatural phenomena.

This is the sixth year the Robert P. Balles prize has been presented. Previous winners of this award are:

2009: Michael Specter, New Yorker staff writer and former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, for his book Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives
2008: Leonard Mlodinow, physicist, author and professor at Caltech, for his book The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives
2007: Natalie Angier, New York Times science writer and author of the book The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science
2006: Ben Goldacre for his weekly column, “Bad Science,” published in the Guardian newspaper (U.K.)
2005: Shared by Andrew Skolnick, Ray Hyman, and Joe Nickell for their series of articles in the SKEPTICAL INQUIRER on “Testing ‘The Girl with X-Ray Eyes’”

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting scientific inquiry and critical investigation, including critical investigation of claims relating to unconventional healthcare practices, such as acupuncture, therapeutic touch, and homeopathic medicine. CSI’s advisors include a number of leading scientists, some of whom are medical specialists. A list of CSI’s fellows, advisors, and staff is available on CSI’s website at www.csicop.org/about/csi_fellows_and_staff/.

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