Newsletter of the Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods)

Volume 26 No. 1, Spring 2007


Dubious awards:
Sashes and such

General information and editorial notes

News and Notes:

Bio-Blitz 2007

Activities at the Entomological Societies' meeting

Head of Biological Survey to retire

Summary of the Scientific Committee meeting

Project Update: Pending publications

Web site notes

Dubious awards: Sashes and such

The Quiz Page

Canadian Perspectives: Life-cycle Types in the Arctic

Arctic Corner

From the canoe to the microscope: arctic mayflies and stoneflies

New book on arctic stoneflies

Selected future conferences

Quips and Quotes

List of Requests for Material or Information


Many scientists receive letters from the International Biographical Institute (Cambridge, England), the American Biographical Institute (Raleigh, North Carolina), and other organizations, informing them that they have won an award or recognition for their work. These organizations send letters to large numbers of people, including leaders of science and business, typically promising them inclusion in some prestigious-sounding volume, or promising an award at a meeting convened to provide similar recognition. These letters normally are signed by the “Director” of one of the “Expert Panels” making the awards.

The organisations offer many different categories of recognition, sent out to different mailing lists, to entice gullible people. For example, a small sample of the touted volumes and awards includes such titles as “2000 Leading Scientists of the 21st Century” [and other specialties], “Book of 2000 Intellectuals”, “Scholar of the Year”, “Man of the Year”, “Continental Governor for the United States of America,” “ International Man of the Year”, “International Book of Honour”, “500 Leaders of Influence”, “1000 World Leaders of World Influence”, “International Leaders of Achievement”, “5000 personalities of the World”, “Community Leaders of America”, and so on. More general categories include such things as the “Award for Distinguished Service to Science” and the “World Lifetime Achievement Award”. Offered to some other recipients are the “International Diploma of Honour”, “Ambassador of Grand Eminence”, “American Medal of Honor”, “Congressional Medal of Excellence”, “Einsteinian Chair of Science”, “Genius Laureate of the United States”, “Great Minds of the 21st Century Award”, “International Peace Prize (United Cultural Convention Award)”, “Member of the World Institute of Achievement”, “One of the Genius Elite”, “Platinum Record for Exceptional Performance”, “Register of the World’s Most Respected Experts”, “World Lifetime Achievement Award”, “World Laureate of the American Biographical Institute”, “World Medal of Freedom”, and even membership in the organization, such as a Diploma of Fellowship “commemorating Magnificent and Distinguished Deeds”.

Each recipient is invited to purchase items that can be proudly displayed or worn to showcase his or her high achievement, such as a copy of the volume (perhaps luxuriously bound in leather), a plaque or medal (finely engraved with the recipient’s name), or even a sash (splendidly embroidered in gold thread, of course). Each of these items of recognition tend to cost about US $250. The alternative of registration at a meeting might attract a “registration fee” of twice as much. Clearly, promising such “recognition” supports a lucrative business.

Some, chiefly unsuspecting, people in Europe and North America have even claimed the recognition afforded by these “awards” among their lists of qualifications and honours. In some parts of the world, newspaper advertisements are commonly placed by the recipients to advertise the awards, a behaviour reinforced by the fact that no one there laughs at them for having spent money in this way. However, the level of screening to which potential recipients are subjected is suggested by the response when an Indian hotel submitted the name of their cook: he duly received a plaque and citation for his leading role in South Asian Society.

A final category includes various “Who’s Who” and similar volumes. Although some such works with wide coverage, such as the original British “Who’s Who”, are published in large press runs without charge to authors and are held by major libraries for reference, most of the works with similar titles are published by vanity presses and are little used except by the included book purchasers.


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