John Maddox Prize 2019

Earlier this week, the John Maddox Prize was awarded in a lovely ceremony in the Wellcome Collection in London. The Maddox Prize “recognises the work of individuals who promote science and evidence, advancing the public discussion around difficult topics despite challenges or hostility.”

From the Sense About Science website: “The prize is a joint initiative of Sense about Science and the science journal Nature. The late Sir John Maddox, FRS, was editor of Nature for 22 years and a founding trustee of Sense about Science. His daughter Bronwen Maddox is the patron of the prize. The Maddox Prize is funded by the work of the organisations concerned and by public donations.”

2019 Maddox Prize winners

The winner of this year’s Maddox Prize is Prof. Dr. Ir. H. Bambang Hero Saharjo, from Bogor Agricultural University. Saharjo is an expert on tracing the sources and routs of illegal forest fires in Indonesia. He has been fighting these destructive fires and the companies that cause them by testifying in court and by educating local groups about their devastating effects. He and his family have received multiple threats, but he continues his fight. You can watch a video about his work here.

The John Maddox Prize for Early Career Researcher went to Olivier Bernard, who has been pushing against high-dose vitamin C injections for cancer patients. There is no scientific evidence for these, but still the Canadian government approves and reimburses these. He has also countered many other pseudo-scientific myths, often using cartoons for science communication. He is a writer at the Pharmafist blog.

Both winners experienced great difficulty and personal harassment because of the fights they are fighting. I congratulate both winners!- they are doing fantastic work.

2019 Maddox Prize nominations and commendations

This year, there were over 200 nominations for the Maddox Prize, from 38 countries. I was extremely honored to hear that I had been nominated for the Maddox Prize this year.

Together with Ivan Oransky from Retraction Watch and James Heathers for his work on the GRIM Test to detect statistical anomalies of data in scientific papers, I received a “commendation” from the jury.

A quote from the Sense About Science website:

“There were nominations relating to research conduct, publishing and integrity. While judges felt that other nominations more strongly satisfied the public, rather than professional, communication criteria, they wanted to draw attention to the extraordinary contribution made over the past year by Elisabeth Bik of Science Integrity Digest, finding about two-thirds of duplicated images in biomedical papers appear to have been duplicated on purpose; and by Ivan Oransky, Retraction Watch, over many years, in highlighting the retraction of published papers. They also commended the work of James Heathers, of Northeastern University USA, an early career researcher who was nominated for his work on the GRIM test – a simple statistical test of whether results are accurately reported – and his publicity about the limitations of reported research through @justsaysinmice.”

Press about the 2019 Maddox Prize

Death threats and lawsuits: John Maddox Prize honours researchers who risk everything to stand up for science – Amber Dance – Nature

Bambang Hero Saharjo wins 2019 John Maddox Prize should be an inspiration for scientists to stand up for environment in courtrooms – Fidelis Eka Satriastanti – The Conversation

Scientist who takes on firms causing wildfires wins John Maddox prize – Ian Sample – The Guardian

Canadian pharmacist receives award for standing up to campaigners over unproven cancer treatment – Jane Feinmann – The BMJ

Indonesian forestry expert wins John Maddox Prize for testifying against palm oil firms – The Jakarta Post

Quebec pharmacist known as ‘The Pharmafist’ wins international award for defending science – Bob Weber – The Star

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