TV3 wins praise and criticism from Skeptics

TV3 has gained brickbats and plaudits from the New Zealand Skeptics in their annual awards that judge gullibility and critical thinking.

TV3's Campbell Live took the Bent Spoon award for Carol Hirschfeld's August 31 interview with self-proclaimed energy healer and clairvoyant Simone Simmons.

Ms Simmons claims to be visited regularly by the spirit of Diana, Princess of Wales, 10 years after her death.

NZ Skeptics said material provided by Ms Simmons' publicist cites her appearance on television in New Zealand and elsewhere as endorsing her claim to be a "global psychic and personality".

"Her appearance on the Campbell Live programme did nothing to cement TV3's claim to offer 'leading news journalism'," said Skeptics spokeswoman Vicki Hyde.

She called the interview a "clunker" and said it was important to challenge psychics regarding their claims.

"Otherwise you end up with people believing they are getting value-for-money, like the Victoria University Students' Association women's rights officer, who spent thousands of dollars of student union money ringing psychic 0900 numbers earlier this year."

On that theme, an item by TV3 news reporter Tristram Clayton gained a Bravo award from the Skeptics for a "seldom-seen critical look" into the million dollar 0900 psychic phoneline business.

Auckland University psychologist Robin Shepherd's recent study, revealing that women who became psychologically dependent on the psychic hotlines were spending more than $7000 annually each, also gained a Bravo award.

Health Safety Minister Annette King and industry group Natural Products gained Bravo awards for their attempts to support standards and accountability in the Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill debate.

"We don't often give awards to politicians, and we don't often see vested interests providing leadership of this nature, so it's pleasing to recognise good work when it does happen even if, in this case, it was ultimately unsuccessful," Ms Hyde said.

- NZPA

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