On October 30, 2008 Siðmennt – the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association held its annual awards ceremony in a historic old restaurant in downtown Reykjavik.
Siðmennt’s fourth annual Humanist Award was given to the Icelandic Red Cross for its unique and unselfish Humanitarian work in protecting life and promoting health in Iceland and other parts of
the world. In her presentation speech, Siðmennt president Hope Knutsson stated that Red Cross projects touch on a broad range of activities for example the purchase and operation of ambulances, day centers for psychiatric clients, shelters for homeless women, assistance to prisoners and poor people, emergency services in natural disasters, a crisis hotline for people with problems, reception programs for refugees, and assistance to asylum seekers.
The work of the Red Cross is humanistic by its very nature. The board of Siðmennt views the Red Cross as uniquely deserving of its Humanist of the Year Award. Kristjan Sturluson the director of the Icelandic Red Cross accepted the Humanist Award on behalf of the organization. In addition to the framed award certificate, the Red Cross was given a small sculpture called “Flow” by the artist Elísabet Ásberg.
An additional award was given at this ceremony. For the first time, Siðmennt presented its Education and Science Award for important contributions to education about science in Iceland.
The recipient of the Education and ScienceAward for 2008 was Pétur Tyrfingsson, chairperson of The Icelandic Psychological Association. Pétur has given the Icelandic public a healthy appreciation of the difference between science and pseudoscience through his published articles and TV and radio appearances. Pétur has set a great example of informing the public about how scientific knowledge is assembled, and that it is extremely important that people not just accept everything that is presented to them as facts without professional examination or criticism. In addition to a framed award certificate, Siðmennt gave Pétur 2 books, one about critical thinking and the other about the history of health care services in Iceland. Pétur said in his acceptance speech that it worried him that some drugstores have started selling homeopathic remedies, whereas he would like to be able to trust that when he comes into a drugstore he would find only those products that meet quality standards which guarantee that the active ingredients do what is claimed on the label.
After the awards were presented, two folksingers Þorvaldur Örn Árnason (a former Siðmennt president) and Gunnar Guttormsson, sang several well chosen songs and were very well received.