From time to time I get emails like this:
Dear Brian M,
We are pleased to announce that Marquis Who’s Who has selected you for our official 2018 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. You have been selected to receive this prestigious award as a result of your hard work and dedication to your profession.
The 2018 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award Winners are featured on the Marquis Lifetime Achievement website at no cost. Award recipients are entitled to a professionally written personal narrative announcing this honor as well as your accomplishments. The narrative comes with online distribution to all the major search engines for higher visibility and each winner is given an expanded biography and exclusive access to Marquis Biographies Online (MBO), our database of more than 1.5 million of the most distinguished professionals from around the globe. Lastly, all narratives are also offered in a lovely custom framed display piece for the home or office.
Please take the next step in distributing your official award announcement and reaping the benefits of this distinguished award.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Marquis Who’s Who
Sounds great, doesn’t it? After all these years, I am finally recognized.
It is surely an honour to be spoken of in the same breath as such figures as Albert Nelson. After all, we all remember Albert Nelson. The famous Albert Nelson.
In fact, we remember all the Albert Nelsons:
However, there is a downside.
When I click the link provided at the bottom of the email, I get directed to a page describing all the benefits of agreeing to receive the award: a professionally written biographical note; an expanded biography in the Marquis database; a feature article on the Marquis website; and — of course — a “stunning” commemorative wall plaque, “suitable for display in your home or office”.
To defray costs of these, I am required to pay a processing fee.
And here it is:
Wowzers! 895 dollars is a lot of dollars. Seems that being a Lifetime Achiever isn’t cheap.
Over the past twenty-five years, I have seen “listed in Marquis Who’s Who” in several professional CVs, including those of some very senior professorial colleagues.
Remarkably, the Marquis Who’s Who directory is still seen as reputable in many places. But I think it is clear that the whole system looks, swims, and quacks like a tacky money-grabbing direct marketing scam.
Put simply, these awards are not worth the paper — or commemorative plaques — they are printed on.
Poor old Albert Nelson must be turning in his grave.
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.