The Albert Einstein Award of Excellence: another ABI scam

Last year’s post on the Great Minds of the 21st Century award continues to attract attention from people who want to find out more about the American Biographical Institute (ABI) and its vanity awards.

Surprisingly, there are still people clueless (shameless?) enough to list vanity scams like this on their CVs. Thankfully, the ABI decided to nominate me again this year, this time for another honour: the Albert Einstein Award of Excellence for 2011, no less. Here’s an excerpt from their letter:

One of the most compliments to a person’s career in science is an honor bestowed that symbolizes the practice and genius of one of the world’s great intellectuals – Albert Einstein. You, Mr. Dingemanse, have by the American Biographical Institute to be a recipient of its Albert Einstein Award of Excellence for 2011. You have demonstrated effectiveness and distinction in your field and are deserving of this honor.

It is with great pleasure that I accept this invitation to expound on the dubious value of this award, and the services of the American Biographical Institute in general. The long and the short of it: The American Biographical Institute is a publisher of paid inclusion reference works — you pay $400 to be included in their directory. They also sell ridiculously expensive commemorative plaques — you pay $400 for a piece of wood with your name on it. This is not something to be proud of. It is essentially a paid flattery service. That is exactly why their letters devote so much real estate to assure you of their admiration:

Your accomplishments through scientific intelligence and steadfast efforts personify the contributions Albert Einstein gave to society. … To choose a finite group representing all of the demands of the deep-thinking profession that is science took months of consideration … It is with great admiration that we have chosen you for this distinct honor. … It was my pleasure as president to have been a part of the selection process to choose honorees for the esteemed Albert Einstein Award 2011. It is those, like you, who have committed themselves to an honorable discipline that makes a difference in the enlightenment of others and to the progress of humanity.

Please don’t fall for the vanity awards of ABI. And if you must, be assured that the rest of us will award your “accomplishments” and “steadfast efforts” with the distinct honor of one of the most respected awards in the field of “scientific intelligence” — the esteemed Gullible People of the 21st Century award.

21 thoughts on “The Albert Einstein Award of Excellence: another ABI scam

  1. Nice one. They use the same kind of vague formulations that astrologers use, to make the description fit just about anyone. (Anyone gullible enough, that is.)

    By the way, I guess §400 should be $400.

  2. It is with great admiration that we congratulate you on your effectiveness and distinction in your field, accomplished through your scientific intelligence and steadfast efforts.

    On this auspicious occasion, we take pride in adumbrating the following potential supplement to this astoundingly successful business model.

    In Germany, high school seniors who can afford their own car (or at least have substantial influence over the decoration of a car) often display their gleeful anticipation of graduation by writing “ABI” (for Abitur, the German equivalent to a VWO diploma) plus the (expected) graduation year on the car’s rear window. Not only are all of them potential candidates for an “Outstanding Abiturient of the year” award (and entry in an expensive directory), but there are probably also decent royalties to be harvested for using the American Biography Institute’s acronym, or at least sizeable compensation payments for copyright infringement.

    The 112,000 people who -statistically speaking- own a car registered in the district of Anhalt-Bitterfeld and thus have “ABI” on their license plates, however, tend to be comparatively poor. As prudent financial consultants, we therefore recommend against major business operations among members of this group at the present stage of development. Yet, the widespread lack of economic prospects might make them particularly amenable to other kinds of status symbols — this calls for further exploration. After all, even reputable people who have already accumulated other publicly recognized titles and awards can apparently be fooled into buying multiple “awards” over a period of several years and still not qualify for a Darwin Award.

    Speaking of which: who on earth is behind the Gazet van Antwerpen?

  3. I welcome those awards because I fit as to my achievements per se. And I am happy about it because honestly it suits me but I don’t buy them.
    Probably, in your case that you are dull or has no aspiration of deep thinking or basic thinking then you may forgo the award but don’t insult the others who are appropriately receiving those awards. You may or you may buy it if you have the money if you don’t have then be happy with receiving the title- that is if it fits you..If ever ABI will send me an award that it does not fit me, I’ll put it aside or call their attention then I will just keep quiet.

  4. Being an awardee is a privilege but it has to be the right one- let us say for instance if abi sends you an award for leadership and you donot have an international record of organizing a relevant society or being a chairman or president of a worldwide organization in the internet or any biographical source in the libraries, then please donot accept that award or put it in your resume..because the people around you will judge you based on the internet record of yours, etc– but if it is an appropriate award and you are selected then why not? you have the documents such as publications to prove that and they are there in the internet to attest for that then it is not wrong to accept the nomination (in british it means awarding) even you don’t have to buy the certificates at least you are selected/nominated. you can put that in your resume..

  5. Thank you for your comments. With all due respect, it is quite clear that ABI is sending out their mailings to a lot of random people everywhere — most of them misses, some of them perhaps hits in terms of actual expertise. They are just trying to sell their stuff; their sweet words about selection procedures are simply part of their marketing strategy. The evidence for that is the fact that this is the second time I was nominated for one of their awards.

    So in my opinion, the nomination isn’t worth anything, and mentioning it on your CV means you’re just helping ABI to continue its dubious business. Real awards are rare and don’t come with a price. ABI’s awards fail on both these counts.

    Also, brand, I appreciate your judgement that I am “dull” and have “no aspiration of deep thinking or basic thinking”. This is no doubt true, and it is exactly what sheds doubt on the selection procedures of ABI. If they selected me twice, once last year and once this year, what does it mean that they selected you or someone like professor Curio for the same distinction?

  6. Mark,

    Not the AEAE it’s a different award that ABI gave me , it is something else.. but look at the achievement of the other person you mentioned– i think it is no doubt that he is a worthy one to receive it- refer to his achievements online- how about yours let me see?.. in other words if you are really a stupid dull- then ABI may have misjudged you. Sorry. Wait for a Nobel Prize… I told you that if ABI gave you an award that does not fit you – tell ABI and keep quiet. Sorry How insecure you as a person! and this will be your sorry personality.

  7. Are you a great scholar of max planx or you are just a plank at max planx? …i think Max planx is wasting money for you!

  8. In order for you to be famous lonely gay you try studying the asshole sounds and interpret it as a new type of language… let us say for instance how is “skunk” like you translated into an asshole sound…. i think your asshole can squint the equivalent sound for that… i am sure you will win so many awards including an asshole award of the century..

  9. I like what this post has launched so far. Other readers might like to know that “brand”, “insecurity”, “anonymous” and “lonelygay” are very probably the same individual, whose IP address is known to me but which I choose not to reveal here at this point.

    I do recognize that I may have invited some of these insults by nominating the proud wielders of ABI awards for a poorly named award of my own invention (“Great Fools of the 21st Century”). Since I don’t wish to insult anyone and merely want to point out the dubious value of paid flattery, I have changed the name of the award to “Gullible People of the 21st Century”.

  10. you are doing this because you are vain yourself… you think you have something new to tell the world.. nothing.. its a nonsense talk that has been talked before…and you keep on talking… because of your insecurity– do you think max planx will be happy with what you’re doing.. this is not the measure of a scholar from your university … if this is your pre occupations get out of the academe! and look for your own life– 100 meters away they will know you or smell you by your smell.. that’s what you want then go on.

  11. you think you have something new to tell the world.. nothing

    You are quite right, this is nothing new. The Australian consumer affairs minister investigated the ABI in 2004. “It is very difficult to retrieve money from scams like this that are run overseas,” he said. “This is a scam that is well known to Consumer Affairs Victoria.” And here’s a report from 2006 pointing out the absurdity of having thousands of “Man of the Year” awards. Thank you for reading.

    Please do try to avoid the personal attacks. They only reflect badly on you.

  12. Indeed Mark, I still can’t believe that a number of academics fall for it, I sometime see an ABI award here and there on display in an office and wonder about it. Unfortunately even prestigious researchers sometime fall for it, which doesn’t help to have it recognised as a scam.

    As far as I’m concerned, the endless spam of ABI et al started a few months after I published a Science paper, which made me wonder whether AAAS was selling them an index of author and their coordinates or whether ABI was just mining this info by themselves. I just received this awful Albert Einstein award nomination today; it’s such an insult to the name of Einstein… Oh well, vanity sells, and it obviously stung someone to face the truth judging with the ridiculous trolling that you are enduring here.

  13. Having worked 10 years for this company in Raleigh, I know all about it. It’s still amazing to me that so-called intelligent people fall for this crap. It’s all about ego and the inflation of one’s personal resume.

  14. Janet, can you tell us more about their way of working? I think many readers would be interested.

  15. I received one of these dubious awards the other day – interestingly, I was invited to purchase a plaque commemorating my achievements, costing well over 300 dollars. One lives and learns.

  16. You are good in lambasting people who are awarded by the ABI for a price. They are using their own money to recognize appropriately their achievements. But how about you- your research- are you that honest when it comes to the use of funds or using a part of it for things not legally included in the list. Before you insult other peoples’ legal motive, see to it that you are thoroughly clean! A lot of hypocrites are in this world. If you want to be a mole forever then let it be your shed and give yourself a hermitage award! I hope no body recognizes you in your life.

  17. Hello “Hypocrite you are”, thank you for stopping by to share your thoughts.

    I see little merit in working to get recognition, and none at all in buying it. Seems to me as a scientist one works for science — for the wonder of it all, not for wooden plaques. Recognition is nice, but of secondary importance, and it is not for sale.

    Also please note that my main intent in this post is not to lambast ABI’s awardees but to expose the business practices of ABI, which have been qualified as “scams” by several consumer organizations worldwide.

  18. Also, as a general note, it seems (if only from the comments on this post) that the proud wielders of ABI awards are usually from outside the USA. That’s another clever part of ABI’s business strategy: they succeed in making their nominees think, “Wow, my fame has even reached the headquarters of America’s Biographical Institute”.

    Having a reputable-sounding name and a reputable-looking website is half the marketing work. The other half is probably the sheer volume of mailings sent out. I’m already waiting for my next nomination!

  19. Thank you for this post. I have just received a nomination from ABI for “The Scientific Award of Excellence 2011”. No doubt it’s a useless scam, in my opinion. After reading your post, the ABI letter goes directly to the garbage. Thanks !

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