The Bunkum Awards highlight nonsensical, confusing, and disingenuous education reports produced by think tanks. They are given each year by the Think Twice Think Tank review project to think tank reports judged to have most egregiously undermined informed discussion and sound policy making.
According to the MacMillan English Dictionary Magazine, the word bunkum became synonymous with "nonsense" around 1820. It was originally spelled "buncombe," after Buncombe County, North Carolina, home of Representative Felix Walker, who delivered a seemingly endless speech which many in his audience felt to be meaningless and irrelevant. Walker refused to stop talking, declaring himself to be determined to deliver a speech "for Buncombe." Thus, bunkum became a term for long-winded nonsense of the kind often seen in politics, and from there progressed to the more general meaning of just plain "nonsense."
Learn more about the history of the Bunkum Awards by reading these Education Week Commentaries:
To help the public determine which elements of think tank reports are based on sound social science, NEPC's "Think Twice" Think Tank Review Project has, every year since 2006, asked independent experts to assess strengths and weaknesses of reports published by think tanks.
Few of the think tank reports have been found by experts to be sound and useful; most, however, are found to have little, if any, scientific merit. At the end of each year NEPC editors sift through the reviewed reports to identify the worst offender. We then award the organization publishing that report NEPC's Bunkum Award for shoddy research.
The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project (http://thinktankreview.org) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org
The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu