David Balsiger issued this press release in early January 1994 and
more details of these criticisms may be found in "Sun Goes Down in
Flames: The Jammal Ark Hoax" and "The Incredible Mysteries of Sun
Pictures" in _Skeptic_ vol. 2, no. 3, 1994. The criticisms included
in brackets are those of Jim Lippard (JL), author of "Sun Goes Down..."
(Articles available as the file ARKHOAX.ZIP and MYSTSUN.ZIP on The
Temples of Syrinx BBS, (217)-787-9101, FidoNet 1:2430/2112)
Writeway Associates, 1055 East 5800 South, Ogden, Utah 84405-4919
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: David W. Balsiger (801) 479-0164
Exposes Actions to Discredit Noah's Show Humanists Hoaxed TV Interview
NOAH'S ARK TV SHOW FIELD PRODUCER EXPOSES HUMANIST EFFORTS TO
GET BIBLICAL THEMED SHOWS OFF NETWORK TELEVISION
After a six-week investigation that ended in August 1993 into the
people behind an article in _TIME_ magazine which asserted that one of
50 expert interviewees used in the TV show _The Incredible Discovery of
Noah's Ark_, fabricated his eyewitness account of seeing Noah's Ark, and
that the show made claims not supported by modern science, the show's
field producer David W. Balsiger announced that the article was an
effort by humanists to advance their anti-biblical agenda.
Nationally known humanist Dr. Gerald Larue, who pontificates from behind
his title as Professor Emeritus of Biblical History and Archaeology at the
University of Southern California, claimed in _TIME_ (July 5, 1993) and a
copycat Associated Press wire story that he unconscionably planned and
coached interviewee George Jammal to execute a hoaxed interview on network
television. The hoaxed interview appeared within the _Noah's Ark_ show
that aired as a CBS-Television Network Special in February 1993.
"The hoax was all part of a fully orchestrated effort in the news media
by atheists and secular humanists with their advocacy organizations to
discredit the entire _Noah's Ark_ TV Special, the CBS-Television Network
for running biblical-themed shows, and my reputation as a TV researcher
and field producer-director of family and biblical themed shows," says
Balsiger, who worked on the show for Sun International Pictures.
[Balsiger omits to mention that his reputation is that of an unreliable
researcher, and that this has been observed not only by skeptics and
humanists, but by evangelical Christians who have examined his work.
(See, for example, the numerous references to Balsiger in Mike Hertenstein
and Jon Trott's _Selling Satan: The Tragic History of Mike Warnke_
(1993, Cornerstone Press), a book which exposes the bogus claims made
in Mike Warnke's book _The Satan Seller_, which Balsiger co-authored
and claims to have ghost written. (I suspect Balsiger was the primary
author on the book, but the book itself claims to have been written by
Mike Warnke "with Dave Balsiger and Les Jones." Balsiger lists numerous
books in his _Who's Who in America_ entry with no mention of any
co-authors, despite the fact that many of the books themselves state on
their covers that he is second author or editor.))
Balsiger also overlooks the fact that the Jammal hoax was blatantly
obvious, and that he had been warned by at least two Ark researchers
(Bill Crouse and David Fasold) that Jammal's story had no credibility
well in advance of the show's completion. -JL]
"There is something wrong with the ethics of the news media when they
glorify the acts of humanist hoaxers who intentionally and successfully
deceive 40 million TV viewers, and then blame the show's production
company and CBS for not discovering their elaborate hoax," says Balsiger.
"This is not a case in which the producer or the network is guilty of
deceiving viewers, but rather one more example of humanists who tout
themselves as 'Ethical Humanists' being neither ethical nor honest when
it comes to advancing their hidden agenda."
[This quotation, with only minor modifications, is a perfect description
of Balsiger's own actions. The shows that Balsiger has been involved
with contain misrepresentations, intentionally omit contrary evidence,
and engage in fanciful speculation. Despite repeated criticisms,
Balsiger, Sun International Pictures, and CBS have continued to air
the same unfounded claims. Sun's 1976 film, "In Search of Noah's Ark,"
was the source of at least 20% of the most recent Ark show, but no
recognition was made by Sun of the numerous published criticisms of
that material. -JL]
Balsiger has determined that the entire media discrediting campaign
was orchestrated by Dr. Larue and his well-known humanist associate,
Dr. Paul Kurtz, the president, chairman, or editor of several humanist
organizations and publications. "These people are clearly opposed
to anything that's biblical," says Balsiger.
[The hoax began as a practical joke by Jammal (acting on his own) in late
1985. Larue got involved when Sun contacted Jammal about being in their
show. Kurtz's only involvement, so far as I know, was to help distribute
Larue's March 1993 press release about Jammal's hoax, which was completely
ignored by the media. Only _Free Inquiry_, edited by Kurtz, published it.
The _Time_ article in July came about because Michael Shermer of the
Skeptics Society mentioned the hoax to James Randi, who in turn mentioned
it to _Time_'s Leon Jaroff, who was present at Randi's libel trial
(the Eldon Byrd lawsuit, which ended with Byrd being awarded nothing).
Through the influence of Larue, Kurtz, and various overlapping members
of directors and advisory boards, several humanist organizations and
their publications played a role in the discrediting media blitz against
the _Noah's Ark_ TV Show. These included the Los Angeles Skeptics Society,
the Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism (CODESH), the Committee
for the Scientific Examination of Religion, the Committee for the Scientific
Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), the American Humanist
Association, the National Center for Science Education, and their various
house publications including _Skeptic_, _Free Inquiry_, _The Skeptical
Inquirer_, _The Humanist_, and the _NCSE Report_.
[The Skeptics Society, which publishes _Skeptic_, had not published
an article about Jammal's hoax at the time of Balsiger's press release.
It had, however, published Sun International Pictures' press release
and a summary of John Morris' defense of Sun's program in the Institute
for Creation Research's _Acts & Facts_ (September 1993).
CSER is a subcommittee of CODESH, so there's really only one organization
involved there, which publishes _Free Inquiry_. It has indeed published
several criticisms of the Ark show, including a very good critique of the
show in general (quite apart from the Jammal hoax) by Richard Fox (Summer
1993)--which Balsiger never mentions or responds to in any way. CSICOP
publishes the _Skeptical Inquirer_ and is connected in some ways to CODESH.
It had published nothing on the Ark hoax until its Winter 1994 issue, which
came out at about the same time as Balsiger's press release. CSICOP's
_Skeptical Briefs_ published some letters regarding Sun's program, but
nothing about the Jammal hoax to date except a letter from Balsiger in
its December 1993 issue (an open letter from which many of Balsiger's
self-quotations in this press release were taken. AHA publishes _The
Humanist_, and I'm unfortunately unaware of what coverage it has had of
these events. The NCSE publishes _NCSE Reports_, and its coverage has
been more or less independent of the others (there are no connections
between the NCSE and the other organizations listed here, except perhaps
common members, and the fact that the NCSE purchased the journal
_Creation/Evolution_ from the AHA a few years ago). There is no
orchestrated conspiracy here. Balsiger also omits to mention the negative
coverage of his Ark show which appeared in _Ararat Report_ (May 1993),
_Reasons to Believe_ (Spring 1993), _Does God Exist?_ (September/October
1993), _Christian News_ (several 1993 issues), and other Christian
Although Jammal has stated verbally and in writing that he was telling
the truth regarding his Noah's Ark eyewitness account, Sun researchers
concluded during their August investigation that he would eventually
confess to committing a hoax in conjunction with Dr. Larue and their
humanist advocacy groups. "Jammal waited until the humanists could
maximize the publicity from his public confession, and extract any
financial gains that people might pay for his flip-flop story," explained
Balsiger. The confession came in late October and resulted in CBS
canceling all of Sun's biblical and secular shows in production.
[Jammal might have been paid for his appearance on "Inside Edition"--but
then, Balsiger might also have been paid for his appearance on the same
show. Otherwise, I don't believe Jammal has received any financial
rewards from his hoax. -JL]
"In addition to their humanist agenda of getting biblical shows off
network television, it seems that Dr. Larue was probably also conducting
some type of a vindictive campaign against Sun International Pictures,"
says Balsiger. "This may be the result of his appearance as a skeptic
in Sun's show 'Ancient Secrets of the Bible I' which aired on May 15,
1992. According to _TIME_ magazine, Dr. Larue felt he was 'set up as
a straw man.'"
[Larue *was* set up as a straw man. See Larue's _Free Inquiry_ article
(Fall 1993), in which he gives the details. Also see articles by Tom
Malone and Farrell Till in _Freethought Today_ (April 1993 and September
1993, respectively), which document Sun's practice of giving skeptics
prewritten straw man scripts in many cases, and when skeptics
write their own scripts, the most significant content is edited out of
what finally airs. -JL]
"In our show, he was a critic of the Walls of Jericho falling down,"
explains Balsiger. "As these TV Specials were critic-proponent shows,
he was followed by two proponents of the biblical story--Dr. Amos Nur,
chairman of the Geophysics Department at Stanford University, and Dr.
Bryant Wood, a Syro-Palestinian archaeologist who has written extensively
on Jericho for the professional peer journal _Biblical Archaeology
Review_. They refuted Larue's argument based on their own extensive
[Larue responds to this in the Fall 1993 _Free Inquiry_. -JL]
Since 1982, Dr. Larue has served as chairman of the Committee for the
Scientific Examination of Religion, a committee of the national Council
for Democratic and Secular Humanism (CODESH) dedicated to refuting Bible
claims; was the consulting editor (1987-1989) and Emeritus President of
the National Hemlock Society, America's foremost euthanasia advocacy
organization well known for its book on how to commit suicide; and is the
senior editor of _Free Inquiry_, the humanist magazine published by
CODESH--both entities dedicated to removing religious beliefs from
society and Bible-oriented programs from public broadcast.
[All true. And Balsiger's point? Sure, Larue has a bias. But the
facts are pretty clear regarding the shoddiness of Balsiger's productions.
Balsiger, by the way, himself has been the founder, leader, or organizer
of a number of fringe Christian organizations, and his biases are quite
clear in his work. Despite this, Sun's press releases regarding the Ark
hoax claimed that its shows do not present a particular viewpoint. -JL]
"It is also more than coincidental that _TIME_ magazine writer Leon
Jaroff was the author of this Noah's Ark news hit piece. Mr. Jaroff,
science editor for _TIME_ magazine, is prominently listed as a 'Fellow
of the Committee' of CSICOP, which is a sub-organization of CODESH,"
explains Balsiger. "He and Dr. Larue are associated together on
CSICOP's magazine _The Skeptical Inquirer_. Dr. Larue serves as the
technical advisor to the magazine while Mr. Jaroff is listed on the
magazine's masthead page.
[CSICOP is not "a sub-organization of CODESH." CSICOP predates CODESH,
and is a more-or-less independent organization (sometimes less independent
than many skeptics would like, I'm afraid--CSICOP and CODESH do share a
building and are both run by Paul Kurtz). Larue is not "the" technical
advisor to _SI_, he is one of numerous technical advisors to CSICOP.
Jaroff isn't on the magazine's masthead, he is listed as a CSICOP Fellow.
Neither has anything to do with _SI_ itself. -JL]
"Humanist Jaroff, a listed official of CSICOP which is totally
controlled by its parent organization CODESH--both well-known humanism
advocacy organizations--was exercising bias [sic] reporting, pushing his
own personal humanist views, and promoting the goals of CSICOP-CODESH
in the _TIME_ article on Noah's Ark," claims Balsiger.
[This is totally false. CSICOP is NOT a humanist organization, and Jaroff
has no connection with CODESH. CSICOP's Executive Council, Fellows,
Advisors, and subscribers are probably mostly *not* humanists. I don't
know whether Jaroff is a humanist or not, but I have no evidence that he is.
Sun's "Letter to the Editor" of _TIME_, stating the facts surrounding
the alleged hoax and exposing Jaroff's article errors and bias did not
get printed. "It seems _TIME_ can dish out the inflammatory accusations,
but cannot take the heat when asked to print a simple 'Letter to the
Editor' exposing their bias [sic] reporting," says Balsiger. "Instead,
they may have executed a coverup for Jaroff and his embarrassing
criticism of our scientific information sources which substantially
came from _Feats and Wisdom of the Ancients_, Library of Curious and
Unusual Facts, published by _TIME-Life_ Books."
[Balsiger has a point here. _Time_ should have published Sun's response.
Both _Skeptic_ and _Free Inquiry_ *did* publish Sun's response, and then
demonstrated how weak it was. _Skeptical Briefs_ published Balsiger's
previous letter to the media. Any suppression of views cannot be placed
at the feet of the skeptics and humanists. Sun International Pictures,
on the other hand, is at least as guilty as _Time_ magazine. -JL]
"The vicious and vindictive attacks against the Noah's Ark show,
CBS-TV, Sun, and myself by _Los Angeles Time_ [sic] entertainment
critic-columnist Howard Rosenberg also was not a coincidence," says
Balsiger. "It turns out Mr. Rosenberg and Dr. Larue are long-time
friends and apparently work together hand and glove to achieve the
humanist agenda. In this case, it not only ended biblical-themed shows
on network TV, but the cancellation of all Sun's shows being produced for
CBS, and the termination of numerous production employees."
[I have no evidence that Rosenberg is a humanist, but his articles
about Sun were right on target. There is no question that CBS did the
right thing by cancelling Sun's shows, though I'm not sure they did so
for the right reasons. -JL]
Balsiger has asked corporate officials at both _TIME_ magazine and
the _Los Angeles Times_ to fire Jaroff and Rosenberg for bias [sic]
reporting, pushing their own humanist views, and not disclosing their
affiliations with humanist advocacy groups and officials of such groups.
[This is more projection by Balsiger, who isn't forthright about his
own affiliations, and one of the serious criticisms raised against the
Ark show is that many of its "experts" were young-earth creationists whose
affiliations were not disclosed (and in some cases, whose credentials
were misrepresented to make them seem more impressive). -JL]
"Although the hoax was committed by Mr. Jammal, it's sad and
unfortunate that Dr. Larue, a distinguished USC professor, would
victimize Mr. Jammal and his family to execute a third-party hoax
in which he was the primary benefactor--the person who says he coached
Mr. Jammal into lying on network television, and then exposed him
claiming credit for exposing his own hoax," says Balsiger.
[Balsiger doesn't explain how Larue has "victimize[d]" Jammal by
exposing Jammal's own hoax. He also omits to mention his own legal
threats directed at Jammal, which were cited by CBS as a reason for
canceling their future Sun projects. -JL]
Balsiger says he also objects to the characterization by the news
media and Dan Rather that our entire Noah's Ark TV Special was a hoax.
Mr. Jammal was only one of 50 experts that provided authoritative
interviews on a wide range of subjects relating to the Noah's Ark
mystery. Additionally, the TV Special told the Noah's Ark story as
recorded in the Bible along with the presentation of historical data,
scientific experiments, and Ararat explorer accounts.
"Furthermore, Mr. Jammal was only one of four filmed eyewitnesses
who claimed to have had an on-the-ground encounter with the Ark,"
explains Balsiger. "No one has come forward with claims or evidence
that any of these remaining eyewitness accounts are perpetrated hoaxes
on CBS. We also stated in the show that it was up to the audience to
decide whether their accounts were believable or not!"
[What Balsiger says here is simply untrue. The May 1993 _Ararat Report_
contained substantial evidence that other alleged Ark eyewitnesses on the show
also are hoaxers. Even more substantial evidence regarding these
people being hoaxers has been published in earlier issues of _Ararat
Report_, and all back issues were in Balsiger's possession prior to
the completion of the show's production. Further, Balsiger was
specifically warned that the people he was using were not credible.