More signs of DI desperation

Geoffrey Simmons, a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute, is going to be on the prestigious Coast to Coast AM show to talk about evolution and the impossibility thereof on Tuesday night. Simmons is an MD (lately, we’re seeing a trend in DI’s taste in proponents, aren’t we?) in Eugene, Oregon … one of my favorite places, so it’s a little sad to see craziness that isn’t of the granola-and-herb type coming out of there.

But Coast to Coast AM … I remember listening to that years ago, when it was just Art Bell broadcasting out of his double-wide in Pahrump. It’s a show for loons — conspiracy theorists, bigfoot specialists, people dreading apocalyptic doom from aliens in flying saucers. It’s perfect for the Discovery Institute!


  1. Russell says

    I don’t know why you say this shows desperation. The faithful are the real target for the various stripes of creationist, and the popular media are their real channel. Given success there, they can maintain their movement for decades more, just as they have for decades past.

    You’re measuring success as a scientist would measure success: persuasion of other scientists, publications in prestigious journals, and important research generated from your findings. The Discovery Institute never had a chance at that, and I suspect most there realized it. The motions they go through related to the practice of science are a show for a different audience, one that cannot tell how much it is just a show. It is material they replay to their real audience, through their real channels. They are not looking to persuade most biologists. They are not looking even to persuade even as many biologists as are named Steve. They are looking to capture a mass market, whom they can motivate for political purpose. I wouldn’t be so quick to say they have failed at that, much less been driven to desperation.

  2. says

    I agree with you in general, but the desperation here is that they are going to Coast to Coast AM … this is not a mass market channel. This is a fringe channel. Now if he were going on Oprah, then I think you’d be precisely correct, but in this case they’re only going to connect with the kind of batty individuals who embarrassed them in the Dover trial.

  3. Foggg says

    There has long been an untapped potential market for ID amongst the UFO crowd and it’s kinda amazing they haven’t made more direct pitches in that direction sooner. Dembski should have opened his barbecue stand, not outside of Waco, but on the commercial strip in Roswell NM.

  4. Bryn says

    Ah, Coast to Coast–the long-distance truck drivers’ friend and my companion while cramming for school. Now that DI has aligned itself with the station that brought you Nancy “Oh, those wacky Zetans!” Lieder (any number of times), Richard “Face on Mars” Hoagland (also any number of times), and continues to give time to Sylvia “I see dead people” Browne, I don’t think DI can sink much lower. But then, they always find a way to surprise me.

  5. Dave Wisker says

    I well remember Art Bell flogging Richard Hoagland’s ‘Face On Mars” fractal analysis, which told us that it had to be intelligently designed.

  6. MReap says

    My best (?) Coast to Coast with Art Bell memory is of driving across western Kansas towards the OK/TX panhandle at 2am in November with a school van load of FFA students. We were returning from the national FFA convention. I was driving, my favorite student was riding shotgun and keeping me awake, and we were listening to weirdness from Art. Then the Leonids lit up. Very weird indeed.

  7. andyo says

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they went on Oprah, worse stuff has come out of it.

    Which gets me to this. I always see well-educated people (like Bill Maher) who complain that the president is not a “reader”… that people should read books more than watch TV, blah, blah, blah. Instead of that, I think we should make clear that there is as much bullshit in print than there is on the airwaves. For crying out loud, the very first freaking print was a load of bullshit!

  8. says

    They must have changed the date. I noted that he was scheduled to be on Coast to Coast on March 13.

    Uh-oh. Maybe this is a second visit.

    Expect to see Dr. Simmons teaming up with Dr. Egnor to tag-team it on various outlets as two DOCTORS who “doubt” evolution.

  9. 386sx says

    I agree with you in general, but the desperation here is that they are going to Coast to Coast AM … this is not a mass market channel.

    Not a mass market channel? Sorry, but you people give AM radio way too much credit. It’s everywhere, and it’s the only damn thing on.

  10. says


    Yes. I believe the good Dr. BA’s opinion is that a lot of the people who listen to C2C Radio do it for the humor value. It’s not all cheerful news, but it’s not entirely bad:

    I have considered Hoagland to be a fringe pseudoscientist, not really worth debunking. Sometimes, claims are so silly that they aren’t worth bothering. But things have changed recently. Hoagland has been given lots of airtime on the late-night “Coast to Coast AM” radio show, which has millions of listeners. His most recent antics involve the new Mars missions. He is claiming that, among other things, NASA is covering up evidence of alien life on Mars. He says the evidence is in the images returned from Mars by the probes, and the “real” data are being hidden from view.

    These claims, like most conspiracy claims, are silly, internally inconsistent, and pretty easy to show wrong. So you might think no one pays any attention to him, right?

    If only. He is actually rather notorious in the pseudoscience community. And remember, “Coast to Coast” has an audience of 10 million people. If even a tiny fraction believes in his nuttiness, that still adds up with such a large pool of listeners!

    Now, I have been on the C2C show several times myself (once to actually debunk one of Hoagland’s ridiculous claims), and I am of the opinion that most of the audience listens to the usual crackpots on the program with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. But with so many listeners, it’s inevitable that many will take Hoagland seriously.

  11. says

    Perhaps this will be where someone from the Diddly Institute actually explains how aliens created life on Earth.

  12. Leni says

    LOL. I used to love listening to Art Bell. Just for the humor value, but I have to say I loved the Ghost to Ghost shows. I don’t know if they still do it, but people would call in and tell ghost stories which was a lot of fun and really kind of a cool idea.

    So anyway, PZ… It’s a call in show, isn’t it?. You should really call. Stay up late. It’ll be fun. I bet you could really annoy the crap out of him :)

  13. says

    I believe the good Dr. BA’s opinion is that a lot of the people who listen to C2C Radio do it for the humor value.

    That’s why I listen when I’m doing any long-distance driving at night – there are practically no radio stations in the middle of California except those that carry Art Bell at 3 AM. I remember the last time I drove from LA to Sacramento, listening to Art talking to some guy who was convinced that the US Army had built a giant undersea base beneath the Atlantic ocean. This was bad news for some unremembered reason.

    That show is hilarious sometimes.

  14. says

    I agree with Leni! Coast to Coast was great to lisen to for the humor value. I used to fall asleep to it often. And yes, it’s perfect for ID. Along with faeries and monsters.

    I was wondering if anyone else noticed the write-up on Geoffrey Simmons on the DI site.
    “BS in biology, coursework completed for MS in microbiology, University of Illinois; M.D., University of Illinois Medical School; Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine, LAC-USC Medical Center; Boarded in Internal Medicine since 1974”

    What exactly does coursework completed for MS mean? I completed my coursework…and my research/thesis. Assuming this just means he completed some courses but no research…why would he advertise not passing his masters?

  15. 386sx says

    That’s why I listen when I’m doing any long-distance driving at night – there are practically no radio stations in the middle of California except those that carry Art Bell at 3 AM.

    The same goes for everywhere else. Getting a gig on Coast to Coast was a major political coup for the DI people. Coast to Coast is everywhere all the time on AM radio, and it is the only thing on. (I know this because I have an AM chip implanted.) Soon the DI people will take over the whole market and implant others, too. They want to take over everything. Just read the “Wedge” document if you don’t believe me. They tried to hide it from people. They want to rule the world.

  16. dzd says

    Yeah, I used to use C2C as a sleep aid until I realized that I kept waking up to the morning hatemonger we here in Pittsburgh are unlucky enough to call our own, Jim Quinn. Ugh.

  17. Matt T. says

    I used to listen to C2C for the humor value and because I’ve had a life-long fascination with Fortean topics. Not just the “supernatural” or unexplained phenomenon, but stuff like cryptozoology and Illuminati-style conspiraces. It never ceases to amaze me, living in a world of iPods and cell phones, that people still fall for this bull. Still, it’s interesting and C2C was a natural watering hole.

    Until two instances last year, that is. One night last summer, I forget exactly when, George Noorey had some anti-immigrant dude on spewing the most horribly racist crap I’ve ever heard and playing extremely fast-and-loose with certain facts and features of Hispanic culture that even a pale country boy like me knew was horseshit. Some guy called in and called Noorey on his guest’s nonsense, and Noorey countered with “we show every side. One night, I’ll have a pro-illegal immigrant speaker one.” Just floored me…and wouldn’t ya know it, in the two weeks after I listened to show, not one person was one to refute the previous speaker’s bile. It was kinda shocking the call got threw, since one rarely hears voices of dissent, much less logic or reason, on the show.

    I finally quit the show during some bit on, I believe, remote viewing. A guy called in with an experience, as folks are wont to do. The guy was really, really, really upset, I mean, it hurt me to hear how scared the caller was. Seems he was watching TV, blacked out, and came to lying in a strange bed in a strange room next to a strange yet terrified woman. He blacked out again and came to in his room.

    Oh, Noorey and his guest were all a-twitter over the caller’s experience and counciled him to get some sort of professional medical help because he was obviously sleep-walking and while that needs to be addressed, it isn’t anything serious. Wait, that’s not right…they talked about auras and remote viewing and psychic eminitions, and here’s this poor bastard somewhere out in America just getting more and more frightened and upset. Guy said he was on medication. Guy said he had almost no human contact outside of TV. Noorey and his caller were excited about this “evidence” of remote viewing.

    I turned off the radio and haven’t turned back on since. That shit just ain’t funny anymore to me. Thank Elvis for iPods, all I gotta say.

  18. Scott Hatfield says

    I just thought I’d mention that I’ve heard Bell and his guests sort of pooh-pooh evolution more than once, so the DI is definitely headed into friendly territory. Bell is a perfect example of how intimate familiarity with technical know-how fools people to believing that what they are doing has scientific significance….SH

  19. anon says

    #3There has long been an untapped potential market for ID amongst the UFO crowd and it’s kinda amazing they haven’t made more direct pitches in that direction sooner.

    You obviously have not met MY brother——

    UFO conspiricist, beleives in creationism, goes to church, thinks the Illuminati is real and the world will end with a bang.

    Read the book “Them” and you will meet even more people like that.

    There are a whole lot of wackos like this where I am from. People who believe in Jewish conspiracies despite never having met a Jew, people who believe the CIA have a secret office in an office building downtown, people who believe in all sorts of odd stuff- and still pass as normal. They frequent the local church, coffee shop and mall, they dress well and drive nice cars.

    And DO they believe in creation!!!! Vehemently, and with very little question.

  20. phat says

    I used to really enjoy Art Bell. His black helicopter stuff was really entertaining. Since Noori took over, though, that stuff is pretty much never on the show. It’s all about ghosts and god and crap like that. Noori’s a bonehead.

    I’m still a bit of a sucker for UFO stuff. And Hoagland really cracks me up, still. I don’t know why.


  21. Rev. Dr. B. K. Arthur says

    Don’t be too hard on good ole’ Art. I credit his show as one of the main reasons I de-converted from fundamentalist Christianity and began to accept evolution, atheism, and humanism. Not that Art necessarily promoted such things, but he has no call screener for listener call-ins and therefore all kinds of kooks get on the show. He also rarely states whether he agrees with the views of his loonier guests, he just “puts it out there.” I began to read and research to debunk all the woo and nuttery I heard, and ended up discarding most of my own misguided beliefs. Yes, reading about the search for the “Holy Grail”, UFO’s, and bigfoot can somehow lead to atheism.

    As for George Noory, no matter how ridiculous the claims of his guests, he always seems to say, “That’s so true” in a tone of voice that makes you think he’s not even listening.

    (Long-time lurker; first comment ever! Just to half-heartedly defend Art Bell. Hmmm… wish it’d been something else.)

  22. louis says

    Ok PZ that’s it.

    I’m with you on the atheism.

    I’m with you on the science.

    I’m with you on the liberal politics.

    Hell, I’m even with you on the squid love.

    But now you’re having a go at bigfoot? That’s a step too far. Bigfoot is real, I’ve seen videos and everything.



  23. says

    Now, my housemate loves C2C – likes the ghost stories and UFO stuff, but even he knows it is a lot of “woo.”

    So yeah, the fact that DI has to go to C2C, a known purveyor of “woo” to get their crap over the radio, does suggest a certain amount of desperation, doesn’t it?

  24. Scott Hatfield says

    Eh, I listened to the guy for about an hour and gave up. Simmons seemed to want the C2C audience to believe that the Designer could just as well be a space alien as anything. There was no discussion of the fact that the DI is largely a group of lawyers, or that the DI’s main audience is largely evangelical Christians. Nor were there any specific testable assertions made in the hour I listened. It was just a series of vague inferences of design from the fact that living things are complex, etc. The end result was pretty innocuous, at least, compared to some of the lights in the sky, cryptozoology, alien abduction crap etc. that’s on this program. From where I sit, Simmons actually did himself and the DI no favors by appearing on this program.