Hard to disbelieve

Tomorrow is 5 May, and I mentioned in my
review of A Brief History of Disbelief that this excellent documentary on atheism/agnosticism was supposed to be aired on PBS stations all across the country around this time. It’s been hard to track down, though; I’ve looked in my local TV listings, and there’s no mention. Readers have contacted their stations directly, and some have reported back that they will be seeing it, while others have found that their stations are not carrying it. It’s very confusing.

Well, a reader found a grid listing all of the airdates and stations that will be showing A Brief History of Disbelief. If you’re in San Diego or Philadelphia, it’s well covered; otherwise, it’s scattered very sparsely on the map. It is not being shown in Minnesota.


  1. valhar2000 says

    How very Americo-centric of you, PZ! I’ll have to see it over the internet.

  2. NickM says

    I watched it all on Youtube – just plug in Atheism Rough History Disbelief and you’ll find a listing of all the programs. It is in little 10 minute segments, but far from posing a problem, I found that to be a good way to watch it, 20 or 30 minutes here or there when I had time.

  3. rrt says

    In the previous post’s comments, a person associated with the documentary explained that it would not run on all stations simultaneously, and that other stations and airdates will be added to the grid as they become official. No idea how optimistic that was, though.

  4. says

    Guess I’m stuck with the bootleg I downloaded last year, since there’s no chance they’ll play anything anti-religion in the Great State of Texas. *sigh*

  5. says

    Well, they play it in Muncie, IN at 3-6 AM. Yeah, I’m not getting up that early or staying up that late. And I’m not driving to Muncie.

  6. MG says

    Don’t be to sure, they are airing it in Roanoke VA which is the PBS channel we have in Lynchburg VA most infamous as the home of “THE” Jerry Falwell. There is hope for all!

  7. Curt Cameron says

    If you’d like to watch the three programs in single chunks, here is the site:

    I’d sure like to see it aired here in Dallas, but the program director replied: “Thank you for contacting KERA. This program isn’t currently scheduled to air on KERA. I’ll notify you when I see it listed in the future.”

  8. LCR says

    Everyone send an email off to your local PBS affliliate! If they are showing it, let them know that you approve and will be watching it. If they are not, ask them why and then give them good reasons why it is a poor decision on their part NOT to offer this program in your area. If they discover there is a market for it, who knows? They may reconsider.

    Make sure you send it to the president of the station as well, not just to “viewer services”. The email address should be under the contact information… at least it was at KCET in Los Angeles.

  9. says

    The program isn’t showing on any of the three PBS stations in the DC metropolitan area. I contacted WETA, WUT, and WMPT to remind them that they lavish plenty of programming time on such things as “Walking the Holy Land,” “The Mormons,” even a documentary on Jim Jones, and Christ-this and Christ-that during Easter. Plus during pledge time they run pseudo-relious, pseudo-wise, Deepak Chopra programs all the time. You’d think that a history of non-believers would be at least as interesting as this religious programming, and vastly more so than Deepshock Oprah.

  10. Randy says

    Sigh. In Calgary we get our PBS from Spokane on KSPS. I thought they were a little more progressive in the Northwest.

    And don’t get me started on Deepak Chopra. You won’t get me to shut up.

  11. MK says

    I thought the NorthEAST was more progressive than that! Philly and DE. That’s it! Bummer.

  12. craig says

    I’m surprised it’s being shown in Tampa. Not surprised they’re doing it from 2 am to 5 am. Cowards.

    Oh well, I have the video anyway.

  13. Pablo says

    Gee, I wonder why I don’t see it in the schedule for the progresive state of Georgia…

  14. says

    Not showing in beautiful Western Colorado–quelle surprise!–but I’m a little startled to see it’s not playing in Portland, either.

    If anybody discovers a way to get a copy on DVD, I’d be delighted to hear from you. Bittorrent doesn’t work well with our often-iffy DSL connection, and I’d really rather watch it on the TV screen so my kids can see it too without peering irritatingly over my shoulder. (Never too early to indoctrinate the young.)

  15. Deepsix says

    Not here in Tennessee either *GASP*. Watching it on Veoh.com now. Great site since I can’t view youtube here at work.

  16. Frank Anderson says

    I was informed (at least a week after I initially e-mailed them) that our local PBS station would not be showing it and had no plans to do so. However, the producer of the series (Jonathan Miller) would be on Bill Moyers’ Journal tonight (Friday, May 4).

    Pretty crummy consolation price, but I’ll probably record it anyway. Might be something worthwhile for others who are similarly benighted to check out.

  17. CalGeorge says

    That is a great series.

    Too bad so many PBS affiliates have decided to pretend it does not exist.


  18. says

    Darnit, I thought we’d have KPTS here in KC, but we have KCPT instead. I’ll look at the broadcast jonboy suggested this weekend.

  19. emkay says

    I emailed the local affiliate in Tucson, KUAT, a week ago or so, and haven’t heard back, nor is it on the linked grid. Like several others above, I wrote a very polite letter pointing out the great (and annoying) amount of time they have given to xtianity and other forms of woo like the Mormons and Jim Jones, and pointed out I thought the series would add balance.

    I’m glad it’s available on The Internets (thanx all for the links!) since it seems that’s the only way I’ll see it.

  20. emkay says

    jonboy, your link above (twice) is incorrect, substitute a period for the comma after ‘www’.

  21. Steve_C (Secular Elitist) FCD says

    I don’t get it. Does the toolbox ever have a point that’s relevant?

    Go back to your freak buddy and continue to congratulate each other on your brilliance.

  22. says

    Does anyone know of an online source that includes captioning or subtitles? I contacted the Orlando PBS station, and they have no plans to broadcast. I’d love to see it and share it, but it’s useless to me without captioning/subtitles. Will happily pay postage for a copy on DVD if possible.

  23. says

    As of yesterday, it wasn’t on the Boston PBS schedule. Major bummer.

    But there may be hope: Yesterday, I also looked at the PDF schedule you linked to. At the time, only a handful of stations were listed. Many more have been added in the past day.

  24. says

    At first I thought somebody missed something. Then I checked my local listings. Unless I really need new glasses, New York’s two PBS stations are not on the list.

    New York? New York???

  25. Anthony says

    I got this response from TPT (Twin Cities Public Television, Minnesota):

    We will air the series A Brief History of Disbelief this summer, but do not have a broadcast date at this time. We will let you know when it is scheduled. Thank you for your interest.

  26. bad Jim says

    Jonathan Miller was on Bill Moyers Journal Friday night. The segment, worth watching for itself, was practically a promotional ad for the show, but there’s no sign that KCET will be broadcasting it in L.A. anytime soon.

    Miller noted that he was uncomfortable labeling himself as an atheist, since there aren’t special words for people not suffering from other delusions.

  27. says

    My local PBS station (WTVS in Detroit) sucks. It seems like every time I turn it on, they’re showing yet another Dr. Wayne Dyer special. Of course, they won’t be showing A Brief History of Disbelief according to the program schedule…

  28. antaresrichard says

    When alarmed, I went off half-cocked at our local PBS affiliate in San Francisco for the conspicuous absence of ‘A Brief History of Disbelief’ from its schedule, this is what KQED wrote me in reply.

    “Checking for the facts before launching into a complaint is always a wise thing to do… The British producers of the program were not going to pay the additional costs to distribute it in the US until KQED called last year to express interest in the show. We have recorded the program for future use, but we don’t have any airdates for it on KQED, KTEH or KCAH between now and the end of June, which is as far as our schedules have been planned.

    Red Dana
    Manager, KQED/KTEH/KCAH Audience Services”

    I hope this clarification will be of some use to those of us living in and around San Francisco, San Jose, Watsonville, Salinas, and Monterey.

    Unfortunately, for someone at the low end of the economic ladder (I only have dial-up, a donated PC, and get my programming via “rabbit ears”) I can’t take useful advantage of the links. That is what saddens me about PBS: when an accessible public service such as theirs simply isn’t there.

    Well, there’s always the library.