Stop me if this sounds familiar

I got an email from someone requesting advice. I can’t imagine how he thought of me when in this situation.

There’s a group of geocentrists — specifically, these guys — who are trying to film a documentary, and they want to interview my advisor, Dragan Huterer. A couple of months ago, they contacted Dragan under false pretenses: they said they were filming a documentary on modern cosmology. They were interested in coming to a conference and interviewing Dragan. We had no reason to suspect anything strange until just before the conference, when one of the people running the film company made some strange remarks about some of Dragan’s previous research, which set off an alarm bell in my head. Unfortunately, by that point, Dragan had already signed a release form granting these people the legal right to film him and to use that footage in a publicly-released documentary. We did manage to stop them from getting the right to film on the UM campus, so they didn’t come to the conference. We didn’t hear from them for six weeks, so we thought they were gone, but now they’re asking if they can come to town simply to film an interview with Dragan.

(Incidentally, we haven’t told them that we know that they’re geocentrists. We only found out that they were geocentrists 36 hours before they were originally scheduled to arrive at the conference, so we had neither the time nor the inclination to get into a confrontation with them. We told them that the chair of the Physics Department wasn’t comfortable with filming the conference, and that they should take the issue up with him.)

Crazy dingbat pseudoscientists trying to film a biased, anti-science documentary by flim-flamming legitimate scientists into sitting for filming? It’s somehow familiar.

As for advice, maybe some of the commenters will have some, but I do have a few suggestions.

A release is not the same as a contract obligating him to perform. It just means they can use any footage they can get, so don’t give them any. Unless there is some kind of contractual requirement that he has signed, he can just tell them to leave him alone. No problem.

Otherwise, and this will come as no surprise from me, go on the offensive. Contact your school and local newspaper, and make it a public joke. Annoy the heck out them, which ought to be easy, because they’re freakin’ geocentrists, crazy people who think the sun and stars and planets all revolve around the Earth. Turn the tables on them if they come to campus and interview them.

And if they do get a documentary made, and if they do use recordings of anyone rational, try to get kicked out of the movie premiere.