From Skeptic vol. 2, no. 4, 1994, p. 25.
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UPDATE ON THE ARK HOAX
There have been a number of noteworthy comments on George Jammal's
Noah's Ark hoax since I wrote
my article on the subject for the last
issue of Skeptic. Of these, two have come from individuals
criticized in my article. First, John Morris of the ICR published an
article in which he admitted that he had been hoaxed. Second,
David Balsiger issued a press release in January, 1994,
which he claimed to
have uncovered evidence that the hoax was part of a massive humanist
conspiracy to discredit Christianity in general and Sun International
Pictures in particular. Both of these commentaries are highly
misleading. Morris's article, far from being the repentant apology
and retraction which was warranted, makes the following claims:
Former Sun International Pictures researcher David Balsiger's
press release also neglects to take any responsibility for the airing
of the hoax, and makes numerous claims including:
- His initial response to the hoax charges pointed out "certain
inaccuracies" in the Time magazine article, in particular that
"LaRue [sic] could not have made up the story himself, as he claimed."
Time did err in reporting that Larue initiated the hoax, but this
does not appear to be something Larue has ever claimed. This is the
only error in the Time article Morris pointed out, so he is mistaken
to speak of "inaccuracies."
- "Many have subsequently charged me in print and on the
nationally syndicated TV show 'Inside Edition' with impropriety,
claiming that since I had placed Sun in touch with Jammal, I must take
full responsibility." I have read numerous articles on the Ark hoax
and viewed the 'Inside Edition' show, but nowhere have I seen anyone
claim that Morris "must take full responsibility." Instead, I have
seen claims that he must bear some responsibility, and that is
certainly true. Nowhere in Morris's pseudo-retraction does he accept
- Jammal's story "differed remarkably from those of all other
eyewitnesses, and I suspected he was mistaken." Morris doesn't say
what he thinks Jammal was mistaken about, and he omits to mention his
statement to Sun International Pictures that "It is my impression that
[Jammal] was on Mt. Ararat. He seems to know Lake Kop and described in
reasonable detail the area nearby." Morris made no public criticisms
of Jammal's story until after the hoax allegations surfaced, and even
then his first reaction was to defend Jammal.
- "It is only when Dr. LaRue [sic], a man who certainly knows
better, got involved, that the story escalated to the sensational, for
without the doctored wood, Jammal's story would probably not have been
used." This is mistaken. Jammal had already prepared his wood
independently of advice from Larue. Morris also conveniently forgets
that it was Sun International Pictures that escalated the story to the
Morris concludes that "If nothing else, this event shows the depth
to which some people will stoop to try to discredit those who believe
in the Bible." In fact, it is Morris and Sun International Pictures
who have discredited themselves by demonstrating excessive
carelessness about the facts. It is amazing to me that Morris bends
over backwards to avoid accepting the slightest responsibility for the
success of the hoax, or even acknowledging that any criticisms of Sun
International Pictures might be deserved.
The failure of Balsiger and Morris to admit their errors, to
accept any responsibility for the success of Jammal's hoax, or to even
attempt to address the substantial criticisms which have been raised
against Sun's Ark program demonstrates that they are unreliable sources
of information on the subject of Noah's Ark. Creationists in particular
and Christians in general would be wise to avoid reliance on either of
them, and to publicly distance themselves from inaccurate claims of these
- Jammal's hoax "was 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." As my article in Skeptic showed, the
only person involved in the original hoax was George Jammal. Gerald
Larue got involved when Sun International Pictures became interested
in Jammal, and no one else got involved until after the
pseudo-documentary was aired.
- "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." Paul Kurtz's only
involvement was to aid in the distribution of a press release
revealing the hoax and to publish several excellent and accurate
articles about the hoax.
- "No one has come forward with claims or evidence that any of
these remaining eyewitness accounts are perpetrated hoaxes on CBS."
Balsiger has made this claim numerous times, and it has been false
every time he has made it--and he knows this. The May 1993 Ararat
Report (as well as earlier issues of that publication) gave
substantial evidence that Ed Behling, Ed Davis, and Fernand Navarra
are not eyewitnesses of Noah's Ark. Balsiger was also personally
warned (and given the evidence) long before Sun's program aired by
Bill Crouse, the editor of Ararat Report, that these alleged
witnesses were unreliable. There was no orchestrated media conspiracy
by skeptics and humanists, and Balsiger fails to mention the negative
coverage of his Ark show which appeared in Christian publications such
as Ararat Report (May 1993), Facts & Faith (Spring 1993), Does
God Exist? (September/October 1993), Christian News (several 1993
issues), and the Bible-Science News (31:5, 1993).
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