Exposing PseudoAstronomy

January 6, 2016

Ever Heard of the EQ Peg Hoax?

Today, despite being sick since Friday, I finally finished a massive project of mapping about 48,000 impact craters on a region of Mercury for a mapping project that I’m a Co-I (co-investigator) on. Because a lot of what I do involves pretty much literally drawing circles, I listen to a lot of audio, and I recently began digging in my unlistened Coast to Coast AM archives.

I found from late 1998 the curious case of a claimed intelligent signal from the star EQ Peg, which is around 20 light-years away. Surprisingly, this was first promoted by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). Richard Hoagland was a proponent of it on the show, and even when it was determined to be a hoax, and the astronomer whose name was used was on the show saying someone used his name without his knowledge, Richard continued to promote some sort of conspiracy surrounding it. As did others, but they weren’t interviewed on C2CAM.

I was in high school when this all happened, and I never ever heard of it before a few days ago. I’m curious if any of you who may be a bit older than I remember it. I think it is probably worth putting in the queue for a podcast episode in the future.

As another interesting tidbit during this saga (I listened to about 7 hours of Richard talking about this across the month of November 1998), I found it interesting that Richard repeated a couple times that it’s “okay” to be wrong, just so long as you’re right more often than wrong. Yeah … that might be a separate blog post. I’ll just say for the sake of this four-paragraph’er that there comes a point where there’s right, versus wrong, versus wrong but thinking you’re right because you don’t know what you’re doing and you have a severe case of Confirmation Bias-itus.



  1. Yeah you bring back memories! It was very convoluted at the time, even to my younger and more naive ears. There’s a handy overview of what Hoagland mused about it (and it’s a lot, at the peak of his web publishing) listed on the page “pegasus.html” which you have to add to the TEM domain in the browser address bar to read it. And I don’t want to promote it by a link from here.

    The pinnacle must be the OH MY GOD! THEY KILLED SOHO article where an attempt is made to tie EVERYTHING in that period together, like hammering square pegs into round holes — using a pneumatic sledge hammer. The article included various Southpark references. It’s vintage RCH and don’t forget the updates at the bottom!

    Comment by Dee — January 6, 2016 @ 1:56 pm | Reply

  2. The story appeared in BBC News on 29 October 1998, and was retracted 3 November. Here’s an ATS thread on the whole story.


    Comment by expat — January 6, 2016 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  3. In many ways Hoagland’s fantasy about EQ Pegasi was a rehearsal for his later ridiculous ravings about Comet Elenin, which you covered very well.

    Comment by expat — January 6, 2016 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

  4. It’s definitely worthy. Especially as Expat noted, this was Hoagland in a rehearsal for the utter lunacy that has come since.

    Comment by Derek James Eunson — January 7, 2016 @ 4:56 am | Reply

  5. I’d never heard of that particular hoax. But I’d consider it a worthwhile episode topic, particularly since Hoagland had made similar claims in the 1980s about emissions from Saturn, aka ‘The Blivit in the B-ring’.

    Comment by Graham — January 12, 2016 @ 6:42 pm | Reply

  6. I have considerable information on the EQ Pegasi hoax, including a lot that was never made public. While it is something of a let down to know the hoax was originally started by Terry Tim Rodgers, who was an associate of Kent Steadman. Rodgers was associated with other hoaxes, such as the SETI Pulses Hoax.

    Comment by Daniel — January 26, 2016 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

    • Thanks for the info. I may contact you for more when I start to work on this episode.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — January 26, 2016 @ 6:27 pm | Reply

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