Journal for the History
of Astronomy
:
Community Forum or
Personal TinHorn?


JHA  & American Astronomical Soc Folly



Cataloging the Scholarly & Refereeing Reliability of
the “Premier” Astronomy-History Journal:



Further Challenging Said Premiership to Compile a Catalog
of DIO-Generated Mis-Scholarship Even 1/10 as Extensive



JHAD Cult Falls for 5yr-Old-Level Magic Trick
as Capo-for-Life Zombifies Rabbitariate with
Diversion-Tantrum: DR-Diswespected-Me!
Neat Misdirect from Getting Exposed at
SelfGore-OverRuling Own Referees



Whyever Is Self-Contradictory Wikipedia Mass-Censoring References to
Technically Competent DIO While Protecting Its Bumbling Competition?




The most prominent journals for astronomical history in Europe and the US are, respectively, Lord Michael Hoskin's Journal for the History of Astronomy (see Sky&Telescope 2002 Feb) and Dennis Rawlins' DIO (see New York Times Science 2009/9/8).

Slime & Shunnishment: the End Justifies the Meanness:
As of 2014, Lord Hoskin and DR have not communicated in over 30 years, at His enraged, explicit desire.
The breach began when:
[1] DR told Hoskin (1983/2/9) that an article He'd published was inadequately refereed and seriously miscomputed, and Coolheaded-Hoskin responded by calling this a “damned lie”, additionally taking His precious time to threaten DR with lifetime-JHA-exile and legal action for libel.
[2] Upon immediately-after learning that DR's criticism was correct (see the honest author's long-suppressed JHA 1984 June retraction), utterly-unregenerate Hoskin diverted attention from His Own hilariously ironic editorial disaster by vengefully spreading a private false-slander (this from One who accuses another of damned-lying) that DR had insulted His Lordship — which, in a cultist community like history-of-astronomy, becomes the only permitted point of discussion in connexion with His 1983-1999 suppression of a paper (DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡3 [pp.30f]) already accepted by His Own JHA referees. (An illusion-diversion this transparent would be laughed-snickered off the stage of a magic-trick party for 5-years-olds.)
Comments:
[a] The alleged DR 1983/2/9 insult of Hoskin never happened.
[Not that DR didn't later react by satirically roasting the JHA plenty, once confronted by Hoskin's idea of integrity and His Face-saving determination to make His no-dialog decree stick, while His JHA clique attacked DR's character and elementary scholarly rights. As we put it early-on (in an old-saying-I-just-invented):
“Archons who won't tolerate mild criticism always get their way.”]

[b] But, as we enter the 4th decade of non-communication, all of this DR-diswespected-Me whining is just more distraction, since even if DR had abused Confidence-Challenged Hoskin, that's insufficient justification for attempted murder of the career of a scholar (and later: attempted snuffing of the journal DIO) whose obvious technical superiority and fairness stokes the lethal jealousy of an intellectual and ethical Dwarf.
(Specifically of the subclass Dwarf-for-Life.)
[3] The groveling history-of-astronomy community joined in this vindictive demonstration of communal priorities, trying to shunnish the correct & non-abusing scholar instead of the enragedly-threatening & abusing Bungler.
[4] Concluding with a measure of cult-priorities: For the history-of-astronomy community, DR's 1983 demonstration of JHA pseudo-refereeing was instantly transformable from an issue of communal wisdom (domination by a mathematical Incompoop) into an issue of etiquette: whether DR should've avoided criticizing Hoskin and instead just gotten in line to kiss His brains.
During the over-30y shun, Hoskin's goons have attacked DR and DIO with some of the funniest botched scholarship, science, math (below), and mangled archonal slander in the history of academic crime. All this, in apparent frustration at the inefficacy of Hoskin's 1983/3/3 threats and 1983/3/21 attempt to end DR's career in the field.
[Lord Hoskin to DR (1983/3/21): “I think we shall both benefit if we agree to refrain from writing to each other, both now and for the indefinite future.”]
His exile of DR has worked only on the rabbitariate of scholarly drones (i.e., the lumpen-majority) that live in fear of archonal fiscal and-or climbing severance, while DR has instead defied the dictatorship of His Lordship (not really a peer, by the way — except in His Own MiniMind) by since filling the field's crying need for a technically competent journal (boasting an elite board composed of the best and most competent scholars in the field), while occasionally pointing out the awful truth behind a certain tin horn's pretense to that status.
(See DIO 1.2 [1991] §B3 [p.99].)
[Via Owen Gingerich&co, the JHA clique includes the AAS' Gingerich-co-founded Historical Astronomy Division (HAD), thus our acronym “JHAD” hereabouts.]

Out of embarrassment, the JHAD continues the pretense, and (out of fear of scholars learning the truth) continues slandering and shunning DIO, asymmetrically countering accurate criticism with inaccurate smears, while fleeing debate with DR — typical of unprincipled establishments' integrity and courage.
[NB: As each libellous and-or scientific attack on DIO founders evidentially, Hoskin has never retracted. Other popes occasionally show humility; but, then, they have the self-confidence of those who may occasionally believe in what they've proclaimed.]
Therefore, DR is cataloging below some of the pseudo-science and pseudo-scholarship that have for decades kept enlivening the JHA's pages, so that onlookers may conveniently (and on the basis of plenty of data) gauge the actual relative reliability of the two journals.
[After the JHA clique's 2002 national false attack on DIO backfired, this unregenerate cult could find no other effective means of fighting DIO's exposures (their accuracy being frustratingly impregnable) than avoidance and hit&run sniping.
JHA-defending goonhood has done its utmost to dishonestly hound & smear DIO on Wikipedia — while censor-protecting M.Hoskin even from the indisputable fact that DIO's Board has better (and more eminent) scientists than JHA's. (Most of this action comes out of southern England. And insiders know Whose debtor is doing the information-containment dirt.) The integrity and the tactics are all too familiar. The most amusing pretense (common to the pseudo-lowest Wikipedia goondum and the politically-highest astro-establishment slick-mag) is that DIO is Unreliable while JHA is not. Centrists should have anticipated that such slanderous lying was bound to lead to the present exposé. (And one can safely bet that the only tactic the same semi-numerate volk can counter it with will be: to try censoring citation of it, too. Classic Martingale gambling.)]

The JHA inevitably runs some excellent papers (which DIO regularly cites without appreciative reciprocation). But what follows below follows from above: a slapdash-refereed journal that places arrogance, 3-decade grudges, writing style, brain-kissing, banishments, social primacy, shunnings, prestige, etc above high scholarship, is bound to end up also needlessly promoting a great deal of pseudo-scholarship that is bungled and-or syc-up (we list over 2 score samples below), even by scholars who are capable of quality work. (Which applies for several of the below-listed victims of inadequate-to-non-existent JHA refereeing.)
If the JHA has the ability to spot similar slips in DIO, we will be glad to post such a catalog here. So far, despite several carping attempts, not a single finding 1st published in DIO has been found to suffer from the kind of slack scholarship, bungled math, and mythic refereeing documented below in the JHA, whose flack-clique (now-knowingly) joke-promotes it as the “premier” journal of the field.
[JHAD's final attempt at slandering and scientifically countering DIO occurred in the 2002 Feb issue of Sky&Telescope p.40. Given the resultant disaster for both magazine and author, it is understandable that while all pre-2002 attempts at attacking DIO's accuracy were openly establishment-promoted, several post-2002 shots have come from sources without ostensible connexion to establishments.
The latest (2010-2011) criticisms — and praise — of DIO's scientific analyses are discussed elsewhere here.]

Fuller JHA-vs-DIO background is provided later, below. But, since readers are likely to prefer entertainment to dreary politics, we go right into the former. Some of what the JHA cult (which such pop sources as Wikipedia actually dream is a Reliable journal!) has put forth as valid scholarship is just downright funny.
(To everyone but Hoskin&clonies.) So enjoy. After all, there's no slapstick so rib-tickling as a stuffed-shirt getting the stuffings smacked out of it.


  • 1981:    JHA review (by N.Swerdlow) misunderstands purpose — even the unambiguous TITLE — of the book being reviewed.
    DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡5 §A2 [p.30]. (This amused critique and that following below were authored for DIO by the Supervisor of the Space Sciences Division of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.)

  • 1981:    Swerdlow misunderstands significance of statistical results achieved when data do not permit desired precision but do establish a lack of demonstrated inconsistency with theory.
    DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡5 §D5 [p.33].

  • 1981:    Debut of MacArthur-genius-to-be N.Swerdlow's ineducability (DIO 20 [2012] ‡2 §B [pp.7-9]) regarding the potential accuracy of ancient solstices, as he supposes equinoxes to be more accurate. (A misunderstanding persisting in the JHA over 2 decades later.) All outdoor ancient astronomers' year-lengths (and usually calendars) were rightly based upon solstices: Meton, Kallippos, Hipparchos, BM55555.
    S.Solstice accuracy within ordmag 1h was achieved by Kallippos & Hipparchos: Bulletin Amer Astr Soc 17:583.
    DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡5 n.20 [p.45].
    [Hipparchos' calendar alone was perhaps equinox-based (though see DIO 20 [2012] ‡2 n.10 [p.17]), taking advantage of an accidental proximity (in his era) of the Autumn Equinox to the ancient Egyptian-calendar's Thoth 1. Starting at a regnal-year Day-One (Phil 197 Thoth 1 = −127/9/24 noon) just 2d before his −127/9/26 noon Autumn Equinox observation: DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡6 eq.28 [p.58]. But Hipparchos' year-length was empirically based on comparison of his own accurate −134 S.Solstice to a day-epoch-truncation of Aristarchos' −279 S.Solstice, and was apparently theoretically encouraged by its neat fit to a vast, remarkable geometric scheme which seems to be due to Aristarchos and can explain A's attraction to his Great Year of 4868 (not 2434, as some have proposed) Kallippic years.]

  • 1982:    Erroneous underlying math in analysis of real lunar motion vs Almajest  motion. DR's correction agreed to by author who on that basis fundamentally recomputed original article at JHA 15:134-135; 1984 June, with result happily much more accordant, as the author gratefully noted.
    But Hoskin has never forgiven DR for the Longstreetian crime of being right. (DIO 4.2 [1994] ‡9 n.5 [p.78].)

  • 1984:    Toppe academic-pol David Hughes — sometime Royal Astronomical Society Vice-Prez — shortly before (in his own journal) mangling a study of Halley-Comet apparitions by confusedly-mixing epoch 1950.0 and epoch-of-date orbits (DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡8 §§B-E [pp.78-84]), graced the JHA with his discovery of the glad news that (contrary to hitherto-accepted history) England had spotted the 1758 Halley return ahead of France. But of course this collapsed when DR revealed that the claim was based upon Hughes' confusedly-mixing Gregorian & Julian calendars.
    DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡8 §G [pp.85-87].

  • 1987:    James Evans climb-assisted his way to his current Editorship of the JHA by publishing a massive two-part 64pp alibi-fest (both sections run as Pb papers) attempting to obscure the success of Ptolemy skeptics R.Newton & DR. Among other demonstrations, the paper showed how to acquire admiration for one's writing style, by publishing without quotation-marks a couple of passages from J.Dreyer's 1890 book.

  • 1987: Putative referees for the paper let pass the JHA's pioneering abbreviation “Sag” for the constellation Sagittarius, which actual astronomers abbreviate “Sgr”.

  • 1987:    The Evans paper tries to alibi Ptolemy's lack of low stars by pointing to Tycho missing some dim low summer stars, unaware of the fact that in summer it doesn't get completely dark in Denmark.
    DIO 2.1 [1992] ‡4 §F2 [pp.43-44].

  • 1987:    An even more imaginative alibi suggests that there might have been a 6°-high pile of rocks south of the alleged observatory of Ptolemy (who astronomers have known for centuries wasn't an observer). The Magnitude-Split test shows that the rocks were entirely in the JHA's head.
    DIO 8 [1998] p.2.

  • 1987:    Same Evans paper tries showing how dumb Ptolemy-skeptics are, since they allegedly over-estimate ancient observational accuracy. To make his point, Evans adduces his own 1981 observations of the eclipsed Moon vs the star λSgr and Hipparchos' two discordant 2nd-century-BC observations of Spica, all of which displayed errors of ordmag 1°. But DR showed that the Hipparchan incompatibility was not from errors of observation but of wrong-signed parallax-correction: when this muff is corrected, both Spica cases' errors drop from ordmag 1° to ordmag 1' — as does that of Evans' own 1981 bungled math, when his identically wrong-signed parallax-correction is set straight.
    DIO 1.3 [1991] n.288 [p.173]; DIO 16 [2009] (Journal for Hysterical Astronomy) ‡1 [pp.2-10].

  • 1987:    While trying to evade DR's unevadable absent-error-waves proof that Ptolemy stole the Ancient Star Catalog, the JHA sloughed over a huge 63° phase-difference that gutted its argument, just saying that the phase is “not exactly right”.
    DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡8 §C13 [p.107].

  • 1987:    Same paper's unplumbed opacity-formula turns out to demand that Tycho observed 8th magnitude stars.
    This farce occurred because the author neglected to compute post-extinction magnitudes by his own formula.
    DIO 2.1 [1992] ‡4 §H7 [pp.47-49].

  • 1987:    Weirder yet, the paper claims that star ζCMa would be visible from Bergen, though at 10th magnitude by the paper's own formula.
    DIO 2.1 [1992] ‡4 n.65 [p.48]; DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡8 n.25 [p.104].

  • 1987:    The same paper's preferred atm opacity produces 11 magnitudes of brightness-loss at the horizon. Ptolemy says he observed 1st magnitude stars there.
    [Planetary Hypotheses 1.2.6. See sardonic discussion at DIO 3 [1993] §L8 and n.93.]
    Thus, the JHA must be credited with a spectacular discovery: Ptolemy saw 12th magnitude stars.

  • 1989:    Fabricated positions of Venus are called (by Noel Swerdlow) “required” positions. No one is required to fake data.
    DIO 11.3 [2002] ‡6 n.20 [p.74].

  • 1989:    Eyepopping allegation in Swerdlow's Ptolemy-alibifest MacArthur-Award paper that since (near maximum) Venus' elongation changes only 1°/12 in 6d, “in no way could Ptolemy estimate the time” of greatest elongation, an astoundingly irrelevant (and laughably misunderstood) point upon which JHA Board-member Swerdlow persists in ignorance. Here, his delusion is used to try alibiing the hilarity that Ptolemy self-contradictorily gives (at Almajest 10.1&2) two vastly different dates — 37 DAYS APART — and two different values for THE VERY SAME CELESTIAL EVENT: the 136AD greatest evening elongation of Venus. DIO 11.3 [2002] ‡6 n.20 [p.74].
    [How seriously the history-of-astronomy clique should be taken could not possibly be more ironically gauged than by the spectacle that its awe of brain-kissing expertise would lead it to recommend its grandest MacArthur for a completely straight-faced (and incompetent [not a word DIO uses lightly or at all frequently]) alibi-defense of by-far THE most ineptly, blatantly, amusingly bungled fake in the entire vast history of astronomy.
    Swerdlow's face must still hurt from the strain of not guffawing out loud at Ptolemy, the JHA, and the MacArthur committee.]

  • 1989:    The misunderstanding essential to this MacArthur Award-winning paper's claim that minuscule motion in 6d proves Ptolemy couldn't determine the time of Venus' elongation is depressingly parallel to the author's prior ironically-arrogant ignorance of the method of equal altitudes: DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡5 n.20 [p.45] & DIO 20 [2012] ‡2 §B [pp.7-9]. In both cases, one simply measures two equal values of elongation at sufficient distance from maximum for accuracy (but not so great as to cause trouble from non-quadraticity) and take the two times' mean as the time of maximum.
    (They teach this stuff in high school.
    But not, apparently, at the institutions that voted a MacArthur to this artfully careerist paper.)

  • 1989:    The foregoing incomprehensions lead to Swerdlow's claim: “the selection of a particular date for true greatest elongation would be arbitrary in any case.” I.e., the JHA, which makes up behind-the-back fantastic smears at will, naturally isn't bothered if a scientist just makes up data the same way.
    DIO 11.3 [2002] ‡6 n.20 [p.74].

  • 1991:    JHA discovers the Winter Equinox.
    Paralleling an equally eminent Muffioso's discovery of the Autumnal Solstice.
    Both discoveries compared in magnificence to Winnie-the-Pooh's discovery of the East Pole of the Earth: DIO 1.3 [1991] ‡10 (“Black Affidavit”) [p.177].

  • 1991:    New-arithmetic 128° − 65° = 65°.
    (This is not a mere typo, as contingent math shows.)
    DIO 1.2 [1991] §§G7&G9 [pp.121-122].

  • 1991:    Equating 67d2/3 with 67°2/3 (which is consistent with Velikovsky's 360d year: Worlds in Collision p.330).
    DIO 1.2 [1991] §G9 [p.122].

  • 1991:    JHA declares data unfittable by orbits, though these data obviously can be described by the usual elements.
    At Curtis Wilson's behest, the JHA printed a sorta retraction. DIO 6 [1996] ‡3 §H2 [p.42].

  • 1992:    JHA alleged “further research” into another scholar's curve fitted to the Ptolemy solar theory's errors — without noticing that it is undone (primarily) by an innocent sign-error (that created 180° phase discrepancy) — this, while refusing to cite
    [a] the correct fit elsewhere in the very DR 1982 paper that was extensively attacked in the JHA in 1987 by this same reviewer,
    or
    [b] the correct fit in the Wlodarczyk paper immediately following in the same 1987 JHA issue,
    or
    [c] the correct fit in Britton 1992 (Princeton; orig. Yale 1967).
    DIO 1.2 [1991] nn.144&145 [p.129].

  • 1992:    Current JHA board-member Swerdlow urged that consideration of a famous historical controversy be henceforth expunged from the Journal for the HISTORY of Astronomy for being too HISTORical. Definitely a non-pareil all-time First — and proposed by the history of astronomy establishment's idea of a MacArthur genius.
    DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡8 §C29-30 [pp.112-113].

  • 1992:    Same Swerdlow paper unaware that cosβ weights are needed for measuring the great-circle size of celestial longitude differentials.
    DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡8 n.31 [p.106].

  • 1992:    Same JHA paper also claims that 0°.2 great-circle waves in the Ancient Star Catalog would be undetectable.
    DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡8 n.31 [p.106].

  • 1992:    Same paper eyeballs fit to Peters longitude-error curve (instead of using least-squares), with seriously false result.
    DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡8 n.31 [p.106].

  • 1992:    In so doing, the author forgets to remove the large 11'-amplitude error-wave due to Ptolemy's known false obliquity, which muddles the phase and amplitude of the error-wave that actually needs explaining.
    DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡8 §C14 [p.107-108].

  • 1992:    Hoskin's rendition of Hegel's notorious 1801 planet-distance scheme fails to translate 4/3 power, thus omitting the heart of the theory.
    DIO 1.2 [1991] n.60 [p.110].

  • 1995:    Confusion of Hipparchos' 600y span of eclipse calculations (from his era back to 747BC) with a non-existent 600y cycle.
    DIO 6 [1996] ‡1 §K [pp.26-27].

  • 2001:    In a last-ditch attempt to salvage Ptolemy's claim of observership of the Ancient Star Catalog, JHA again extensively attacked DR's 1982 paper (published in a refereed science journal) proving Hipparchos observed the Catalog through a statistical argument dependent upon assuming a clear atmosphere. The JHA effort was pre-doomed by several simple arguments (all entirely independent of atmosphere-analysis):
    [a] R.Newton's fractional-endings argument (Crime of Claudius Ptolemy 1977 Johns Hopkins University).
    [b] DR's 1976 absent-error-waves analysis in the 1st part of the same 1982 paper whose 2nd part was under JHA attack.
    [c] G.Graßhoff's devastating 1986&1990 statistical study.
    Highly expert analyses by K.Pickering and D.Duke ended this chauvinist nonsense quickly.
    DIO 12 [2002].

  • 2001:    The same JHA paper had applied modern skies' daylight-sky opacity to ancient night-time best-clarity skies. The JHA went so far as to call DR's opacity-constant “ludicrous” and “absurd”. (Pickering's independent analyses countered this with ease.)
    DIO 12 [2002] ‡1.
    (In 2005, the 2001 author rather switched over to Hipparchos' side. In 2013, he sorta switched to the middle, still unable to admit having prominently and slanderously taken the wrong side in this ex-debate.)

  • 2001:    The most obvious factor overlooked by the JHA attack (and everyone else) was that if ancient sky-opacity (not long-suspected plagiarism) had accounted for the unique 6° gap between Ptolemy's horizon and his lowest stars, then we would find a similar gap in Hipparchos' Commentary (which the JHA author had neglected to consult!) — and the two catalogs' invisible antarctic circles would differ by 5° since Hipparchos' Rhodes is 5° north of Ptolemy's Alexandria. Neither of these gaps exist. The antarctic circle of invisible stars in Hipparchos' sole surviving star-opus (the Commentary: hundreds of star data) is identical to that of the “Ptolemy” catalog at Almajest 7.5-8.1.
    DIO 10 [2000] n.177; DIO 12 [2002] ‡1 p.4.

  • 2001:    As part of his argument for dense sky-opacity, the paper's author argued (along with the whole history of astronomy establishment) that Ptolemy's arcus visionis data were not on the horizon, despite Ptolemy's statement and diagram claiming they were. DIO challenged this in correspondence, pointing out that Ptolemy's opposite data, acronychal risings, cannot even be defined other than on the horizon. These unambiguous data proved the existence of a clear ancient atmosphere (which thereby requires [from atm-opacity consistency] that Ptolemy's arcus visionis data were on the horizon, too) — a result with important modern climate implications.
    DIO 12 [2002] §F11 (Pickering), Fig.4, & Table 3 [p.19] (Duke).

  • 2002: Journal for the History of Astronomy 33.1:15-19 purports to correct and provide a superior solution to the precious 13 Hipparchan klimata preserved by Strabo, though Aubrey Diller had already in 1934 effectively solved the problem at Klio 27:258. And DR later brought in standard ancient rounding which made the fit virtually perfect: DIO 4.2 [1994] Table  p.58.
    For the 2002 paper, the usual zombie JHA referees never noticed a symptom revealing just how convinced the author really was of the theory he was using to cast doubt on the work of JHA's Dis, namely: the article includes NO TABLE. Of course, ALL previous klimata studies did so (in order to illustrate how well their theories fit the Strabo data: Diller 1934, Neugebauer HAMA 1975 p.305, DR op cit. Obviously, the 2002 author didn't want to display how badly his theories fit the data. Understandable. But transparent.

  • 2002:    Nonrealization (echoing Swerdlow) that ancients found latitude (Almajest Book 1) from solstices, not equinoxes.
    DIO 16 [2009] ‡3 §F3 [p.28].

  • 2002:    Consistent mis-computing of Syracuse latitude by 200 stades.
    DIO 16 [2009] ‡3 n.3 [p.18].

  • Mistaking outdoor observations for indoor calculations. DIO 16 [2009] ‡3 §F2&G [pp.27&30-31].

  • 2002:    And vice-versa. DIO 16 [2009] ‡3 §§F3-F4 [pp.28-29].

  • 2002:    Indiscriminately&simultaneously proposing 2 contradictory obliquities for klima-calculation.
    DIO 16 [2009] ‡3 §E7 [p.27].

  • 2005:    JHA 36.2:167-196 (2005 May) mis-spells the constellation “Ophiuchus” 5 times out of 5.

  • 2005:    In drawing data from Hipparchos' Commentary, same article confuses his Athens and Rhodos latitudes.

  • 2005:    Further: placing of stars leads to amusing explosive failure.

  • 2005:    Sign-error for star αAri corrupts date arrived at, and contradicts article's own photo. (Since this is the 1st star of a list, it shows that none of the list's stars were checked by any of the paper's six referees.)

  • 2005:    Confusion of atmospheric extinction's effect on size of arctic and antarctic circles.

  • 2005:    North confused with south.

  • 2005:    Obs-Calc confused with reverse.

  • 2005:    Left confused with right.

  • 2005:    Improper merging of two statistically incompatible samples.

  • 2007:    Proposed explanation of Khufu pyramid-shaft grades, without realizing its lack of statistical significance, or even that the claim was statistical at all.
    DIO 16 [2009] ‡3 n.24 [p.26].

  • 2007:    And it turns out that this paper's scheme fits its data better if its trig-argument is inverted.

  • 2008:    At Journal for the History of Astronomy 39:290, Greek stellar declinations are held to have mean error about 10'. (Cited to DIO 13.3 though no such statement appears there.) Comments: [a] DIO 4.1 [1994] ‡3 Table 3 [p.45] shows that extant Greek star declinations from 260BC to 160AD were measured two times more accurately than 10': median error about 5'.
    [The shockingly unexpected empirical consistency of the several parallax-sign-error arguments of DIO 16 [2009] ‡1 suggest that Hipparchos' eclipse-based star longitudes (presumably repeated several times at each event) were also accurate to ordmag an arcmin.]

  • 2008:    At Journal for the History of Astronomy 39:287-290, Greek solstice-measurement is said to be based upon solar declination-observations of slackness 15'!! — a figure defended by comparison to stellar errors. Comments:
    [1] Solar & stellar observations' accuracies oughtn't to be confused, given the enormous brightness differential.
    [2] There is plenty of indication that the best Greek observers' raw solar data had random-error σ = c.1'. — an order of magnitude better than 15'. See, e.g.: Isis 73:259-261 (1982); DIO 16 [2009] ‡2; DIO 20 [2012] ‡1 & ‡2.
    [3] One arcmin is, after all, ordinarily considered the approximate accuracy of the human eye.

  • 2008:    JHA 39:289 proposes that ancient solstice-determiners could have gotten around the foregoing (imaginary) 15' σ difficulty by melding a long series of mixed-quality equal-altitudes pairs. (Each pair required finding t1&t2 when the Sun's altitude was the same, d days before&after solstice, then figuring solstice-time tSS = [t1 + t2]/2.) The proposed d values: 20d, 25d, 30d, … 50d, 55d (8 pair).
    Well, if the mean error were really 15':
    [a] For the solar perigee & eccentricity of classical antiquity, using d = 55d would've produced systematic error −8 hours, random error 11h; and
    [b] a solstice based on d = 20d would have had systematic error of merely −1h, but a random error of well over a day!
    Conclusion: The proposed series does not seem to be exactly the ideal way to find the hour of a solstice. Hitherto-unnoted surprise-refutation of JHA-proposed Greek chaotic inaccuracy: the newly available papyrus P.Fouad 267A bears a previously-unknown −157 Greek solstice — which is indisputably accurate to ordmag 1h.

  • 2008:    The header to the author's Table 1 (p.286) claims its solar data's hours are given at Almajest 3.1; i.e., the hour of the −134 solstice is listed by Ptolemy. False. It has long been pointed out (e.g., by W.Hartner: 1980/8/15 letter to DR; DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡6 §B3 [p.52]) that Ptolemy does not give the hour of either of the two solstices (Aristarchos −279 & Hipparchos −134) which Almajest 3.1 correctly reports were used by Hipparchos to estimate the length of the tropical year.

  • 2008:    Thus, in approving an obviously indefensible attempt to deny credit to DR for his totally novel and important discovery (DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡6 §A [pp.49-50]) that the −134 Hipparchos solstice's hour was dawn, JHA's putative referees defy a mass of experts:
    [1] H.Thurston (History of Science Society's Isis 2002).
    [2] The Encyclopedia of Astronomy & Astrophysics (Hipparchos entry).
    [3] B.van der Waerden (author of Dictionary of Scientific Biography's Babylonian math entry) who renounced one of his own papers due to this discovery, calling its revelation and its development “marvelous”.
    [4] The British Museum, Room 52.

    But the JHA continues in-denial. THAT's determination.
  • 2008:    The JHA's understandably-unrefereed author is a last-ditch-holdout rejector (JHA 39:293) of ALL of DR's discoveries of the Hipparchos solar orbits not relayed in the Almajest. Hipparchos' final “UH” solar orbit was validly reconstructed at DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡6 (eqs.13, 17, 18, 28 [pp.55-58]), as agreed to by the Encyclopedia of Astronomy & Astrophysics (2000), H.Thurston in Isis 2002, & A.Jones in Springer's Wrong for all the Right Reasons 2005 (pp.23-24). This orbit's establishment by Hipparchos depended upon his accurate Summer Solstice of −134/6/26 6AM; so, one can see why a disbeliever in accurate Greek solstice-observations would have to reject it.

  • 2008:    But even the JHA author's solar-declination 1/4-degree-σ fantasy is insufficient to explain JHA rejection of DR's derivation (DIO 1.3 [1991] ‡ §K4f [pp.142f]) of Hipparchos' early (−157) “EH” solar orbit, since its founding S.Solstice was NOT observed — but rather was indoor-computed from Kallippos' calendar (DIO 1.3 [1991] §K8 [p.143]).

  • 2008: At JHA 39:293-4) D.Duke earns his place on the ever-so-elite JHA Board by damning as utterly worthless all three of DR's reconstructed Hipparchos orbits, including the EH orbit & the “Frankenstein” (both induced at DIO 1.3 [1991] §§K&M from the two eclipse trios of Almajest 4.11). deeming them “neither conclusive nor satisfying” since “parameters deduced from trio analyses are very sensitive to small changes in the input data”. (Shouldn't that read “small errors?) I.e., nothing reliable can be elicited from the data DR depended upon. Just throw all that DIO junk out. But, then — something funny happened on the way to the dumpster. You see, what DR had elicited from Trio B of Almajest 4.11 was that Hipparchos had adopted an EH orbit based on [1] a Summer Solstice of −157, and using [2] Kallippic mean solar motion — and Trio A had confirmed the same solar motion. Neither datum had ever previously been connected to Hipparchos. Lo, 1/4 century later a rare new papyrus (P.Fouad 267A) was miraculously produced (see Anne Tihon Archimedes 23:2-10; 2010), revealing that Hipparchos' 1st known ephemeris was based on a −157 solstice and its table of mean solar longitudes was computed from Kallippic motion. Ahhhhh, tell us again, JHA, how nothing reliable could possibly be induced by DR from those eclipse trios?

  • 2013:    JHA 44 claims that reducing stellar brightness by 1/3 adds 1/3 of a magnitude. Actually it's about 1/4 of a magnitude — an error of 10%.

  • 2013:    The same article provides (p.73) a formula for atmospheric refraction as a function of true zenith distance which is actually a function of apparent zenith distance. At the horizon this formula (and the author's odd atmospheric opacity) will predict a star to be 40 times too dim. Error = 4000%.



    The Historical Background

    (Does Any Establishment NOT Fight Dirty?)


    Michael Hoskin founded the Journal for the History of Astronomy in 1970. His dedication to the enterprise, and to forging necessary political alliances, ensured the inevitable and the intended: the JHA became the establishment journal in the field of astronomical history. With all the pros&cons thus implied.

    The positives are considerable. Hoskin is admirably dutiful in correspondence and all the formalities of running a journal. The JHA is equally dutiful in reviewing all the books (by Approved scholars, anyway) that appear in the field. The journal's appearance and mechanics are 1st-class, and its mailings are prompt. (Hoskin is far superior to DR in all these important respects.)

    The JHA fulfills an important rôle in the field, and DIO is glad such a central clearing-house journal exists, since we have no desire to be such — being more concerned with creating progressive scientific-history inductions than with political, social, or procedural matters.


    Of course, as with most establishments, the JHA enterprise has also become known for over-concern with power, a factor that, early on, was evident to the wider community of scholars. This affected selection and refereeing of papers submitted.

    Papers upsetting to members of a largely window-dressing board (chosen for academic-political connexions as much as anything) were not treated equitably, even if the authors were world-class experts. But papers by anyone related to, say, the Princetitute, suffered no such treatment. To maintain this important imbalance, Hoskin over-rode His Own referees' advice at will, publishing a prestige-institution figure's paper against their recommendations, and impeding publication of a personal non-favorite even in the face of positive reports.

    If Hoskin, Editor-for-Life of history-of-astronomy's most deliberately† prestigious journal, were expert in the mathematics of astronomy (which is among the most highly mathematical of the sciences), such interference might have a hope of occasional positive effect. He isn't.

    Hoskin carried this spirit to the heights in 1982-1983, exceptionally delaying (for most of a year) publication of a partly heretical DR paper (recommended by both of His Own referees and advertised as forthcoming in Isis: 1983 March) and then attempting to censor the heretical section (only) out of it.
    [For both parts in full, plus a history of the affair, see: DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡3 [pp.30-42].]
    Meanwhile, He rushed publication (in DR's place) of a later-received paper (which His referees had told Him was incredible — but the author was from a prestigious university).
    DR then revealed essential mis-computation in the very paper Hoskin had replaced DR's paper with. Hoskin's typically mature and equitable reaction was to threaten a libel action, banish DR from the JHA, & cut correspondence. He soon thereafter learned that the later paper's forthright author X agreed with DR; and on that basis, X fundmamentally re-computed his paper: see JHA 1984 June. But the fact that DR's advice proved accurate and perceptive did not improve the esteamed Editor-for-Life's wisdom half a whit. Which telegraphs just how high accuracy, competence, and truth rank at the JHA.

    Hoskin is a textbook case of pol as superscholar-wannabe, who — while making welcome (and well-written) contributions to, e.g., Herschel family biographies (also the South-Sheepshanks controversy) — screws up elementary material again and again and again.

    Worse, Hoskin and prime JHA side-kook, religious fundamentalist Owen Gingerich, have been desiring a shunning of DR for 30y.
    Shunnings are an all-too-common suicidal offense by academe against itself. but this case is somewhat special in that neither of these archons has the talent even to gauge the quality of the research being shunned. Nor even to choose a brain-double to do it for them. One can only sympathize. It's so hard to find good help these days.