of Astronomy

Community Forum or

Personal TinHorn?

the “Premier” Astronomy-History Journal:

of

as Capo-for-Life Zombifies Rabbitariate with

Diversion-Tantrum:

Neat Misdirect from Getting Exposed at

SelfGore-OverRuling Own Referees

Technically Competent

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

** 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-

[2] Upon immediately-after learning that DR's criticism was correct (see the honest author's long-suppressed

Comments:

[a] The alleged DR 1983/2/9 insult of Hoskin never happened.

[Not that DR didn't later

“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

(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

During the over-30y shun, Hoskin's goons have attacked DR and

[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

[Via Owen Gingerich&co, the

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

Therefore, DR is cataloging below some of the pseudo-science and pseudo-scholarship that have for decades kept enlivening the

[After the

The ** JHA** inevitably runs some excellent papers
(which

If the

[JHAD's final attempt at slandering and scientifically countering

The latest (2010-2011) criticisms — and praise — of

Fuller ** JHA**-vs-

(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.

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

S.Solstice accuracy within ordmag 1h was achieved by Kallippos & Hipparchos:

[Hipparchos' calendar alone was perhaps equinox-based (though see

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

But Hoskin has never forgiven DR for the Longstreetian crime of being right. (

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

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.

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];

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”.

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];

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

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

[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

Swerdlow's face must still hurt from the strain of not guffawing out loud at Ptolemy, the

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:

(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.

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:

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).

1991: ** JHA** declares data
unfittable by orbits, though these data
obviously can be described by the usual elements.

At Curtis Wilson's behest, the

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

or

[b] the correct fit in the Wlodarczyk paper immediately following in the same 1987

or

[c] the correct fit in Britton 1992 (Princeton; orig. Yale 1967).

1992: Current ** JHA** board-member Swerdlow
urged that consideration of a famous historical controversy be henceforth
expunged from the

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.

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

[a] R.Newton's fractional-endings argument (

[b] DR's 1976 absent-error-waves analysis in the 1st part of the same 1982 paper whose 2nd part was under

[c] G.Graßhoff's devastating 1986&1990 statistical study.

Highly expert analyses by K.Pickering and D.Duke ended this chauvinist nonsense quickly.

2001: The same ** JHA** paper had applied
modern skies' daylight-sky opacity to ancient night-time best-clarity skies.
The

(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'

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

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

For the 2002 paper, the usual zombie

2002: Nonrealization
(echoing Swerdlow)
that ancients found latitude
(** Almajest** Book 1) from solstices, not equinoxes.

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

[The shockingly unexpected empirical consistency of the several parallax-sign-error arguments of

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.:

[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,

Well, if the mean error were really 15':

[a] For the solar perigee & eccentricity of classical antiquity, using

[b] a solstice based on

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

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;

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,

[1] H.Thurston (History of Science Society's

[2] The

[3] B.van der Waerden (author of

[4] The British Museum, Room 52.

2008: The ** JHA**'s
understandably-unrefereed author is
a last-ditch-holdout rejector (

2008: But even the ** JHA** author's
solar-declination 1/4-degree-σ fantasy is insufficient
to explain

2008: At ** JHA 39**:293-4)
D.Duke earns his place on the ever-so-elite

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%.

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

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

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:

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

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.