DIO Law of Science-Press Inverse-Integrity Reportage

2005 November 3

DIO 10 [2000] §T [pp.76f] was entitled:

It Ain't Over 'Til the FatCat Sings

The opening portion of “Fatcat” follows here:

DIO's Law”:
National Geographic has shown how a typical obese institution deals with the ultimate disaster: upon the appearance of flat-out disproof of a claim you have prominently honored & even deceived ([DIO 10] §M1 [pp.55-57]) to promote, you simply walk away from the evidence. I.e., if We don't acknowledge the proof against Our myth, then that proof doesn't exist. (When less wealthy folk pretend that reality can be altered by ignoring it, we do not accuse them of excessive sanity.) And the behavior of most of NGS' fellow media explains why the Society has been getting away with such arrogance. One of the sociological and journalistic peculiarities of dealing with fraud-controversies in science-history is that the “science press” [see DIO 10 n.84 (p.41)] has a predictable pattern of ensuring & bolstering a perverse asymmetry: the more dishonest an institution is, the less it will be criticized for dishonesty. This, because the lapdog “science press” is in general so lazy and osculatory (and too often plain innumerate) that it would — rather than itself examine evidence — prefer to draw its wisdom from Authoriative institutional press-releases. Thus, a DIO Law has repeatedly impressed itself upon us: public consensus (formed by the media-Fourth-Estate) will generally not accept that a major institution has done wrong unless that institution itself confesses.
(Thus, the press will publish news of a science institution's dishonest behavior only if that institution is honest….)

The rest of the “Fatcat” section of DIO 10 [2000] (pp.76-80) should be read carefully by students of institutional fraud. In particular, note the hugger-mugger-connexions suggested by the weird events recorded at n.177 [p.79], related to maid-boy Bradley Schaefer [then at Yale, now at Louisiana State A&M].

In the 1/3 of a century since DR's 1973 book on polar hoaxery, no US newspaper's account of the Richard Byrd 1926 N.Pole hoax has ever mentioned (by contrast to the openness of the University of Cambridge at p.38 of DR's 2000 paper in Cambridge's Polar Record 36:25-50) that fellow-publisher National Geographic Magazine clumsily cheated by doctoring its own Byrd report (to hide from its readers the embarrassing fact that it gave Byrd its gold medal 5 days before finishing its exam of his “data”) — a fact 1st revealed by DR in 1973 (details at DIO 10 [2000] §M [p.55f] & end-note 17 [pp.99f]) and long acknowledged to be true even at the Byrd Center (privately). The excisions were effected by NGS' Moses: Gilbert Grosvenor the First. No wonder Bill Stevenson (The Friendly Arctic 1943 ed. p.v) dubbed GG1 “that genius in editorship”.

On 1998/6/7, a review by the New York Times' Malcolm W. Browne (“senior science reporter”) deemed the Byrd Center archivist's new book “evenhanded” [see DR letter after main text here] — even while taking seriously its un-evenhanded and utterly false pretense (see DIO 10 [2000], e.g., §Q4 [p.68]) that the Byrd diary proves nothing.
[All of which seemed wildly ironic, considering that when MWB's earlier 1996/5/12 New York Times article appeared (highly skeptical of Byrd), the very same “evenhanded” author had immediately asked DR to write a letter to the NYTimes countering it. Evidently, someone else was found to “soften” MWB — presumably very-former navigator Joseph Portney, who long tried (see DIO 10 [2000] §R [pp.69-70]) to hide behind the scenes while clandestinely doing an excellent imitation of a Grosvenor consultant, by dishing out pseudo-science and smearing. When his cover was finally blown, he simply ran away from DIO's debate-challenge. For full details on this history, as well as exposures of Byrd-apologist Portney's goofy math and even funnier lawyering, see ibid §S [pp.70-76 — do NOT miss Figs.11-13!].]

We need not speculate regarding whether attacks upon DR are cynical ploys by parties who are fully aware of their misdeeds and are just coldly deceiving to escape reckoning. E.g., given CSICOP's and G.Grosvenor 2's decades-long ad-hominem strategies for diverting attention from DR-released evidence of their institutional shortcomings, one may be dismayed but not surprised to find that even, in service of a just, true, and worthwhile contention (supporting [in Kansas] natural selection's validity and reality, about which [as for the Byrd N.Pole hoax] there isn't a scintilla of scientifically justifiable controversy), the p.r. strategy of some opponents of creationists has become deliberately (and needlessly) personal: “Portray them in the harshest light possible, as political opportunists, evangelical activists, ignoramuses, breakers of rules, unprincipled bullies, etc.” (Quoted in Jeff Jacoby's Boston Globe column, reprinted at Int Herald Trib 2005/10/6 p.8 [editorial page].)
[Incidentally, DR does not agree with the odd and on-its-face self-contradictory concluding paragraph (in Jacoby's diplomatically over-neutral piece), which states: “Intelligent design …. doesn't make a religious claim.” (Make?! It is a religious claim.)]

National Geographic's Peary N.Pole 1909 myth remains perpetually undead, though all that gives it the appearance of life is loyals families' fiscal promotion. Intermittent promos continue. They'll probably tsunamize in 2009. (Pure propaganda. No debates, written or otherwise.) For example:

U.S.News & World Report 2004/2/23-3/1's cover (95y after Peary's 1909/3/1 departure from Cape Columbia [Ellesmere Island], aiming for the Pole) showed a photo of “NORTH POLE EXPLORER ROBERT PEARY”. The supporting discussion within was so brief (4 lines [!] on p.85) as to avoid obligation of citing professionals' massive skepticism. The blurb concluded: “It wasn't until 1909 that [Peary] claimed the prize.” Does anyone doubt a deliberate ploy here — to dodge the duty to mention the exploring community's near-universal (DR-triggered) demotion of Peary's claim? How often do we see a slickmag cover-person get 4 lines within?
[It should be delightedly noted that, not long after the above 2006/6/21 posting, Diane Cole's welcome article in the 2006/8/14-21 U.S.News & World Report undid much of the damage done by the 2004 USN&WR article. But the article's sub-headline is: “WHO WAS FIRST TO THE NORTH POLE? AND WHY IT MAY NOT MATTER.” (Fraud? — and the fakers and their associated institutions, taking taking in megabucks based on frauds? Yawners.) The article's forgiving attitude towards faking science-claims follows on old establishment pattern: assertively for decades DENY-DENY-DENY fraud, while damaging heretics as much as possible; then suddenly go chameleon and transform from myth-hugger to myth-shrugger: OK-maybe-it-WAS-fake-after-all — what's the big deal?]

National Geographic biggie Grosvenor's dirty work is being done for him by an expensive robotic-hydra: a pseudo-independent Peary-Henson mega-link-farm (pearyhenson.org, matthewhenson.com, etc-etc-etc), which has used such questionable and artificial means to trick Google into giving high ranking to fantasy.
[Knowingly aided by the fact that mainstream-media-inflamed black racism (understandably striving to counter doubts of black achievement by semi-creating a glorious example) has led to far more current interest in Peary's nearly-literate assistant than in the great engineer-explorer-pioneer himself.]
No reference whatever is provided here (or by NGM or the Byrd Polar Research Ctr) to www.dioi.org.
(Note that DIO always cites where our critics' output may be found — and encourages readers to consult it. Indeed, DR's homepage bears special links to detailed pages on both his detractors and his own errors.)
By utterly unbalanced citation-procedure, the Peary-Henson robot also (naturally) tries to trick readers into thinking DR's work isn't worth reading at all.
[No-doubt-coincidentally: JUST the tactic of S&T's 2002/2 smear by much-rewarded Brad Schaefer. Not unexpected BS-NGS “synchronicity”. However, please note that the baselessness & carelessness of Schaefer's loud 2005 multi-fumbled Farnese globe prank (1st exposed internationally by DIO — on 2005 April Fool's Day) has since creditably been revealed by his own chosen forum, the hopefully-maturing Journal for the History of Astronomy (2006 Feb issue). BS displays his integrity in the 2006 Nov Scientific American (which has evidently lost even a competent pretense that it has academic standards anymore) by continuing to plug his theory — without citing the 2006 Feb JHA paper undoing it. (Every specialist in the field now regards BS' Farnese paper as a pathetic joke. Indeed, the post-April-Fool's-Day “controversy” on it mercifully ended barely ere it began — something quite remarkable in the contentious ancient astronomy area.) Read the 2006 Feb paper (by D.Duke), and you'll soon enough see why BS didn't cite it!]

The Peary-Henson link-farm is obsessed with concentrating on an ad-hominem approach. (Much like that of chief F.Cook nut, R.Gibbons — both cults' mutual hatred of DR has even brought them together for the 1st time [to share smear material]. Touching.) If one has logic and evidence on one's side, does one need to act so?
Cranks are always the last to realize how transparent such tactics are, to the genuine scholarly community: when the weight of evidence is so against your position that you feel the need to resort to diverting, smearing, selecting, cheating, and-or cowering from debate — well, nobody but a crank will imagine that knowledgeable observers do not know why he's doing so.


Excerpts from DR's 1998/6/23 letter to the New York Times:

The following responds to recent misleading NYTimes Book Review comments upon my work. I am much less interested in having it printed by you (which will merely play into Ohio State University's strategy of selling books by resurrecting a dead controversy out of gibberish) than in seeing the NYTimes privately initiate a thorough investigation by unimpeachably neutral, competent scientists….

The 1998/6/7 NYTBR has favorably reviewed Ohio State University (OSU) Press' 1998 publication of the diary in which Richard Byrd recorded his scientific data and calculations during his alleged 1926 May 9 trip to the North Pole in the Fokker trimotor airplane, Jo Ford.

The new OSU book, To the Pole (TP), is edited by an OSU archivist. Though the Byrd Polar Research Center resides at Ohio State, NYTBR deemed this pseudo-neutral production “evenhanded”, and indicated some question about the firmness of my wellknown 1996 conclusion that Richard Byrd's 1926 diary proved that (as long suspected) his 1926/5/9 North Pole claim was a falsehood.…

My detailed 1996 technical analysis is scrupulously and very accurately summarized by John Wilford at NYTimes 1996/5/9 p.1. Though both Wilford's report and mine were compiled at high speed, not a digit in either has — in the intervening two years — been found erroneous by Byrd's frustrated loyalists. I urge scholars to consult the former, since I have not yet published the latter. [The extended report was later co-published by the University of Cambridge (Scott Polar Research Inst's Polar Record 2000 pp.25-50) and DIO 10 [2000].] Note: OSU's book does not even cite Wilford's epochal, Byrd-cult-loathed prominent NYTimesarticle (which contains crucial material not [then] published elsewhere). Evenhanded. [What sort of NYTimes “science reporter” could so insult his own finest colleague?! And why would he?]

NYTBR and the book take seriously defenders' pathetic delusion that the diary supports Byrd's claim. Fact: except for a single time, 7:07:10 GCT (Greenwich Civil Time), not one empirical datum in the handwritten May 9 in-flight diary also appears in Byrd's later-polished typewritten report (to SecNavy and the National Geographic Society) which officially lodged the claim in late June. And vice-versa.

The diary contains two careful 1926/5/9 sextant solar altitudes (TP pp.82-85, both erased) at 4:39 GCT & 7:07 GCT, and two quick&dirty airspeed dead-reckoning (dr) calculations (TP p.96) from just after Byrd found a leaking motor. (Notably, no diary [drift-indicator] dr data exist before this crisis.) Not one of these data are in the final typescript report.…

(Defenders hope→claim that the [Byrd diary data]-erasures merely prove non-use of data which Byrd had discarded as faulty. But his separate detailed calculations of both these data indicate otherwise. And Byrd did not erase data-errors; he wrote-over or struck them. See, e.g., TP pp.83, 88, 90. Finally, the bad-data alibi can't explain his erasure of his failure-redolent question to Bennett, scribbled in the diary, TP p.96: “How long were we gone before we turned around?” [Not: “How long did we take to get to the Pole?” Question: if a flyer had circled the Pole for nearly a quarter-hour, would he ask when they “turned around”?!])

Wilford's NYTimes article concludes with an elementary clincher from my report: (1) Byrd's diary (TP p.96) says he is many miles short of the Pole at 9:15 GCT; (2) his telegram to SecNavy claimed he arrived at 9:15 (NYTimes 1926/5/13); and (3) his final report (TP pp.156) has him leaving at 9:15 (after arriving at 9:02 — TP pp.155). A flat triple-contradiction — which Byrd-loyalists can only dance-slither around, since the numbers are all on the record. OSU's new book solves the 9:15 tri-paradox by not mentioning it at all. Evenhanded.

In fact, TP nowhere tells its readers on what pages they can find and compare for themselves the import and grossness of the several famous discrepant data. (I here rectify this deliberate omission.) Evenhanded.

The whole reason TP got published [DIO 10 (2000) end-note 14 (p.97) was DR's] “sensational” ([Browne in NYTBR) 1996 discovery of these discrepancies. What must one make of the integrity of a university press which then does not even [a] point them out, or [b] cite the frontpage NYTimes article that first announced them to the world? — and instead just (TP pp.56-57) tucks the whole wellknown matter into a single obscure (and transparently [DIO 10 [2000] end-note 13 [p.96] ] erroneous) footnote, even while the main text goes on&on with detailed attempts to refute now-secondary or obsolete charges against Byrd's claim. Note that all these TP discussions follow the format of religious-instruction manuals: a heretical argument is raised, and then immediately knocked down. This catechismic rhythm is maintained, without exception, whenever TP encounters a skeptic. Evenhanded.

During the two years that intervened between my 1996 report and the new 1998 OSU book, I repeatedly urged OSU to have the diary — and all sides' reports on it — refereed by reputable independent experts chosen by, e.g., the National Academy of Sciences. (Ohio State stealthily ignored these suggestions, obviously figuring that a competent debate-ender report would produce less publicity and book-sales than would a noisy public squabble, deliciously pitting rational scientists against a cult-combine of mixed nuts and sluts.) … the essential issue [is:] in scientific discovery the burden of proof is on the claimant, not the critic. … There is OSU archival evidence (in Byrd's hand [DIO 10 §F1 p.32) proving] that some of his 1926 calculations were done backwards, i.e., fabricated. This material was cited in my 1996 report, but it's entirely omitted from TP. Evenhanded.

Faced (1998/3/9) with the documentary evidence for fabrication, an OSU professor (whose pollyanna-lax 1997/7/9 report is cited as expert at TP p.57, though it mis-signs all 21 of its hour-angles and mis-spells “sextant” 23 consecutive times) privately offered: it just has to be that Byrd was so tired from the trip that he awoke the next day and reconstructed data from memory! This is what The Defense has come to. Evenhanded.

The OSU prof's 1997 report extensively (& vainly) attempts finding errors of data or math in my 15pp analysis, but has no comment on Molett's arithmetic-flubbing 1996 report to OSU (soberly cited at TP p.57). Evenhanded.…

My preliminary 1996 report (available from OSU archives) was as gentle as possible to the Byrd clique, to Ohio State, and even to vendetta-obsessed National Geographic. (No call to be unmerciful when evidential victory is total.) All have spat in the face of this attempt at amicability and generosity. Shame.

Needless to say, the suggestion of appeal to the NAS (to mercifully shut down such a pointless fake-controversy) went nowhere.