or the History of Astronomy and AAS Folly

Journal for the History
of Astronomy
: Shunning As a Policy

What is a shunning? Some items: Not a single JHA paper has credited DIO with a single scholarly achievement throughout our two decades of publication. (Even mere citations have been extremely rare.) DIO has not responded in kind, going out of its way to praise occasional mental and behavioral — even mechanical — glimmerings and achievements at the political center (numerous examples traceable by following citational trail starting at DIO 16 [2009] p.2 n.2), while encouraging open-forum intellectual freedom. JHA's and DIO's publishers haven't communicated in nearly 3 decades, despite our requests (idem) to end such a tantrum-initiated and circularly fertility-poisoning academic outrage.

Such contrasts (in ethics and scholarship) appear to interest no one at the American Astronomical Society (unless invertedly), whose Gingerich-kissing Hysterical Astronomy Division has covered the semi-numerate shunners and their miss-men with honors, blatant fawning, and nationwide promotion, while protecting HAD members for consecutive years (e.g., when HAD's newsletter surveys publications in the field) from awareness of DIO's very existence.
[Invited as a speaker by the AAS' Planetary Sciences Division in 1990 (Charlottesville meeting: DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡7 [pp.68-74]), DR has never been officially invited as an HAD speaker, though he is one of the better-known (see back cover of any recent DIO) and more productive scholars in astronomy-related history, as well as the publisher (for over 23y) of the astronomical-history journal which is the US leader and easily the most technically competent on the planet. (Check out the quality of DIO's refereeing and judging boards.)

Given the HAD's quality and integrity, this shunning is obviously not mentioned here because DIO feels a sense of deprivation. Hardly. The deprivation is elsewhere (see, e.g., DIO 16 [2009] ‡1 n.7 [p.4]), damaging the whole field's reputation in academe and (rather more importantly) its ability to learn and progress. Not that anyone at the Amer Astr Soc cares, so long as the scandal stays out of the newspapers, and JHADists remain on committees that control funding.]

Gingerich's friends at Sky&Telescope even ran nationally a wildly mis-informed and essentially plagiarized slanderous attack on DIO in 2002 Feb [p.40], allegedly supported by documents it has never been able to produce, and puffing the bumbling, cowering JHA as the premier” journal in the field.
[It is premier in the sense noted above, which is at best irrelevant to the controversy the smear-article was discussing. The reader can judge whether JHA is premier in scholarship.]
Such libels and kiss-ups are an essential part of how a shunning works.
Of course, a shunning is always in actuality a running. In this case: the running-away archons are intellectually-outgunned pols who know it would be suicide to engage rationally and calmly with a self-created enemy that turned out to be slightly more formidable than the esteamed Hoskin had the sense, expertise, or emotional equilibrium to realize, when His 1983 tantrums fatally committed His Exalted Self (and thus the field's whole rabbitariate) to ascientifically-personal banish-tactics — tactics which entail fleeing DIO with the same courage that has too long typified the history-of-astronomy herd's horror at a rebel journal's not joining it in brainkiss-feeding helplessly-power-addicted academic moguls' delusions of impunity-infallibility.

Preliminary Addendum on Establishment Lowness

Despite JHAD goons' repeated and ever-JHA-rewarded assaults against DIO, not a single theory 1st published in DIO has been found in error during our quarter-century of publication. (Compare this solid, remarkable record to the foregoing JHA Mass-Mess-o'Muffery.)
[Again, don't miss the core of the political entertainment here: it's the hitman&miss-unreliable journal (run by a mathematical nit) that the American Astronomical Society's HAD kisses up to — while shunning the competent one that's backed by genuine scientific immortals, whose only sin is that they are utterly non-political. I.e., honest.]
Since nothing is perfect — not even a world-class-refereed journal — obviously we owe something to luck. (But it is probably not entirely luck that DR's two longago scholarly errors occurred prior to DIO, which is blessed with the most scientifically able referees in the field.) The point here is not perfection but relative reliability-averages. Considering the persistent efforts by centrist miss-men (like Hoskin's appropriately devious beneficiary, John-Wall) to portray DR or DIO as kook or Unreliable, it ought to (but likely won't) enlighten one or two esteemed archons that: each would-be DIO-assassin's stab has failed to establish the DIO error he so nakedly hoped-for.

To get some idea of the balance & character of defenders of those institutions whose fumblings have been exposed by DIO, check out the vandalistic, sometimes outright dishonest histories of harassment and threat on Wikipedia, at the histories of the bios of DR, Carl Sagan, Aristarchos, etc. These wildly unprincipled incursions are largely by a party we've dubbed “Stall-Wall”, in honor of where his academic research merits publication.

Stall-Wall continues to do an admirably accurate imitation of a well-rewarded pawn of a (purely-hypothetical) desperately vindictive Coward-for-Life, Whose repeated public attempts to effect long-decreed shunning of a hate-object (by publishing pseudo-refereed dumb attacks on him) have backfired so reliably that He (unable to meet said object in face-to-face debate or any other form of fair encounter) has progressively been reduced to ever less noble means of revenge.

Right after John-Wall's 2007 bungled attack on DR in Ancient Egypt, Hoskin elevated him (as He has also swiftly elevated others right after attacks on DR) — by exceptionally publishing this academic-zero in the customarily institution-connexion-obsessed JHA. (Again: the JHA is the AAS-HAD's idea of a Reliable Journal. And, politically, it certainly is.)

DR wrote to Ancient Egypt 2007/4/7 and got a reply (dated 2007/5/5) from AE's Editor saying he'd been away until now, and saying he's relaying the DR letter to Wall (who has never replied). Barely a week after John-Wall received this, Stall-Wall decided to test out how an anonymous-IP# worked with Wikipedia, using the London-area IP#, just with a little dabble: hahaha what ever.

Dastard of Misguise:
Wall then waited a few months in order to evade an otherwise too-obvious-even-for-him giveaway cause-effect temporal connexion. During this time he tried to establish (using a torrent of London-area IP#s) — on, e.g., the Galileo Wikipedia article (2007/8/17 & 11/7), and later that of Aristarchos — a (previously non-existent!) persona as a geocentrist Catholic — to lay the groundwork for a bizarre, truly sinister plan to cast upon Christians the blame for his upcoming attacks on fellow-skeptic DR.
After he had been convinced that his misguise was too marvelously clever to be seen through, Wall began using the same IP# (and many others: all London-area) to attack DR and to (with an amateur's real or faked ignorance of great scientists' status and principle) attack DIO's most eminent board-members Kowal & Standish.
[Wall later removed the DR Wiki-bio's accurate reference to Aubrey Diller's high eminence in ancient geography research. Diller was the world scholar chosen to preface Hildesheim's 1966 reprint of the then-lone complete edition of Ptolemy's Geography. And DR was the scholar to whom Diller bequeathed his final grand work.] Certain parties are Displeased by DR's continuing high status among top international scholars. (Disobeying a shun must be punished.)
Wall went on to threaten anyone who objected to his vandalism, e.g., “It is not wise to get any where near Dennis” (2008/3/6). And (to scare off a 16y-old Wiki administrator who was trying to protect the DR Wiki bio from vandalism): “It is not wise to get near Rawlins” (2008/3/10). These Stall-Wall terror-attacks


Gosh, Who has decreed DR's shunning from hist.astron for the last 3 decades? What hist.astron Archon has directly threatened DR? — and (early in the new millennium) told another scholar that most folks write respectfully to Him because they're afraid of being black-balled otherwise.
Next question: where did these threats come from? Southern England, where reside both the DR-hating JHA and JHA-beneficiary John-Wall. All this is, of course, purely coincidental.

  • The Old Bad-Cop-Worse-Cop Routine:
    The Wiki-bio of DR had been fairly and multiply administered until 2008/3/10, when, upon goon-Wall's request, a Wikipedia Administrator with screen name “Vsmith” henceforth and permanently assumed sole, exclusive supervision — and, instead of reacting honorably to threatening vandal Wall, either caved to or cooperated with him: Vsmith immediately, laboriously deleted from the DR bio virtually all citations to his journal DIO on the grounds that it was not a Reliable source. (One hopes that it is not the norm on Wikipedia for Administrators to perform administrator-threatening vandals' dirty work — and even to return to ensure the dirt's permanence.) Vsmith ignored the fact that the great majority of these citations were a mere efficiency: most of them referred to bunches of sources that are deemed Reliable by Wikipedia, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, etc.

    Vsmith is a hilariously sloppy, mathematically unsophisticated, CSICOPesque establishment-plant, who — in the absence of valid factual or scholarly reasons for suppressing material upsetting to his fave institutions — simply uses threats and extortion to enforce his viewpoint, e.g., holding articles hostage to enforce rationally indefensible censorships of accurate but establishment-embarrassing information that Wikipedia readers ought to have access to. (Such Heydrichesque tactics suggest that the perps lack not only proper qualifications for Wiki editing [especially technical material] — but also have even less of a clue about what DIO is made of.)

    It ought to enlighten those who trust pseudo-populist Wikipedia that it could have fallen so under the thumb of establishment fixers & goons that it would for years classify a politically unReliable journal as academically unReliable when:
    [1] DIO's boards and contributors (as Vsmith has been informed) include world leaders in several fields.
    [2] DIO's contributions to knowledge are internationally recognized: DIO has co-published with the University of Cambridge; and DIO's merit in its most famous controversies (Egyptology, Ptolemy, Cook, Peary, Byrd, Amundsen) has been published by the New York Times on multiple occasions in both the Science section (which has created a link to DIO) and on the front page.
    [3] Those who censor the DR bio haven't even claimed (in 3y) to have found a scholarly error anywhere in the numerous accurate DIO-citations eliminated by its corrupt Administrator Vsmith on 2008/3/10 & 7/26.
    Teacher of rox-for-jox etc, to high-school kids, Vsmith (“VersusMyth”: get it?) is a flagrant tool of the CSI [CSICOP] crowd that loaths DR for his “sTARBABY” (a detailed exposé of CSICOP's fumblings and coverups in its notorious neo-astrology disaster). That Wikipedia would appoint a snippy, sloppy dictator as Administrator (despite pre-elevation misgivings and later repeated complaints from victims), and would permit such a scientific mediocrity to be sole administrator of mathematical astronomer DR's WPbio for years on end, reveals how far from success Wikipedia's impossible Reliability-dream has become mired.

    As is widely known, Wikipedia can be useful as a reservoir of citations of potentially valuable sources. But this very positive is damaged by WP's attempt to attain Reliability-status (an obviously chimeral goal for an enterprise largely run by anonymous amateurs), due to cultists' passion to censor — too often involving the elimination of sources — ever-justified by the excuse of the ever-remote Reliability-chimera.
    Wouldn't it be more in keeping with academic ideals, for cults' dissent-resenting flame-keepers instead just to post logical counters to whatever they regard as unReliable?
    [The recommendation implicit in the foregoing:
    when considering deletions, err on the side of tolerance — even if you disagree with what you are tempted to kill. Put more trust in readers' own intelligence to judge reliability. Most of them are ALREADY too intelligent to believe that information's appearance on Wikipedia has anything to do with reliability — so: what's the point of continuing the RS-sham, besides granting heresy-fearing cultists a scythe to censor with?]

    [a] Allowing only “Reliable” citations automatically converts Wikipedia into an establishment organ, since all the sample forums Wikipedia lists as “Reliable” are establishment.
    [b] Reliability keeps remaining elusive, while vandals use the unReliable-Source gambit as a ready excuse to censor anything their cults wish to hide.
    The Wiki ideal of a people's encyclopedia has instead evolved into just another establishment captive forum.

    The Achilles-Heel of the Wikipedia Scheme — as Now Conducted:
    The weakness of a people's encyclopedia is self-evident: rich unprincipled establishments (pardon redundances) can lure and-or hire far more soldiers (than most individuals) whose job is to
    [a] Suppress (“edit”) facts embarrassing to their gooroos and-or funders.
    [b] Counter unwelcome truths by lies: an endless (establishment-typical-asymmetric) threat of deep-pockets-funded false smears and-or threats of elimination of pages or bios.
    The upshot is that WP is an odd perversity at present: its main labor borne by unpaid idealists, but its dominance determined (as are US elections) by which side has the most money.

    Achilles Had Two Heels, Too — How Reliably Gauge Reliabiliity?
    The other main current Wikipedia weakness is its establishment-beloved rule requiring that citations can only in exceptional cases be to anything but “Reliable” (translation: mainstream) sources.
    (A co-weakness in WP practice, which is a just-as-indiscriminately over-used alibi-for-censorship: “COI”, conflict-of-interest.)

    WP-Reliability-Rule's Lurking Ironic Contradiction:
    Has Wikipedia's rulership not pre-contemplated where its banishment of non-“Reliable” sources must lead?
    Though everyone recognizes that Wikipedia is useful for chasing sources, no serious scholar regards Wikipedia itself as reliable. (Evidently for good cause.) So:


    DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡1 n.11 [p.6]:

    On 1983/6/6, …Gingerich [JHA's Number Two ] urged [DR] to accede to the sudden late attempt of the JHA Editor-for-Life, Lord Hoskin, to excise the sole, brief pro-R.Newton section of a paper long previously accepted (even advertised in the 1982 March Isis) — a section which included, e.g., the little-known information that Ptolemy's solar “observations” agreed 50 times better with his indoor tables than with the outdoor sky. [He] explicitly recommended I tolerate Lord H's censorship (typical of that which has prevented JHA readers from knowing the truth of the Ptolemy situation) because publication in the eminent JHA would enhance my “prestige” in the field. For the record: the dirty business surrounding this affair … is what led directly to the inception of DIO. I'm sure establishmentarians everywhere will be grateful to OG & Lord H for that achievement.

    Original Version Uploaded 2010/6/14.
    Occasionally augmented and-or re-edited through 2012/12/21.