||"He went to the Washington
Post with the story and soon got "egg on his scientific face" when a
group...found that what Dennis said were compass variations at the Pole,
were in reality the serial numbers of Peary's chronometer watches.
(July 1989) writer Kevin McManus said that Dennis Rawlins was
someone "who has practically made a career...of trashing other
people's pet theories."
|| His Peary charge, he said, was
"a smoking gun which has...blown a hole in his foot." It turns out that
the calculations ... were in fact the serial numbers of his
chronometers. The blooper prompted some in the geographic community
and the extended fraternity ... to suggest (he) was somewhat of an "obnoxious, glory-starved show boater," McManus wrote.
||For the second time in seven years, the man described by Baltimore
Magazine as an "intellectual swashbuckler, an intellectual gadfly" was
caught with his academic pants down.
Special thanks to: Cook Society Director Russell W.
|Q: I thought there was recent "proof" Peary did not reach the
That was a big mistake. The Washington Post, on the front page in 1989,
mistakenly declared Peary a fraud. How did the esteemed Washington
Post decide Peary was a fraud? Enter astronomer Dennis Rawlins who found a
document in the Peary archives which he thought was Peary's navigation notes
from the Pole. The astronomer was able to deduce that Peary was over 100
miles from the Pole! Sounds pretty bad for Peary, doesn't it? Well, the
calculations Rawlins made were based on that scrap of paper he found - which
contained chronometer serial numbers, not sextant readings.
made a serious mistake. Astronomer Rawlins was wrong; those numbers he
found were the serial numbers of Peary's instruments. Not sextant readings.
Please forgive this error on the part of the Washington Post.
Did the Washington Post publish a front page retraction? The Washington Post did not do this. The
damage was already done. Isn't that unbelievable? The serial numbers
from an undated document were mistaken for North Pole sextant readings. That
is bad enough, but then the newspaper spends little effort to undo the
damage they have caused to American history. People still remember that
headline and think it was true. Isn't that awful?
Shame on Dennis Rawlins, and shame on the Washington Post. This is a
sad but realistic commentary on the poor
standards of journalism. Keep in mind that any fool can write a book or a
newspaper story. So be careful where you get your "facts."