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The famous Rawlins blunder
"...the myth that in the 1980's someone found 'new documents' that Peary missed the Pole...is the so called Rawlins blunder..."

"...an obnoxious, glory-starved show boater..."

Dennis Rawlins

"...egg on his scientific face."

Media humiliation ends Peary bashing hobby for Dennis Rawlins
"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.
"...Baltimore Magazine (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. Gibbons
Q: I thought there was recent "proof" Peary did not reach the Pole?

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.
Washington Post 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."


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