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Dennis Rawlins (born 1937) is an American astronomer and historian who has acquired the reputation of skeptic primarily with respect to historical claims connected to astronomical considerations. He is known to the public mostly from media coverage of his investigations of the two most,[1] successful science hoaxes of the twentieth century. In his first book, Peary at the North Pole: fact or fiction? (1973), Rawlins argued that Robert Peary never made it to the North Pole in 1909. His second book (1993) is the standard critical edition of Tycho Brahe's 1598 catalogue of 1004 stars[2] which detected ten star places faked partially or entirely. In 1976, as the only astronomer on the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, he looked into the so-called Mars effect.[3][4] In 1996 he made headlines[5] when page one of the New York Times covered his report to Ohio State University which concluded that in 1926 Richard E. Byrd's airplane flight towards the North Pole turned back 150 miles from the pole.[6] Rawlins's third book, his detailed report on Byrd's trip and on the competence of lingering defenses of it, was co-published[7] simultaneously in 2000 by DIO volume 10, 2000 and by the polar research center at the University of Cambridge.[8] Because explorer[9] Frederick Cook's story of reaching the North Pole in 1908 is generally rejected, the elimination of Peary[10][11] and Byrd leaves fourth North Pole claimant Roald Amundsen as first there in 1926 in the airship Norge (Norwegian for Norway). Having attained the South Pole in 1911, Amundsen thus became the first to reach each geographical pole of the earth,[12] as proposed in Rawlins's 1973 book.

Dennis Rawlins
Born1937 (age 81–82)
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
OccupationAstronomer, historian

Selected worksEdit

  • Rawlins, Dennis (1973). Peary at the North Pole: fact or fiction?. Washington: Robert B. Luce. ISBN 0883310422.


  1. ^ John Tierney (September 8, 2009). "Who Was First at the North Pole?". New York Times, Science. The September 7, 2009 online version of the New York Times article created a link to DIO.
  2. ^ Elly Decker (1998). "Tycho's Star Catalogue: The First Critical Edition. DIO (Special Triple Issue) 3 (1993). Review". Annals of Science. 53 (4): 423. doi:10.1080/00033799608560825.[permanent dead link] "extensive [least squares] error analysis ... demonstrates [Brahe's] accuracy ... much better than is generally assumed .... excellent investigation". O'Brien, Ellen (2 June 1996). "Prober's Claim To Fame Is Refuting Adm. Byrd's: Dennis Rawlins Makes A Case The North Pole Was Missed". Philadelphia Media Network. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  3. ^ Cherfas, Jeremy (29 October 1981). "Paranormal-watchers fall out over the Mars effect". New Scientist: 294.
  4. ^ Kurtz, Paul. Skepticism and Humanism: The New Paradigm. Transaction. pp. 89–90. ISBN 9781412834117.
  5. ^ John Noble Wilford (May 9, 1996). "Did Byrd Reach Pole? His Diary Hints 'No'". New York Times: 1.; May 9, 1996 Evening News, CBS, ABC, NBC.
  6. ^ Timberg, Craig (15 May 1996). "Polar hero Byrd on thin ice? Doubter: Dennis Rawlins' report that explorer Richard Byrd did not fly over the North Pole has put the Baltimore scholar in the middle of controversy". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  7. ^ The Cambridge version ends with "Editor's note: As is common among scholarly journals, it is a policy of Polar Record to publish only papers not submitted nor being considered for publication elsewhere. However, the preceding paper is considered to be of such significance to the polar community that it has been published here despite an expanded version being published this same month in DIO".
  8. ^ Scott Polar Research Institute, Polar Record volume 36[permanent dead link] pages 25–50, January, 2000.
  9. ^ John Tierney (November 26, 1998). "Author Says Photo Confirms Mt. McKinley Hoax in 1908". New York Times: 1. Article explicitly based upon DIO volume 7's first publication of the long secreted uncropped version of Cook's alleged Mt. McKinley summit photograph.
  10. ^ Peter Matthiessen, End of the Earth, National Geographic Society, 2003, page 197.
  11. ^ Richard Sale and Madeleine Lewis, Explorers, Smithsonian, 2005, page 34.
  12. ^ History Channel December 8, 2000 and May 7, 2001.

External linksEdit

  • DIO online, a compendium of several hundred of Rawlins's contributions.
  • Starbaby by Dennis Rawlins, originally published in Fate Magazine, October 1981