Dr Ballard's Response to the Nargeolet Letter


Apr 11, 2001
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Dr. Ballard will be publishing, as I understand, a twenty page response to the controversial letter and questions posed by Captain Nargeolet in an upcoming issue of the Commutator, journal of the Titanic Historical Society. No copy was offered as a counterpoint to TIS journal, Voyage. This coming Thursday, the controversy will be explored in a column of the New London Day by veteran columnist Steve Slosberg who will explore the usual ground in addition to the disputed "non-profit" status of The Institute for Undersea Exploration in Mystic, and the involvement of former governor Lowell Weicker with the Ballard Omnimedia. Should be interesting reading. The Nargeolet letter may be found on the TIS website, hopefully the Ballard rebuttal will be made available to all.
http://www.theday.com/eng/web/
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Of particular interest will be a minute-by-minute explanation of who was actually where at the time of the great discovery in 1985.
 
Nov 26, 2005
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I really hope they make the response available to all. I really do look forward to seeing what he has to say. 20 pages long? Wow. I really wonder what it will say.
 

Barb Shuttle

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Feb 2, 2004
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I'd bet my bottom dollar that, unless you're a THS member and get their journal through your dues or you choose to purchase the upcoming issue of the Commutator, you won't be given the chance to read the response. I will be truly amazed if THS makes it available to the public free of charge, as did we at TIS. I hope I'm wrong.

I think it's quite interesting, though, that Dr. Ballard chose not to respond directly, but decided, instead, to do it this way. Not surprising, though.

By the way, Voyage 54 is going to the printers any day now... Thanks to those of you who graciously allowed us to print your ET posts. We have a three page spread of reader's responses (in pretty small type!), both pro and con, in this issue. And if you did give us permission and would like a copy, please make sure I have your snail mail address. You can email it to me at [email protected]. :eek:) Thanks again!

Barb
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Well, I am highly amused that Ballard has written such a lengthy response. When the letter first came out, his camp said he could have cared less. Which says to me that he does care, though if he only offers his opinions to the same people, is he really getting his point across? I think an honest and open debate, such as the one he was offered in Feb 2005 and later on ET, and other occasions, would be best. I am excited about what Steve has to write. He authored an article on Elizabeth Duckworth and I found him very interesting to talk to, especially since he knew my late uncle who was a politician. Will Ballard be less confrontational and more thoughtful in responses? Judging by his attack style in the past- I highly doubt it!
 

James Smith

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Dec 5, 2001
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I think it's quite interesting, though, that Dr. Ballard chose not to respond directly, but decided, instead, to do it this way. Not surprising, though.

I agree that it doesn't seem to bode well, but I'll hope for the best until I get solid confirmation otherwise. Ballard may have simply felt some sense of obligation to THS and preferred to give the initial "scoop" to them.

Still seems like poor form, though, considering TIS' invitation and all . . .

Well, I am highly amused that Ballard has written such a lengthy response. When the letter first came out, his camp said he could have cared less. Which says to me that he does care, though if he only offers his opinions to the same people, is he really getting his point across?

Ballard certainly has a lot of 'splainin' to do, but with respect, Michael, your damned-if-he-does, damned-if-he-doesn't statement seems to demonstrate an attitude that Ballard can do no right--which I'm not sure is terribly productive either.

I think an honest and open debate, such as the one he was offered in Feb 2005 and later on ET, and other occasions, would be best.

Amen!

--Jim
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Mr. Slosberg's article is now being held for the Sunday edition instead of tomorrow's paper. (New London Day). When National Geo was contacted by the newspaperman, they said they were quite content to accept the term, "Discoverer of the Titanic" in regards to Dr. Ballard. Now it seems the the French are getting more credit from him, and the words "co-discoverer" are being used, pretty much for the first time in a high-profile public way as a prudent attempt to do a little damage control- which is good to hear. I would imagine Capt. Nargeolet, if he gets to see this rebuttal, indeed if any of us gets to see it, will have a counterpoint to offer. It's taken twenty years in the making so there should be a lot to digest on both sides of the issues.
 

Mike Poirier

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Hey Jim-
I know it comes across as a 'damned if he does' post, but had he ever offered the George Tulloch/PH/Jean-Louis Michel the same opportunities to respond that have been extended to him over the years, I'd probably take his anti-salvage position and this current 20 page missive more seriously. Many scientists, explorers, salvagers have refuted his claims over the years with video footage, documents, etc.. but unfortunately he just doesn't want the debate and I would gladly like to see him dispute live footage, pictures, and the like. Goodness knows, he might be right on a point or two. We just don't know.
 

James Smith

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Hi Michael--

That's a good point. For my own part, to be honest, I have a bit of a soft spot for Ballard--when the ship was found I wrote to him a couple of times, and he (or his secretary) was always kind enough to write back to an annoying little five-year-old with terrible handwriting (even if it was just a secretary, at least Ballard signed the letter) (please, oh please don't tell me the guy had a signature machine!)

Anyways, that experience tends to put me a little more in Ballard's favor than I probably should be. I realize he's got a lot to atone for, but I do hope that his response a) does him credit personally, and b) gets a fair shake in the Titanic community.

--Jim
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Hello Jim-
No, that is excellent that he sent you those letters. Don't worry, I wouldn't think that it was a signature machine!

Who knows- perhaps his letter will try and mend some fences? I can't see it- but anything is possible.

Mike
 
Nov 26, 2005
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If this letter gets published for public viewing, would someone please post a link here so I can see it? I read the Nargolet letter several times before I absorbed everything and found it fascinating. I really hope it will be released in some other form besides just the Commutator. I really can't afford to join THS at the current time. Maybe sometime around next summer though.

Thanks all!
 

Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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For many of the things in which Ballard can offer no legitimate defense (his duplicity regarding the crows nest bell controversy and his Congressional testimony on salvage), he would not need as much as 20 pages to write a response.

I will await this with interest, but I won't be holding my breath waiting for him to finally address head on the issues that get to the heart of the matter when it comes to his own credibility.
 
Apr 11, 2001
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The questions above are not part of the Nargeolet letter- this is a compilation of questions received, and offered up for a response of some sort. There were also some questions regarding the crow's nest bell. I don't know that any particular antagonism is intended here, and of course I cannot speak for others- maybe it is more like exasperation that none of them ever gets an answer, even when asked in the most polite and accommodating terms.
 

John Knight

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Jun 4, 2004
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Has nobody read Ballards book 'The discovery of the Titanic' first published in 1987?
In it he makes it perfectly clear that he was in his cabin when the Titanic was discovered. He makes it perfectly clear that he was fetched by a crew member. Where is the suggestion he was anywhere else?
In the book and in other items I have read or heard by Ballard I have never seen any claim that it was he and he alone who discovered the Titanic.
If anyone is to 'blame' for contrary thought it is the media. This debate about Ballard not putting the record straight clearly shows that whoever believes it has never read at the very least, the book mentioned above.
This whole 'Ballard was the sole discoverer of Titanic' discourse rather reminds me of the 'Unsinkable Titanic' articles printed in the papers in 1912. We all know that it was never what White Star claimed. Likewise I have seen or heard nothing that has made me think or believe that Bob Ballard tries to pretend by various means that he was the sole discoverer.
Regards,
John.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>Has nobody read Ballards book 'The discovery of the Titanic' first published in 1987?<<

Yes.

>>In it he makes it perfectly clear that he was in his cabin when the Titanic was discovered. He makes it perfectly clear that he was fetched by a crew member.<<

Yes he does. However, the question asked by TIS is "1. Why do you not make any effort to correct the statement that you are “the discoverer of the Titanic”￾?"

I know of no such effort. Does anybody else? If he's done that, by all means mention where and when.

Regarding the question of antagonism, I don't know if I'd go that far with the questions themselves, though I would point out that the paper got it wrong in asserting that the questions came from Shelley. I would however point out that there apparantly is some antagonism from Dr. Ballard if the paper reported this part accurately:
quote:

Ballard, who lives in Lyme, heads the Institute for Exploration at Mystic Aquarium and is popularly regarded as thediscoverer of Titanic, dismisses the group, first as amateurs rather than academics, and also as siding with the undersea school that favors salvaging submerged artifacts.
While some TIS members may not be academics and some may well be amatures with a pro-salvage stance, this does not in any way detract from the validity of the questions posed.

In all fairness, the citation above may well be an in-accurate representation of what Dr. Ballard said. They got it wrong with Shelley. Why not some of the other players?

In light of that, I'll wait to see for myself what Dr. Ballard said in The Commutator. At least I'll have it in context and right from the source that way.​
 

John Knight

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Jun 4, 2004
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"I know of no such effort. Does anybody else? If he's done that, by all means mention where and when."

Maybe he already feels everyone knows? After all he's never covered up the fact that he was not the lone discoverer. I have never been given the impression that Ballard claimed it was him alone who found the ship, why? Because It's pretty obvious he did not. If I can figure that out, why can't anyone else? How many of us would really feel the necessity to make statements pointing out that the achieved goal of a project we were involved in was not purely down to us when it would not only be obvious because of media coverage but because we also had written about it more than once?
Regards,
John.
 

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