New Californian Book A Ship Accused is flawed


Jan 21, 2001
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I recently was provided a copy of the book "A Ship Accused" with the understanding that I would provide my thoughts on it. Personally I didn't want to spend money on it, suspecting that the book's contents and arguments would be familiar to those who have followed the online discussions about the Californian over the past several years, and that I would not find anything in the way of new primary material in it, just a rehash of predictable pro-Lord interpretations, based on minute selections from the evidence.

Reading the book did nothing to dispel my initial hesitation. Most of the same pro-Lord arguments (a 12 minute time difference, the Titanic's post collision heading, the Californian's overnight position, and so on), and their flaws, are trotted out yet again. Finally the book seems to lean towards a four-ship theory, more akin to Foweraker's 1912-13 work than to Eno's recent suggestions, for those who are familiar with those pro-Lord attempts.

But the end result is that it's all been done before, and contains the same problems that Foweraker encountered, and Padfield after him, and without an attempt to solve them. A four ship theory collapses quickly if it can't explain how Stone's mystery ship (which was certainly not the Titanic!) suddenly changed her bearings and took those pesky rockets right along with her. Stone had no answer for that at the British Inquiry, Foweraker and Padfield had no answer for it in their theories, and neither does this book. Also, no explanation is attempted at how Stone's mystery ship was able to steam off SW in the dead of night, into the icefield - an attempt which neither the Californian nor the Titanic completed.

There are other flawed uses of the testimony, particularly an exchange between the Virginian and the Californian just as Capt Lord began to move his ship for the morning, and Capt Moore's sighting of the Californian north of the Carpathia at daylight. There is an almost comical attempt to suggest that the Californian *might have* had more speaking tubes from the bridge to below decks, but this section is so ridiculous and contrived, that I won't take any more time on it here. Certainly nothing worth $35.

There's a curious statement early in the book that since Californian was to the north, she would always show her green light, regardless of which way the Titanic herself was heading; this statement is just plain incorrect.

The book also reprints the "Rockets!" article that was already published here on ET.

As I said above, there was nothing new in this book in the way of primary documentation, and much that has already been said before. Those who witnessed or took part in the many discussions about the Californian with the book's author will recognize instantly the same material, his use of it, and his same arguments.

For those who wish to learn more, a better choice for understanding the Californian's involvement in the Titanic disaster is Walter Lord's second book, The Night Lives On, in the chapter "A Certain Amount of Slackness." Walter Lord presents the case factually and as fully as anybody needs to understand it, without having to dive into the testimony and all its contradictory data.

If one does read this book, or Padfield, Harrison, Foweraker among the pro-Lord crowd, or Leslie Reade, Geoffrey Marcus or others among the anti-Lord crowd, hoping for a deeper understanding of the Californian issue, do yourself a favor. Be sure to keep a copy of the US and BR inquiries close at hand, and at the very least, compare the authors' interpretations with the raw data. It's the only way.

Personally, I am back where I started; there are better uses for my money than recycled material such as this.

Dave Billnitzer
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Nefarious!

I'm almost finished reading the book and will comment on a few specifics after I've completed it. However (and barring any unexpected surprises at the very end of the book), my assessment of the book agrees with yours.

Just one comment at this point, though. You wrote:

>A four ship theory collapses quickly if it can't >explain how Stone's mystery ship (which was >certainly not the Titanic!) suddenly changed her >bearings and took those pesky rockets right along >with her. Stone had no answer for that at the >British Inquiry, Foweraker and Padfield had no >answer for it in their theories, and neither does >this book.

Well, that isn't quite true, since on page 191 the book does suggest an answer (of sorts) to that problem:

"It has been postulated that the angle of elevation of the rockets could have changed as the Titanic was progressively sinking. It might equally be that Stone continues to link the rockets with the moving ship in his mind."

Personally, I don't see how changing the angle of elevation of the rockets could have made their point of origin appear to move from SSE of the Californian to SW of the Californian.

As for the (Lordite) suggestion that the rockets originated from a point far beyond the mystery ship and that Stone mistakenly *imagined* that those far-distant rockets accompanied the 'fleeing' mystery ship laterally along the Californian's horizon and SW through the icefield . . . Well, I think the book's suggested explanation is far more imaginative than Second Officer Stone ever was.

More soon.

All my best,

George
 
Jan 21, 2001
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Hi George!

Good point, perhaps I should have pointed out that Senan's book does mention the "changing elevation of the rockets" theory. It has been done before, in Diana Bristow's book ("Sinking the Myths," p 172-173), and because of that, I simply wrote it off as another of his recycled ideas. If I tried to enumerate all of his recycled material, we'd be here for quite a while. ;-)

Dave Billnitzer
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Nefarious!

I've noticed an interesting example of selectivity in the presentation of evidence that appears on page 92 of the book. Specifically, it occurs where the author discusses the characteristic appearance of distress rockets, and he opens the discussion with Apprentice Gibson's description of the mystery ship's rockets:

Gibson: I then got the binoculars and had just got them focussed on the vessel when I observed a white flash apparently on her deck, followed by a faint streak towards the sky which then burst into white stars."


However, the author then presents a statement by Second Officer Lightoller which claims that the Titanic's distress rockets did *not* leave luminous trails behind them as they ascended into the sky. The author also quotes Second Officer Stone's statement that he did not see any trails left by the rockets that appeared over the Californian's mystery ship. (This was done in an attempt to discredit Gibson's observation of visible rocket trails -- which would similarly discredit Gibson's sighting of a flash of light on the deck of the nearby mystery ship as the rocket was fired.)

Interestingly, although the book's author relies very heavily on Fourth Officer Boxhall's testimony throughout the rest of the book, page 92 makes absolutely no mention of Boxhall's own description of the distress rockets that he fired from the Titanic that night:

BR15397: Can you describe what the effect of those rockets is in the sky; what do they do?

Boxhall: You see a luminous tail behind them and then they explode in the air and burst into stars.


Boxhall's testimony on the subject obviously does not fit in with the author's premise that the distress rockets seen by the Californian originated *far* beyond the nearby 'mystery ship' that lay SSE of the Californian.

All my best,

George
 
Jan 21, 2001
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Hi George:

Well, you're going to find plenty more just like that one, trust me! But I don't want to spoil it for you. Oh, well, maybe just one: did you notice the caption under the picture of Gibson on p91? For those who haven't had a chance, here is what it says:

"James Gibson, of the Californian, circa 1920. His tales in the witness box of a nearby 'tramp steamer' seeming to list to starboard bore little relation to the situation on board the world's largest ship, the Titanic, which would suffer a severe list to her PORT side prior to sinking." (emphasis in original)

The accompanying text on p91 lists a number of Titanic survivors who described a list to port, but not a single example from those who described a list to starboard. Hmm.

Why does this book remind me so much of an incident from my high school math class? One of my fellow students once asked the teacher if he would show us the famous "proof" that 1+1 does not equal 2. The teacher, normally agreeable to wasting time now and then, looked very seriously at us, and said, "Is that a useful exercise? And even if I 'proved' it to you, would you be convinced enough to believe it?"

His warning to watch out for logic tricks comes back so vividly while reading this book.

Dave Billnitzer
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Dave relayed: "James Gibson, of the Californian, circa 1920. His tales in the witness box of a nearby 'tramp steamer' seeming to list to starboard bore little relation to the situation on board the world's largest ship, the Titanic, which would suffer a severe list to her PORT side prior to sinking." (emphasis in original)

O H , M Y G O D ! ! Well, it seems pretty obvious to me that I could spend over a third of a hundred bucks far more wisely! (Like, perhaps, for a winter supply of "Cheez Doodles".) ;^)
Of course, I suspected as much.

I have to wonder: If Harrison were still alive, would he sue for copyright infringement? Since Molony -- presumably working in isolation -- seems to have produced many of the same old, tired arguments, employing the same highly selective methods of evidence presentation coupled with the most fanciful of wishful interpretations, it does seem a possibility.

I can't believe that "old saw" -- the allegedly static list of the ship -- has once again been trotted out as a potential indictment! (Plus, does it occur to others here that *any* list readily observable from the Californian's reported distance of 5 to 7 miles would be indicative of a ship truly in trouble, not one merely nonchalantly "steaming away"??)

Even the colorful language of implication employed in that caption is heavily reminiscent of earlier staunchly Lordite authors, who've had no qualms whatsoever about depicting Lord's "detractors" in the most unfavorable of lights while paying disproportionate homage to any witness or bit of testimony that seemed to vindicate him.

("Tales in the witness box"?? Cripes, talk about shameless innuendo!)

Dave and George, thanks VERY much for those reviews. Since Dave refers to a recycling of that "Rockets" article originally published here on ET, I can readily see (from first-hand exposure) that the same unbalanced presentations of testimony and minute dissections of those excerpts, followed by fancifully optimistic (or even occasionally deluded) "broad brush" interpretations of same, are likely to manifest throughout the book. No doubt a profuse sprinkling of pseudo-analytical phrases like "This may indicate" and "One is tempted to believe", coupled with the occasional, invariably erroneous assertion of "This can only mean", leads up to an inevitable "punch line" -- that those many divergent, whimsical conjectures somehow add up to a gaping chasm revealed in the "standard view". To wit, a remarkably fragile dwelling is built upon shifting sands, then euphemistically dubbed "Sandstone Castle".

No, thanks. I'll keep my money in my pocket.

Cheers,
John
 
Sep 20, 2000
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George wrote: Interestingly, although the book's author relies very heavily on Fourth Officer Boxhall's testimony throughout the rest of the book, page 92 makes absolutely no mention of Boxhall's own description of the distress rockets that he fired from the Titanic that night:

BR15397: Can you describe what the effect of those rockets is in the sky; what do they do?
Boxhall: You see a luminous tail behind them and then they explode in the air and burst into stars.


George: Gee, there appear to be an *awful* lot of "accidental" oversights and omissions in this book already. You don't, by any chance, think this might be indicative of some subtle form of bias in favor of Captain Lord, do you?

[Suggested answer: "No, I don't think it would be indicative of a *subtle* form at all."] ;^)

Yes, this is looking ever more like the "convincing argument" that the Ten Commandments actually prescribe "Kill." All you need to do to clarify this point for the casual reader is simply leave out those confusing "Thou shalt not"s!

Regards,
John
 
Jan 21, 2001
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Hi John:

Here is one more example of that same technique; readers can decide what the author is doing here...

As we all know, Capt Lord was notified of the rockets three different times, first by Stone via the speaking tube, then by Gibson in person, and for the third time by Stone again via the speaking tube. In their various forms of evidence, Stone and Gibson specifically said Capt Lord was in the chartroom, not asleep in his own bunk in his cabin. And for Capt Lord to answer the two calls from Stone, Lord had to get up, walk from the chartroom into his own room to answer the speaking tube, carry on a conversation, and then go back to the chartroom again:

Stone's affidavit, re: the first call on the speaking tube:
"Between then and about 1:15 I observed three more the same as before, and all white in colour. I, at once, whistled down the speaking tube and you came from the chartroom into your own room and answered."

Clear, yes? Lord came from the chartroom in to his own room.

Gibson's affidavit, the second notification which took place in person:
"I then went down below to the chartroom and called the Captain and told him and he asked me if there were any colors in the rockets. I told him that they were all white. He then asked me what time it was and I went on the bridge and told the Second Officer what the Captain had said."

And at the BR Inq:
7553. Did you report that to the Captain?-Yes.
7554. Where did you go?-Into the chartroom.
7555. Was the chart-room door shut?-Yes.
7556. Did you open the door and go in?-Yes.
7557. Did you find the Captain there?-Yes.
7558. Did you speak to him?-Yes.
7559. Did you give him the report you were ordered to give him?-Yes.
7560. What did the Captain say?-He asked me were they all white?
7561. The rockets?-Yes, were there any colours in the rockets at all?
7562. What did you tell him?-I told him that they were all white.
7563. Did he give any instructions?-No.
7564. Did he say anything further?-He asked me the time.
7565. What was the time?-Five minutes past two by the wheelhouse clock.
7566. You told him that, did you?-Yes.
7567. Did he ask you anything further?-No.
7568. Or tell you anything further?-No.
7569. And did you go away?-Yes.
7570. (The Commissioner.) Was he awake?-Yes, Sir.

Again, Gibson went inside the chartroom and found Lord, awake.

The third notification, Stone calls on the speaking tube again - from his affidavit:
"At 2:45 I again whistled down again..."

And from his testimony:
7976. I beg your pardon. Twenty minutes later you reported to the Captain. How ?-About 2.40 by means of the whistle tube. I blew down again to the Master; he came and answered it and asked what it was.

Again, Capt Lord "came and answered it." In all three cases, the evidence tells us that Capt Lord was in the chartroom when he was notified. To answer Stone's two calls he had to get up, walk into a different room and answer, and Gibson specifically said the Captain was awake.

But how does this book treat the episode? p120:

"Lord's evidence to the US Inquiry **may also suggest** [there's that phrase again! - DB] that the speaking tube was close at hand to where he was lying down...

"But we simply don't know about the dispersal of speaking tubes (own room or chartroom? Or both?), and the Californian is now lying at the bottom of the Mediterranean beyond any easy inspection...

"Yet the overall thrust of the evidence suggests [there's that word again - DB] a tube was in close proximity to Capt Lord throughout...

and in case these suggestions still don't persuade you,

"Let us consider the matter rather in a practical everyday manner --

"Who, owning a bedside phone and no other, but expecting a call in the night, would choose to lie down on a settee outside that room? It seems extraordinary. Similarly, if the Californian's room had no voice tube, then it seems extraordinary again...."

Hmm.

Dave Billnitzer
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Dave and John!

Here are a few more that jumped out at me:


* The book goes to great lengths to 'prove' that the Californian's mystery ship steamed *eastward* (with her broadside fully exposed to the Californian) before she finally turned toward the SW and steamed away in that direction. The book, however, makes no mention of Apprentice Gibson's testimony on this subject; Gibson said that the Californian's mystery ship was pointed north of NNW, that the Californian was viewing her obliquely (from almost bow-on), that he never saw the mystery ship turn around to face the SW and that he never saw her display her stern light while (supposedly) steaming away in that direction. (Of course, all of these observations fit the Titanic's situation to a tee.)

* The book repeatedly quotes Second Officer Stone's alleged sighting of the mystery ship's stern light as she supposedly 'steamed away' to the SW. However, the reader is never told that Second Officer Stone was not *positive* that the light he was viewing was actually a stern light:

BR8100 Stone: "The last light I saw must have been her stern light. It may have been the light at the end of an alleyway, or some bright light on deck."


Nor - again - is the reader made privy to Apprentice Gibson's testimony on the subject:


BR7630: Did you ever see anything which you took for her stern light?

Apprentice Gibson: No.


* The book claims that the Californian's mystery ship steamed away and 'disappeared' in the SW. However (and in a completely different context) the book also acknowledges (p. 157, 171) that the main icefield (which extended *far* south of the mystery ship's position) was impassable during the hours of darkness. That being the case, how was the mystery ship able to traverse the miles-wide icefield that blocked her (supposed) path to the SW? (The book doesn't say.)


* The book mentions that at 6:10 a.m. the Californian told the Virginian that she "can now see Carpathia taking passengers on board from small boats." However, the book then claims that the above wireless message was actually sent at 6:10 a.m. *NEW YORK* Time -- which (if true) would have been close to 8 a.m. Californian Time.

If the book had seen fit to tell its readers about Captain Gambell's listing of the wireless messages sent and received by the Virginian that morning, though, the reader would know that Gambell specifically used Virginian *SHIP'S* time while quoting all of those messages. (Virginian ship's time was 1 hr 30 min AHEAD of New York Time and 20 min BEHIND Californian Time.)

Bearing this in mind, Captain Gambell said that at 5:45 a.m. Virginian Time (6:05 a.m. Californian Time) the Californian told Virginian that she was 15 miles from the Titanic's CQD position. (This at first sounds good for Captain Lord.) However, just 25 minutes later (at 6:10 a.m. Virginian Time, 6:30 a.m. Californian Time) Captain Gambell sent the following message to the Californian:

Virginian: "Kindly let me know condition of affairs when you get to Titanic."

[Captain Gambell said that the Californian *IMMEDIATELY* responded by saying:]

Californian: "Can now see Carpathia taking passengers on board from small boats. Titanic foundered about 2 a.m."

In other words, at 6:30 a.m. (*CALIFORNIAN* Time) the Californian was already close enough to the disaster site to see the Carpathia picking up the Titanic's lifeboats.
------------------

As ET members have seen, the book in question avoids presenting some rather crucial evidence to its readers (and *many* similar examples of such avoidance could be cited.) It would seem rather difficult for readers to be able to construct an *informed* opinion about the Californian controversy in the face of the huge limitations imposed by books of this kind.

Rather than continue to beat a thoroughly dead horse, though, I will merely advise everyone here to keep the two government inquiries close at hand while reading this book -- you *definitely* won't be sorry you had access to the original evidence in its 'unfiltered' state.

I'll close with a quote that I ran across this morning:

"And for to passe the tyme thys book shal be plesaunte to rede in, but for to gyve fayth and byleve that al is trewe that is conteyned herein, ye be at your lyberte...."

(Caxton's preface to Malory)

All my best,

George
 
May 8, 2001
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>>>And for to passe the tyme thys book shal be plesaunte to rede in, but for to gyve fayth and byleve that al is trewe that is conteyned herein, ye be at your lyberte.<<< Yes, I got a similar email from Geoff.
wink.gif
 
Dec 7, 2000
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If Ship Accused is flawed, than Reade's book is no less so.

---
I want to make a general comment about bias, but I thought that John's quote sums up most of it pretty well:

Gee, there appear to be an *awful* lot of "accidental" oversights and omissions in this book already. You don't, by any chance, think this might be indicative of some subtle form of bias in favor of Captain Lord, do you?

And this of course is assuming that Reade is absolutely infallible? Of course not much has been said about Reade's work, but lack of dragging his work through the dirt suggests high regard for his work. Do you all not possibly think that Reade too was extremely selective about the evidence he presents?

I read Reade before I read any Lordite book, and to me it seems that Reade is twisting evidence. Reade himself is very selective in order to present his anti-Lordite position.

Of course this anti and pro-Lordite situation may naturally produce bias to their respective sides, but you treat Senan's book and other pro-Lordite books as they're the only evil authors to develop bias in their book. As I said before, Reade does it very extensively as well.

Regarding the starboard side situation, you can't just throw Sen's caption in the bin. Titanic listed to starboard only at the beginning of her sinking, when the starboard side initially begins to take on water. A few passengers remarked that despite the Titanic having a list to port on Sunday, she was listing to starboard at the beginning of her sinking. Soon after that she began to list to port. That's what Sen is talking about, at the point when Gibson was seeing his ship list to starboard, Titanic at that time was listing to port.

If Harrison were still alive, would he sue for copyright infringement?

Not Sen anyway. I can't say much at the moment, but let me tell you that Reade's work was far from infallible as you might think. Anyone heard of de Groot?

A question I wanted to ask. Leslie Harrison had extensive marine experience, and was held in very high regard. He knew about the sea and navigation, no pro or anti-Lordite can deny that. Reade was a lawyer, no marine experience, and most of us have no marine experience either. How can anyone in the latter position downgrade Harrison so much. Wouldn’t it be natural that a man with extensive marine experience knows more about the sea and navigation?

All Californian aside, all I’m trying to ask about here is Harrison’s reputation. How can we claim that Harrison who was highly regarded at sea and certainly knew a lot about it is the worse one to assess the Californian story? I respect that Reade was a lawyer, but he had no marine experience.

This also bring me to Sen. A few people questioned his assessment of evidence. Sen’s assessments don’t jus come out of his ****. He has been covering court cases for 20 years, I would assume he has at least some credence to what he assesses about the 1912 evidence.

My point is, that this is not evolving to be a discussion about evidence and what may be more correct etc. We’re going into bashing the people and downgrading their intelligence (I am referring to a few threads about the Californian).

Daniel.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Objectively speaking, Daniel, you have a point. The bashing of the personalities does get tiresome, but in this controversy, it just seems to go with the territory. (It's one of the reasons I dislike dealing with it anymore.) However, let's not forget that Harrison's credentials notwithstanding, he did present his case from the point of view of an advocate, not an objective historian. He made no pretense otherwise as far as I know.

When you get right down to it, you have to treat any such writings with caution regardless of the sentiments of the writer. By all means, get ahold of what was written by those who have weighed in on this so that you know what their arguements are. However, one's best bet, IMO, is to go to the transcripts first.

After that, as Master Yoda would say, "You're own counsel keep on whom you believe."
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Mike,

However, let's not forget that Harrison's credentials notwithstanding, he did present his case from the point of view of an advocate, not an objective historian. He made no pretense otherwise as far as I know.

You're right, of course as I said each side of course favours their story -- both Lordite and anti-Lordite sides are bias -- I do not deny this. I just wasn't too comfortable how the Molony and other Lordite books were being accused as being bias when the anti-Lordite books do the very same thing no less. Even this discussion is selecting only the evidence that favours their story, and ignores the evidence that favours the Lordite story. We all do it; there is no deed to point the finger at the other side.

Daniel.
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Daniel!

> Even this discussion is selecting only the >evidence that favours their story,
>

That's perfectly true. I've been providing ET members with crucial evidence which is *absent* from the book, since it is the very *absence* of that crucial evidence which comprises the "Flaws" which this thread is specifically devoted to discussing.

Reade's book undoubtedly has flaws of its own, though, and anyone wishing to discuss those flaws might want to consider creating a thread devoted specifically to that purpose (since that subject is out of place in this thread.)

All my best,

George
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Colleen!

>Yes, I got a similar email from Geoff.

Isn't it great when Geoff starts speechifying in "Olde Englishe?' (Brings a tear of joy to my eye....) :)

Take care, Colleen (and let me know how things go at you-know-what.) :)

All my best,

George
 
Nov 12, 2000
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it has always been striking to me that the issue of the Californian seems to bring out the extremist in so many people, and from both sides of the debate. it is a shame, as this accomplishes nothing but muddy the waters in a subject that is already difficult to pin down because all the facts grouped together are contradictory in the first place. the fact that there are two armed camps slinging barbs endlessly back and forth only underscores to me that the only truth is that we don't have enough evidence to prove the issue one way or the other. how else can we explain 90+ years of confrontation on this subject. if the facts were really as clear as each side would have us believe, the debate would have ended a long time ago.

anyone can take any of the books on this subject, and armed with the inquiries (themselves a mishmash of contradiction) nitpick any of these books to shreds. but I fail to see how that furthers the study of this subject.

my approach has always been to try and find the best in all the works on this subject, rather than the worst. I have read the inquiries, and all the major and minor books on this subject. I have found flaws in every work, but I have also learned useful information from all these sources, and from both sides of the debate. I encourage anyone with an open mind to read as many of these works as they can get their hands on. each adds useful pieces to the puzzle that will help you make up your own mind about the thorny issue of the case of the Californian.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 

Dan Cherry

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Mar 3, 2000
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Michael,
good points...
I, too, attempt to find the best in literary works surrounding this matter. Having read as much as I could on the Titanic and the events surrounding the involvement of the Californian, I consider myself neutral on the whole subject (IOW, I consider myself neither a Lordite nor an anti-Lordite) and look only at the facts.

The facts:
* Titanic sank south of the Californian's position
* Californian crew took interest in a ship south of them
* Titanic shot off rockets that night
* Californian crew members took note of rockets shot off in the direction of Titanic.
* Titanic sank at 2:20+/- a.m.
* Crew members of the Californian noted the ship they were observing disappeared around that hour.
* Captain Lord did not order his wireless operator to fire up his apparatus during the night and inquire about the rocket situation. To an observer in 2002, this would be the prudent thing to do. To Lord, his interpretation of what he was told about the signals did not merit otherwise.
* When morning came and the Californian heard about the foundering, Lord navigated as best as he could to the the scene.

My opinion: IF Lord had Evans fire up the wireless when the first rocket was spotted, Californian would not have made a difference in the rescue of those in the water. The ship simply would likely have been the first on the scene and picked up the survivors in the lifeboats. Lord’s ability to navigate through the ice at dawn vs. during the night cannot be ascertained. Ice floe shifting between midnight and dawn may or may not have allowed for the ship to navigate faster or slower through the ice to the Titanic wreck site.

As for determining how far apart the two ships were: Looking for the Californian's lost tariff log on the ocean floor would be like looking for a needle in a stack of needles in a huge haystack, but would be the only way in 2002 to establish just how far away the Californian was from Titanic that night.

A constructive recreation of any event, despite the best intentions, cannot always be written objectively, because the author has the benefit of hindsight on the whole matter. Any author seeking to write about the ‘Californian incident’ would be attempting to get inside the head of a man dead for 40 years. One cannot know Lord’s true intentions, and though actions speak volumes, it is not the complete story. Always, the objective should be to seek the truth/facts, no matter if the outcome suits what one originally set out to accomplish. I’ve had ideas before on how something transpired, and come to find out it didn’t happen the way I ‘envisioned’. I had a book I had to literally tear apart and re-write because I had one bad piece of information. My responsibility to stay true to history was to do that. It wasn’t the easiest route to take, but it had to be done. The literary work has to be based on tangible evidence and constructive, responsible reasoning. Present the facts as they are. Nothing does a dis-service to history more than presenting any given event intertwined with pure fiction or biased drivel.
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Michael!

I agree with your final statement. However, one of your initial ET postings about the book made the following statement:

>...the one observation I would make is that >Senan's book does demand a knowledgeable reader. >you need to know the pros and cons of this >debate.

I completely agree with your *very* important statement -- for the simple reason that an *unknowledgeable* reader has no idea whether or not the book has failed to present crucial evidence to its audience (as has indeed happened in the present case.)

It must be admitted that a book that fails to present crucial historical evidence to its readers can very easily skew an unwary reader's perspective on *any* historical subject. That is why Dave Billnitzer, Dave Gittins, John Feeney and I have been detailing some of the present book's most crucial omissions -- omissions that most other readers seem to be unaware of.

I, for one, am very grateful to Dave, Dave and John for trying to help folks who might otherwise remain completely unaware of how much they still don't know about the Californian controversy (even *after* they've read the present book.)

All my best,

George
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Daniel: I think the attempt at a lengthy Socratic approach above is fairly misplaced. Most of the questions you raise seem either wildly obscure or without basis in the absence of any substantiation of their intent. (For instance, yes, I've heard of Mister DeGroot; your point??)

Moreover, I agree wholeheartedly with George's observation that this particular thread is dealing -- quite substantially, I might add -- with the inherent weaknesses in *Molony's* book. If you'd like to point out the glaring omissions of evidence you feel are symptomatic of Reade's book, by all means open a relevant thread on that. In any case, it's a weak ploy for redemption that would merely claim, "Well, he did it too!"; two wrongs don't make a right! (Besides, you haven't yet demonstrated *any* of the "wrongs" you ascribe to Reade's work, while the demonstrations set forth in *this* thread are already quite meaty!)

Personally, I concur with Mike here. Reade's tome is *far* more balanced in its presentation and treatment of the evidence. (Much of the book, in fact, takes the form of *deliberate* redress of the conspicuous flaws and omissions in Harrison's arguments "for the defense"; so obviously both sides are presented in the context of *those* refutations.) Harrison, on the other hand, was certainly never above the use of of one-sided arguments based on partial evidence only, which necessarily failed to address significant contradictions found in the testimony. Nor was he reluctant to raise mere technicalities pertaining to minute details alone, in hopes of thus ultimately undermining the "big picture".

But apparently the same applies to Molony's work, as has now been aptly illustrated several times over. So my "Ten Commandments" analogy, I think, is entirely appropriate. I object strongly to *anyone* who would spoon-feed me just the "parts" he'd like me to see, while discarding or glossing over more damning evidence. I've had the identical reaction to books well outside the scope of the Californian. It's just that I don't appreciate being "led by the nose".

But by all means, do open a Reade thread. I'd love to see your observations, especially since I don't share your view that there's glaring bias exhibited in the presentation there.

Cheers,
John
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Dan wrote: I had a book I had to literally tear apart and re-write because I had one bad piece of information. My responsibility to stay true to history was to do that. It wasn’t the easiest route to take, but it had to be done. The literary work has to be based on tangible evidence and constructive, responsible reasoning. Present the facts as they are. Nothing does a dis-service to history more than presenting any given event intertwined with pure fiction or biased drivel.

Dan: Hear, hear! My hat's definitely off to you in that undoubtedly painful, but impeccably scholarly, approach you chose. On a much smaller scale, I've occasionally discarded entire posts that I dedicated a good deal of effort to, once I realized I'd misconstrued an important underpinning.

Obviously we share a common principle. Frankly, I could care less about "winning" or "losing" in any battle of opinions. But a *balanced* presentation and treatment of historical events, based on *all* the pertinent evidence, is critical to any understanding. Apparent contradictions should never be merely swept under the rug in deference to one's personal beliefs. (Certainly, mistakes will always occur, but an overriding commitment to objective presentation goes far in reducing the errors provoked by a less disciplined approach that seeks to "prove a point".)

Unfortunately, many of the omissions pointed out thus far in Molony's book -- not to mention its general tenor, replete with lopsided, wishful interpretations and dubious, partisan character assassinations -- leads me to believe that as a source of actual "history", this work ranks with Harrison's book. It may well be thought-provoking, as is, say, Robin Gardiner's. But unless it presents a coherent review and summation based on *all* the available evidence, it remains strictly an "advocacy" piece. And that's something I'm truly leery of, when it comes to genuine assessment of historical events.

Regards,
John
 

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