Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Endemic misinformation and the AAVSO!

What is the link between Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, and the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)?

Goebbels worked on the basis that endless repeating the same lie was a highly effective way of making large numbers of people believe it. So it is with some of the senior people in the AAVSO. Goebbels also was a firm believer in the old maxim that “the end justifies the means.” So it is with some of the senior people in the AAVSO.
It was impossible to have any meaningful political debate in Nazi Germany. It is similarly impossible to have a meaningful scientific debate on the economic, ethical or scientific merit of some of the activities of the AAVSO. Within the AAVSO dissent is seen as evidence of disloyalty. Dissent, or as more reasonable people might put it, an alternative perspective, is something to be ignored or censored. When all else fails what we describe in the UK as “playing the man, not the ball” is undertaken.

Despite any protestations to the contary senior colleagues within the AAVSO were just as unresponsive to my comments or questions when I was a subscription paying member as they were after I had resigned. The “answers” I received – sometimes 12 months after my initial contact – were masterpieces of misinformation. Almost inevitably the "answers" or “facts” shared with me were either demonstrably false or were based on nothing more than wishful thinking or on a systematic rewriting of history.
As I said in May 2012, “The vast majority of the work carried out by the members, officers and paid employees (of the AAVSO) has been of a high standard - which makes the endemic bad practice that prevails when “something goes wrong” all the harder to explain.” This is presented as me disliking the AAVSO which just goes to show how anxious some people in the Association are to avoid accepting responsibility for recent problems of their own making.

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