August 13, 2008

Thursday, 13 August 1908


The scientific results from the Discovery expedition had begun to appear, attracting criticism from the president of the Physical Society of London among others. Having confused true and magnetic compass bearings, the expedition's wind observations were mostly worthless. "The meteorological observations," the Times Literary Supplement said, "instead of being made by people familiar with such work ... were entrusted to officers who had no previous training, and were not even properly instructed.... How much longer shall we have to wait in England for those entrusted with national affairs to appreciate a little more seriously the requirements of scientific investigation? Probably until the constant leakage and loss which we suffer in ignorance are made plainer by one or more exceptional disasters." [1]

Scott, furious, demanded a public inquiry to put an end to the criticisms -- having emphasized the scientific aims of the new expedition as well as the geographic, he could ill-afford doubts on his scientific accuracy -- but by early December was persuaded that with a public inquiry he would be doing himself more harm than good.


[1] The Times Literary Supplement, 13 August, 1908, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.242.