Monday, 24 November 2008

Making the PAS fit – more smoking guns: NuPAS 4

I have earlier suggested that an analysis of the text of the 2008 PAS review seems to suggest that it was written ‘backwards’; rather than inducing its conclusion from arguments, the text appears to have been constructed starting with the conclusion and deductively fitting arguments to lead to them.

Another example appears on page 19, Clark says one [anonymous] expert sees PAS data as creating a
new cultural map of England and Wales through new insights into the material culture of ordinary people and ordinary places. It (sic) has also shown the far-reaching contacts and cosmopolitan nature of Britain from prehistory onwards…
I think it would be difficult to make a more banal statement about what archaeological finds can tell us. This has been one of the commonplaces since the early years of the twentieth century and those dotty diffusionist and invasion hypotheses, and discussions of "trade" and cross channel contacts… What is interesting however is that this odd “cosmopolitan” remark can be seen in the context of a later passage in the review. This is on page 34 where the author discusses the various options for funding and delivery of the New Portable Antiquities Scheme:
PAS also meshes with the three priorities in the current British Museum review – ‘in the city’, ‘across the country’ and ‘throughout the world’ – by creating partnerships across the country and revealing the cosmopolitan nature of English
society through time.
The banality has been harnessed to support the conclusion that the rightful place of the NuPAS is in the British Museum.

Another example of backward logic is found on page 28, where we learn
This review has suggested that the current objectives of PAS do not entirely reflect its impact or achievements. At present they are: […] Instead they should reflect the fact that PAS is…[…].
Elsewhere in the review the PAS is praised for its “clear sense of direction” (p. 30), and yet its objectives do not reflect what it has been doing…. Maybe somebody could explain to me this other meaning of the term “objectives”. It seems to me that the purpose of the review of a Scheme that has actually had the same objectives since 2003 should primarily be seeing whether the actual results adequately reflect those objectives and not the other way around! Anyhow, seeing that the results do not reflect the original objectives, Clark has suggested some more, to fit the results. How about looking at the Scheme and its context and setting some aims for the Scheme based on that?

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