Sunday, 5 August 2012

Metal Detecting Under The Microscope: Transparency

Since so-called "responsible detectorists" in the UK do not really want people looking on their "responsible detectorists forums" and reading for themselves what is written there, whenever I post here a link to a post, more often than not, within a few hours of my post going up the forum moderators either delete the thread or at least place some kind of a block on it making it impossible to use - producing a 'this topic does not exist" message (at least at this end, my readers may see something else).

Those who spend any time on their forums may easily conclude that tekkies and antiquity collectors are in general "not the sharpest knives in the drawer", and moreover often prone to acting without thinking. Deleting threads just because somebody has drawn attention to them is of course doubly-stupid.

First of all by them constantly looking on my blog to see if I have quoted something from their forums, they are boosting my readership figures, which the rival coiney bloggers seem to find infuriating. Coming up to 600 000 hits soon. A million hits, a million times the Word has been spread, does not seem such a far-off prospect any more.

Secondly, I do go to quite some trouble to show where I get my material from. Surely this is only fair to the 'opposition'. This is so that my reader can look back at the source I was using and see whether they agree with the interpretation I put on it. After all, by editing out some words or phrases it would be easy to produce something totally misrepresenting what was actually said. Or I could not provide a link at all and just make it up. But by providing the link, I show that I am not making this up - there really are people out there doing and saying the things I say they do. Surely, therefore, if they really believe in what they are doing, it is in the tekkies' own interests to allow, rather than prevent the objective, undecided and curious reader of what I write here to check out what I am saying. Unless of course, the tekkies have something to hide (ie it is WORSE than what I say here).

I would suggest to the reader that the tekkies' blocking these links is a tacit admission that what I have said IS true, and they do indeed have an awful lot to hide. That's why most collectors and metal detectorists' forums are closed (members only) access. That is what I am saying and by attempting to prevent people from looking at the material I discuss, these people are doing nothing to convince people that what is discussed here is untrue. 

I assume that these dullards think that by deleting the threads to which I give links, they are in some way disrupting the message I am trying to get over. I think that they are cutting off their noses to spite their own faces. Who is going to be checking the links I give? The reader who has come to this blog thinking collecting is damaging and evil and collectors deserve to be stamped on from a great height? Or the reader who wants to give the collectors the benefit of the doubt? In my opinion, it is the latter who are using the links. Tekkies are busily trying to make sure that they have no basis for questioning what they read here.  

Readers will note that the people whose activities and utterances I discuss on this blog have EVERY opportunity to show I am wrong. I give honest links to the material I am discussing, so the reader can check it is not taken out of context (and if it is, how) or made up. Collectors and artefact hunters have every chance to show the mistakes in my logic or presentation by reasoned argument in a comment here - or in any of their own blogs, websites or other web resources (or hobby publications). They can ask the Portable Antiquities Scheme to make a statement on their behalf. In short, they can do a thousand and one things to show that what their critics say is a misrepresentation - IF it is.

What do they instead do? Many of them try to ignore and dismiss the fact that somebody is examining the current situation and expressing concerns. That's the easiest way out. That is what the PAS are doing. By some accounts, they are also telling tekkies to "ignore it".

Alternatively tekkies and collectors can become aggressive and abusive, troll forums like that of Heritage Action, the CBA's "britarch" (and formerly the PAS) hoping that this will put people off discussing artefact hunting and collecting in these venues (surprise, surprise, few people now want to discuss any aspect of it with their participation - duh). Or they can lauch crass personal attacks on their critics, hoping this will induce them to stop and prevent the thinner-skinned from taking up the baton.

One year ago today Cheltenham detectorist Steve Taylor (self-styled "Barford-Slayer") for example opened a shameless "Paul Barford Antiquities and Heritage Issues" blog impersonating this one intended to be a support for all "responsible detectorists' in the UK [and thereby initiating the current series of posts "Detecting under the Microscope" here]. In John Howland's blogging ("Stout Standards") we see all sorts of venomous attacks on Nigel Swift (e.g., "skulking in and around metal detecting outlets in the manner of predatory homosexuals around Gents toilets") and myself and likening the expression of conservation concerns to the persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazis. This sort of thing goes on all the time.

These are the only kind of arguments you will see from artefact hunters, dealers and collectors in response to any expression of reservations about the status quo in erosive artefact hunting and the damaging no-questions-asked market in antiquities from it. Nothing else. Not from them, not from the PAS, not from anybody. There is for example no real "metal detector debate", the other side have thrown in the towel. All they are interested in is avoiding and blocking discussion. I think that speaks volumes.

Vignette: (not) the sharpest knife in the drawer

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