Saturday, 1 December 2012

Intellectual landscapes and Honesty in the Coin Trade

I see that one of my blog's biggest fans recently is senior coin dealer Wayne Sayles who in order to while away time in his twilight years is playing a game of taking isolated phrases from this blog (rather like the way coineys "study" decontextualised coins). His latest plaything is a phrase he says comes from my blog which he claims represents some kind of a change of attitude  (Cf here)* towards no-questions-asking coineys:
used a phrase in one of his recent blogs that did cause for me a moment of reflection.  "Here I am talking about the 'broader intellectual landscape' within which they ['coineys'] function...."  It struck me as odd that Mr. Barford...
As usual, he cannot work out how to supply his readers with a link to where say this. I decided I would send a comment to his blog (see below) so his readers can check out for themselves whether what I had allegedly said corresponds to what Sayles asserts. Then the fun started. The search function of this blog, and generally Googling (which usually picks up with alacrity words and phrases from this Google blog) failed to find it. According to them, the phrase quoted by this wannabe-intellectual appears to be totally invented.

What we do find [in a post ironically enough entitled "Coiney Reason Lost in the Ozarks"] is the rhetorical question (addressed to bored coineys sniping at the author of the current blog):
Is the intellectual landscape of ancient coin studies currently so barren? 
It would seem that the question has been answered by Mr Sayles. In addition, I note that he now openly admits that in fact he believes in coin elves and underground streams flowing deep beneath the earth (probably how he imagines the coin elves bringing the coins he sells moving across international borders).  I wonder if he really understands what the writer of this blog means by the use of the phrase "coin elves"?

If one talks about the broader intellectual landscape within which astrology, phrenology, bird egg collecting, rhino horn poaching, creationists and leyliners function, it does not mean that any of them actually is an academic discipline. Nevertheless, Sayles uses my alleged statement about the place of coineyism in "the 'broader intellectual landscape' within which they ['coineys'] function...." as a springboard for the usual meaningless waffle about the advantages of ("anyone can do it") avocational independent (ie unfettered) 'scholarship' over that more formally organized. He totally misses the point about the very post he claims to be (but actually avoids) quoting, which is about the form of the source material for this independent activity.

But missing the point is what coineyism is all about. The blinkered approach that Sayles talks of ("I must admit that I have never really thought a great deal about the intellectual landscape of ancient coin collecting...") is the fundamental characteristic of the milieu as I define it. A characteristic of real academic disciplines is that they frequently conduct assessments of the state and current state and aims of the subject - so in America we now have the 'Pragmatic Archaeology' (so claim the authors of a recently-published reader - I'll let you know when I've reviewed the book). Do we have an equally "socially conscious" approach to the discipline among coin collectors?  No, because that is not how these people look at what they do. The only social context that interests them is their own, the social kudos derived from belonging to what they see as an intellectual elite in their own communities - but ignoring the cost to others of their acquisitiveness. Contrast that with the approach of the authors in the book edited by Preucel and Mrozowski (I should point out that I do not necessarily agree with everything written there...).

Another part of the issue is integrity and honesty. As I asked in the post to which Sayles failed to link, how can there be any integrity in a sub-discipline that will willingly use stolen and potentially stolen data of unknown origins and from damaged original context as the basis for their deliberations indiscriminately with data of more kosher origins? As for intellectual honesty.... A few days ago Coiney Sayles broke several months' silence with a post falsely announcing out of the blue that in a post on this blog, "archaeologist Barford" "endorses" his online coin shop. This text was then distributed by his good mate Rogue Classicist (David Meadows)  to at least one influential archaeological forum via 'Explorator'. The text in which he imparts this information however omitted (like all of his others) an internal hyperlink to the blog post here to which he refers. Coupled with his apparent deliberate misrepresentation of what was said, should that be counted as an oversight, or dishonesty? Well, since I myself have nothing to hide, I sent a comment to Sayles' blog containing the link to where his readers can check for themselves what I had said. This is how Sayles' blog looked TWO DAYS after I sent that comment. He'd not accepted it.

Draw your own conclusions about the intellectual honesty and personal morality of the blog owner. Personally I'd say they were both important characteristics I would say if you are asked to buy anything from such a person no-questions-asked.

A few hours after I had posted two texts explaining why I most certainly do not endorse "WGS antiquarian", Sayles  (here and here - see here too), instead of deleting, or editing what he'd falsely claimed, the coin dealer tried to wriggle out of responsibility for his own ill-considered actions by posting a little comment (no dateline):
A subsequent online comment by Mr. Barford suggests that the above post does not reflect his actual feelings. We apologize if that is the case, it seemed like an accurate portrayal of the facts at the time written and certainly was not critical in any way of Mr. Barford. He did indeed advertise the WGS Store without compensation or any other form of inducement -- and for that we are appreciative.
 I think Mr Sayles would benefit from using a dictionary when he tried to use big words like 'endorsement' which may not have been on the curriculum of schools like Hillbilly High or wherever it was he learnt to write. The meaning of the word endorse is not  "[mentioning] the WGS Store without compensation or any other form of inducement". Sayles crudely endorses Paul Ryan on his blog, I name him on mine, no "endorsement" by me, the guy was a liability. Sayles repeatedly endorses no-questions-asked coin collecting (here for example), my frequent discussions of it condemn it, you'll not find a word of endorsement of no-questions-asked antiquity collecting on this blog. His followers and fans might reflect on the fact that Mr Sayles currently seems to be oblivious to the real difference.  How, then, does Sayles actually define the terms "clear title" and "licit"?

UPDATE: My comment still has not been posted (7:58 AM 2.12.12)

* Note the way he is desperately trying to assure his readers that the critics of coineyism (here represented by the phrase "Barford") are beginning to be won over. Nothing could be further from the truth, more and more people - even in coin collecting itself - are becoming suspicious of the Coin Collectors' Guild this dealer runs and its ulterior motives and real beneficiaries. Part of the reason for this is the constant weasel-wording of lobbyists like Sayles and their use of personal attack and misrepresentation instead of debate and discussion as their modus operandi.

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