Saturday, 5 October 2013

Focus on Metal Detecting: Truth? Not this Lot

Quite often on this blog, something said by the supporters of artefact hunting is taken and discussed and shown (to my satisfaction and perhaps some of my readers at least) to have no foundation in fact when seen in the wider context. Said supporters of course find various reasons to totally ignore that, and carry on regardless. The frequency with which this happens leads me to think that the group as a whole has less interest in the truth of a matter than deflecting attention away from various issues raised. This seems to be repeated time and time again. These people throw out justifications and allegations not only without checking first the facts which they allege to be true, but totally ignore the fact that they have been demonstrated not to be true.

A good example of this can be found in the writing of UK metal detectorist John Howland who seeks notoriety in the tiny tekkie world through his classless attacks on preservationists and archaeologists (recent targets besides myself include Nigel Swift and Mike Heyworth). He has a nasty blog (which is deliberately set up in a way to be difficult to link to individual posts - you have to click on the link to the blog, scroll down through the superfluous front matter each time and find the post by date). If you do that and scroll down to August 30, 2013 you come to his pirate flag avatar and the breathless heading "STOP THE PRESS! LATE UPDATE!" (This is a followup to the equally excited post below it "SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! BARFORD CAN’T!!!"). In this update to the detectorist's original insulting article we read:
According to Barford’s latest blog of inaccuracies, he still reckons (as of the 30th August) that:- “The Bosworth Boar (object number five) again was not found accidentally by “a member of the public” but as part of a multi-disciplinary archaeological research. How many more of the “100 objects” were similarly misrepresented in the interests of the program’s fluff-propaganda for collecting is anyone’s guess.” And still Barford can’t get his facts right!
The Bosworth Boar WAS NOT Item #5 on the Television program, Britain’s Secret Treasures
Item #5 in that superb program WAS the Chiddingly, Sussex ‘boar’
It was found by a member of the public.
[...] it’s anyone’s guess why Paul Barford can’t or won’t get his facts straight.  On this form, God knows what credence anyone can now place on anything he writes.
The latter is presumably the point of that whole exercise. Well, anyone can make mistakes, though most of us attempt to check the facts before we press the "send" button. John Howland had not done that. Mr Howland quite clearly was and is wrong. When he wrote, among other things available for checking his facts, a recording of the whole programme was available on You Tube for those who did not remember this sequence. 

A few hours after Mr Howland posted that, a post appeared on my blog correcting what the detectorist had said ("Focus on UK Metal Detecting: "Failure to Check Facts", The Bosworth Boar", PACHI Blog Friday, 30 August 2013). I drew attention to the You Tube video, and showed where else the facts can be corrected, and that there was an error on the pages of the PAS itself. In summary, I wrote:
I ask those who took the trouble to check the link to decide for themselves who is bending the truth here. Which side is it that is trying to present and analyse the facts, and which side is trying to detract attention from the issues by inflammatory (and time-wasting) personal attacks just as Mr Howland is engaging in here? 
I know that a number of metal detectorists read my post in the period following its publication, yet more than a month later Mr Howland's untrue allegations still stand (night of 4th/5th October)  in black and white on the detectorists' blog without a word of explanation, still less an apology (to his readers at least) for presenting false information as fact. 

This is just one clear example. I think there are many, many other examples which show that metal detectorists (and coin collectors/dealers) are less interested in the actual truth of a statement than its value as propaganda. Obviously that sort of general approach disqualifies the milieu as a partner for informed debate. As a group they have spent years being disinformed and misinformed by the loudmouth advocates of maintaining the damaging status quo, and quite obviously have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction, the narrow from the broad and applying basic standards of fact checking. One might apply Mr Howland's own comment to artefact hunters and collectors:
On this form, goodness knows what credence anyone can place on anything they say.
One might note that a month later, the PAS (a professional body with public funding supposed to be supplying the public with reliable information) has not corrected the erroneous information found by Mr Howland on their own website.

UDATE 11/10/13:
Slow on the uptake. The texts are still there on the "Stout Standards" blog, as written.

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