Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Wonky Reasoning in UK Metal Detecting

It is a bit disappointing to find that although efforts have been made to explain it to them, certain UK metal detectorists cannot get their heads round complex topics like the difference between excavation and surface survey and the relevance of this to site preservation strategies. We find one detectorist who certainly cannot complain that his requests for information and help have been ignored in all seriousness writing on his own blog, replying to Sock-puppet Steve the pretend archaeologist who'd just written a highly inflammatory comment alleging widespread methodologically unsound treatment of the archaeological record by archaeologists themselves:
"Thanks for the informative post Steve. I will be honest, I didn't even know that archaeologists used them (sic) methods. If true that destroys any argument that Paul or Nigel can throw a detectorists (sic) way."
Really? I certainly would dispute that. It seems to me the blogger concerned has got completely the wrong end of the stick. The argument to which he referred can be found here.

The reason we are just arguing around in circles with these folk is because they just do not read the answers they get. It's the same here, where the ("it's all about me-me") metal detectorist is distracted by the picture at the top than acquainting himself with the contents of the text - still less struggling with such advanced concepts as what any of it may mean. These metal detectorists raise questions, somebody spends time addressing them, they ignore the response, but then go spouting their mouth off about how archaeologists are messing things up, they've got it wrong, a clueless individual who can barely read or write his native language imagines he has all the answers without having to check anything out.

This is the karaoke culture in action, many people seem to have got the impression from our outreach that archaeology is in fact little more than some kind of establishment con-trick, which cannot be trusted. Archaeology has now gained the opinion of a non-discipline which the man in the street, unencumbered with any knowledge of how it operates, and on what its reasoning and methods are based, can see through on the basis of their 'common sense' (see 'Focus on UK Detecting: Dealing with Ignorant Hoiking in the UK'). After all, do not the newspapers tell everyone day after day, artefact hunters with metal detectors "find more things"? Thus we see the efforts (I use the term loosely) of metal detectorists to dismiss the concerns of conservationists solely on the grounds of their belief that "archaeologists have got it all wrong".  

These are the attitudes of clueless numpties blithely unconcerned about the possibility that they might be missing something. Metal detectorists however loudly complain when they are criticised because of precisely these sort of attitudes - but continue to display them for all to see. Anyone with a normal degree of intellectual curiosity can see that these are not positions deserving of any respect, but their prevalence and dominance in the milieu can only be taken as demonstrating the intellectual bankruptcy of the pro-collecting camp. 

In order to cut down the information loss being caused by many of these people, first they have to get some information about what is needed in their heads. And to do that, we need two things, a capacity (and will) to learn - which in the case of many UK metal detectorists I sincerely doubt exists, and proper informative and comprehensible outreach from the PAS which we can all see they are simply not getting.

TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy".  

1 comment:

David Knell said...

And it gets better ...

John Howland, fresh from attacking the cause of his ally Peter Tompa (http://paul-barford.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/detectorist-accuses-peter-tompa.html), now aggressively attacks another ally - a "Steve" who supported Andy Baines's AEC challenge - and threatens that "he's overdue for a trashing Big Time by.... [note the ominous ellipses]".


I can't help wondering if the man is literally certifiable. But one thing's for certain, a man like that is safer as an enemy than an ally. At least you won't get stabbed in the back!

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