Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Raimund Karl and the Bulldozers: We Can't STOP the Bulldozers Destroying the Past and we cannot STOP dogs fouling the Streets of Britain's Historic Towns

Can't STOP the bulldozing of our PASt?
... and here is something  from the impotent 'might-as-well-shrug-our-shoulders' supporters of the present status quo over the conservation of the archaeological record in the face of the damage being done to it by its Collection-Driven Exploitation: Raimund Karl (Prifysgol Bangor University) 'Bulldozing and the lack of efficacy of any kind of regulationA response to a paper by Samuel A. Hardy'. Here is the abstract:
In a recent study, Samuel A. Hardy (2017) has attempted a wide-ranging comparison of the efficacy of different kinds of regulating mechanical earthmoving operations in archaeological landscapes. Based on a comparison of 12 countries with partially different regulatory regimes, some more liberal, others more restrictive, he arrives at the tentative conclusion that liberal regulatory approaches are less effective than restrictive ones in reducing damage to archaeological evidence by bulldozing. According to the results of his study, the regulatory systems in England and Wales, and the USA, work particularly badly in preventing archaeological damage due to earthmoving operations. In this paper, I demonstrate that his study is seriously methodically flawed, and thus cannot be considered to be the empirical study it pretends to be. As I show, while Hardy uses a reasonably consistent methodology to estimate the scale of commercial earthmoving in 10 of the countries he examines, by slightly deflating the membership figures of the respectively largest online commercial earthmoving discussion board or Facebook group in each of them, he deviates massively from this for England and Wales, and the USA. Where these two countries are concerned, while having comparable data of the same quality as for all others, he estimates the size of the respective commercial earthmoving communities based on the vastly inflated numbers of the largest metal detecting association in one, and a miscalculation based on uncorroborated sales figures for metal detectors, second hand information gathered from an online journal article, in the other. I thus argue that Hardy’s (2017) study, its results, and the conclusions he draws from them, sadly must be discarded. Rather, I argue that his data, if not manipulated, shows (sic) that neither more liberal nor more restrictive regulation of bulldozing is more efficient than the other in reducing archaeological damage.
Keywords: Keywords: bulldozing, regulation, archaeology, transnational comparison, empirical research
I admit I have altered the title and content of the abstract a little (original here) to illustrate how specious the overall argument is. I think we should all be not a little disturbed by the number of archaeologists adopting this line of argument precisely now. What they are saying is that if restrictive laws do not stop people from destroying sites with metal detectors, spades and bulldozers, we might as well scrap the restrictive laws that exist so when these sites are disturbed by metal detectorists, and bulldozer drivers, we at least see some of the artefacts these people 'uncover' by their destructive activity. What nonsense. We should not rely on the law - since some metal detector users (and some mechanical earthmoving equipment drivers) but on increasing public awareness and public disapproval.

It's social pressure and attitudes that will bring an end to the current shoulder-shrugging laissez fairism. Like it has dog poo on the streets. Not in England though, it seems to me when I go back there on a visit from Europe, many towns still stinks of dog shit on a hot summer day. It should be against the law... 

Karl reckons that Hardy's figure of 27000 detectorists in England and Wales 'sadly must be discarded' in favour (he says on p. 19) of the
[...] figure of 14,834 established further above as the minimum number of presumably active metal detectorists in England and Wales, and assuming all of them to actually, at least mostly, make ‘licit’ finds, this would immediately bring down Hardy’s estimate of the number of ‘licit’ ‘reportable’ finds made per annum in England and Wales to ‘only’ c. 1,315,274. 
(note the scare quotes). Ah... but then only 80000 of those are recorded on the PAS database in an average year... oh dear, so still the PAS is not doing all that well (BTW these are figures well above that of the HA arteafct erosion counter). So Karl still has to play with the figures. Look at this (from someone who's just accused Hardy of manipulating his numbers):
Also, Hardy forgot to consider in his ‘calculations’ that the PAS does not record all finds reported to it (Lewis 2016, 131). Rather, the number of finds actually recorded by the PAS may reflect, on average, as little as c. 1 in 10 of all finds reported to its FLOs (pers. comm. P. Reavill, PAS FLO). Thus, the number of recorded finds might actually represent c. 837,950 finds reported annually to the PAS. Comparing these ‘estimates’, as many as c. 63.71% of all ‘reportable’ finds found annually by metal detectorists during ‘licit’ searches in England and Wales might actually be reported by them to the PAS. This would at least be considerably better than the c. 4% Hardy argues for, even if it probably is an ‘overestimate’.
What is missing here?
  FLO Catchment area map, Peter  Reavill
You say it could be almost 64%, Dr Karl? So, I guess we are supposed to assume everything is OK, it's not the ("partner") metal detectorists that are the problem, but just the inability to cope with the FLOODS of artefacts coming in. The point is, even if Karl was right (and I am sure he is not) these objects are still being pocketed by artefact hunters without even the most rudimentary information getting into the public domain -s we are all the losers from the selfishly-exploitative hobby that raimund Karl seems insistent on defending. I'd also like to know what all Mr Reavil's 'partnering' metal detectorists think of all this, week after week they take the trouble to put their artefacts in little polybags, write out the labels and the so-and-so in Ludlow cherrypicks the best ten percent and gives the rest back unrecorded. So the 5,313 records he's spent the last few years making represent some 48000 artefacts lost without record on his patch alone? If that is true, that is abysmal, Mr Reavill.

And in Bangor, 64% of the dog poo is not lying in the middle of the pavements, which I'll guess makes Dr Karl really happy. 36% still is though, 4% has been bagged it and taken right away, and the other 60% has been swept behind the bushes where nobody can see it. That's apparently what the Bangor professor sees as a great success and does not require any kind of social campaign to change things, and anyone who says it is not will probably get the same treatment as Dr Hardy.

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