Monday 17 June 2024

Revealing "A***holes" Farewell from Detectorist Troll

Detectorist Graeme Rushton's sock-puppet associate, "De. William Shephard" has (under that name) been trolling the Portable Antiquities Collecting and Heritage Issues blog since at least the end of March 2021, sending over 430 comments - most of which got rejected for not complying with the guidelines (and in particular not engaging in any way with the subject of the post above). Some were abusive and aggressive in their phrasing.  

"De. William Shephard"​ is not a real name, his claims to have arranged an exhibition of detecting finds [to which he challenged (!) me to add some finds from archaeological work in Poland] in Preston Museum turned out to be untrue - the Museum is closed and the office says they have never met this guy. He claims to be a retired, 83-year old microbiologist, but has no publication record. A time-waster.

 Anyway he has just announced that he is getting a life and is going to take his leave from trolling this blog. Having issued a challenge for me to take part in a public debate with himself AND minor-TV-celebrity-tekkie Graeme Rushton, once I agreed and we started discussing it in detail, he's decided that discretion is the best part of valour and is scarpering off. However in taking his leave, he sent four off-topic comments to the Stahlbridge rally posts that we can reconstruct as a single text as follows. It reveals quite a lot about the tekkie mentality:
Well, Paul, I have had my bellyful of you and your bigoted, unverifiable, jealous, and unwarranted assertions regarding the amateur historians, who, armed with nothing more than a legally operated machine, plus enthusiasm for a love of history, have uncovered more history, and, every week, continue to do so, than either you or your university educated "ubermensch" have ever done. Sorry, my friend, you are going to your grave a miserable man, whilst I, in my dotage, have lovely memories of artifacts (sic) unearthed, joy shared, and museums benefitting. Nice knowing you pal, NOT!!!
All very nice Paul, but what have you found that has made a significant difference to our understanding of the past? F**k all would be the only answer. Now, if we consider those amateurs equipped with perfectly legal electronic devices, looking around fields you and your moronic University educated bigots would not even give a second glance to, what do we find??? Museums full of unearthed treasures giving pleasure to millions, I have had enough of you, as I suspect many of your "fellow" archaeologists also have. You have lost the battle pal, quit fighting...
It is time I said goodbye, I did not spend the biggest part of my youth searching for the truth using methodological naturalism (sic), only to be told by one whose trowel has yet to taste the sweet joy of unearthing history that all I did was in vain. A rather large piece of mistletoe is hanging from the rear of my jacket...
Barford, with whom I have electronically jousted for eons, is a prick, a moron, a disgrace to all things archaeological, he is a pimple on the arse of progress, and, if he wishes to redeem himself needs to apply the ointment of tolerance upon his sore and aching bottom.
Well, I guess he'll now be spending more time with his proud family after that little outburst. Note the immature anal fixation, what's that about?

There is noting original here, the troll is just following the usual tekkie mantras that have been the ONLY basis of their interaction for three decades now:
- Jealousy - archaeologists are 'jealous' of detectorists "finding nice things" (despite archaeOLOGY not being just "digging up old things", its something totally different from that.

- "Uncovered more history":
one- digging up things from the past is not uncovering history, any more than finding a chunk of andesite in my back garden is in any way elucidating the history of the Earth.
two- that "more" comes from a perennial mistunderstanding of the Portable Antiquities Scheme Database. The PAS is  not very good at explaining it in detail to these people or the public - not that they seem overly bothered by that.
-"University educated "ubermensch":
one- is rich coming from a guy not only claiming to have a doctorate, but actively not wasting any opportunity to stress that he "has a doctorate" claiming it as a distinguishing feature of his own identity!

two - as in pseudoarchaeology, the "free-thinker" claims their lack of any qualifications in the field as a badge of honour, they interpret this as freeing them from the learnt dogmas of instituitionalised learning (see "moronic University educated bigots"). They totally miss recognising that it also means they are underinformed about the underlying methodology and the discipline of presentation of their ideas so that they can face the rigours of academic discourse examining their validity, which is why they not only cannot do that, but misunderstand what is happening when they are challenged in this framework.
- What've you found that's made a significant difference to our understanding of the past? Well, it is not about "finding things" per se, but when it comes to what we do with the information acquired, in answer to the question, a damn sight greater number of publications than the demanding troll. The contribution to our understanding of the past made by the written word is up to its readers, the academic community and a whole load of other factors independent of the author.

- "looking around fields you [...] would not even give a second glance to"This too is a thirty-year old PAS "justification" (to politicians who they were trying to convince to give them more funds), the organization never really explained more deeply to anyone.

You see, when UK archaeology for the past half century has been primarily developer funded, and concentrated on sites that are under threat, this mantra postulates digging up just any old place, whether or not there is an active and real threat. In doing so, it ties up resources that would be better expended elsewhere in archaeology, it goes against the dogma of PARIS (preseveration of archaeologicsal resources in situ), something the majority of detectorists have never heard of - most of all from the dozy old Portable Antiquities Scheme.
- " Museums full of unearthed treasures giving pleasure to millions", is this actually true? With Cardiff's National Museum on the brink of closure would a tekkie finding another hoard of silver pennies and a second finding a hoard with a palstave, ingot and spearhead turn things around? Would the crowds keep coming to see them? Would the COST of paying the Treaure ransom, the costs of conservation, cataloguing and display (not to mention insurance in the light of the recent Ely and Preston Museum thefts) leave anything for investing in the museum? Let us have a long hard look at what the British emphasis on ("lottsa luvverly) Treasure is doing to our archaeology and the way the public consume it.
[Raising issues about Collection-Driven-Exploitation of the archaeological record] is a pimple on the a*** of progress", Actually in most disciplines, as well in public policy, progress comes from discussion, debate, confronting different ideas in various and changing contexts.
The UK of 2024 is no longer that of 1996 when the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme were set up. Failing to discuss what is right and wrong with the current stuation is the way to avoid stagnation, and indeed, lead to progress. If one of the casualties of that is the "metal detectorist" and his hobby, then they too have to move with the times, what they are currently doing is unsustainable, there is no question about that.
As is this blog's policy on comment and criticism, I will allow the person mentioned here the opportunity of ONE substantive reply to the above comments. After that I will not be acceptng any more time-wasting pseudonymous "comments" to this blog from "Dr Willian Shephard", whoever he was. Let him start his own blog.


De Bill Berger said...

It might be interesting if De WS provided some details as to the nature of this 'History uncovered every week', where this history is recorded and it's significance. He/she could start with the finds he/she has declared to PAS.
(spoiler-don't hold breath).

He/she could make a start with those finds that 'made a significant difference to our understanding of the past' or those 'unearthed treasures giving pleasure to millions' DONATED to a local museum.(google gives the local museum to Dalton in Furness as The Dock Museum. It's max visitor numbers were in 2001 at 150k, in 2015 after reduction in opening hours was 52k (thank you Austerity). Assuming these treasures are on permananent display it'd be 10-15years before a million could potentially view them. We have to assume they get pleasure from the experience). What of all the non-treasures that account for over 98% of declared finds (2024, 53k declared of which 1.3k were treasure) and are unlikely to be accessioned. Then we have all the undeclared finds which may only be calculated.

Of course, we can't expect a reply now de WS has spit his/her dummy out.

In one respect it's abit of a shame as he/she was doing a cracking job of illustrating the attitudes that prevail amongst the detecting 'fraternity'.

Paul Barford said...

Well, I got bored of it, it was always the same and added ZERO to the topics dicsussed in the posts above. There was nothing at all fruitful or useful in what he was saying. As I say, he has one more comment and that's it. The rest he canm save for his own blog, I am tired of letting him use my blog to attack me and mine.

De. William Shephard said...

Oh dear, I hate my retirement being disturbed. My PAS finds, A Bronze Age
A Medieval purse-
A Bronze-age axe-
Various rare
hammered coins.
A Medieval ring.
An unidentified
And a bucket load of integrity. What have you contributed my friend?

Paul Barford said...

Right. I said I'd allow one more, and that is what he chose to answer to the above comments. So be it. Now we bid farewell to him. No more trolling from this irksome off-topic sock puppet.

De Bill Berger said...

Shame as he has now made a start, It might have been interesting to have pressed him on the other points.

Now is it me, or do they look like a highly selective group of finds. Where are all the buckles, thimbles, badges etc . (though in fairness there is little in terms of definition of what is/isn't recordable.Occasional Badges with dates as recent as 1980-2010 eg Pony club badge are on the database)

'Bucket load of integrity', eh?- Doing the absolute minimum recording some finds with the PAS does not imply bucket loads of integrity.
It could be suggested that those with integrity don't metal detect at all. Lowering the bar, some detectorists show greater integrity if they are; Using written search and take agreements, following the most comprehensive code of practice etc, not targetting known sites, reporting archaeological sites(on the basis of multiple finds) and then leaving them alone, not treating them as 'productive'etc etc.

As a last word to him 'O wad some pow'r the giftie gi us, to see oursels as others see us!'

Paul Barford said...

A highly selective list as you say. Also it seems that he is claiming somebody else's finds as his. "I have it on good authority" (I am not the only person this serial troll has been pissing off) that there are NO finds in the whole PAS database from a "William Shephard".

I am not going to pressurrwe him on anything, he is finished here. He was totally incapable of providing any substantive points, only taunts, challeges, insults and just plain rudeness. As I have come to expect from the majority of metal detectorists.

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