Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Buffy gets a Badger Blessing

Somebody points the readers of an archaeology forum to a blog which he claims to be „bitingly funny” quirky deconstructionism. Sadly the link turns out only to be his metal detecting mate (“Steve Welton’s”) Buffy blog which despite its title ["paul-barford-blog-response"] dismally fails to be a “response” to the portable antiquity issues I raise on my other blog.

The archaeology forum owner who thus tries to boost his metal detecting mate’s falling viewer figures claims that like me he is in some way concerned about what he calls “looting”, but like his pal Buffy does not agree with my “method of delivery and finger pointing” because that is “rather less agreeable in many posts”. Mr Connolly is a “pat-em-on-ther-head “,“hail-good-fellow-show-us-what-you’ve-got” advocate, and then he wonders why I say that he is pro-collecting.

Connolly writes, apparently about me:

As I said about Water Newton... some folk do, others write about what people should do without ever doing anything constructive. (that I can see)
I think that is what he must have said to the IFA when he (at the time a member of their Council) was called to explain himself over his participation in a commercial artefact hunting rally which – several people tried unsuccessfully to warn him – was (in the manner he did it) against the IFA Code of Practice. Now he is no longer in the IFA and trying to set up a parallel “Federation”. It seems to me that when dealing with artefact collecting, especially carried out as a commercial enterprise, there are some very slippery ethical issues involved for the serious archaeologist in "doing" anything in "partnership" with them.

Well, Mr Connolly can carry on patting artefact hunters on the head and cajoling them into showing him some of what they’ve found and taken from the archaeological record. What I have “done” in another area however is more than he, and that is to write with Nigel Swift a fairly detailed and closely referenced book placing in the public eye the other side of the argument and setting UK metal detecting and the associated ethical and practical issues in a wider archaeological and conservation setting.

Mr Connolly may count that as “not constructive”, he may call it “deconstructive”, but personally I think taken as a whole it is rather “instructive” about how shallow and provincial the arguments used by insular pro-artefact-collecting archaeologists like Connolly actually are. I think it says a lot more about the ideological and methodological crisis of British archaeology as anything.

It seems to me that what people sharing Connolly’s credo on artefact hunting and collecting will have to “do” after it comes out is to find some good and coherent arguments against ours, and frankly the kind of derivative ad hominem “response” that an anonymous half-wit metal detecting mouse fetishist is capable of coming up with is not going to help them.

[Connolly warns himself (!) "expect a stiff reply", well here it is, but only on my metal detecting matters ghetto blog which is where mentions of such metalista-trivia belong].

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

'Arry Stottle's got a lotta bottle but Buffy takes the Biscuit

Buffy, apparentrly the alter ego of Steve Welton the Phantom Biographer reckons he can find examples of all thirteen of “Aristotle’s fallacies” in my writing, specifically on my blog. So he’s found a “filosofy fer dummies” webpage, and is successively copy and pasting bits of it onto his blog as though he’d written it and then added some examples of these logical fallacies that he claims he has found on my blog. ("Paul Barford is often found stumbling over his own arguments and conclusions drawn thus, yet he uses the smokescreen of erudition to provide the defensive cover to the paucity of his arguments.") Well, lets have a look at them. So far he’s only got as far as two of these posts, and seems to have run out of stamina.

The first was, appropriately enough, posted the day after April Fools’ Day – this was devoted to ‘Affirming the Consequent’. "Anyone reading this and Mr Barfords Blog will instantly spot that Affirming the Consequent is a favoured tactic of Mr Paul Barfords to foster his pre-agenda (sic) arguments". Examples of this which Buffy claims he has found on my blog are:
" A bad thing was done by someone using a metal Detector. People using metal detectors do bad things"
"An unethically sourced item passed through the PAS.
Items passing through the PAS are unethical".
Now, actually it would be helpful to the reader for Mr Buffy to put a little hyperlink so that the reader can see where I said these things he is using as his “examples” from my blog. Logic would demand that wouldn’t it? But oddly enough this logic does not apply to Mr Buffy’s black propaganda. The reason for this is perfectly logical in fact.

The reason is that nowhere on my blog do I say "A bad thing was done by someone using a metal Detector. People using metal detectors do bad things". What I say may be paraphrased is the opposite, just because some metal detectorists co-operate with archaeology and such things bring benefit to archaeology, not all metal detectorists can be seen as beneficial to archaeology, in assessing the phenomenon we need to differentiate the one from the other and not say that “metal detecting is good for archaeology”. Some of it quite clearly is not.

Equally Buffy is deceiving his readers when he asserts that I said "An unethically sourced item passed through the PAS. Items passing through the PAS are unethical". What I say is that the items recorded by PAS cannot be assumed to all be of licit origin and from the provenance stated, since PAS cannot carry out any independent checks. This means that potentially an unknown quantity of items in the PAS database are of no use as archaeological data and we have no way of knowing which ones. The example illustrates this fact. It is not so much an example of affirming the consequent as raising an issue which calls into question the total (rather than overall) reliability of a dataset.

It took him another three weeks to think up the next post in the series. This is devoted to the "false cause" fallacy. Allegedly “The Assertion of the false Cause if [sic] a favoured tactic of Barfordisation in action. How many times do we see Mr Paul M Barford squirming his way through various topics, presenting his one sided views of a situation, to further his own false cause without giving the reader the true picture.” [I think that is a question but metal detectorists cannot “do punctuation” ]. Well, he has found three examples of what he says is the “Use of False Cause by Paul Barford”:
" Finding and removing metal artifacts destroys the archaeological record"
"YOUR heritage is being destroyed by metal detecting"
" The PAS sanctions the the sale of metal artifacts"
Well, here he’s lost me. I certainly do say that “finding and removing metal artifacts [from the archaeological record] destroys the archaeological record”. Finding and cutting out all the letter ‘b’s from a medieval manuscript Bible would destroy the Bible as it would yesterday’s Times. That is not an example of false cause.

Number two: “YOUR heritage is being destroyed by metal detecting" – Again, this does not seem to be a quote from my blog. Neither is it an example of false cause. Metal detecting and artefact collecting, by removing evidence from the archaeological record without record, is indeed destroying the archaeological heritage, which belongs to everyone, not just a few selfish collectors.

Maybe Buffy has more luck with his third example, also no link sourcing it to a specific point in my blog… " The PAS sanctions the sale of metal artifacts". Where do I say that? [The word sanctions” on my blog is entirely associated with imposition of UN sanctions in Iraq which began the looting there]. I presume that Buffy means the reader to believe that somewhere on my blog it says that artifacts are bought and sold BECAUSE the PAS sanctions such sales. That would indeed be an example of “false cause”, but Buffy if asked would not be able to say where I say such a (stupid) thing. Because I do not.

I find it really puzzling that somebody would set out to prove the existence of logical fallacies in what somebody writes without actually having a single clear example in mind where there actually is such a thing. It’s a bit like somebody setting out to write a biography of a person in an encyclopedia having no idea at all about who that person is or what they have done.

Despite these deficiencies, Buffy soldiers on. Where he can produce no quotes to back up his claim of logical fallacies, he makes them up. He makes up quotes which do not exist, and therefore does not provide hyperlinks to them, safe in the knowledge that the metal detecting populace of Great Britain is not at all interested in checking the facts for themselves. But metal detectorists are a small minority.

All Mr Buffy's insults and innuendos will not change that. Instead of making up quotes in order to say they are nonsense (as they are, they are also fictional), let the pro-collecting lobby take up real arguments, and produce real arguments against them.

I look forward to the third post on the "fallacies" - let us see if Mr Buffy can make an improvement on his first two wholly unimpressive performances in this field.

I've been deleted

The malicious page on Wikipedia purporting to be an encyclopedia article about me written by a metal detectorist has at last gone. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Steve_Welton
Who is Steve Welton and what have I ever done to him? Maybe he'd like to answer that on his equally obnoxious "barfordisation" blog, what is it he has got against me personally and why that he has decided to engage in this destructive vendetta against a single person he has never met, and - it turns out - knows next to nothing about? Why does he not "respond" to the points I make on my blog with something a little less puerile than personal attack?

Mr Welton has not been mentioned a single time on my "Portable Antiquities and Heritage Issues" blog, so the only thing Mr Welton can have against it is that it discusses portable antiquity and heritage issues - obviously he finds that fact uncomfortable. Seeing his inability to answer the points raised, I think we can easily understand why that might be.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Welton listens to reason

I see this evening that after I pointed out on the "discussion" page of the text he had "kindly" contributed to Wikipedia about me, that the person calling themselves "Steve Welton", metal detectorist, thought the better of his malicious action and has deleted most of the damaging nonsense he wrote. Good riddance. But now he has revealed - presumably intentionally - something of the identity of the "Barfordisation" blogger called "Buffy" who has embarked on a similar campaign.

Metal detectorist Wikiwonkydom

In general I am (unlike most of the academic world) a fan of Wikipedia, its a great idea, but obviously is prone to the whims of the Tom, Dick and Harriets that create it. Any text on Wikipedia related to "metal detecting" tends to be highly tendentious, as they are written by "metal detectorists". It's a waste of time trying to edit them to give a more balanced presentation (which in any case should be under the heading "portable antiquity collecting") and generally personally I have never never thought it worth the effort as they'd only change it back again.

Washington coin collector Peter Tompa found a Wikipedia page called Paul M. Barford and seems to believe that it is an accurate presentation. He is apparently not a very critical reader. Just as its author (one Steve Welton) is not a particularly fastidious author. He'll obviously write any old crap to try and discredit those he sees as his enemies. Personally I was not even aware until yesterday that there ever was a "Steve Welton" in the world. But I do now. He does not however restrict his attacks to me, he brings in another group of people concerned with the protection of the heritage, Heritage Action. I see that in the discussion page attached to the Wikipage concerned, its Chairman is objecting in no uncertain terms to the imposition. He writes:
In general terms, I know Paul Barford well, which the author doesn’t, and I confirm the article contains many distortions and lies which lead me to believe it is of malicious intent.
In specific terms I wish to cite the section titled “The Heritage Counter”. As Chairman of Heritage Action I should like to
point out 1.) that its title is not as suggested but is “The Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter” 2.) that it is not designed to highlight “various odd bits of metal unearthed by metal detectorists” but, in the words on our website “recordable artefacts” 3.) The quote from our website "The counter may or may not be a precise reflection" was cut short mid-sentence, deliberately to mislead in my view. It goes on “of the rate of depletion. The broad picture it paints, of millions of artefacts being progressively removed and society being deprived
of the associated knowledge of its past, is certainly accurate.” 4.) Paul Barford was NOT it’s creator – I was. It was my idea, my design, my accompanying text and Heritage Action’s algorithms. Paul was consulted, as were many others, and supports it, as do many others. In my view, since the true facts are freely available, the false facts were not mistaken but deliberate and intended
to both mislead regarding the nature of metal detecting and to blaggard one of it’s critics. As such, it should not be allowed to stand here. It reduces Wikipedia to a farce.
Should the author or any like-minded British metal detectorist wish to create a page about Heritage Action or me, Nigel Swift, they are free to do so. However, it would seem to me that in view of the global reach of Wikipedia its effect will not be as they anticipated. In the rest of the world people who are in favour of archaeological conservation are well thought of whereas metal detectorists, who help themselves, are despised. The prospect of the latter attempting to discredit the former will be seen for precisely what it is.
Heritage Action (talk)
11:36, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
Mr Welton may think that by launching this ill-researched, ill conceived and thoroughly objectionable personal attack, he is strengthening the position of metal detecting in the United Kingdom. Instead he is simply compromising it, showing the milieu for what it is. If Mr Welton or Mr Buffy wish to "respond" to the issues raised by those who suggest we need to take a closer look at the long term archaeological effects of artefact hunting and collecting on the archaological resource, then I suggest that if they do not want to get laughed right out of court for their ridiculous aggressive posing and strutting, then they should responsd with proper responses, not attacks. the same goes for Mr Tompa and his coin collecting mates over the other side of the sea.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Buffy and the Heritage Action Counter

Steve Welton a "metal detectorist" seems not to understand some basic issues.
Nevertheless he persists in writing about things of which he has no inkling.
Paul Barford was instrumental in the creation of the Heritage Action counter, a web based instrument designed to loosely highlight the possible number of various odd bits of metal unearthed by metal detectorists in order to demonstrate how tedious and time consuming *metal detecting can be.
The purpose of course is entirely different as even an utter ignoramus like Buffy should recognise.

The rest of this section of the "encyclopedia article" is irrelevant. Some basic writing and editorial skills are lacking here. I am nothing to do with Heritage Action, Heritage Journal, nor David Lammy. I support the first two, but am not responsible for what they do or say, so maybe Buffy should start separate articles on them.

I wonder though what possible relevance Steve Welton thinks such a text would have to anyone looking at the encyclopedia outside British metal detecting? Let us note the average length of biographies of British archaeologists more deserving of a place in an encyclopedia is about three quarters of a page of succinct factual material, Buffy just waffles, and gets it wrong.

Welton on the Portable Antiquities Scheme

In his wikipedia attack page on the subject of "Paul M. Barford", Buffy the cowardly critic maliciously writes:
Paul Barford is a vociferous and outspoken critic of progressive, modern archaeology and outreach between the Archaeological community and the general public, in particular the *Portable Antiquities Scheme in the united Kingdom which Paul Barford has called " the Portable antiquities Scam" *[5]
Mr Buffy has clearly not read the text of the TAG paper, so he is unlikely to understand what I say is the "scam". I wonder to what degree a global encyclopedia should be saying that it a "progressive and modern archaeology" that forms partnerships with artefact hunters and collectors. Outside the topsy-turvey world of British archaeology artefact collectors are (rightly) treated as a threat to the archaeological record. Such a "partnership" in most other milieus would be regarded as "retarded and outmoded". Buffy goes on to say about the PAS:

This immensley successful scheme was set up to allow members of the public to formally record objects of historical interest that they may have found, for the greater benefit of the archaeological community and the UK's cultural and historical *Patrimony.
Except as far as I can see no Steve Welton has contributed any information to the Portable Antiquities Scheme. I am checking this with the PAS. So far they have not vindicated him.

Some examples of the success of the *Portable Antiquities Scheme are the *Harrogate Hoard & the *Ringlemere Cup.
In what way I wonder? They are both Treasure items. As any (responsble, informed) metal detectorist should know, The PAS is for recording non-Treasure items. Weston is misleading his readers.

In June 2009, Paul Barford cynically compared the *Tiananmen Square protests of 198, in which 2,600 innocent Chinese protesters were were killed, with his own struggle against the concept of 'Partnership' between The *Portable Antiquities Scheme and members of the public recording items they have found with the *Portable Antiquities Scheme.
Well, of course Buffy neglects to supply his reader with the reference here, because if he had done so, the reader would see that this is not at all what I said, Buffy is deliberately and maliciously twisting the truth. I contrasted the Tankman (now believed to be a Chinese archaeologist) standing up to the Tienanmen tanks with British archaeologists who will not stand up to looters of the British archaeological record with metal detectors. Nobody is "struggling" with the concept of members of the public recording accidental finds with the PAS, what there is concern about is the uses to which artefact hunters and collectors are putting it - and the deghree to which they are simply NOT using the scheme, which is what the Hertitage Action counter does - by giving figures that may be directly compared with those of the PAS database. There is a massive shortfall, which is of course why Buffy is not telling wikipedia readers the truth about what it is intended to signify.

The Pitfalls of writing an Encyclopedia Article if you are an Ignorant Malicious Intellectual Gnome

Somebody calling themselves Steve Welton has written a wikipedia article about "Paul M. Barford". A sample:

Paul M Barford is a British born former archaeologist (*Polish- Archaeolog) who in 1986 moved to Poland and is currently living in central Warsaw. Formerly an assistant lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, *University of Warsaw (*Polish - Uniwersytet Warszawski) and an Inspector of Ancient Monuments in the *Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland (*Polish- Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego). During his time as inspector Barford, it is believed that Paul Barford personaly inspected many of Polands Ancient Monuments.Paul Barford also wrote articles on conservation during his time inspecting *[1] Paul Barford is the author of various books, articles, Blogs,Internet forum threads and several reports on excavations in England and Poland. Paul Barford now works as a translator. Paul M Barford is interested in *Slavic Peoples ,in particular *Early Slavs and the development of Slavic tribes as they spread across central Europe and has since written a book on the subject. Education & Qualifications Currently unknown.

Good grief. As many as eight factual mistakes and three spelling mistakes in one paragraph. What kind of an "encyclopedia" is that? So if the author actually currently does not know anything about the subject's educational background, why did he put pen to paper before finishing his research? What "qualifications" does the author of the article have for writing on this subject, it is not his knowledge of Polish or what the subject has done for a start. In fact where are the date of birth and death of the subject? What was the subject doing between 1974 and 1986? Was the subject always engaged in research into the early Slavs since 1986, or was there some other field of research involved? Where's the sex scandal?

It is clear from the topics which the writer "selects" for discussion, that he is a "metal detectorist".

This in Wikipedia terminology is an "attack page" and for this reason, I doubt it will be up for long. The author seems not to take into account that not everybody reading an encyclopedia thinks that metal detecting is acceptable. His writing lacks focus.
Besides which he is deliberately and slyly misleading.
"Current interests/ Since the early 1990s Paul M Barfords main interests have been searching eBay and also artefact hunting and collecting and the market in portable antiquities and coins. Paul Barford is also an avid blogger and internet forum user."
Coin Collecting/ Paul Barford has a particular interest in coin collecting & *Numismatics and is a regular contributor to internet discussions regarding coins and coin collecting, especially coins offered for sale, where his insight and knowledge has proved invaluable in proving the sometimes disputed *provenance of rare coins.
This no doubt is slanderous in the circumstances, besides which the author displays ignorance, there was no eBay in "the early 1990s".

Interestingly, I found an eBay seller called "Swelton" - and there is no trace of a metal detectorist Steve Welton on the PAS database. I doubt it is his real name. Like the sly individuals who wrote to the Times falsely using my name...

It is obvious that metal detectorists are worried about some of the arguments that are being raised against the glib justifications that are offered in favour of the hobby of the expoloitation of archaeological sites merely as a source of collectables. Instead however of addressing these arguments, a whole bunch of them is merly engaged in diversive tactics of deception like this "black propaganda".

Buffy's kind informant

Over on his hate-blog, Buffy the cowardly anonymous critic says: Someone kindly pointed me in the direction of a Paul M Barford web article re an exhumation".

Well, I wonder who that could have been and whether they really were being "kind"? I do remember having a discussion over this with a certain Scottish archaeologist who insulted the American team that carried out this work, and refused to apologise. Far be it for me to suggest though that he might be the one who is now helping "Buffy" in his scribblings.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bottle of plonk on the way to Poland then?

I see from the mouse-loving anonymous hate blog which purports to be a "response" to mine on Portable Antiquities Issues that anybody who can point the author "in the direction of Mr Barford with his actual Trowel out" will win "a fab bottle of Chateau Calon Segur 1961 from my own collection". If any of my colleagues or students claim the prize, I'd be glad to hear the coy English gentleman's address. From drinking with them, I think Mr Buffy really needs to offer Polish archaeology students something a little more "hit the spot" than Bordeaux.