Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Technique of Deflecting Criticism from Antiquity Collecting

Like a ten year old boy little Dave Welsh tries to shift the blame for the outbreak of controversy on an artefact-collecting discussion list onto me. He writes:
I am sorry Kerry Drew finds this tiresome - I do too. It's unpleasant to realize that many don't understand how such acrimony began and who is responsible. If Mr. Drew went back to the beginning of the thread he would find that it originated in a nasty attack by Barford upon the integrity of coin collectors and the numismatic trade. Mr. Barford is very provocative in what he says, especially the insulting manner in which he says it. I try to ignore his provocations, but at times they must be answered. I do my best to stick to facts and respond civilly.
There is a price for a list allowing Barford to participate - constant acrimony. If Kerry Drew does not like that, let him complain to the listowner. Meanwhile it's unfair to say "a plague on both your houses" without knowing where the acrimony originated. That's what Mr. Barford wants - and his real reason for doing this. Dave Welsh
The guy has a nerve. Since few onlookers will by now remember where the fracas began, let us look at the history of this as this. This is not just an exercise in putting the record straight. This thread is quite typical of the techniques used by metal detectorists to inflame discussion on archaeological and responsible collectors' lists. They do this so that list members cease to pay attention to any mention of "treasure hunting", "metal detecting", "artefact collecting" etc. in the fear that another 'flame' war will break out. As we can see, another aim is to provoke list owners into taking action against the person whose stand against irresponsible artefact hunting and collecting.

What happened:
1) I published two texts on my blog. MY blog. (There are about 800 texts there on various aspects of portable antiquities collecting and the justifications offered by collectors for what they do - most of which on closer examination can be found wanting)
I made a second post on the same topic just a bit later:
http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/2010/02/half-ancient-coins-on-us-market-are.html (Note the "new study shows").

2) Dave Welsh (not me) pulled the entire text over to an external artefact discussion list. He does not give the URL allowing readers to see it in its context of the blog.

In his commentary he provocatively calls me a "liar" (though in fact the figures are perfectly verifiable if you follow back the links - to prevent which he deleted them from the original before posting it)

3) He did the same thing on Museum Security List. This one has an open archive and appears in Google searches.

4) back on Ancient Artifacts, I replied, giving the link he had omitted
(see also here http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/2010/02/barford-liar.html )

5) Many people looked on and said nothing (as usual). Things like this lead me to conclude that the notion of fair play is very rare in artefact collecting circles. Nobody will stand up to bullies like Welsh. A couple of people (including at least one dealer) however gleefully joined in the happy slapping.

6) One list member stands up to Welsh (only one)

7) That person is then put down. This is why people do not want to stand up to bullies like Welsh on lists where they feel intimidated to step out of line. In the process Welsh attacks a third person (common tactic among detectorists too - to widen the conflict)

8) Not wanting to prolongue the thread on the discussion list (by this time a parallel discussion is going on with the moderator of Museum Security network too), I reply to that, again on my blog.
The person attacked also replies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Ancientartifacts/message/53593

9) Welsh then "puts the record straight", once again attacking Elkins.

10) Kerry Drew, a collector from San Francisco says "enough"

11) Welsh replies as above.

List member Adrian White sums up Mr Welsh's tactics perfectly:

Once again radical anti archaeology lobbyist Dave is attempting to smear a respected archaeologist on this site. Scurrilous attacks by him and his fellow travellers are typical of the extreme controversial political lobby group he heads. He and his sycophantic apologists always use the same tactic: putting up a straw man (in this case the archaeological, scientific and curatorial community) and then hammer away at him with mendacious and mean spirited attacks, while at the same time spewing out long, pompous and extremely tedious posts attempting to justify the unjustifiable:- the continued looting of the world's ancient history for monetary gain. As to the amount of coins in tons which are shipped to greedy and uncaring collectors in the USA and elsewhere it doesn't matter whether the amount is 350k or 700k in looted coins, either figure is a scandal and a tragedy for the scientific study of ancient history.

This follows other such pearls of wisdom as for example "More Barfordian Bile" (15th Feb 2010) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Ancientartifacts/message/53352

His contribution under the name "Any support for a Barford-free group?" http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Ancientartifacts/message/53418 and so on.

Let us note that he initially wheedles "Mr. Barford is very provocative in what he says, especially the insulting manner in which he says it. I try to ignore his provocations, but at times they must be answered". The place for answering a post on my blog is a comment posted to the blog, not copying my post wholesale to a totally diffferent forum. Mr Welsh's motives for doing this are as clear as can be. Of course it would have sufficed to answer it in the format: "this message is an answer to Paul Barford's post at http://blogpost... Note though that he did not post any of this to HIS OWN Unidroit-L forum to "answer" it. That would not have the potential of creating the same amount of fuss, anyway its the Ancient Artifacts forum he wants me chucked off as he cannot control my posts there like he can on his own forum.

In reality, I think the problem is that Welsh realises that in the face of the sort of analysis of the pro-collecting arguments which the preservationists present, the arguments for the maintenance of the no-questions-asked nineteenth century model of artefact collecting are simply untenable and bankrupt. So instead of trying to further justify what Adrian White correctly identifiers as the "unjustifiable", Welsh simply attempts to silence the critics. Since he has elected not to attempt this by fair means, he feels justified in utilising the option of foul means.

But it's "not my fault Miss: Barford started it.... wahhhh!!!"

1 comment:

David Gill said...

The tactic used by Welsh is noted elsewhere. See for example the issue over Cyprus.
I see that Welsh has presented conspiracy theories as fact.
Best wishes