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BRITARCH  April 2012

BRITARCH April 2012

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Subject:

Re: York (and elsewhere) suffering from the vandals - it's the fault of academics!

From:

Michael Haseler <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 16 Apr 2012 11:09:05 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

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On 14/04/2012 10:44, [log in to unmask] wrote:
> Definatly agree with the quote of TP and that we are a society under 
> stress- as a York resident for the last 12 years it struck me when I 
> first came here  how little graffiti there was in the city centre 
> compared to where I had come from down south. I would argue the 
> increase in graffiti in York over the last 10 years, particularly in 
> the last 3 or 4 years,  coincides with an increase in city size but a 
> decrease in jobs (unless you want to work in tourism or one of Yorks 
> one every other shop cafes, but that is another rant). To play devil's 
> advocate, surely it can be argued that at least gafittii in the past 
> was less intrusive, it is there but does not stand out in the same way 
> as bright red or black spray paint and  this is that make modern 
> graffiti so intrusive and the cause of discontent rather than the act 
> of graffiti itself; if someone scratched there tag or message into the 
> wall as in the 14th century it might have gone unnoticed, or if 
> noticed not stood out. Perhaps we also don't want to admit to the fact 
> that society is on the rocks......Pessimism on a Saturday morning- 
> can't beat it!
>
> Gareth
Gareth,

In terms of British academics, this is really the chickens coming home 
to roost. This "stress" is largely a result of an ill-judged change in 
British academia that involved most subjects from archaeology to climate 
science. It is a wholesale change away from the practical success of the 
past to the "opinion" that we will be successful (if only we follow the 
opinion). It is the change that meant we used to be a thriving economy, 
but then "opinion" replaced "evidence". It was a move to "theoretical 
opinion-based", a move whereby complex replaced simple ... from complex 
financial transactions to complex computer models and 
expert-opinion-PC-society ... they all replaced the simple idea of 
profitable industry.

Until recently, I THOUGHT THIS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ARCHAEOLOGY, until 
I started to realise that the same "opinion based" based ideas meant 
archaeology had gone the same way whereby "pie in the sky" ideas based 
on opinion  had replaced evidence derived inference.

This is a general decline in academic standards and as such we (and 
particularly the academics) are all responsible for the demise of 
Britain. Our generation have turned our nation from a practical 
manufacturing based country into an "ideas", "get-rich quick", "borrow 
to boom" ... "economy" which was based on nothing more than high-hopes 
and hot air. Is there any wonder the young are rejecting the old?

But doesn't this whole ethos just about sum up a lot of recent 
archaeology? I was recently in a lecture on "identity" ... and 
explicitly "gender" (not sex ... apparently they didn't have sex in the 
past only gender!) When I tried to bring the lecturer around to the 
actual evidence of historical accounts ... I was probably seen as some 
kind of Neanderthal trying to pollute archaeology with the absurd notion 
that our views of past societies should reflect the evidence and not our 
own views. As I said, this is a general decline, in evidence, practical 
strands of thinking toward opinion based, evidence-lacking thinking.

When I left University we still were a manufacturing nation and I wanted 
to work in manufacturing, or more explicitly electronics design. 
Unfortunately, we in the UK then spend the succeeding decades doing 
whatever we could to destroy UK manufacturing finally replacing it with 
the "borrow to boom" economy of Blair. In other words we got rid of 
industry (in the real sense of being useful) and replaced it with 
consumerism. Finally, we jumped on the global warming bandwagon, which 
was yet another thinly disguised attempt to eliminate any remaining 
(heavy) industry - and yet again the triumph of "expert opinion" over 
evidence. The result was the UK (egged on by academia) went to the 
nether-nether land of "high tech" disregarding our manufacturing 
heritage that had created us as a world leader and we ended up with our 
only successes being

.... "invented here ... made elsewhere"

down the path of borrow to buy foreign produce and our doomed 
boom-to-bust "economy" of Blair/Brown Britain. Then the bubble burst, etc.

*But this is all part of a cultural change in the UK, and archaeology is 
as responsible, if not more responsible, than any other academic 
discipline.*

Archaeology used to be a subject that could help us understand the past 
and draw lessons from the past for the future. It used to be about the 
hard facts of the past ... artefacts, evidence. These days it often 
seems to be little more than a method of creating a false reality about 
the past to illustrate modern political-social ideas about gender, 
identity, religion (i.e. the importance of anything but industry).

I wouldn't go as far as to say archaeology is solely responsible for the 
mess we are in, but archaeologists (ought to) have a unique 
understanding of the present because we can ... or should I say ought to 
be able to ... compare the present to the whole human era. As such we 
ought to have been the brakes on this ridiculous social experiment of 
"it's no longer necessary to have any industry". Instead archaeology 
apparently like almost every other academic subject lost interest in 
real evidence and went for the "post modernist" approach that all that 
matters is opinion and evidence is a "nice to have" but totally 
unnecessary part of the subject.

And whilst many may think it doesn't matter if archaeologists "bend the 
truth" it does matter and has potentially serious implications, and I 
can give you a specific example. I recently had to write an essay on the 
highland clearances. I thought this would be a pretty simple affair ... 
read up a few books, condemn a few landlords ... job done.

Instead, I made the mistake of reading up on the evidence. What I found 
was the the highland population grew throughout the supposed period of 
the clearances - apparently industry boomed in the highlands ... it was 
a boom time! What I also found was that the population fell by up to a 
quarter PRECEDING the clearances in the 1690s (a period of extreme cold 
during the maunder minimum). Whilst there is some evidence for a change 
in settlement pattern in the highlands, the actual population statistics 
do not support the concept of general "highland clearances". They do 
support a massive reduction in population due to colder-climate induced 
famine. But this cold-climate induced population decline has been 
(almost) written out of history ... and I may be sceptical, but I 
suspect it hasn't found favour in academia which has been obsessed by 
"global warming" for years.

Otherwise, why has no one asked these questions:-

  * How many of these supposed "highland clearance" deserted settlements
    actually date from the 1690s?
  * If as many predict, we are entering a new Maunder type minimum ...
    what does archaeology tell us could be the effects?

Many people who base their science on the evidence and not so called 
"expert opinion" are now seriously concerned that we may be entering 
another Maunder type minimum. And, when I look at the evidence I 
seriously wonder how a similar event to the 1690s would affect us today. 
The answer is that no one knows, because most academics have not even 
admitted it happened or that cold is a real killer in the UK.

In other words, my opinion (which is as valid as anyone else in the 
post-modernist world) is that post-modernism and its anti-evidence 
anti-practical anti-down-to-earth engineering and profitable industry is 
almost entirely responsible for the  "society under stress" which you 
blame for the graffiti.

Mike

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