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Last year a Tunisian PhD thesis rejected Newton, Einstein, Copernicus and Kepler and said the Earth is flat, unmoving, young and the centre of the universe. Not here though, here evidence matters. Mind you:

Hundreds of studies use PAS statistics but while the Guide for Researchers warns against some data distortions (selectivity in reporting finds and lower reporting rates when FLOs aren’t at rallies) it doesn’t stress a far worse danger: find spot falsification (or lying by detectorists as most people call it).

How widespread is it? Well, some detectorists admit to it on their forums. Plus everything ever “reported” by nighthawks is lied about. But worst are lies likely to arise from finds agreements: if you’ve  agreed to share in Yorkshire you can say your finds came from Yeovil, where you haven’t, and earn thousands.

How come PAS doesn’t stress that? Well, if PAS could say it happens about 5% of the time that would be OK as researchers could reflect it. But they can’t – because no-one has the foggiest how often it does! All that’s known is that there’s opportunity and massive incentive and hence there’s an unknown but probably very large degree of error in PAS based PhDs. So no snootyness about Tunisia please!

More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

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June 2018

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