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By Nigel Swift

Many tens of thousands of people are being encouraged to count butterflies in the great butterfly count so that the decline of numbers can be known. They have been called Citizen Scientists which is fair enough, scientists are characterised by their pursuit of knowledge.

Metal detectorists are called the same thing so we’re entitled to ask why PAS doesn’t organise a great artefact count by detectorists? The answer is clear and sad: most detectorists don’t report their recordable finds.

Since 1975 this is a typical graph of butterfly numbers. Note it’s uneven – weather and migration means numbers increase some years.

Here’s a graph of artefact numbers over the same period. There are no upward spikes. Sad, isn’t it? But that’s how erosion by non-citizen scientists works. It’s why the term “my productive fields are worked out” is so often used. PAS et al should STOP calling metal detectorists citizen scientists.

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