Wednesday, May 06, 2009

'Celtic' boulders and unbalanced journalism: an Open Letter to the Herald's Wayne Thompson

Kia ora Wayne,

I am writing to you about your article titled 'Call to Save Hilltop Boulders', which appeared on page seven of the New Zealand Herald on Wednesday the sixth of May.

In this article you describe the opposition by Martin Doutre and Russell Ireland to the proposed destruction of a couple of boulders at Silverdale by a building team. You give extensive space to Doutre's and Ireland's view that the boulders are remnants of a massive structure built by an ancient white civilisation that existed in this country before the coming of the ancestors of the Maori.

I think that your article seriously misrepresents the nature of Doutre's and Ireland's views, and the status of their views amongst scholars of New Zealand history and prehistory. You give the impression that Doutre and Ireland are credible researchers into New Zealand's past, when in fact they are politically-motivated conspiracy theorists with no credibility in New Zealand's scholarly community.

The misrepresentations begin with the caption that is attached to the photograph of the boulders above your article. The caption says 'ENIGMA: Russell Ireland says the stones served a fair-skinned pre-Maori society as a calendar'. The word 'ENIGMA' gives the impression that the placement of the boulders is some sort of mystery which scholars are struggling to explain, when in fact their explanation presents no problem to any geologist.

You go on to describe the views of Martin Doutre and Russell Ireland at some length. You cite Doutre's book Ancient Celtic New Zealand, and paraphrase its claims that an advanced white civilisation constructed a vast system of open-air observatories not only in New Zealand but also in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Bosnia. You repeat Doutre's claim that the boulders at Silverdale are part of a set of ancient structures arranged across the Auckland region according to complex mathematical guidelines. You also echo Doutre's claim that Maori legends of a race of fairy folk, or patu paiareihe, are a record of ancient white residents of New Zealand.

You neglect to mention that Doutre has no qualifications in any of the many academic fields in which he claims expertise, that he has never presented a paper at an academic conference, that he has never published an article in a refereed journal, and that he had to pay for the publication of Ancient Celtic New Zealand, a book which received withering reviews by a series of serious scholars in refereed journals.

You do not mention that Doutre's belief that a massive, highly advanced civilisation existed thousands of years ago in New Zealand is unsupported by the archaeological record, which does not find vast cities or the burial grounds of ancient Celts deep beneath our soil. You fail to acknowledge that Doutre's claim that the piles of stones that lie around Auckland are connected by mathematical equations rests on his use of an infinitely variable measurement called the 'geomancer's mile' - a measurement which he himself invented. Nor do you notice that Doutre has failed to find any Maori support for his view that legends of the patu paiarehe are actually memories of Celts.

You are also silent about the obvious political agenda which lies behind the research of Doutre and other exponents of the 'Celtic New Zealand' thesis. Doutre is an outspoken member of the One New Zealand Foundation, a group which opposes the Treaty of Waitangi and all forms of biculturalism on the curious grounds that whites and not Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. Doutre's own website includes many articles which rail against a conspiracy by Maori and 'PC academics' to destroy New Zealand. Doutre consistenly presents critics of his arguments about New Zealand prehistory as tools of this sinister conspiracy.

Like many of his colleagues on the far right, Doutre is anti-semitic, as well as anti-Maori: he has written articles for neo-Nazi websites claiming that the 9/11 attacks were an 'inside job' involving Mossad, and he is an outspoken admirer of the notorious Holocaust denier David Irving, whom he believes to be the victim of a Jewish conspiracy.

Your article does not allow a single historian, archaeologist, or expert on Maori oral tradition to reply to the absurd claims of Doutre and Ireland. At the very end of your piece you briefly refer to the opinion of Bruce Hayward, who is one of New Zealand's most distinguished geologists. Hayward has no doubt that the boulders at Silverdale were created seventy million years ago on the sea floor, and reached their present location by natural means rather than through human intervention. You give fourteen sentences to the views of Doutre and Ireland, but only two to those of Hayward.

It is not as though it would have been hard for you to find information on the nature and status of the viewpoint which Doutre and Ireland advance. A quick google search ought to have pointed you in the direction of a number of refutations of Doutre's work, as well as to the man's own website, which is so filled with absurd claims and racist rhetoric that it is almost self-parodying.

A quick google would also have brought you to a long and revealing debate between Doutre and his critics at the Scoop Review of Books last year. During this debate, which saw Doutre confronted by archaeologists, a philosopher who specialises in conspiracy theory, a sociologist of knowledge, and an expert on Maori oral history, Doutre revealed the full extent of his anti-Maori and anti-Jewish prejudice. After insisting that the ancestors of Maori lacked the skill to make sea voyages, claiming that Maori taonga like hei tiki and wharenui were actually created by ancient whites, and repreatedly denying the Holocaust, Doutre lost all credibility with the many readers following the debate at the Scoop Review of Books.

Your unbalanced and misleading article is an insult to genuine scholars of New Zealand's past and to the real indigenous people of these islands.

Sincerely
Scott Hamilton

23 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

Well said. The Herald has plumbed new depths of gullibility with this one.

12:23 pm  
Blogger maps said...

It sure has! I'm pleased to see that Stephen Judd has also contacted Wayne Thompson to complain about the article - you can read his message here:
http://vital.org.nz/entry/title/
the_herald_graciously_takes_you_at_your_word

You can e mail Wayne Thompson by clicking on a hyperlink at the bottom of his article:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/
article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10570580

I'm sure Thompson's guilty of incompetence rather than complicity in Doutre's agenda, but he still deserves a kick up the backside.

12:39 pm  
Blogger Edward said...

Very well said Maps!! I can't believe the sloppy journalism of the Herald has resulted in more publicity for Doutre and his ilk. I'm absolutely fuming. I sent you an email to alert you to it but I am glad you were one step ahead of me.
I have also already contacted the editor about it (copied in the email sent to you).
The Herald was already near the bottom of the list for me, but now it has managed to sink even further. I might try and alert the 'Editing the Herald' blog as there seems to be a reasonable following there.

12:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Martin Doutré has himself some free publicity for the Celtic New Zealand thesis in today’s issue of the Herald. The evidence; boulders.

Celtic Boulders.

Well, round concretions; about a dozen of them. These concretions, up to 3 metres in diameter, were uncovered about thirty-eight years. The mystery, apparently, is how they ended up on top of a hilltop, because:

“It sparked a lot of mystery over how they got there,” said Mr Doutre. “They were concretion boulders, which can only form in sea sediments, yet they had made it to the top of this high, yellow clay hill.”

That sounds a little interesting, doesn’t it? Boulders in non-normal space1 That would suggest that the boulders had been moved, in some way. Could it be that they were moved by human hands?

Geological Society spokesman Bruce Hayward said there was no mystery how the boulders got on thehill.

He said they were 70 million years old and pushed up from the sea floor and the enclosing countryside eroded over time, leaving them exposed.

Well, that seems to squash that part of the thesis.

Doutré (and his ilk) seem to have a problem when it comes to understanding site deposition; sometimes items are part of the landscape because geology, not humanity, put them there. Doutré thinks that because they are on a hilltop that they were placed there. He assumes that location is almost entirely intentional rather than accidental, which is a problem for his entire `archaeological’ method; he cannot tell the difference, by and large, between objects that are placed on a landscape versus objects that happen to be there.

Still, perhaps the boulders, as objects whose presence in the landscape can be explained entirely naturally, can still lend credence to Doutré’s thesis, because:

Some boulders showed ancient etchings of geometric designs similar to those on structures in Britain dating back to 3150BC.

The image in the article isn’t particularly clear; you can see spirals (and what looks like the Bass Clef, which is a remarkable bit of foresight by our `Celtic tangata whenua’) and the like, which somehow suggests that these markings are pre-Maori and of Celtic origin.

Because not only do we all know that there are no spiral patterns in Maori art but, really, that the only people to use the spiral in art were the Celts.

That seems to the argument, it really does.

It’s a little hard to know what to say to such vacuous claims; it’s harder still to know what to say when the Herald publishes blatant puff pieces for such wacky views.

I think a few choice letters to the editor are in order. Get typing.

As I go to press (so to speak): Stephen Judd weighs in.

Notes

That should be a prog-rock album name.


http://all-embracing.episto.org/2009/05/06/but-is-it-news/

12:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right from the first word, The Herald misled. Martin Doutré is not a "researcher" and has never hidden his agenda. Will The Herald be promoting the National Front as researchers next?
Shame on The Herald.

1:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to add insult to injury the herald is filing the article in its 'maori news' section -
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/maori/news/headlines.cfm?c_id=252

2:11 pm  
Blogger Edward said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:05 pm  
Blogger Edward said...

Here's a copy of my complaint:

"Call to save hilltop boulders

I was disturbed to find such a misinformed and misleading article about Martin Doutre's supposed discovery of "pre-Maori boulder artefacts" on a Silverdale hilltop in what is supposed to be New Zealand's leading newspaper. The Celtic NZ thesis which Doutre et al. argue is well known amongst scholars as an example of pseudo-science at its worst. The thesis is underlain by a racial philosophy of undermining Maori indigenous claims, a vast conspiracy involving academia and the government to hide the “truth”, and ideas of white cultural supremacy. Add to this a complete lack of understanding of archaeological method and theory and scientific methodology in general.

It was thus disappointing that the NZ Herald deemed such racial and paranoia fuelled pseudo-science as worthy of publication in something other than the alternative conspiracy magazines in which it belongs, especially when one considers that actual archaeological investigations are seldom reported upon in New Zealand media. Indeed, this example of journalism seems more fitting for a tabloid than a serious newspaper, and has done a disservice to the public. The one-eyed reporting on of such claims as put forward by Doutre also undermine continuing efforts in areas such as the public education and dissemination of scientific knowledge. "

3:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Twin Towers were brought down by pulsed energy scalar weapons launched by US airforce weapons platforms that operate in sub-orbital earthspace and which are protected from earthly observers by cloaking technology back-engineered from the Roswell UFO crash of 1947 (see the photos of John Walson for rare images of these craft). These platforms also projected holograms of the planes onto the sky beforehand - the real planes and passengers were teleported shortly after takeoff to the secret underground US military base at Montauk on Long Island using technology developed in the Philadelphia experiment of 1941. The passengers and crew were there reprogrammed by MKULTRA operatives to forget their past lives and used as pawns in the military experiments in time travel taking place in Montauk based upon the ‘unified field’ technologies developed by Nikola Tesla and confiscated by the US government in WW2.(ref the work of Montauk whistleblower Al Bielek and others). Doutre, Gage, Jones and other 9/11 ‘truthers’ are disinformation agents whose ideas of ‘controlled demolition’ distract the populace from the ‘real’ truth as to the US military/Draco-Reticulan alliances’ attempts to control the very fabric of time and space itself.

4:11 pm  
Anonymous Keri Hulme said...

Somebody has been reading waaay too much pulp sci-fic....

'Celtic' concretions eh? Based on the random - and quite fresh-looking- chips and gouges eh?

Well, it makes a change from the Menzies "1421" wingnuts who claim the Moeraki concretions are 'ballast' or 'cannon balls'.

Each has as much credibility as the other - but shame on the Herald's reporter for a credulous & sloppy job.

The good part is the rejoinders from Maps, Stephen Judd, and Edward squashing Doutre's idiocies yet again. Kai te pai!

5:49 pm  
Blogger Ross Brighton said...

Thanks once again Maps for calling out those who support racism and pseudoscience.

Keep up the good work.

6:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martin Doutre's book: “The True English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi”, is available from: De Danann Publishers; 66 Highway 28, Coatesville, Auckland, for $35 postage paid.

This book is the most documented book on te Tiriti ever written, and guess what?, - not one mainstream publisher or distributor in the country will touch it - you will not find it in your local bookstore. Why? Because of covert political censorship. Because it exposes the truth about our Treaty, and the fraud that is behind the government's 1975 United Nation obligations friendly one. These UN "commitments" are the reason why government has usurped our true Treaty and altered it into a document that creates division - to meet UN "obligations" regarding UN defined "indigenous rights".

Please note that ex-PM Geoffrey Palmer is now the government's "constitutional" lawyer - to keep the lid on their treaty corruption.

New Zealanders need to wake up to the fact that their public perception and opinion is manipulated by covert powers - the same way the good people of the Stalinised USSR were duped to submission by controlled media and publishers. It is the modern day equivalent of "book burning".

The fraud behind the Treaty begun since even before 1975 amounts to real constitutional treason, and these fifth column government traitors need to be brought to face true account and justice for their treason.

Every New Zealander needs to read this book, as it empowers them with Treaty Truth, and with this truth realised we can, by popular demand, restore this nations true and honourable Treaty, along with our constitutional: Hi iwi tahi tatou.

Government evil wins when good people do nothing.

10:35 pm  
Blogger HORansome said...

I'd like to point out that the comment from Anonymous that starts 'So, Martin Doutré has himself some free publicity for the Celtic New Zealand thesis in today’s issue of the Herald. ...' is a cut and paste of my post here (http://all-embracing.episto.org/2009/05/06/but-is-it-news/).

9:42 am  
Blogger Edward said...

Mattew's letter to the editor was published in 'the readers' forum' on page A14 in this morning's Herald.

11:25 am  
Blogger Ross Brighton said...

Regarding the latest anonymous comment. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! you dick.
Publishers generally wont touch things when they are BAD SCHOLARSHIP.

to quote the original post:
"You neglect to mention that Doutre has no qualifications in any of the many academic fields in which he claims expertise, that he has never presented a paper at an academic conference, that he has never published an article in a refereed journal, and that he had to pay for the publication of Ancient Celtic New Zealand, a book which received withering reviews by a series of serious scholars in refereed journals."

Snap.

12:01 pm  
Blogger Ross Brighton said...

I just read the "discussion" from last year. These people are actually mad.
...
I keep forgetting how ingrained this pathology is, as it's really hard to comprehend. and scary.
...
Keep up the good work. Kia aha e hoa.

PS. I hear you've got some visitors from Kilmog at the moment. They're good folk too.

8:02 pm  
Blogger Edward said...

Thought you might like to know they've put up a link to this over at the NZAA website:
http://www.nzarchaeology.org/news.htm

10:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://sci.waikato.ac.nz/bioblog/2009/05/great-balls-of-stone.shtml

7:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keri Hulme said...
“Somebody has been reading waaay too much pulp sci-fic....
“Well, it makes a change from the Menzies "1421" wingnuts who claim the Moeraki concretions are 'ballast' or 'cannon balls'. “

Keri, it is advisable to get your facts right before trashing others or you make a fool of yourself, as you have done here by showing your ignorance of nautical matters.

No one at 1421 has ever claimed that Moeraki boulders were ballast nor will they. No sailor worth his salt would use round stone balls as ballast as he would very quickly sink his ship as the ballast rolled to and fro.

Can you please apologise to us via this forum for your error and unnecessarily abusive language?

Rosanne Hawarden 1421 Pacific Research Group

4:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People!!! Arent we all overlooking something here!!! Regardless as to how these boulders arrived, they are there. They have withstood the rigours of the last seventy million years of earths upheaval...yes, that was seventy million!!!
Now to be threatened by our very hands in our unending desire for progression at any price. Do you not find it shameful that the human race has become so short-sighted that we are prepared to overlook this fact to instead bicker over some recent(in the scheme of things) unknown human influence. Good on Martin Doutre for at least bringing this wanton desecration to the publics attention. For once, cant we all pull together to fight to preserve the true and real history of this land.

10:59 pm  
Blogger Declan Fletcher said...

It would be really helpful if you changed the Blog template so that it showed the dates of these comments and not just the time.

I would comment, but I have no idea if the discussion is current or not.

12:57 am  
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9:10 am  
Anonymous Malcolm Moncrief-Spittle said...

Martin Doutre's theories may well be wrong, and he may well be a racist and an appallingly bad anthropogist / historian. Leaving that aside, what I wish to question is a couple of aspects of your methodology used in debunking Doutre.

1. Your appeals to authority and current academic orthodoxy as proof of truth.

You write that Doutre has

"no credibility in New Zealand's scholarly community"

and

"You neglect to mention that Doutre has no qualifications in any of the many academic fields in which he claims expertise, that he has never presented a paper at an academic conference, that he has never published an article in a refereed journal, and that he had to pay for the publication of Ancient Celtic New Zealand, a book which received withering reviews by a series of serious scholars in refereed journals."

Historically, the orthodox views of the socially designated experts of the time have sometimes come to be superceded. For example, it was once orthodoxy that the Earth was flat, that the Earth was at the centre of the universe, that blacks were racially inferior to whites and it was acceptable for them to be kept as slaves etc.

If people who questioned these ideas had been shut up because their views contradicted the orthodox views of the time, then where would be today?

(c.f. Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions").

Do you think that the academic fields of anthropology, geology, and history have now advanced to the point that they have now have all the correct answers and do not need to be questioned anymore? If so, do you not think the Catholic authorities who made Kepler renounce his views also had a similar feeling that they were the sole possesors of the truth?

2. You seem to assume that by labelling someone a "conspiracy theorist" you are showing that their views are wacky, false, and not worthy of serious consideration. This is not a valid argument. Human beings do for various reasons engage in conspiracies. There are many doings in history that were kept secret from the general public at the time. Take any political coup for example, before the coup happens, those who are undertaking it will keep their plans a secret, for their own safety. At this stage, anyone thinks a coup is about to happen could be labelled a conspiracy theorist, as their views would not be shared by the general public. Their views would in this case have been correct. After the coup happens, what once was a conspiracy theory then becomes history. For another philospher's views on the inappropriate condemnation of "conspiract theorists", see Charles Pigden's essay "Falsehood and Folly of Conspiracy here: http://www.otago.ac.nz/philosophy/Staff/CharlesPigden/Falsehood%20and%20folly%20.pdf

4:26 pm  

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