As an academic and as someone who knows the peer review system, as well as the social cost of allowing bad research to get by, I have to say that my intuition is that the University will have done its job properly. Certainly, now that the thesis is back in the system I can legitimately look at it and see what the fuss is all about.
Well, it goes both ways. When I first mentioned the ‘Satanism in New Zealand’ blog all those aeons ago I mentioned that I thought it was a vehicle for doing a hatchet job on Roel van Leeuwen and the thesis he wrote. I still stand by that claim, if only because the blog has become all the more strident in its vehemence towards Roel van Leeuwen and that it seems to be sourcing its criticism directly from Kerry Bolton.
Now the author of the site maintained at the time that the blog was not a hatchet job on Roel van Leeuwen. It’s also quite possible that the author, thinking that there was a fruitful discussion and dissection of Satanist and Black Magick to be hand, found little of note to actually post about, and that the Roel van Leeuwen thesis really was the only game in town. Still… What looks and sounds like a campaign to discredit Roel van Leeuwen may well be a campaign to discredit Roel van Leeuwen.
So we know Waikato has had a few issues in the past; the Holocaust thesis, for one. The fact that the report about ‘Dreamers of the Dark’ was sat upon for five months also seems odd (although that might not be true; the report was expected at a particular point in time but knowing academics it might not have been delivered in a timely fashion). There is also the curious fact that if ‘Satanism in New Zealand’ is deliberately a hatchet job website, it doesn’t seem to be a very good one, in that it’s infrequently updated and rather obvious; a true1 conspirator would work much harder to hide the vehemence and make sure the site seemed like it was dealing with other issues as well.
Of course, this might just be incompetence on the part of Roel van Leeuwen detractors. Or it might be that someone really is aghast as to what happened with this thesis. I suppose I’d be more comfortable with this version of the story if Bolton didn’t seem involved with the website, because whether or not Bolton was misrepresented, it would look better for all concerned if he was either a) not given avenue to vent his views there or b) Roel van Leeuwen was given the same opportunity (or had been seen to be given the same opportunity).
This is where studying Conspiracy Theories gets you; I should be charitable and say ‘It’s probably just an interested individual with not much to say.’ I should also be suspicious of inferring conspiratorial motives. Yet, I also know that in circles just like this ad hominems are par for the course2.
Anyway, the thesis is back in the domain of accessible academic scholarship and has been subject to an investigation. If I have any spare time between the current chapter and the next I might interloan it and have a gander. In the interim I must go back to writing and finish reading the Aaronvitch book; my preliminary review is that it really is all over the place.