The scale of the conspiracy

PeterC, over in the comments of my review of Max Hill’s “To the Ends of the Earth” suggested that contemporary archaeologists in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu (New Zealand) dance to the tune of their political (and funding) masters, which is why there is no academic support for the theses of Max Hill, Martin Doutreé and the like. That got me to thinking: if we were to treat that claim about the existence of a conspiracy seriously, how big would the conspiracy in question actually be?

Think of it this way: Pacific archaeology is not an entirely New Zealand-based concern. Whilst New Zealand archaeologists do an awful lot of our local archaeology, they are just part of the wider archaeological community interested in the history and pre-history of the Pacific. Quite a lot of Pacific archaeology is performed by Americans, the French and Germans, in part because each of these nations have a history of colonial activity in the Pacific.

So, if there is a conspiracy to hide the real history of the Pacific and to deny the existence of some other people living in or passing through the Polynesian archipelago, it must be a pretty big one that encompasses the research output of not just the New Zealand university and research community but extends to the university and research communities of Europe and the Americas1. What possible rationale is there for such a large-scale, encompassing conspiracy?

You might concede that maybe someone, in a position of political power, decided one day that we should rewrite Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu’s history in order to appease some group of Māori (even though I think this is very unlikely it is still a possibility) but why would that decision be in anyway binding on the research outputs of archaeologists and historians elsewhere, especially since these reports are perfect congruent with the archaeological research that is produced elsewhere in Polynesia? Why do American archaeologists write site reports and make inferences which look eerily similar to the site reports of French and New Zealand archaeologists? Surely, if there is a conspiracy, we should see a divergence of views between these sets of researchers?

Now, maybe the large-scale claim of conspiracy is justified: I did say that these nations have a history of colonialism, so maybe they are part of a “post-colonial guilt party” conspiracy, or the indigenous peoples of this place (generally speaking) have some kind of hold over the governments of these nations, but that just seems unlikely. The attitudes of France, America and New Zealand with respect to the indigenous peoples of the Pacific really couldn’t be that different (look at the poor state of native rights in Haiwaii) and so it just doesn’t follow that American archaeologists doing Pacific archaeology funded by American universities and NGOs would be hiding evidence of some non-Polynesian, pre-cursor people in the way that Doutree and company seem to allege.

You might also, if we’re going to treat this thesis with more respect than it deserves, argue that the decision was made by, say, the American establishment and we’re just following the dictates of a world superpower. Once again, you have to give a reason as to why, say, America would want to pervert history and produce archaeological disinformation, especially given, as previously noted, just how badly off the Hawaiians are (and let’s not forget the plight of the Native Americans).

Both of these rationales also fall foul of a basic truth about research communities; governments set the funding levels and they certainly mangle research outputs by overfunding some types of degrees and underfunding others. but they don’t control who researches what and they certainly don’t set up the terms of such enquiries, let alone decide what conclusions are allowed to be drawn. Certainly, many of Ansell’s fellow travellers complain about the kind of research that goes on in the academic sector and how good it is that sensible Ministers in our present Government ignore such policy advice and use common sense instead. It seems that the kind of people who are likely to come up with a conspiracy about there being an agenda to hide the existence of a pre-Māori people want to have it both ways when it comes to condemning the research outputs of our universities.

The other problem with this claim about large-scale conspiracy in the world of archaeology is that, surely, you would expect someone to buck the system and release evidence of both the hidden history and the conspiracy itself. This is a common argument against the 9/11 Truth Movement (and, increasingly, being employed to show that the claims of a “CIA/Swedish honeytrap” against Julian Assange seems very unlikely): the lack of countering evidence to the well-accepted or official theory seems to suggest that the theory is plausible. Now, any holder of a conspiracy theory which claims that well-accepted or official theory is based on disinformation, etc. will point towards people like Richard Gage (with respect to the 9/11 Truth Movement) and Martin Doutré (with respect to the Celtic New Zealand thesis) and say “But, looksy, there is evidence to the contrary and these brave researchers are willing to put up with shoddy ad hominem attacks and ridicule to get the truth out there!”

But, once again, this seems to present a problem of scale: Doutré and Gage are not just dismissed by part of the academy but, rather, all of it worldwide. Doutré and Hill’s respective theses are not just considered silly and vapid in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu but elsewhere as well, so we’re back to the “Everyone (else) is in on the conspiracy” angle which, as I’ve shown, is already problematic.

But it gets worse. Doutré and Hill’s radical pre-histories of Polynesia is based upon not just archaeological claims but also claims based in comparative linguistics, oral histories, ethnography, epigraphy and (to name a few). In each of these fields, his arguments have been picked on by someone with appropriate expertise who are largely in agreement with the rest of their peers. If there is a conspiracy in existence, it’s not just a conspiracy in the worldwide archaeological community but, rather, a conspiracy of every academic everywhere2.

Once again, this is a potentially huge conspiracy that people like PeterC are envisioning, and given the different research funding models worldwide, the organisation and control of this conspiracy is likely not to be governmental (unless you believe there exists a New World Order/One World Government who have, as one of their aims, the promotion of both false history and indigenous rights) but, rather, academic.

Now, admittedly, people like John Ansell and Martin Doutré will agree with this and say “Well, we’ve been saying the academic world has been taken over my Marxists for ages now!” but a) it’s not clear that Ansell and Doutreé know what Marxism, as a mode of academic pursuit, looks like and b) it’s not clear that Marxism is the most popular mode of academic pursuit at the moment any way3.

More importantly, though, who is directing us academics to pursue research in a Marxist way?

Ansell, PeterC, Doutré and company will say “That’s where the funding comes from” but is it? Sure, New Zealand’s university sector is funded by central government, so maybe there are Marxists in the Ministry of Education, but what about America? There are lots of American researchers who work in Pacific archaeology, linguistics, history and other related disciplines and their university sector is definitely not funded by the Federal Government (there is very little publicly funded research in the USA) so if the conspiracy is based around funding, it’s a conspiracy where either the international (particularly American) academic sector has undue sway over individual government funding bodies like we find in New Zealand or small countries like our own somehow have sway over the international research funding community.

Both theories seem unlikely, I must confess.

There is, of course, another option. Perhaps, just perhaps, the radical theories of the Richard Gages and Martin Doutré’s of this world are considered lacking in academic merit because, well, such theories are lacking in the kinds of credentials a largely independent academic sector expect to find. No need to posit a conspiracy; outlier research like that found in the 9/11 Truth Movement or the Celtic New Zealand crowd might just be examples of pseudo-research.

However, I don’t think that conclusion, however likely it appears to be, will be accepted by people like PeterC.

Notes

  1. Truth be told, quite a lot of New Zealand archaeology is undertaken by people who not only did their undergraduate and post-graduate studies overseas but are, shock horror, foreign nationals (and not necessarily the kind the GSCB is allowed to spy on).
  2. I would love to see the agenda for the meetings that set up such a conspiracy. I’ve been in academic staff meetings. They are not pretty. No one seems to be able to agree with anyone.
  3. That being said, no matter what I say next, Ansell and Doutré will likely claim we’re all “closet Marxists” who are either unaware we are Marxists or are afraid to admit to being Marxists because we might suffer the old bit of biffo by the common person on the street.

About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.

32 comments:

  1. 1) Hi Dr Dentith and visitors to Dr Dentith’s site.

    I wanted this comment to appear at the beginning of this essay, but of course this is impossible.

    Why I wanted to put it at the beginning, was to warn people who come here looking for a commentary on Ansell’s “Treatygate” or “Colourblind NZ” concepts, that they will probably have been misled.

    It would seem that this whole essay, numbered 10 in the series, is predicated on an illusion.

    The only person who believes that either “Treatygate” or “Colourblind NZ” are based on pre-maori European theory is the host here, Dr Dentith.

    With respect, Dr Dentith has written this whole essay to seemingly disparage Ansell, for something that Ansell has never claimed and certainly has not made part of the Treatygate/ Colourblind NZ platform.

    Ansell made passing comment in citing his sources, of citing a person’s astute Treaty knowledge and writing. Then Ansell’s disparagers disparaged.

    The disparagers did this, and continue to do this by untoward and political means. The did this by saying that Ansell’s source had written OTHER STUFF that is, I agree, stuff of fairy tales. As I read it, the most Ansell has ever said of the fairy tale stuff is that he has an open mind on it.

    Ansell’s disparagers have leapt on this. and have hideously exploited it, lending more imagination to its interpretation, than there are pages dedicated to interpretations of The Treaty of Waitangi over the years.

    What a shame that Treatygate denigrators have to resort to such imaginary and diverse tactics, rather than argue their points on the facts.

    So if you really want to know about Treatygate or Colourblind NZ, you can safely ignore everything on this web page, and you will have lost nothing

    Because it simply isn’t relevant.

    1. Johnny, the article you are critiquing (you seem to be having quite the day of it, reading through this website) talks about the various ways that people claim there is a conspiracy of some sort in the archaeological and historical community here in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu. The article is mostly a reply to PeterC, but please do note that John Ansell, despite the fact he claims to be merely open-minded about the pre-Māori thesis, did say this when describing the Treatygate con in the Franklin eLocal and on his website:

      Pretend that Maori are indigenous to New Zealand, when they sailed here just before the Europeans, and suppress the mounting evidence that other races got here first.

      which makes it quite clear that a) he is happy to get those particular people on side with his campaign and b) is advocating that someone, somewhere, is distorting our history (and pre-history).

      So to say this is all irrelevant is to ignore the context of this article.

  2. 2) Dear Dr Dentith

    Aha. Something we can agree on.
    I concede that the Ansell comment you cite from Franklin elocal was stupid.

    This being so, (sarcasm alert) all 200 years of history revision is hereby ratified.

    Breaking News! Ansell said something stupid. All revisons of NZ history are hereinafter justified. Thus it was written. The NEXT Century of NZ history of belligerence was ordained.

  3. 3. Dr Dentith

    Please can we see if we can agree on something else about this essay, your number 10 in the series.

    Do I understand your position correctly? What I state here is actually my own position, but I think that it is really close to yours.

    It does not matter what happened prior to the signing of the Treaty in terms of who was here first or when they were or were not here. The only thing that matters is that the first documented case of a white man first stepping onto what is now New Zealand, Maori were already here. And te tiriti was predicated on that premise, and needs to be interpreted against that backdrop. How Maori got here, when they got here, who they might or might not have replaced, including that they probably replaced no-one, is irrelevant.

    This isn’t a trick question. It is an attempt to see if people can stop attacking each other on issues that are not issues, which I believe this essay does.

    Agreed?

    1. I can agree with that description but I totally disagree with the claim:

      It is an attempt to see if people can stop attack­ing each other on issues that are not issues, which I believe this essay does.

      This series of essays addresses issues with the kinds of arguments, justifications and weird claims Ansell, his supporters and the people they source their information from. I am of the considered opinion that the Treatygate conspiracy theory is unwarranted and that Ansell’s “Colourblind New Zealand” campaign is based upon not really understanding what equality actually means when dealing with a marginalised, indigenous people (and before you start on the claim that Māori are not indigenous, even though you agree they were here first, be aware that the term “indigenous” is appropriate here because Māori, as a culture and ethnicity, originated and developed here after the arrival of the people who would come to be known as “the Māori.” In this sense they are indigenous.)

  4. 4. Dear Dr Dentith

    Excellent news. I’m glad we agree on that much. The question of pre-Maori anyone in New Zealand is an irrelevance to New Zealand as regards discussing New Zealand race relations generally from 6 February 1840.

    I’m going to see what John Ansell has to say about this, and see where this position fits in with Ansell intentions for whatever he is planning to call his movement when he replaces, as he has already announced he will, the ugly nomenclature “Colourblind NZ”.

  5. Let’s be clear:

    John Ansell now sees himself as larger than the podium he wishes to perch. Any good intentions he may have convinced himself he had has long disappeared.

    Colourblind/Treaty gate is a confusing entity in which nobody on his blog is aware of which name they are committing to.

    John asked me to pick him up from Auckland airport on the morning of the defunct Remuera Rotory meeting. A phone call at 6.30am informed me that he had is am’s and pm’s mixed up and was hoping I could pick him up that evening instead. I had arranged other plans and was unable to fulfil his instruction and besides, his mismanagement wasn’t my concern. This was viewed as subordinate and the first black mark was put beside my name.

    Mr Ansell confirmed to me and on Television that over $100,000 had been “donated” to Colourblind/Treatygate. I raised my concerns about this as he has openly stated in public that he uses these funds to live on while writing his book. In essence, donated funds are actually a publicly raised benefit to support him (a wage) and his publication and are not deemed for the cause which he states. My concerns were the legal aspect and that of Inland Revenue. Additionally, I voiced my opinion to Mr Ansell that I personally would not donate money to a blogsite preferring to support a structured party or organisation. He will avoid starting a party as his expenditure and donations collected will come into scrutiny and his position as ‘grand leader” will be diluted with a member mandate. This was my second black mark.

    I raised the issue of HIS claims that HE has 80% support in NZ for HIS views. He constantly encourages NZ media to hold polls as an indication of his supporters. His blog has 125 followers on average (hardly 80% of NZ) and a public meeting is hopeful of 600 people, hardly an indication. I urged him strongly once again to form a party as membership will be an indication. I suspect John realised an indicator may in fact take the wind out of his sails, effecting the publication of his book and potential visitors to his blog. This was to be my third black mark.

    Mr Ansell posted that he owned the blogsite and all views that do not follow his will result in a ban. He has become so extreme, those who do not think the same as he will be excluded, will endure further misleading remarks from him and as a result, the dozen people that do use the blog prefer to give each other written high-fives, pats on the backs, refer to John as “our leader’. Rather than risk ruffling his feathers, spending considerable time correcting each others grammer, spelling errors and punctuation is now the norm. The reality is, your views must mirror John Ansells or of that who he calls grievers. A middle ground is unacceptable and when I pointed this out, I received my forth black mark

    The Colourblind/Treaty gate blog had at one stage turned into a quasi KKK site suited for white radicals. I dared to display a post with my support of the Maori language and I was banned.

    Furthermore, I was named by Mr Ansell as a fair-weather friend who turned feral. I was accused of abuse and blackmail, was deemed by Mr Ansell clinically Bipolar and to boot, he begs sympathy I will do him physical harm to him. All this because I dared question him.

    Johns Ego has far exceeded his real-worth and has taken on a persona of a dictator. To cross him will result in humiliation. He has boasted his martyr status as well as demonstrate his ability to morph into a drama queen. His comments about me begs the question, has John become the griever that he has consumed his life with?

  6. Thanks for the update paul. And im sorry i wasnt a good friend. I got sucked in to his story. I will not post on his site again. Your version of events does make sense

  7. Hi Anakereiti

    I think you will find they all get sucked into each others stories. The way they all patronise each other is amazing and the sole reason is they are all shit scared of crossing Johns wrath. His way, his opinion, his blog, his thoughts and his podium… never to share, consult, comment or rationalise. . The way the highlight of discussion is correcting grammar. I wonder if the meetings will include a salute, line dancing or Morris dancing?

    At the end of the day, they want want want and they are no better than those whom they complain about.

    Hey was fun sneaking back on though, through a wildball in there and got the rhetoric going again. lol

  8. Im fairly sure that johnny is john ansell. On the treatygate site johnny says in a post that – he lets people post on this site – when i suggested that comment indicated he had some control and he was john a he brushed it off and then declared he would post no more on there.

    1. If Johnny is the same person who was commenting on this blog, then I’m not sure he is the same person as Ansell. Johnny engaged in in some fairly racist and anti-Māori speech here, of the kind Ansell claims to deplore. If Johnny is John Ansell, then Ansell is being very duplicitous.

  9. Yes well Anakereiti, John has a support base of 7. Seven posters to his blog and all congratulate or correct each other spelling.

    John emailed 4 mins ago with a request to help get bums in seats at his meetings. Told John Ansell he is an upstart and directed him here. lol

    Hey John…. Might have had a good idea, but you are a fraud using an issue to supplement a book and a blog. Flake!

  10. I wasn’t John Ansell on his site, and I’m not John Ansell here.

    I don’t post racist talk. I present history as I find it. Sadly, some of that history is not what Dentith wants to know about. But it is not racist. There were 2 of my posts for which Dentith refused to pass moderation.

    Each of the two was about the (second) New Zealand Company operations over about the years 1837 to 1842ish in the Wellington and Wairoa areas. The posts were innocuous and nothing that you can’t read on Wikipedia for example, or a dozen other websites.

    Dentith didn’t like the truth, so he simply refused to moderate those comments, and they sit there today with an “awaiting moderation” endorsement. At that point, I thanked Dentith for his hospitality on this site, and bade him farewell courteously. None of my posts here was anything other than 100 percent courteous.

    (And without apology, it’s ‘threw’, Paul Harris, not ‘through’ a wildball)

    The only person who is racist on this site, is Dentith, who is everything here, that Ansell is accused of at his site, namely selective with the truth.

    Also, Paul Harris, may I remind you that John Ansell, whom I have never met, banned you from his site for your racially disparaging remarks about Maori male hygiene, and hygiene was your word, no-one else’s.

  11. And seeing as you have mentioned me in dispatches above, Anakerita, since the time of your posting above, and in case you haven’t got the bad news yet, you are no longer welcome to post on John Ansell’s site. Your rudeness and dishonesty were factors he cited, as well as the duplicity as between your posts on the Dentith and Ansell sites. And my I add that I couldn’t agree more with him. In the interests of free speech, and balance, Ansell was incredibly more tollerant of you (and of Martin Dentith) than many others would have been.

  12. @Johnny. True to form from an Ansell blogger, correcting spelling again. I would suggest that Helen is Johnny. I am gald you are albe to irneertpt wodrs eevn if tehy are slept inclorcrety as you wolud prbobaly hvae tbrloue renadig tihs.

  13. How strange johnny. I saw when paul was banned. He was banned when he took to task fair go for whites for some really disgusting remarks about maori. Aww actually i was banned for posting pauls comments frmom here in the ansell website. Enjoy your day john ansell oh by the way your blog has been hijacked looks shocking

  14. Welcome along Paul and Anna. You might notice you are late, and the conversation was well advanced on topic, until you came along with only the objective of polluting the place, and immediately into flamebaiting the regulars.

    Got a nice little conspiracy going here for you, Matthew.
    Matthew has advised I’m not anyone else but who I have always been, just plain old Johnny. So Ana insists I’m John Ansell. And Paul thinks I’m Johnny from Ansell’s site or Helen from there, or both.

    All I am is a person with a point of view on issues which the host posted here and on which the host invited comments. So I unlike anyone else has commented on the topic.

    Dear host, is it your intention to ignore commenters who clearly have no intention of posting on the topic, and whose intention is only to flame other genuine contributors?

    You conspiracists are a strange lot, I have to say.

  15. Skirting the issue of your lies johnny. Paul was banned why? Im still posting quite happily. Actually matthew said if you were john you were being duplicitous. I know your john lol. Does it feel good john saying all the things you really want to say but cant as yourself because that isnt the image you want to project? Still think maori should practise being maori in the privacy of their own homes? John why are you talking legal advice because someone asked why your living of donated funds? Shouldnt you gave got the advice before you started spending donated funds on yourself. Not the referendum as you state

    1. Hi, everyone.

      As I said, I’m not sure that “Johnny” is “John Ansell” and whilst I’m happy to entertain discussion about the merits of John Ansell’s case (and the attendant possibility both his supporter numbers are much lower than he says and that some of his vocal supporters might just be puppet accounts) let’s not actually start to engage in abuse of one another (something I’ve already taken Johnny to task for when he accused me, among other things,apparently of being ashamed of my whiteness).

  16. Minor spat Matthew that I thought we had moved on from weeks ago. Will you still be repeatedly reminding me of it 172 years from now, and after numerous full and final settlements along the way? It isn’t the NZ way to settle things and find them still a source of grievance (back in the bad old days, I found wives were very good at this sort of “discussion”, dragging things up from eons ago that were long-before settled).

    1. Johnny, you never really apologised for your comments; you simply tried (not completely successfully, I might add) to stop making them. As such, I will quite happily remind you of the perfectly dreadful things you said (not just about me but also your bigoted generalisations about Māori) because a) it is relevant to the tone of the conversation you wish to engage in and b) you keep on trying to control the terms of the debate. This is not your blog and thus I am no beholden to you, nor do I have to let your sometimes very prejudiced comments be posted here. As Paul has already pointed out, you now seem to be adding in causal misogyny to the mix.

  17. That said, it was remiss of me not to thank you and congratulate you for the common sense response to the hecklers above.

  18. Heck Johnny, you implying that only women have the right to raise concerns, point out issues?

    The way I read it, you think a real man should be a man, do as you say, comment on your blog as exactly as stipulated by you. Big news, its only your ego that is grand…not you and furthermore, It takes stamina to beat down a bunch (7) of people that I see are going to open Pandora’s box just to promote a book.

    You have no mandate John, just your own views that you desire everyone to follow. Social agenda at its maximum and I will not allow it to happen..

  19. Misongyny? I’m not sexist.
    Fully fledged misanthropy me.

    You take your stupidity far too seriously to me.
    And you have no bones about lying about my perfectly reasonable posts.

    Like I said weeks ago, till you started discussing me behind my back.
    Thanks for you hospitality. Again I will take my leave.

    This time try finding something else to talk about other than me (if you have anything sufficiently important to discuss, given that I’m the only topic here over now nearly a month).

    Bye bye

  20. Wow, is this a conspiracy? What is the definition of a conspiracy?

    Johnny is accusing the owner of this site that he started talking behind his back about him. Now, I dont see anything like that, but I do see topics on John Ansell. So, has Johnny just let it slip that in fact he is John Ansell?

    If so, are the comments posted by Johnny a reflection of John Ansells true feelings and a hint of his agenda?

  21. Told you paul. He did the same on the ansell site. Talked about inviting people to post on his site. Then when i called him on it he suddenly decided he would leave. Everything written as johnny are the things he would really like to say as john.

  22. Yes, even the “rocks your socks” let the cat out of the bag. Colourblind has true colours for sure. Now thats what I call a conspiracy!

    1. I’m still not convinced Johnny is John Ansell, Paul and Anakereiti. Johnny claims to respect people who go on to get an advanced degree, whilst Ansell thinks the Universities are a Marxist breeding ground. Johnny also engages in generalisations about Māori of the type Ansell claims to not respect.

  23. I know. Matthew. Fairly sure thats part of the cunning plan. Conspiracy theory i hear you say? Haha. I do know that planes flown by terrorists crashed into the pentagon and the twin towers. 🙂 sorry it is anakereiti here. Just logged into the ansell site but im banned, so just changed log ins to get through his impressive security. (Not)

  24. “You may get more settlements in the mean time, but maori will never be more than a minority and in any democratic country, it’s the majority who has the power. Once the word ‘maori’ is erradicated from all our legislation and the maori party, Waitangi Tribunal and the maori seats are all abolished”

    Finally getting to where. The colourblind site is heading. Posted this evening by brenda spiller

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