Denying history both ways

This is one of those posts which is too short to be a Monday update but too long to try and express properly on Twitter.

One of the things which stuck me about Max Hill’s thesis in “To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again” (reviewed here) is how Hill both denies the history of Māori in this country but also the history of, variously, the Spanish, the Chinese, the Ancient Greeks, the Ancient Egyptians, the Ancient Celts, et cetera. Hill wants to rewrite the pre-history of this place, and thus deny Māori proper authority over their history (suggesting, as he does, that Māori in part do not know their own history and are complicit in a cover-up of their “real” history). Yet for Hill’s thesis to have legs, he also has to deny the histories of the people who he claims made it here first. The evidence Hill uses for his various pre-Māori claims is never direct evidence of settlement or contact but, rather, supposition based upon “what ifs”, folk linguistics, reinterpretation of maps (often of various age and sometimes dubious authorship) and the like. He is making claims about ancient peoples that just aren’t part of orthodox history.

Now, either these ancient peoples came here and forgot all about it, leaving behind very crude evidence of their material culture, or they came here and have engaged in some latter day cover up. In the former case, that shows that whatever evidence there is in said cultures is not particularly strong (given that no one outside a few fringe theorists in Aotearoa is pursuing such claims), whilst in the latter case we have to believe that no one wants to talk about that colony in the Southern Hemisphere some Egyptians and Greeks set up two thousand years ago. But why would they cover that up? What’s in it for the Ancient Egyptians, for example, who trumpeted everything (including their spectacular military failures)?

Hill’s rewriting of history is not just the reinterpretation of the pre-history of this place; if we accept Hill’s thesis we have to re-examine all history. That’s actually a problem for Hill, because then much of the ancillary evidence he uses to bolster his case becomes suspicious as well. I don’t think he wants to bite that bullet, but he kind of has to…

Only in Dargaville – To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again

Three years ago I reviewed Maxwell C. Hill’s first book, “To the Ends of the Earth”, and I proclaimed it bad. Now I am here to say that he has written a follow-up volume and it is no better. Indeed, it might well be a lot worse, in a number of different and not always interesting ways.

“To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again” is not, as I thought it was going to be, a new edition of the previous volume. Instead, it assumes the reader is not just familiar with the first edition but also accepted it’s central thesis. That thesis is the claim that Aotearoa/New Zealand was first settled by the crew of an Egyptian and Greek expedition which had tried to circumnavigate the globe. These brave navigators lived here for a time, saw some new recruits when the Egyptian government sent out a second expedition to locate them, and eventually were overrun by the brutish Māori. Hill’s evidence for this thesis was the dubious epigraphy of Barry Fell, some strange assertions based upon old maps, folk linguistic analysis, and treating mythological stories as verbatim historical accounts.

Hill’s first book was an unconvincing attempt to turn our standard histories on their head, but Hill is undaunted. His new book, 356 pages in length, printed on high quality gloss (the book must have cost a fortune to print) is a heavy tome. It would be a useful weapon in any fight which required only brute force and no intellectual discussion. It is not, however, any advance in an understanding of our history, and rather than clarifying Hill’s position, it goes some way to showing that even Hill doesn’t have a grasp on his own theory.

Possibly the weirdest thing about this book is just how upfront Hill is about his ignorance of what people are taught about the history of Aotearoa/New Zealand. A constant refrain throughout “To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again” is that what we were taught in school was wrong. Hill is fascinated by the idea that the standard story of Kupe and the Great Fleet hypothesis – the standard story taught by Pākehā in schools from the 1910s to the 1970s – was wrong. He happily points out that there is no evidence for a great fleet migration, and that the stories of Kupe and his exploits vary between iwi. However, Hill does not use as a launching platform to explore what Māori believe about their own history but, rather, as an excuse to engage in speculation about what the true history of this place might be. Yet Hill’s “true history” is one that denies Māori their status as tangata whenua because it might – just might – have been possible that other people got here first.

“To the Ends of the Earth” posited that the first people to Aotearoa/New Zealand were a mix of Egyptians and Greeks, and that the people we know of as the “Māori” came after. Hill is now convinced that the Māori arrived sometime around the 1400s, and that they came from Hawaiki, which turns out to be someone in Aotearoa.

Or they came from China; Hill has obviously recently read Gavin Menzies’ “1421: The Year China Discover the World” and is trying to shoehorn in Menzies’ thesis into his own. Some Māori, Hill initially conjectures and then later on asserts, are the product of Chinese and their Melanesian slaves coming to this land, miscegenating like nobody’s business, and then leaving some of their offspring behind.

I say “some”, because Hill now also claims that Tainui arrived in Aotearoa/New Zealand on a Spanish vessel (although he does not specifically state they are of Spanish origin; I guess the Spaniard captain might just have given them a lift…). It’s all very confusing; Māori are Chinese and Melanesian, except for those who came here by a Spanish vessel, but we have to remember that Hawaiki is actually in Aotearoa, which is where the Māori really came from. So, about 1400 we have three migrations – one from Aotearoa/New Zealand itself – which explains the origin of the Māori. Apparently.

There is no real through-line to this book; unlike “To the Ends of the Earth”, which, despite its repetitiveness, at least put forward a single theory, this sequel muddies the water with a lot of “What ifs?” Indeed, Hill has a disturbing tendency in his writing to put forward an hypothesis – say, the idea that Hawaiki might actually be in Aotearoa/New Zealand – and then later on assert that hypothesis as true and supporting evidence for some other claim or conjecture. It very much feels like “Return to the Stars”, Erich von Däniken’s sequel to “Chariots of the Gods?” (note the question mark). In “Chariots of the Gods” von Däniken posits that it might be possible that stories of the gods actually encode ancient alien visitations. In subsequent works he just asserts this as true, and then speculates even further about what really happened when aliens came on their numerous day-trips.

Hill also continues to adhere to outdated theories and now disproven hypotheses. For example, he continues to insist, despite anthropological and skeletal evidence to the contrary, that Polynesians have rocker jaws and only rocker jaws. He also holds to a finding that claimed kiore (the Polynesian rat) made it to Aotearoa a thousand years before the Māori; however, when someone tried to replicate those results, they found no such evidence.1) Then there is his insistence we take the theories of Thor Heyerdahl seriously, despite the fact they go against just about everything we know about Polynesia when it comes to a) the oral histories, b) the archaeology, and c) the population genetics.

However, it is possible that in a few, rare cases, Hill has taken onboard criticisms of his work and sought to explain away apparent inconsistencies with respect to his evidence. I had a go at both his and Barry Fell’s assertions that they could find examples of Greek and Egyptian inscriptions through Indonesia, Melanesia and Polynesia, by pointing out that these supposed inscriptions were remarkably crude; they looked like a case of “When not in Rome…” Hill now claims that these inscriptions were not made by the educated leaders of the expedition but by members of the polyglot crew that accompanied them. Which is a nice save, I suppose, although it doesn’t answer why no one other than Fell – who has no training in Ancient Egyptian or Ancient Greek – recognises these inscriptions for what they apparently really are.

Personally, I found this book both hard to read and hard to review. Hill’s standard arguments are either to say “When I was a boy I was taught this, and now they say that isn’t true!” which he then manages to turn into some claim about a conspiracy to hide Aotearoa’s true history, or he shows you an image and makes some very bold and unlikely conjectures about it. I do not go into books like thesis looking to slam them; whilst I am very sceptical that Aotearoa/New Zealand was settled first by people from northern climes, I was hoping to see some semblance of an argument which could be usefully used to highlight why people might posit an alternative history of this place. However, Hill’s entire first premise – the starting point of his argument – is merely that history isn’t what it used to be. He seems angry at the idea that people might think the Polynesians were spectacular navigators, and that people prefer new, more nuanced histories than those written some hundred years ago. This is a book which at every turn seeks to denigrate Māori by claiming their history is false and they know it! Hill is, at the very least, suffering from the institutionalised, anti-Māori views common to many Pākehā of a particular age. Then there are various claims he makes throughout the book, like “[T]he Māori brought to New Zealand a form of evil occult religion and a thirst for profound violence.” (p. 150) These proclamations of his, I would say, stand for themselves.

“Oh, but Matthew, he’s presenting evidence for an alternative history, and if that evidence is true, then he can’t be racist because it’s just facts!” is the kind of response some might make at this juncture. Sure, if there were any merit to his hypotheses, that would be some kind of comeback. But, and this is the all important “but”, Hill’s thesis is just mere speculation, based upon pieces of information which hardly deserve to get called “evidence”. History is not a game, and we do not have to give credence to just anyone who wants to engage in historical revisionism.

After all, the history of Aotearoa has been rewritten several times. Hill’s major problem is that the history he grew up accepting as fact turned out to be largely the fabrication of white men. The new history – one based upon a reappreciation of oral history, along with anthropological analysis which ended up supporting many of that history’s assertions – reframed the pre-history of Aotearoa/New Zealand in terms of the tangata whenua, the people who were actually here first. Yet Hill cannot understand or appreciate this; the story told about Māori was largely false, but he fails to recognise that this was not a story that was told by Māori. Rather, it was foisted on them and made the standard history taught to both them and Pākehā in our schooling system until very recently.

Hill’s response to learning that the Great Fleet story was a modern myth is not to blame Pākehā historians, however. No; he thinks this gives him grounds to question what Māori say about themselves. Along the way he treats myths literally and brings in a raft of pseudo-scholarship in order to claim the new orthodoxy is as questionable as the the old.

“To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again” is really just one argument: If only he could reframe the story such that the stories of the Māori were untrustworthy, then he could radically reinterpret Māori history and show that the mythological stories of the Patupairehe, Turehu, Ngati Hotu and the like reflects the history of another, non-Māori people who were here first. Yet this he cannot do; his story is both confused and ultimately self-serving. After all, he wants to deny the idea that Māori know their own history but that they have no trouble when it comes to relating, for example, the history of the Patupairehe. There is no consistency here; just the throwing of shade on our country’s indigenous people.

It is, in the end, the kind of thing we might expect to come out of Dargaville.

Notes

  1. Anderson, A (2000). Differential reliability of 14C AMS ages of Rattus exulans bone gelatin in south Pacific prehistory Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 30 (3

To the Ends of my Wits

Maxwell C. Hill’s “To the Ends of the Earth” is a book. I can say that without any fear of being charged with committing the heinous crime of hyperbole. Even though I read it as a PDF, and thus cannot make any claims as to how much use the physical copy would be as a paperweight, doorstop, table-leg stabiliser or projectile weapon, I feel fairly sure the book would be adequate with respect to these tasks. It would be an expensive object of this kind, given that the hardcopy costs fifty cents shy of sixty dollars, and thus not worth your time if you are on a budget (the electronic version, which was locked such that an honest reader could not annotate its pages, is a mere $38, which is also not a bargain).

Is “To the Ends of the Earth” worth paying money for as a book?

No. It is a terrible example of the form with respect to the two following features:

  • It is very badly written.
  • It is very badly researched.
  • With respect to the first point, imagine reading a book in which the author, every few chapters, doesn’t just remind you who, say, the great philosopher Aristotle was, but laboriously goes into the very same details you have already read about why he was important. Hill summarises Aristotle’s life several times, so as to press upon you the fact that Aristotle was sure the Earth was a globe.

    Why?

    Well, Hill wants to rewrite human history (and pre-history) and argue that not only did the ancient Greeks (and Egyptians) attempt a circumnavigation of the globe, but they also seeded the mythologies of the Pacific, taught the South Americans how to build stone polity complexes and eventually settled in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu, before being wiped out by the Moa Hunters.

    It’s quite the story.

    The book starts, like all good crank books should, with a foreword by a once respectable, now outlying celebrity-cum-academic who is in no way qualified to pass judgement over the quality of the arguments being advanced in the text. Hill chose David Bellamy, who once graced our screens as a respectable nature documentarian. These days, however, he is more famous for his claims that anthropogenic climate change is both a fraud and a conspiracy that has been foisted upon us by the Green movement1. It is perfunctory as forewords go: it really only exists to give the text a veneer of academic respectability. Although Hill goes on to cite other authors in support of his thesis, Bellamy is as good a contemporary figure as Hill can get to endorse him. The other contemporary scholarly voices whose works are cited in support to Hill’s thesis are either likely to be shocked at how their words have been interpreted or are not scholars with expertise relevant to the topic under consideration.

    Hill starts out well enough: the initial chapters are divided between sections labelled “Facts” and sections labelled “Theory,” and, for the most part (well, the first page or two), he doesn’t start out mixing the two. There are some odd inferences to be sure: Hill makes sure to give a nod to the Celtic New Zealand Thesis (as espoused by Martin Doutré) early in chapter one, when he suggests that a Ptolemaic crew setting out to circumnavigate the globe might have included some Celts, but within a few pages Hill moves from accepted facts to grand inferences based upon suppositions. Within the space of a page the suggested attempt at a Greek circumnavigation, ordered by Ptolemy II, becomes this convoluted theory:

    Very likely this fleet sailed directly from the city of Alexandria as in Ptolemy’s time access to the Red Sea had been made possible with the completion of a Red Sea Canal first begun in the time of Neko II who came to rule Egypt in 610BC.

    From the Red Sea Ptolemy’s voyagers would have had to cross the Indian Ocean, landing in India. Like other sailors on very early voyages such as the ancient Egyptians, the Greeks would make frequent landings to take on fresh supplies. In time this fleet would have had to enter the Pacific Ocean to complete the round-the-globe circuit, and it is speculated that one or more of these ships headed south finding its way to New Zealand.

    He has no hard evidence for this but he doesn’t mark it out as supposition; this is to be taken as true and historical.

    Like many amateur historians, Hill subscribes (either out of ignorance or convenience)
    to older, out-of-date theories to substantiate his radical claims, borrowing them from fields like Sociology and Anthropology.

    For example, Hill subscribes to the notion that Polynesians, uniquely, have what is called a “rocker jaw,” (p. xviii) so the presence of skulls in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu (New Zealand) without rocker jaws, pre-Tasman, is taken to be good evidence that there was an unrecorded population of Caucasians living here before Tasman’s “discovery” of this place.

    The problem with this story is that even if we grant that Polynesians do display rocker jaws with more frequency than Caucasians, it isn’t the case that:

    a) all Māori, pre-contact, had rocker jaws and
    b) that Caucasians did not have rocker jaws pre-contact (and miscegenation) with Polynesians.

    This kind of antiquated anthropology, with its dubious reliance on morphology, just gets asserted by people like Hill (and Doutré, who makes similarly claims about Polynesian morphology), as if it was true, is true and will forever be true. However, it’s not a currently accepted theory (indeed, it’s a long debunked one) and so the “evidence” Hill presents, so to speak, ends up not giving much, if any, support to his theory because his evidence is both inconsistent with the larger set of historical evidence about human history and pre-history and, because he seems unaware of such debates, shows up his research as being highly selective.

    Hill also has a thing for skin tones in ancient artwork, specifically the use of different colours to distinguish peoples. With reference to examples of Mesoamerican art (p. xviii) Hill takes it that the characters portrayed with fairer skin tones are obviously Caucasians, and are portrayed in contrast to the darker tones of the local population. He fails to consider that the different skin tones used in such paintings were used to show the difference between one group and another, and not to suggest ethnicity or coloured “otherness.”

    You might also ask “Why white?” The notion of whiteness, as an ethnic identifier, is a modern invention and it makes no sense in a Mesoamerican context. “White” people are not actually white: at best they are a gentle to ruddy pink (with orange hues) and identifying Causcasians as “fair skinned” is not necessarily an association people would have had in earlier times.

    The failure to consider other hypotheses, ones which might not actually suit his thesis, is endemic to Hill’s thinking, and the book is filled with examples. Still, consider the additional horror of finding out that something the author explained only a few pages earlier was going to be explained to you in some detail again. Hill, it seems, wants to press upon his readers just how important the Athenian-resident philosopher Aristotle was, because he details Aristotle’s life and achievements three times throughout “To the Ends of the Earth,” never really adding any additional details but, rather, rewriting his previous attempts.

    This constant restatement has a curious effect in that Hill ends up merely adopting the theories of others without saying anything interesting or new. He lifts the theories of Thor Heyerdahl into his Greek/Egyptian story of circumnavigation, adding in just a little more causal racism, writing:

    There they built the huge stone monuments that exist to this day and lived in peaceuntil around 300AD. Then, for some reason the then leader of these people took what remained of his people back to the Pacific where they landed on Easter Island.

    Yet, much later in his book, when one of Hill’s collaborators pours scorn on Heyerdahl’s theory Hill either doesn’t see the discrepancy or doesn’t care.

    Another major plank of Hill’s argument, such as it is, is linguistic similarity. He is hung up on the word “Ra,” which occurs both in ancient Egyptian and the Austronesian language family with roughly the same meaning (p. xix). Hill portrays this as a “Gotcha!” moment, a piece of irrefutable evidence that links one culture to another (or, more specifically, shows that one culture influenced the other). Hill believes that “Ra” can only be common to both language groups if someone introduced it to the other (and he points his finger at the famous Greek and Egyptian navigators, Maui and Rata). Yet, there is another possibility, one that, once again, Hill either ignores or fails to think of. What if the word “Ra” only coincidently means the same thing?

    He has other examples, like this:

    Bryan Dillion, a recognized man in salvages and ship wrecks in the United Kingdom and overseashad been involved for many years researching and locating old ships. He told Noel Hilliam the original name for the Red Sea Canal was; “Hav–iki”. Is this “Haviki” the origin of the widely used Polynesian words “Hawaii”, “Hawaiki”, etc? (p. 6)

    Aside from the fact that this similarity is a stretch, it also raises the question of “Why? Why name Hawaiki after a canal?” This seems like a desperate attempt to find evidence that supports a claim of linguistic similarity rather than evidence of such similarity.

    Linguistic similarities between two or more languages are only interesting if there are lots of items in common. You can’t just point at a few key words and go “Aha!” like Alan Partridge. You need to show that there are lots of “Aha!” moments which indicate that one language has influenced the other. Otherwise, given the complexity of languages and the very limited set of sounds humans are able to make, it’s kind of expected that some words2, in otherwise distinct languages, will be the same. Indeed, without some good comparative linguistics at hand to sort through the perceived similarities and differences, it’s hard to take Hill seriously (which goes back, once again, to my point about his use of what seem to be outdated or folk theories: only academics like me, with a general knowledge, are going to take the time to address this material. Most specialists won’t bother, and, in cases like these3, I wouldn’t really blame them.

    When it comes to seeing similarities, however, Hill wins awards for his interpretative map-reading.

    Max Hill’s argument about the failed circumnavigation of the world by the ancient Greek and Egyptians ends up being a very complex story indeed. The Greek and Egyptian duo of Maui and Rata (classic Greek and Egyptian names, aren’t they?) never quite completed their journey. Their two years in the Pacific: immortalised in the myths of the Pacific peoples. Their arrival and settlement in South America: the beginning of civilisation in that part of the world. But, because they set out and never returned, their story could not be told unless a second expedition was sent out, near two centuries later, to find out what happened to the first. By this time the descendants of Maui and Rata’s crew had fled South America to Rapa Nui and, from there, into the rest of Polynesia. When the second crew finally caught up with their cousins, they told them quite a story, one which was then taken back to Alexandria and put into the records of the Great Library there.

    How do we know this? Well, most of the details are pure conjecture on the part of Hill, but he does point towards a series of maps based upon the work of Claudius Ptolemy.

    Hill’s argument as to why a series of 16th Century maps show that Claudius Ptolemy knew (but was mistaken about the shape) of Australia is quite long and relies a lot on restatement. He does this a lot. Imagine the horror, every few chapters, of being reminded of who, say, the great philosopher Aristotle was. Hill summarises Aristotle’s life at least twice times so, it seems, to press upon the reader just how important the Athenian-resident philosopher Aristotle was. Yet Hill’s coverage does not add much to the telling of his story. Yes, Aristotle would have believed the Earth to be a sphere (a perfect one at that) but just because Aristotle believed such a thing, this in no way tells us that a circumnavigation of the world was attempted by those Greeks in ancient times.

    Hill’s constant harking back to Aristotle is about providing opportunity and motive: if a great figure like Aristotle believed the Earth was round, surely lesser figures would have sought to prove it.

    One of these figures is the aforementioned Claudius Ptolemy. The work of this Ptolemy is so important that Hill feels the need to go over it not once, not twice, but three times, ballooning the book from a tedious volume to a truly frustrating epic. According to Hill, Claudius Ptolemy’s maps surfaced in the 16th Century and were folded and were subsequently incorporated into the maps of the day. I reproduce some of them below, with Hill’s highlighting of the remarkable presence of the continent we now know of as Australia. As you will see, the resemblance is remarkable.

    Astounding images of Australia, aren’t they. The little nodule to the side, New Zealand: uncanny.

    If you want an example of looking for evidence and finding it, this is it. At best, Hill has an argument for map-makers putting in land masses where land masses will turn out to be (even though they get the shape wrong). His argument that it is Australia (and a bit of Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu) even goes against his own argument about other badly drawn maps (notably on page 14).

    Hill’s argument rests upon the map claim: I think he realises that his other arguments, those based on folk comparative linguistics, petroglyphs and the like are subject to some debate but who would argue with a map? If you could show that the ancient Greeks knew of Australia… Well, suddenly all your intellectual fancies about a pre-Māori culture in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu might look plausible.

    Wouldn’t they?

    Well, no. Aside from the issues of whether the maps show such land masses as Australia, even of Hill’s claims were true, this would not tell us much about whether these Greek and Egyptian “discoverers” were also “settlers.” Tasman “discovered” New Zealand but did not settle it.

    Discovery does not entail that someone is going to be living there shortly.

    Still, at times like this, people like Hill, and Doutré, and Brailsford et al, will then point towards Māori oral history and cite the stories of the Patupaiarehe and the Tūrehu, the first peoples of this place, as evidence of a pre-Māori culture. Note that this ends up being a weird double standard in the work of people like Hill, Doutré et al, because they are normally quite dismissive of any oral account of Māori origin but will happily believe any such account that suggests Māori were not here first.

    Still, the stories of the Patupaiarehe and Tūrehu are an acknowledged part of Māori lore and these people were said to be here first. What gives?

    Without wanting to rehash earlier posts upon the subject, the Patupaiarehe and Tūrehu play the role of the fey folk in such cultures as the Irish, the English and so forth. In these cultures there are “first peoples” who are spiritual, rather than physical creatures and whose role is both to guide and to warn the current generation who to live in and respect the land.

    Hill is not content to just cite the existence of the Patupaiarehe and the Tūrehu as pre-dating the Māori: he also challenges the Great Fleet narrative of the arrival of the Māori in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu. What’s interesting about this aspect of his argument is that he’s dealing with an out-of-date hypothesis about the migration of Pacific peoples to New Zealand. The notion of a Great Fleet is a nice story but the evidence indicates that the settlement of this place by the people who would become the Māori took place over a lengthy period of time (which also makes sense of some of the oral history, where we have cases of waka arrive in a place, only to find their family members were already there).

    There are a lot of arguments in Hill’s book that I do not have the time to delve into. Hill and Gary Cook’s use of Barry Fell’s “translations” of Polynesia petroglyphs as evidence of the Greek/Egyptian journey is certainly interesting (in a “stretching credibility”) kind of way, but it would make this overly lengthy review a much more tedious read, as would fulminating against Hill’s claim that the Moriori are not Māori (let alone the claims of one “Moriori Chief Philip Ranga”). Add in Barry Brailsford’s work on the Waitaha people (which confuses an actual iwi with a mythic one whose imperium reached the shores of South America), claims about comparative artwork from distant cultures, and you have a book which is packed to the brim with… “intellectual fancies” is the best term I can think of here.

    People have read “To the Ends of the Earth” and been convinced of. Many more will read it and find it perfectly acceptable. Historical, even. It will prove to be a problematic book: read by a lot of people and used as proof someone other than the Māori got here first and that the reason why this isn’t common knowledge is a conspiracy of silence by the governments of the day, the academic historians, the judiciary and people like me. For some it is simply a book which contains the evidence they have been looking for. For others, it will become evidence for their view because they don’t understand it’s shortcomings.

    I can sort of (sort of) understand why people find books like this persuasive. Whether Hill knows this or not, providing lots of disparate arguments in support of your thesis, regardless of whether they are plausible or implausible, is a good way to get people on side. On a surface level, it looks like there is a good case for Hill’s thesis of a Greek/Egyptian attempted circumnavigation of the globe, leading to the pre-Māori settlement of Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu. Certainly, if you thought Hill was wrong, you would have to go through and debunk a lot of arguments, arguments which rest on references and facts et al. Add in the fact that this book will be derided by serious academics, who, in many cases, won’t even read it before passing comment on it4 and you can see that the “average New Zealander,” who distrusts educated, ivory-tower folk, are going to say “Finally, a book which speaks truth to power!”5

    The thing is that “To the Ends of the Earth” rests upon bad arguments, misinterpreted evidence, out-moded theories: most of the debunking of it already exists in the peer-reviewed literature. Hill’s book, though, is the history people think is true and the history some people think is being kept from us. You can lob King and Belich at these people, and it likely won’t change their minds, because books like these have, as their audience, people who seek confirmation of their view that, in some way, they aren’t as privileged as the rest of society makes them out to be.

    Also: Did I mention ARISTOTLE?

    Notes

    1. Hill refers to Bellamy’s arguments about anthropogenic climate change as: “a factual and scientific landmark.” (p. xv) Hill says this about a lot of people and their fringe theories.
    2. “Words” isn’t exactly the best term to use here, but the general point is good, even if the terminology I am using is inexact.
    3. There are lots of cases where I would blame them. This is just not one of them.
    4. And this happens: Prof. Margaret Mutu (whose work I quite like) didn’t read Dr. Paul Moon’s “This Horrid Practice” before passing comment on it in the media. Moon is a proper historian: imagine how such academics are going to treat Hill.
    5. They aren’t really going to say that, exactly, but you get my point.