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V12 2009 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 45, November 8, 2009, Article 14

AMATEURS, PSEUDOSCHOLARSHIP AND NUMISMATIC WORKS

I had great fun last week publishing excerpts from an article decrying "pseudoscholarship". It made some valid points about how research mistakes are made and promulgated, but I knew the remarks about "amateurs" would raise a few hackles among our readers. -Editor

I would not like to sit in the chair of an amateur dentist. Politicians will not finance investigations by amateur nuclear physicists. But when an amateur historian writes a book, no one objects.

Professionalism matters. Much false knowledge will become obsolete once people start to realize that "amateur historian" or "self-taught historian" are just other words for "deficiently trained".

Leon Saryan forwarded this note with the subject line, "I have a problem with this from tonight's newsletter" -

So I thought, OK, this guy thinks that autodidacts are lowlifes, lets see how accurate HIS history is. So I drilled down to the section on Armenia, where I saw three coins illustrated, one of which purports to show a "colt", the second of which purports to be a genuine Tigranes, and the third of which purports to be a gold of Trajan. The "colt" coin could easily be a horse, a donkey, or a mule, the Tigranes might or might not be genuine, and the final coin is definitely not a gold coin of Trajan. I am not much impressed!

George Kolbe (as always) summed things up quite nicely and succinctly:

Many standard, long enduring, "scholarly" numismatic works have been written by "amateurs"; some poor ones have been written by "professionals."

Either you get it right or you do not. That is all that matters.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ANCIENT HISTORY AND PSEUDOSCHOLARSHIP (http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n44a22.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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