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Colgaffneyis: You were warned.
Glenn clann pike
DV is a prominent member of colgaffneyis who knows a lot of 17th century history, but not nearly as much as he thinks he does. He also has been known to promote some really goofy ideas about history, notably the one I debunked here. The sad part is that he rarely gets called on this sort of thing. He goes on and on promoting misinformation, which other members take at face value and then repeat to the public.

Go back to February 2007. There was a discussion on colgaffneyis e-mail about who wore Highland dress in the early 1600's. He wrote (colgaffneyis members can follow the links):
Many of them [Highland Clan chiefs] were appointed by the crown (not the clan - a policy begun by James VI), were absentee landlords usually living in London, and sometimes were not even related to the families they led by our period.
To which I replied:
Examples, please. I am tired of argument by blatant assertion. I cannot think of any case of a _chief_ appointed by the crown. Certainly all the Campbell, MacLeod and MacDonald chiefs were Gaels. I cannot think of any Highland Chief of our period who fits this distinction. "Highland Chief" by definition refers to the Gaelic social structure. James VI certainly worked hard to assert crown control of the highlands, but he had no respect for Highland titles. His policy was to insist (with varying degrees of success) that the chiefs get normal Scottish grants and titles for their land. But their status as _chief_ came from their Gaelic role.
He never provided an example, or any documentation suggesting one. I then wrote:
I am thoroughly sick of members who suggest ...[something] without specific evidence and without dealing with the examples ... cited [to the contrary]. I will challenge these assertions whenever I see and hear them (subject to the restriction of not doing so in front of the public at events). I will furthermore be keeping a "pig-headedness" scorecard of repeat offenders.

Down with blatant assertion! Up with Evidence!
So over the weekend we were at colgaffneyis show in Perham, Minnesota. Over lunch this member repeated this same nonsense about King James appointing Highland Chiefs. I again challenged him to name one. He could not. He just repeated his assertion. I repeated my demand for evidence. He apparently did not, again, think this was worthy of reply. So I got up from the table and walked out. Note that this was a private lunch conversation. It was not a presentation to the public.

I did not stay out long. I came back after a few minutes and apologized to colgaffneyis President. She is a good friend, and by opening my mouth I had made her job much harder.

I am still quite upset about this. I do not like making a scene, but I don't see what else I could have done. DV pretends to be a scholar, but he will not provide scholarly evidence when challenged. He acts like scholarly standards of accountability do not apply to him.

I am once again frustrated by how some members of colgaffneyis are uninterested in learning anything that contradicts the received traditions of the 1990's. I would not mind discussing, even arguing, issues with them. Being ignored is a far worse insult.

Besides, I grew up in an academic family. I understand evidence and have standards of accuracy. I do not want to be associated with nonsense. rhymeswithghoti once told me a lot of professional historians do not take reenactors seriously. As time passes, I am beginning to understand why.

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I hope the Clann Manual still has a statement in the intro that it is a "living document" that will continue to grow and be corrected

I may be pushin' 50, but I'm pretty sure I remember writing something to that effect in the introduction when I worked on it. It was one of the concepts I hoped would inspire continued research and improvement. (Considering how little help I got with it at the time, I sure hoped and expected my work would be updated and corrected as we learned new information.)

"I hope the Clann Manual still has a statement in the intro that it is a "living document" that will continue to grow and be corrected."

Yes, Sir, Mr. Knutson, thank you, that phrase is still there and is frequently cited by those who are interested in pursuing further research. And thank you for the foundation research that you put into it!

Woohoo I'm still leading minds to the "dark" side! -Follow us, we have cookies!

Bless you, Glenn. I have become more and more disenchanted because of the rampant lack of keeping a historical camp, providing good research, and all and all *acting* like professionals. To the point that I'm seriously considering cutting waaay back next season. I don't go to Clann for a weekend outing - I go to help people understand history as it might have been (I wasn't there, I can't say for sure,) and to increase an interest for outsiders. Recruitment is always in the back of my mind, but I would prefer to entice people with the opportunity to portray life in another era rather that "let's go play with toys".

OK - rant over. But this has been bugging me for a while. Maybe I do need a break.

Break taking is a very good thing, from time to time. I took one myself, a few years ago, when I had no time for anything but making bills work and, honestly, it was nice. It allowed me to come back refreshed and renewed.

Having said that, I sure would miss seeing you in camp.

Or at least you need to see your concerns addressed. I suppose we each have our own little list. I don't like seeing people spin with modern space-dyed rovings; they are totally lovely and I use them myself out of camp, but again, not historically correct. What are some of your particular concerns?

Hugs, and we would miss you!!!

I actually had someone thank me at Pioneer Village for staying in character during a conversation (though to this day I'm not sure if he was being serious or sarcastic--I'll opt for the former!). I think it was the longest I'd ever done so, and I was quite satisfied with myself. However, I've discovered it is harder when they're asking you personal questions ("Where are you from?" for example; an answer of "Aberdeen" nets the follow up, "Oh, you're actually from Scotland?" When what they meant was "are you from the local area?" or "where is your group based?") I also find it easier to stay in character with children as patrons, because I'm so used to dealing with them and making up stories about my life to camp kids who aren't supposed to know your personal information lest they decide to "look you up" when they get home.

Maybe letting them think we're actually from Aberdeen/Loch Awe/Inbhir Nis/etc will lend more to the mystique?

Oh, boy. Thank you for standing up to Mr. V and asking for sources. We really should have sources for what we are saying to the public. "Everybody knows..." and "We believe that...." are not good enough and Mr. V should have sources for what he says.

I'm sure you did not make a total scene, but not having been there, I really can't say. One way or the other, it will be dealt with and the organization will continue on.

Can you believe he had the total brass to ask that *Glenn* be censured, after the history cited above (which, of course, I must admit he doesn't remember, because that would open the possibility that he was, like *wrong.*)

Coming up in "As the stomach turns"

My defense, if it comes to that, is that acting like a pompous fraud and a verbal bully is itself conduct severely detrimental to Clann and cannot be tolerated. The e-mail record cited above shows that I had tried unsuccessfully to settle this peacefully.

Edited at 2008-08-21 01:02 pm (UTC)

Re: Coming up in "As the stomach turns"

My dear, your position requires no defence at all. The defence for yelling is that you were provoked beyond all bearing, and in a severe state of, umm, *stress*.

I try not to say anything I haven't read solid evidence for, but every once in awhile I slip. I do my best to correct myself when I either think something inaccurate or say something that I know to be a half-truth.

However, I would hope that I would be gently corrected (as you and others have in the past) when I make a mistake audible to those in charge. I quickly make note of error corrections and it is easier to change my thinking accordingly.

I also keep notes on things I research. However, as backseatgaffer can attest, unless I have those notes readily in hand, I do tend to forget things. I would have been the epitome of the "absent-minded professor." It is frustrating to me since I seem to have lost more memory capacity. It's the one thing that ticks me off about getting to middle age. I learned quickly to say "I don't know...that's something I would have to research a bit" or to pass someone off to someone else who probably knows more about it. Even then, when under duress, I sometimes forget that. ;)

However, there is no excuse for not having evidence for one's assertions. It is one thing to forget; it is another to pretend it exists when it does not. If we are trying to portray something historically accurate, we must have the evidence to back it up. This, I assume, is why we are expected to do a research paper on our area of expertise. I am going to consult the books I have on Scotland to see what I can find on the matter ("look it up yourself" is my mantra very often), just for my own benefit. Not that I'm saying anyone is right or wrong, but my curiosity has been piqued and I "must know now." :)

And Maeve is correct about professional historians' disdain for reenactors (ren faires are a special source of consternation, and quite understandably so)...however, I have met a professional historian who is a reenactor, a voyageur from Saginaw Valley State who was in the midst of recreating the voyage from Quebec to Duluth. (I wonder how they got through the Soo Locks...) However, those at the lower levels of academia and at the secondary education level tend to appreciate them more. This is why we have "school days."

I would like to see the "historical camp" return. All I need to do is find out what I can do to help it along.

I'm of the same mind. (I started an e-mail to the members' list to that effect in response to the "don't utter corrections in public" reminder after Barron County, but decided it wasn't the right time or place.) I regard my presentations to the public as a conversation, not a lecture. If I say something flat-out incorrect, I WANT it to be corrected and the record set straight. If what's at issue is a difference in interpretation, a modest amount of give-and-take on the topic is interesting for the audience. It's probably easier to observe a complete prohibition on kibitzing than to monitor whether we've said enough and should stop for now, but I'm in favor of the latter.

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