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Old Apr 7, 2007, 01:35 PM   #1
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Deks, fakes, and truth-testing

Arthur Brand as everyone here no doubt knows is making yet another wild claim about yet another high-visibility coin offered by yet another big-name dealer. The most interesting issue here, at least in my mind, isn't Brand doing his CFDLesque loonytunes condemnations or his previous boasts of how he is going to "take down" various coin dealers and auction houses. It's how do we determine what's true and what's not.

There's an old and wise maxim that goes, "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof."

Platitudes aside, people like Arthur Brand and Alan Van Arsdale aren't believed and are regarded as they are because they make extraordinary claims while providing proof that ranges from paltry to nonexistent to schizoid.

When Van Arsdsale says that numismatic criminals control the IAPN, that's extraordinary. When Brand condemns as fake or looted each of the three Athenian dekadrachms that have reached the market lately, that's extraordinary. Yet there's nothing extraordinary offered to buttress these claims, and nothing even credible.

Along with looking at proof or the lack of it, another important tool in truth testing is analyzing motives. Is the person saying what he is because of ulterior motives? Does he enjoy the adolescent thuggery of going after "big shots"? Is he trying to promote his own coin business in a twisted way by trying to cast doubt on the authenticity expertise of everyone else? Actions help in analyzing motives, such as Van Arsdale saying he has planted forgeries in the coin market as a way of testing other dealers. No right-thinking person would do this for the blatantly obvious reason that innocents are hurt by it, collectors who wind up with fakes they thought were authentic.

One final truth-testing tool is analyzing how people making extraordinary claims act when those claims are challenged or criticized or how they act when the process through which they make those claims is challenged or criticized. In CFDL, people like Brand are given free reign to try to knock down others, but if you disagree with or criticize or correct the Cliff Laubsteins, you're called names, you're threatened, you're shouted down, or you're not permitted to respond at all. People confident in what they say and their basis for saying it, their proof, welcome dissenting views. Debate can be an effective way to arrive at or support truth. On the other hand, people trying to hide from the truth, because of ulterior motives or because they don't have confidence in what they say, censor others.

Is this current Athenian dek false? I don't know, personally. It would be really interesting if it were false, a little sad, but interesting nontheless. But Brand has to, well, show us the money. Provide the proof. Not just ape words that others have planted on him.
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