Call Coco picky if you will but the COP26 globe which has been chosen by many to illustrate the opening of the summit looks as if someone has tried to wrap Mercator’s projection of the globe back onto a globe. This is truly flat earth thinking, however not quite so bad as the hexagonal football of British road sign infamy. Coming back to the COP26 globe, Coco does wonder how the young man at the front managed to get his head in front of the globe which is being held by a hand in front of him, and what is on the other side of the globe. Is the Pacific really that big?

More astonishingly even, the image came from Getty images. What else might one find there, a picture of Celenites perhaps?


Why academia is offensive – when difficult questions offend

The BBC article here set Coco wondering. First of all why the inhabitants of Britain have never had an apology from the Danes for the way they treated them a mere 1500 years or so ago when they repeatedly invaded those islands and badly treated the natives. Or perhaps it might be better to ask the French, though perhaps they would claim that the invaders were not in fact French, for an apology for the harrying of the North after the Norman conquest, which is very much closer to the present time than the Danish incursions. But an apology cannot expected for both, as it was the united English and Danes who suffered under the Norman [mis]treatment. So, rather than expect an apology Coco turned his head to a question instead, which is intended to provoke an active, careful, critical discussion of both sides of the argument.

Here there is an invading people who wish to inhabit peacefully the land which they have ‘inherited’, though there was some doubt at the time concerning the claim to the inheritance, and the people were unwilling to co-operate in their subjugation. The question is first of all a setting out of facts, presenting some interesting descriptions of the events and some opposing opinions on the matter and asking the student to weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments and the opportunities and threats that faced the opposing parties.

To what extent do you believe that the treatment of the native British has been exaggerated?

Now, in the context of the question it may be clear what is meant, but the context is a little lacking here so let Coco state the question again, this time in full:

To what extent do you believe that the treatment of the British people by the Norman French after the invasion of 1066 in particular during the period known as the harrying of the North has been exaggerated?

Are you offended by the question? Does the question trouble you? Coco thinks it is an excellent question, if it were not for some linguistic bungles, to provoke in the student the best use of his critical skills to present the arguments for and against the proposition that there has been exaggeration, to produce an analysis and critique of the arguments from both sides and to hone his skills of debate and argument.

Coco recalls one of his English teachers once explaining to the class how important it was in a debate to understand the other side. He went so far as to say that if you cannot accurately and faithfully represent the position with which you disagree, then you cannot argue against it. He meant of course you cannot successfully argue against it.

Now concerning the linguistic bungles, whilst they may give the less diligent student cause for celebration, it is obvious that they are bungles and the diligent student will not rely upon finding a loophole in the question in order to avoid the trouble of answering it in the proper manner.

So firstly, the question is badly phrased as it is a question that does not beg a reasoned argument but merely an expression of opinion ‘What do you believe?‘, but in the context of the use of the weighing scales it is very evident that the examiner is expecting a presentation of the arguments for and against the proposition that there has been exaggeration and to produce an analysis and critique of the arguments from both sides, but he did not ask for it.

‘I believe that there has been exaggeration to the extent of deliberate outright lies.’ is as valid an answer as ‘I believe that there has been no exaggeration in any of the reports’, for both are correct. They tell us what the student believes, but neither answer is that for which the examiner is looking.

Secondly, the question asks: Has the treatment of the natives been exaggerated? Surely it should be asking about the reporting of the treatment. The treatment itself does not have a quality which can be qualified by exaggerate, but the reporting of the treatment does. Of course the treatment does have the qualities of goodness and badness, which brings me to the third objection.

Thirdly, the original question is ambiguous. Is the reference to treatment here a reference to the good things that were done for the native Americans (David Brainerd, albeit in a much earlier day than under consideration here, did much good among the natives of New England), or to the bad things? The question does not ask about the mistreatment of the natives.

It seems to me that the ambiguity of the question is deliberate, so that the student is left unsure which side of the arguments may have been exaggerated, if any. In this context although the ambiguity is a weakness in the question, it will make the answers more interesting and provide greater scope and freedom for the student when preparing his answer.

So then to correct his question further Coco needs to ask:

To what extent has the reporting of the treatment of the British people by the Norman French after the invasion of 1066 in particular during the period known as the harrying of the North been exaggerated? In your answer you should provide a critique of the available reports, and a reasoned argument leading to and supporting your conclusions.

The words after the question should strictly be taken as read by our hypothetical student, but they are included here for the avoidance of doubt.

Coco considers this to be a good and valid question, a legitimate question, which should provide significant opportunity for an A-level student to demonstrate his analytical, debating and logical skills to the examiner regardless of whether either the student and the examiner actually agree with the conclusion drawn in the answer.

So then, why is the question, in a given context:

To what extent do you believe that the treatment of the native Americans has been exaggerated?

not an acceptable question to ask?

As Coco has set out above, there are linguistic problems with the question, but these do not detract from the usefulness of the question for the instruction of students, as the meaning of the question and the kind of answer that the student is expected to give can be clearly seen from the context in which the question is asked. Apparently there were some who did find reason to complain. It seems to Coco that the complaint was ill-founded and unnecessary. Whilst the wording of the question may leave a little to be desired, the question itself is quite valid.

Finally, the question will be asked of course, and if it is not answered and debated in a public forum, then it will go underground and be answered without any peer review, and probably be answered badly.

And post-ultimately, Coco mentioned David Brainerd. He worked tirelessly among the native Americans to show them their worth, to show them that they had inestimable worth in the sight of the one true God who gave his Son for them as a propitiation for their sins, and not for theirs only but for the whole world. In his short life he saw many come to faith, abandoning the false gods and idols which had previously enslaved them and finding freedom in Jesus Christ.

With apologies in advance for errors of syntax, orthography and grammar which may be found embedded in this document whether arising from oversight, incorrect application of language packs or generally any other misadventure; and in general for any offence given inadvertently or inappropriately or both taken or not taken by those whose sensibilities, whether grammatical, orthographical, moral or simply personable, have been offended whether, not or if you have not incorrectly misunderstood the content, intent, meaning and purpose of this article, and to those whose copyrights may have been inadvertently or wantonly infringed, but never as to cause damage the copy holder’s rights, and, if you have managed to read this far, for any errors or omissions whether wilful, unintended, innocent or deliberate in the content of this polemic, and with thanks to you who have made it thus far for your patience.

Stereo typing

In the eyes of the ARC and others It is impossible to get it right. If you choose the image of a white man you can be accused of racial bias, if you choose the image of a black man you can be accused of racial bias. If you choose the image of an oriental you can be accused of bias even if the image is of the person you are actually representing. What are we to choose when we want to depict a man doing something? Coco was going to suggest that we use a monkey instead, but then, if the experience of Hartlepool is anything to go by, we shall only end up annoying the French even more than they are already. I suppose someone will consider that to be racist too. Hey-ho, Boney was a warrye, way, aye, yah. A warrye and terrye, John France, wah!

But at the end of the day who got the best job?

With thanks to Wikipedia (and the East India Company 1832).

Was the artist our friend James Gilray – but it lacks colour?

Original article at this cleverly disguised URN [] sorry for black drug dealer image in appeal leaflet: They said it accepted it used a poor choice of image in the leaflet.

One wonders what choice of image would have been acceptable.