We get mail

Paul Chiasson’s contribution to Menzies’ thesis has been getting press again. Though it’s been pretty thoroughly rejected by knowledgable academics — that’s studied and debunked, for those of you who don’t understand the academic process —

What is hard to understand is why, if there are what look like grave mounds on Cape Dauphin, they haven’t been excavated, and any human remains subjected to mitochondrial DNA analysis. Results of this kind of scientific investigation would then take over from mud-slinging on the Internet, such as the accusation that Library and Archives Canada, in cataloguing this book as history rather than fiction, is merely advancing “a publisher’s plans to deceive the public” (maritimeasia.ws/topic/1421bunkum.html).

I got an email earlier today following up on this:

From: Andrew Sark
Sent: Wednesday, May 30, 2007 12:11 pm
To: Jonathan Dresner
Subject: Chinese in Cape Breton

Dear Mr. Dresner,

Greetings from the North. I am Andrew Sark of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. I have recently come across your response to an article on the Internet “http://www.froginawell.net/china/2006/05/satire-self-parody-and-court-jesters/” I would like to share information regarding this site and possibly contribute to your University and studies with a co-authored study on the area.

I am a Mi’kmaq man, father of one son, adventurer and explorer. The Cape Dauphin area has always offered inspiration and awe, mystery and a sense of quest. I have lead many groups of people into the cave area, known to the Mi’kmaq as Kluscap’s Caves.

The notion that Chinese were here is usually disputed by local Mi’kmaq but with no academic proof. I would like to explore the ruins, investigate from every angle and offer a more precise and non-bias interpretation of the area.

If you are interested in helping me, please forward any information to my email including pictures of the area.


Andrew Sark
Cape Breton, NS-C

Mr. Sark appears to be an educator with the Cape Breton University Integrative Science Program, “which bring[s] together conventional western science knowledge and understandings from the holistic world views of Aboriginal peoples, especially the Mi’kmaq First Nations of Atlantic Canada,” particularly the Sunflower project. Mr. Sark seems to be supportive of the Chiasson/Menzies thesis, at least in the abstract, which is kind of interesting: he’s a Mi’kmaq himself, and part of a project trying to integrate conventional and indigenous ideas about ecology and investigative science, but he seems to be very doubtful about the Mi’kmaq rejection of the thesis. Mr. Sark also doesn’t seem to have read my post too closely, because what it contains is David Goodman’s viciously funny and effective review of Chiasson’s book from a full year ago.

It seems odd that there’s been nothing new in a whole year. Maybe this Menzies thing is dying down after all? Would excavations and DNA testing actually put this to rest, or would the absence of evidence be explained away by its partisans? Should we be wasting energy actually studying this stuff? (No comment on whether blogging it is also a waste of time: as long as newspapers keep printing it, we’ll have to keep reminding people of how ill-founded the whole discussion is).

Well, it’s not my field, but anyone who really, really wants to “contribute to your University and studies with a co-authored study” is welcome to contact Mr. Sark.

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