Real archaeologists without an agenda have acknowledged for some time that amateur metal detectorists do little real damage to the archaeological record. Archaeologists are few; so where they end up digging is limited. And when they dig, they don't typically record and preserve what is located in the top layers of the ground anyway. Rather, they dig right through to concentrate on archaeological strata of interest and end up just dumping the top layers they excavate, with little, if any study of what it may contain. Sure, sometimes archaeologists conduct "surface surveys," but amateur metal detectorists have added far more to the archaeological record under the the PAS and Treasure Act. Because of their hard work, archaeologists in England and Wales have become aware of promising sites which otherwise would have gone unnoticed. A win-win for anyone who loves history.
So, why does an archaeo-blogger in far off Poland go on and on about the evils of metal detecting, even where finders properly record the artifacts they find under the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act? And why do American archaeologists who depend on nationalistic foreign cultural bureaucracies to provide them with excavation permits go on and on about the same issue in order to justify import controls on common collectors' coins of the sort widely and legally collected here and abroad? Is it about conservation or is it really about control?