Talk:E. Lee Spence

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Note that User:Dr. E. Lee Spence signs as "HunleyFinder". Quarl (talk) 2007-03-07 04:42Z

The Wiki note is correct, this page is autobiographical. I would actually prefer it not to be. I have tons of documentation and will start assembling and adding the sources for everything stated on this page. I had based the tone and format on what I had seen on some other pages but I now see they have also been updated to conform to policy. I have reread the guidelines about bias and neutral statements and will be removing the fluff. I am sincerely sorry, HunleyFinder 15:39, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

I have been neutralizing this article and even added info on the controversy over my Hunley discovery and Clive Cussler's competing claims. I have added and will continue to add references, etc. If no one objects in the next few days, I would like to remove the Wiki autobiography note as it is no longer what I would write about myself and is accurate and before I remove the note it will be fully referenced.HunleyFinder 00:02, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

I still have concerns about the level of autobiographical self-aggrandizement in this article. I'm not sure what you mean by "it is no longer what I would write about myself." I mean, it is what you've written about yourself. janejellyroll 23:56, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

For one thing, I would not have said anything positive about Cussler's claim as I know all of the facts. There are other ways that I would describe me and my history if I was not trying to be neutral. Both this and the way I would have written it if there were no rules to follow would be true, but I have written this trying my best to be neutral and non-controversial. I really would appreciate your input. I don't know what is appropriate to mention and what isn't. I am 59 years old. I have been written up in over a thousand periodicals around the world, starting when I was a teenager. I have won awards, saved over a dozen lives, headed million dollar expeditions, and discovered literally hundreds of shipwrecks. South Carolina's law protecting shipwrecks was passed due to my initiative and efforts, as was the law in Providencia, Colombia. I have testified before the Florida Senate and I have submitted written testimony to the U.S. Congress. I have been a consultant on underwater archaeology for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Those things and hundreds of others were notr mentioned because my "abbreviated resume" is 23 pages long. I don't have a lot of fans right now because I have been in ten year battle with someone who, because of his fictional novels (which are admittedly excellent), has millions of fans. But, I am not willing to drop the fight as long as he claims that I didn't discover the Hunley and/or that he and/or his group NUMA did. My books have been called some of the best ever written on shipwrecks. They are certainly the most heavily researched and footnoted. No one else's even come close to my detailed documentation. How do I write something that doesn't sound egotistic. I am not and I don't want to sound that way. But I do want people to know the truth. I do value other people's input and opinions. I honestly feel like I need help on this. I don't want it to sound like hype. I will keep trying to add the necessary documentation. Some of that will require scanning more government documents, official letters from government officials and court records and adding them to one of my web sites where they can then be linked to as the official sources. My biggest problems come from people who are incompetent, biased and/or jealous. I don't get that from you. I assume your input is well intentioned. The input of "OhNoPeedyPeebles" was not constructive, it was intentional vandalism. You seem to me to be trying to protect Wikipedia and I appreciate that. I already feel the desire to make it as good and as accurate as possible. I will leave your note up and I hope you will give me some specific advice. I trust you can see that I am taking what you have to say to heart and trying to do this correctly. With best wishes and sincere thanks, I am 00:29, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

I completely appreciate all of your points and I really appreciate your willingness to discuss this in a civil way. The main reason that Wikipedia tends to be wary of autobiography is the idea that if you are notable enough, you won't have to write an article about yourself . . . somebody else will write it for you. In this case this hasn't happened. But just because you wrote it yourself doesn't mean that there is a de facto problem with it. I'm just not comfortable with removing the autobio tag while the article is in the present state. You're right--I'm not biased or jealous at all . . . in fact, I know nothing about underwater exploration! That makes me, I suppose, both the best and worst person to be looking at this. The very fact of your investment in this article (after all, it is about you) makes me extra-wary, but I'm assuming good faith on your part as well. Let me look over the article tonight and I'll leave some detailed suggestions. I'm going to try to find articles for people who are similar to you in profession and impact and see what details they have included. Right off the top of my head, one of my main concerns is the length of this article. It seems very, very long. But I do appreciate that you're trying not to use this article as a soapbox for your personal issues. I'll post again tonight or tomorrow night. janejellyroll 00:37, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Excellent article on Finding of Hunley[edit] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:33, 22 February 2016 (UTC)


Okay, I just edited the article and will provide reasons for everything I removed/changed. Please let me know what you think about these changes. I'm committed to keeping this article and getting the "autobio" tag removed and I know we can find a common ground. 1. I removed the 2nd paragraph of the lead. I think your accomplishments speak for themself without having to include references to you as a real-life Indiana Jones or comparing you to Heinrich Schliemann. Again, if somebody else had added these edits, I'd be more flexible. But it just seems a bit odd in an autobiographical article.
2. I left this section untouched, but I'd like to see some references attesting to the notability of the International Diving Institute beyond the organization's own website.
3. I changed a few words in the "Hunley" section. When I wrote that you "claimed" to discover the "Hunley" in 1975, please realize that I don't mean it as a pejorative or dubious statement. I think it is a good way to frame an issue that is clearly contested. And I think the rest of the language in the article clearly states your case without taking sides on this issue. If this isn't acceptable to you, let's try to think of different replacements together.
4. I'd like to see some references to the claim of $50,000,000 in lifetime discoveries beyond something written by you (unless I missed another source, this was from a book of yours, right?).
5. I removed the paragraph on legal judgments because I wasn't clear on what it was supposed to illustrate other than the fact that a lot of money is tied up in these discoveries.
6. I removed the section on literary discoveries. I'm incredibly flexible on putting this back in with proper context and citations.
7. I removed the section on your books while leaving your bibliography. I don't like having both. I think the bibliography adds more to the article.
8. I removed your quote. Having just one notable quotation seems a bit odd. It wasn't even about your speciality.
9. I removed various bits of personal information, including the cardiovascular board membership, the membership in MENSA, and the honor society memberships. They are all unnotable and they seem to strike a note of self-aggrandizement that really should be avoided in an encyclopedia article. I also removed the section on your personal life and family. The point of a Wikipedia article is to show what is notable about you, not everything about you. If you were more of a public figure, then I can see including the names of your children. As you are notable mainly for your historical discoveries, I don't see the place for it.

Please let me know what you think about these changes. I think I also made a couple of changes and removed phrases like "award-winning" when the award wasn't specified. janejellyroll 05:21, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Additional Notes If I'm following the article correctly, you are the founder of the "Sea Research Society" (according to the website--the article says you are just a current director, I believe) and you also recieved one of the five doctorates awarded by the "Sea Research Society" (I'm getting the five doctorate info from the article on the Sea Research Society? If this were my Wikipedia article, I would probably be much more clear about my relationship to the organization that awarded my doctorate. janejellyroll 05:29, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Spence's Reply[edit]

All of your edits are reasonable and acceptable to me. I have made some notes in case you would reconsider some of them. But, don't feel you have to. I appreciate what you have already done. 1. I included the reference to Indiana Jones because it is a common way that the media has described me and it is fairly accurate and easily understood. I mentioned Peter Throckmorton's comparison of me to Heinrich Schliemann (who was the father of Historical Archaeology)in a published professional paper because Throckmorton is widely regarded as one of the fathers of underwater archaeology (as he should be). I and several others (George Bass, Robert F. Marx, Mendle Peterson, Anders Franzen, can also be accurately described that way. Unfortunately, few credit either Marx or me as we deserve, because both of us have been involved in treasure hunting, which is a no-no to socialists who say everything belongs to the government. Most of the men who I worked with and know my early contributions are now deceased. So, I used the reference to Throckmorton's paper to get across the point that I was one of the fathers. I would love for someone else to research it and make that statement. In the mean tiome, Throckmorton's is the closest that I can produce. 2. The only real notability of the International Diving Institute is that there are so few facilities in North America. The facility is good enough that we frequently have various Navy Seal teams from other cities come to use our training tanks in Charleston because they are so much better than theirs. 3. I have no problem at all with the claim, although the first use of the word "claimed" could be changed to "reported" so the word "claim" doesn't look like it is being emphasized. 4. My expeditions have recovered literally millions of individual artifacts (ranging from gold to cloth and cannons to bottles and buttons), everyone of which was reported to the appropriate goivernment authority as required by law, but those documents do not place values on the artifacts. But, the State court wouldn't have awarded over one hundred million in damages on the wreck of the Republic, when my contract called for only 20% of the gross artifact recovery, if the treasures recovered from the Republic had not exceeded $500,000,000. 5. no problem 6. My discovery that George Trenholm was the real Rhett Butler made almost every newspaper in America and there were major articles in newspapers and magazines around the world. Jane Pauley even interviewed me. GWTW was one of the best selling books in history, so it really was a major discovery. Why it wasn't made years earlier I don't understand. It really wass both obvious and simple. I have hundreds of references that I can cite reporting my discovery. More importantly, few people make discoveries in more than one field. Wikipedia has a special section on such people and I have added my name to that list. So this really does belong in this article, but I will leave it out if you still feel it should be. 7. I agree 8. I agree 9. I agree, except for Mensa. Just last night on the news they mentioned someone's membership in Mensa. To many people, Mensa has such a mystique or aura (albeit undeserved) that membership in it automatically establishes (in some people's minds) recognition of a level of achievement that few achieve.

One of the problems with being a pioneer and/or a founding father in a relatively new (and still developing) field, is that, when others look back, the multiplicity of roles played looks odd and is difficult to understand. So it is with my role in "Sea Research Society" and underwater archaeology. People don't necessarily understand that just because I was a significant part of both, that I was never in a position where I could simply award such a degree to myself. Fortunately, the awarding of the degrees was well documented and followed then current standards, rules, regulations and laws.

Underwater Archaeology is split into two camps, socialistic underwater archaeologists (government and educational) and capitalistic underwater archaeologists (salvors, contract underwater archaeologists, and treasure hunters). I have been in both camps. It has created controversy and problems. One of my major discoveries (that of the Georgiana) has been largely ignored by the socialists and none have ever evenm visited the wreck site, despite its historical and archaeological importance and a State law that should have required their visit and inspection. This wreck should again be in the news this coming year as I revisit it and push the government's failure to make even one dive on it in the thirty years since its discovery. Especially in light of the fact that they issued my company a license, demanded and received 1/4 of the artifacts that we recovered from the site. Remember the saying, "no man is a prophet in his own land." That is in effect the battle that I fight for proper recognition. I am one of the founding fathers of underwater archaeology, but because I am more like an Indiana Jones or a Dirk Pitt (Cussler's fictional character, who some believe was originally based on me) rather than just a socialistic government archaeologist (that camp doesn't want to recognize my early and important role).

Thank you for your time and efforts. HunleyFinder 16:29, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

I appreciate all the points you've made. I personally feel the best course of action for an editor who is determined to be the subject of an article even if it means that article will be autobiographical (as opposed to waiting for somebody else to write one) is to leave it relatively sparse. Feel assured that if these details are in fact notable and important another editor will find this article and add them. Wikipedia is full of articles on living people that were not created by their subjects. I'm especially cautious about the details that tend to emphasize your importance. You may be really important, but you have to appreciate how it looks to declare yourself the real life Indiana Jones. I understand that you have a source for this information, but--by putting it in the article--you are making the declaration. Wikipedia is not the place for "the battle that [you] fight for personal recognition." Wikipedia is the place for established claims of notability.
I am changing the word "claimed" to "reported" because I think it's a much better job of phrasing than the one I did.
Also, on the MENSA issue--you wrote that To many people, Mensa has such a mystique or aura (albeit undeserved) that membership in it automatically establishes (in some people's minds) recognition of a level of achievement that few achieve. I really don't agree that this is the case. Your MENSA membership has nothing to do with your other accomplishments. If you do feel that the "mystique or aura" supposedly associated with MENSA (and I don't think that this applies at all to intelligent people--I would hope that intelligent people recognize MENSA for what it is) is undeserved, I don't know why you would want to use it for your article in the first place. Are you saying you want to create such an undeserved aura around yourself? If it's an important detail, another editor will add it. It won't have to be added in an autobiographical fashion.
Finally, on the "Sea Research Society" issues . . . I appreciate that your field is still developing. In some ways, this is all the more reason to sit back on some details and wait to add them later. Again, Wikipedia is not the place to establish yourself or clarify issues. The article should reflect the sources that are already out there. janejellyroll 02:26, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

More from Spence I do think the mystique around Mensa in general is higher than it deserves. But it is an internationally recognized organization who's extremely high standards for admitance are well known. However, Janejellyroll's criticism and her comments are both useful and valid. I greatly appreciate her input and I am am comfortable with all of her changes. HunleyFinder 16:46, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Self-serving Twaddle[edit]

This page continues to be self-serving, egotistical nonsense. Whatever achievements Dr spence has managed in his life are brought into question by his need to publicise them in this absurdly immodest manner. I suggest he deletes the whole miserable charade and has the good grace to wait for someone else to praise him. OhNoPeedyPeebles 23:28, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Who is OhNoPeedyPeebles?[edit]

I personally believe that anonymous attacks are cowardly and I have found that they usually reflect low self esteem on the part of the attacker. So I wonder, who is Wikipedia Editor OhNoPeedyPeebles? And, what are his personal and professional accomplishments and qualifications? The only things I know about him so far is that he is someone who doesn't like me (E. Lee Spence) and he has little or no respect for Wikipedia. Both facts are obvious to anyone checking the history of the page on me. The changes made by OhNoPeedyPeebles to the E. Lee Spence page on 22:03, 10 January 2007 were childish vandalism. Vandalism is against Wikipedia's policies. I suspect that OhNoPeedyPeebles' attacks on me somehow make him feel better about himself. If his animosity against me is sincere, I suggest that it comes through ignorance and that he contact me directly so we can meet. I think it would be great if we learned enough about each other to find sufficient common ground to respect each other's point of view and achievements. I certainly don't have any reason to respect his views or anything else about him right now. If OhNoPeedyPeebles doesn't want to meet with me at my office and take the opportunity to view the tens of thousands of pages of my professional work, perhaps he could create an editor or member page about OhNoPeedyPeebles so Wikipedia's readers can properly judge the value of his editing contributions. It is my position that your attacks are unwarranted and I demand that you stop. So, Mr. OhNoPeedyPeebles if you actually think your attacks have any merit, please take this opportunity to identify yourself and let the readers judge us both. HunleyFinder 16:46, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Vandalism is against Wikipedia's policies

So are personal debates, as Wikipedia is not a bulletin board. Considering that you have written far, FAR too much of this article, it's kind of hard for someone to comment upon it without it seeming like a personal attack. But that is the can of worms you opened by doing so. RoyBatty42 18:09, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Claims found to be not credible[edit]

I was alarmed to find that Wikipedia currently lists E. Lee Spence as the person who discovered the Hunley. I was the city editor of The (Charleston) Post and Courier from 1997-2002 and on several occasions assigned reporters to examine Spence's claims in lengthy detail. Those reviews of the evidence never provided any compelling argument in support of Spence's version of events, and instead argued strongly against him.

The most detailed examination of Spence's claims, which I edited, was not published.

It should be clearly stated that the Navy, the National Parks Service and the S.C. Hunley Commission all credit Clive Cussler with the discovery, and that Spence's legal efforts to compel others to recognize him as the finder of the Hunley proved unsuccessful.

Mr. Spence clearly has experience as an underwater explorer, but his history does nothing to inspire confidence in his credibility, and I would strongly recommend that editors reject his repeated claim to discovering the Hunley. DanConover 21:53, 21 December 2008 (EST)

I think it is a sad commentary that the person discussed wrote the majority of the article, even vain perhaps. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:26, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

To be fair to Dr Spence, I quite like the bits where he tells us how clever and handsome he is. --OhNoPeedyPeebles (talk) 18:57, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

I only recently heard of Dr. Spence and this question as to who really discovered the Hunley, but the more I read the more I come to believe that Dr. Spence has the rightful claim to the discovery. I am persuaded by the evidence which can be easily viewed by anyone simply by clicking on the links provided on the sites concerning the Hunley. It shows that Dr. Spence provided the state with a very accurate location many years before NUMA's search. Also several people have sworn that they dove the site mapped by Dr. Spence and saw the Hunley themselves. I wish those questioning Dr. Spence's claim would address this evidence. If there is something wrong with it, say what it is. If Dr. Spence is the true discoverer of the Hunley, his biography certainly should be included in wikipedia and any other sources dedicated to history.Fellow treasure hunter (talk) 07:32, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

Okay- I'll say what it is. (1)If Dr. Spence had actually given Mark Newell the location to "verify", Newell and Cussler would not have searched (according to Newell)FIFTY square miles of ocean. (2) any person that had actually found something so fantastic stuck in the bottom would manage to take a picture of it or hire some one to take just ONE picture. (3) The "location" Spence claims to have shown in his book was NOT labeled "Hunley"- only an "X" marked "IT" that Spence later claimed referred to the Hunley!! Spence could have marked an "IT" and claimed later that it was anything from Bigfoot to the Holy grail. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:02, 22 February 2016 (UTC)

Since when did Spence discover the SS Central America? I thought that was Tommy Thompson's crew? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:38, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Claim of finding Hunley[edit]

(1) It is reasonable to assume that any person whom had made such an important discovery would attempt to take at least one picture of it. Even if it was of poor quality/ blurred, murky, etc. (2) ANY person (even a non diver) could have claimed that they located the submarine and then list the Housatonic wreck as its location. The National Park Service document cited simply suggests searching "600 yards" around the Housatonic wreck. Consider this- according to this article, the Hunley was found 100 yards away from the Housatonic wreck. Therefore, ANY person who had claimed it was near the Housatonic would have been correct within 100 yards! Is it possible that Dr. Spence found it but could not manage to take a picture of it on, as he claims, at least three visits to the site? Yes- but hard to believe. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:46, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Dr. Mark Newell comments on finding Hunley[edit]

In this Youtube clip, Dr. Mark Newell, when asked how the Hunley was found, states that they had to search "50 square miles" of ocean. If true, this would refute any claim that Dr. Newell was supplied the location and went out to "verify" it. One would assume that if the location had been given to Dr. Newell, he would not have searched 50 square miles in order to find it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:41, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

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