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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: King John, Titus, Peele
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1072  Wednesday, 4 June 2003

[1]     From:   Bob Grumman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 3 Jun 2003 12:42:35 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1065 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

[2]     From:   Ward Elliott <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 03 Jun 2003 21:21:25 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1051 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

[3]     From:   Ward Elliott <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 03 Jun 2003 21:04:36 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1065 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

[4]     From:   Brian Vickers <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Jun 2003 11:18:59 +0200
        Subj:   SHK 14.1051


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 3 Jun 2003 12:42:35 -0400
Subject: 14.1065 Re: King John, Titus, Peele
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1065 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

>First. The Antic Death says: The term "scientific" is creeping about the
>list. Anyone using it to substantiate their argument probably
>understands "clinical" to equate with "precision". Scoffing at them is
>the only sensible response.
>
>Second. "The testimony of Heminges and Condell is not reliable
>evidence?" Questions (I think) Bob Grumman (14.1051). No, it isn't. As
>I'm fed up pointing out.

And I'm not supposed to compare responses like this to those of
anti-Stratfordians?

--Bob G.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ward Elliott <
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Date:           Tuesday, 03 Jun 2003 21:21:25 -0700
Subject: 14.1051 Re: King John, Titus, Peele
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1051 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

Jim Carroll (SHK 14.003, 1 June 2003) questions our conclusion (May 21)
that stylometric internal evidence supports Brian Vickers and the
"disintegrationists" who think that much of the Shakespeare Canon is
co-authored.  We've already addressed many of his points in our SHK
14.020 (31 May) but some may deserve a separate response.

1. "why you are referring to the 1994 study, when you have adjusted and
altered the tests and results many times since then?"

The reference to 1994 is to give proper credit to our Shakespeare Clinic
students who devised, validated, and performed most of our tests and
deserve primary credit for its findings, and also to indicate that the
data have been available for criticism for almost a decade.  1994 was
the students' last year; in fact, two members of the 1993 team were back
Sunday for their tenth reunion.  We have continued to refine and develop
their data in the years since, getting clearer distinctions between
Shakespeare and non-Shakespeare every year, and publishing the results
periodically, but the changes are in detail.  After all our revisions,
including some minor ones in response to Donald Foster's shock-and-awe
CHum critiques, invoked by Mr.  Carroll, the students' 1994 findings are
remarkably little changed.

2.  "Donald Foster effectively demolished the validity of your studies
in his [CHum] paper" Mr. Carroll seems to have read Foster's critiques
more attentively than our responses to them.  See our 31 May posting and
our last response to Foster, "So Much Hardball, So Little of it Over the
Plate," http://govt.claremontmckenna.edu/hardball.htm.  When the dust
settled, the "demolition" from his bunkerbusters amounted to a tenth of
one percent, surprisingly low for methods as novel as ours.  Either our
methods were better than he thought, or the bunkerbusters were
mistargeted, or both.  And Foster has since conceded that our position
on the Funeral Elegy was right, and his wrong. Some demolition!  Getting
the answer right doesn't necessarily prove our methods are right, but
getting it wrong, as Foster did, while proclaiming the Elegy is
"indistinguishable from Shakespeare," and "cannot have been written by
anyone other than Shakespeare" does not speak well for the methodology
that produced such ill-founded certitude.

3.  "I'm afraid that all you may have accomplished is to show that some
of Shakespeare's linguistic habits changed with time, which we already
know."

Some did, such as open lines and feminine endings, and our Shakespeare
profiles duly allowed for it.  Foster objected to one of our "Bundle of
Badges" tests based on Macbeth, a middle-to-late play.  How could we
know it applied to earlier or later plays?  Answer: By testing it
against the full range of Shakespeare plays, which is exactly what we
did with this, as with all our other play tests. But Foster missed it.
See our CHum 32:425, 436 (1998).  It's entirely possible, as Foster and
the Oxfordians insist (though it's also entirely unproved), that tests
validated for Shakespeare's writing lifetime may not be valid for works
written before or after it, such as those of the Earl of Oxford.  I
would consider this caution more convincing for traits which did change
during Shakespeare's writing lifetime than for traits which did not.
Something like nine such profile-busting stylistic changes would have to
be assumed (out of 14 available tests) for the Earl of Oxford to survive
our tests.  Such a stylistic upheaval, in Oxford's case, would seem to
us the grandmother of all midlife crises. Foster is anything but an
Oxfordian, but his warning not to apply butterfly-validated tests to
caterpillars has the many of same strengths and weakness as the
Oxfordians' arguments.  See our "Can the Oxfordian Candidacy be Saved?"
The Oxfordian (Vol III, 2000).

4. "One also has to wonder why 51 tests are used. Why not 60? or 75? or
103?  And why, in your 2001 paper (Literary and Linguistic Computing,
vol. 16, 205-232) do you use only 33 tests to compare the Peter Funeral
Elegy to Shakespeare, and then in the same paper use 29 tests to compare
Ford to the Funeral Elegy? What happened to the original 51? Shouldn't
the same single group of tests be applied to Shakespeare, Ford and the
Elegy?  The entire enterprise strikes me as a rather unscientific
cooking of the books."

Foster had trouble with this, and the problem seems to live on with
people like Mr. Carroll who rely Foster's CHum responses.  The short
answer is this:  All our tests are sensitive to sample size.  Large
samples average out lots of variance and permit the validation of many
more tests than do small samples.  The same may be said of baselines.
Our large Shakespeare verse baseline validates more tests than our much
smaller Ford baseline.  Hence, for full plays, we could validate 51
tests, and we used them all.  For 3,000-word poem samples we could only
validate 15 tests, but we used all of those as well.  The Funeral Elegy
had about 4,300 words, and, luxury of luxuries, an alternative author to
test against, albeit one with a smaller baseline.  As our LLC article
explained, we could validate 26 of our regular block-and-profile tests
for both Shakespeare and Ford (211-14), plus 7 "equivalent-words" tests
(whether the author prefers "while," "whiles," or "whilst," for example)
and 3 for Ford (214-15).  That is neither "cooking of the books," as
Carroll puts it, nor "stacking of the deck," as Foster likes to put it,
but merely using only the tests you can validate.  Would you want it any
other way?

5. "Any attribution methodology that results in "A Lover's Complaint"
being rejected from the canon (which your 2001 study concludes) is
seriously flawed."

I thought it was our 1997 study, "Glass Slippers and Seven-League
Boots," The Shakespeare Quarterly 48: 177 which concluded that, but
never mind.  Mr.  Carroll is using the same arguments we used above for
the Elegy: getting obviously wrong results doesn't speak well for your
methodology.  Perhaps Mr. Carroll thinks that LC "cannot have been
written by anyone other than Shakespeare," but we would consider that a
gross overclaim. Our data did say that LC has too many rejections to be
a plausible Shakespeare ascription, and they still say so.  We've taken
another look at it in a forthcoming Festschrift for Macdonald Jackson,
Words That Count: Essays on Early Modern Authorship in Honor of
MacDonald P. Jackson Ed. Brian Boyd University of Delaware Press 2004.
This was a secret from Mac until last week, when the word leaked out,
permitting me to mention it here.

The gist of our chapter (and also of Marina Tarlinskaja's chapter, which
also questions the Shakespeare ascription) is this:  Prior to seminal
papers by Jackson and Kenneth Muir in 1964 and 1965, most scholars
thought LC was not by Shakespeare.  Jackson's and Muir arguments were so
powerful that the consensus shifted sharply (though not unanimously) to
a Shakespeare ascription.  Their arguments are still tours de force of
scholarship today as to Shakespeare, though still speculative and
conclusive, like the arguments they superseded. But their view of how
non-Shakespeare writing actually compared with Shakespeare was blocked
by a shortage of concordances and modern computer techniques.  Today,
computers have removed the blockage and enabled people like us to use
negative, silver-bullet evidence much more effectively than anyone could
forty years ago.  When we first peeled away the blockage, in 1994 and
again in 1997, LC looked much more to us like "non-Shakespeare" than
like Shakespeare.

After six years of refinement, our current results are almost identical
to those we reported in 1997:  LC has too few enclitic and proclitic
microphrases, "with's" as 2d-to-last word, "no's" to "no's plus not's,"
and too many Shakespeare-new words to be a likely Shakespeare
ascription.  Stated differently, we ran 15 tests each on 14 3,000-word
blocks of Shakespeare's poems - that is, on Venus and Adonis, The Rape
of Lucrece, and all of the Sonnets -- for a total of 210 test runs.
Only one of the 210 test runs yielded a single rejection.  But five of
the 15 test runs on LC produced rejections.  The odds of getting so many
rejections from one block are a thousand times worse than those for most
discrepant block in our core Shakespeare baseline.  See our posting SHK
14.0366, 25 Feb. 2003 on LC, also in response to Mr. Carroll.

This is an oversimplified summary of a much longer and more qualified
essay, but it's consistent with Tarlinskaja and with the dominant
consensus on LC for the first half of the 20th Century and, hence, not
so jarringly at odds with accepted external evidence as to be
dismissible out of hand. We have always thought it strange that the
authorship of LC has gotten so little recent attention compared, say, to
the Funeral Elegy, but maybe there is a pattern to it:  a flurry of
interest and studies, followed by several decades of consensual
neglect.  If so, we think it's time for another look at LC, and we
certainly don't share Mr. Carroll's view that our non-Shakespeare
ascription is presumptive evidence that our methods are wrong.

Ward Elliott

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[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ward Elliott <
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Date:           Tuesday, 03 Jun 2003 21:04:36 -0700
Subject: 14.1065 Re: King John, Titus, Peele
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1065 Re: King John, Titus, Peele

Sean Lawrence thinks that using statistics is bad for picking stocks.
Maybe. But it's not bad for telling you that stocks are more volatile
than bonds in the short run and grow faster than bonds in the long run.
My broker uses statistics all the time, and, when I disagree with her as
to whether, on average, index funds outperform managed funds, I use
statistics and prefer them to hunch-only investing.

Mr Lawrence thinks such reasoning is circular.  Maybe. But no more, and
probably less so than hunch-only.  Nothing is either good or bad but
alternatives make it so.  Having dismissed the whole statistical
approach as circular and useless, he nevertheless asks us to go back and
test each core play, not against a profile based on all 32 core plays,
but only against the other 31, even though the process would again be
circular, and even though we've already tried it with two plays we
thought best suited for such a comparison, with minor or no alterations
in our profiles.  Would anyone be surprised if we did such a labor and
Mr. Lawrence found it convincing?  We would, but, of course, it's only a
hunch.  On the other hand, if he would like to try such an experiment
himself, using our texts and software, we would be happy to discuss it.
In the meantime we would rather spend our time elsewhere, on a steeper
part of the learning curve.

As for our hockey analogy, we wrote:

>It's true that you can get silly conclusions from silly
>premises, with statistical evidence, just as you can without it, but we
>don't see how that precludes drawing non-silly statistical conclusions
>from non-silly premises.  Surely not even Mr. Lawrence believes that
>Canada's 50-year dry spell in the Olympics means that Canadians couldn't
>skate in those years.   More likely it means that they could skate so
>well that their best skaters were all pros in the NHL and couldn't
>compete at all in the Olympics till 1998.  Since then, Team Canada has
>been a Dream Team of superstar pros. In 1998, though heavily favored,
>they suffered some injuries and lost by one point on a shootout to the
>gold-winning Czech Republic in the semifinals.  In 2002 they beat the
>rest of the world's pros handily and broke the gold drought.

He thought that such examination of one's premises was "akin to saying
that Shakespeare was drunk or overworked when he wrote certain plays and
they shouldn't be counted as part of the core group.  We don't know why
Shakespeare may or may not have been writing in his customary way during
the composition of Titus (or whatever), any more than the statistics
themselves reflect the handicaps affecting Team Canada, unless you've
somehow taken this into account."

"In fact, if you introduced this kind of evidence you would, I should
think, be seriously compromising the objectivity of your tests."

"Of course [having statistics on team fighting, forechecking, and
trapping traits] would "improve our odds of guessing correctly" [whether
we were watching the rowdy Flyers, the smooth, offensive Oilers, or the
dull, defensive, brutally effective Devils].  It wouldn't actually raise
our guess above being a guess, however, nor would it assure a profit.
Not being a gambling man, I'd just keep the twenty bucks, buy some beer
and enjoy the game, oblivious to who was playing.  It's quite possible
that Team A are all having marital difficulties and taking it out on the
ice.  Perhaps Team B has done its best to goad them (by instigating
affairs with their spouses, for instance).  It's possible that Team B is
avoiding fights precisely because their coach realised that they're
getting into too many and gave them a stern talking-to before the game.
I can know their habits from statistics, but I can't actually tell what
they're going to do, which is why the games are still worth watching."

Again, we don't think that using non-silly premises seriously
compromises our objectivity.  Mr. Lawrence's key admission is that "of
course" statistics would improve the odds over hunch-only guessing.  We
think that, with Shakespeare, they raise the odds quite a lot, and that,
with guesses and bets, just as with stocks, you are better off with
statistics than without them, and it's OK to base them on non-silly
premises.  Hunches and intuition are still OK, still necessary for many
purposes, but, whenever we can get them, we prefer informed hunches to
uninformed ones.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Vickers <
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Date:           Wednesday, 04 Jun 2003 11:18:59 +0200
Subject: Comment:        SHK 14.1051

Once again fearless Jim Carroll launches into the fray in his ad hominem
manner, directly addressing Ward Elliott like a prisoner in the dock, in
a condescending tone ('I'm afraid that all you may have accomplished is
to show that some of Shakespeare's linguistic habits changed with time,
which we already know'). Surely the proper addressee in these postings
is the Moderator?

Once again Mr. Carroll speaks as if with a tone of authority on an issue
he has wholly misunderstood, na

 

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