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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: August ::
Wager
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1355  Monday, 22 August 2005

[1] 	From: 	Martin Steward <
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	Date: 	Friday, 19 Aug 2005 18:26:42 +0100
	Subj: 	SHK 16.1348 Wager

[2] 	From: 	William Davis <
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	Date: 	Friday, 19 Aug 2005 15:55:56 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: Wager

[3] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Friday, 19 Aug 2005 16:00:28 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1348 Wager

[4] 	From: 	Harvey Roy Greenberg <
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	Date: 	Friday, 19 Aug 2005 18:40:24 EDT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1348 Wager


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Martin Steward <
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Date: 		Friday, 19 Aug 2005 18:26:42 +0100
Subject: Wager
Comment: 	SHK 16.1348 Wager

Ward Elliot's plan sounds like jolly good fun.

But not half so much fun as the intriguing new sport he describes: "It 
is no accident that millions of people bet on horse faces and nobody 
bets on beauty contests..."

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		William Davis <
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Date: 		Friday, 19 Aug 2005 15:55:56 -0400
Subject: 	Re: Wager

I am curious to know if the 1603 Bad Quarto Hamlet would be an eligible 
text for this wager?

Best regards,
William Davis

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Friday, 19 Aug 2005 16:00:28 -0400
Subject: 16.1348 Wager
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1348 Wager

As I have made a living deal with rules of procedure for over a third of 
a century, I feel qualified to comment on Ward Elliott's proposed rules.

Adjudicators -- I agree that the verdict should be rendered by a panel 
of experts.  They would more properly be referred to as "assessors" (who 
are selected because of their expertise) rather than as "jurors" (who 
are chosen for their ignorance).  The assessors should meet minimum 
levels of proven competence as evidenced, say, by the publication (not 
self-publication) of at least one book or two articles in peer reviewed 
journals on the subject of literary attribution.  The simplest and time 
tested method of selecting the assessors would be for each side to 
choose one and for the two thus selected to choose a third, who would 
preside.

Procedural Judge -- Mr. Elliott's idea that someone should be available 
to rule on procedural issues is a good one.  I agree that Hardy would 
have made an excellent choice if he were willing.  Since I have no dog 
in this fight and some experience in such matters, I would be willing to 
take on the job if both sides are willing.

Burden of Proof -- As I previously said, the burden should rest on Mr. 
Egan, as the proponent of the novel point.  By "burden" I mean both the 
obligation to go forward with the presentation of evidence and the risk 
of nonpersuasion.  Since he would have the burden, Mr. Egan would also 
have the privilege of presenting the first opening and last closing 
statement.

Standard of Proof -- This is the knottiest issue, since there are no 
precedents for this sort of thing.  I think that Mr. Elliott's proposal 
of a reasonable doubt standard places the bar too high or, perhaps, just 
focuses too vaguely.  The issue is whether a particular play is likely 
to have been written by Shakespeare, so the standards used in the past 
to resolve such issues should be applied.  I would think that the burden 
would be carried if Mr. Egan could convince the assessors that it is 
just as likely that WS wrote Woodstock/1RII as that he wrote part of 
TNK.  I am not persuaded that WS is responsible for much, if any, of 
Edward III, but more expert scholars think he did.  So, Edward III might 
be added to the mix.  This might allow a more scholarly (i.e., hedged) 
verdict than a simple yes or no.  The assessors might conclude that the 
evidence is weaker than it is for TNK but stronger than for EdwIII.  Of 
course, that raises the question of whether that is enough to win the 
prize.  This brings me to the next point.

Joinder of Issue -- It is not entirely clear to me whether Mr. Elliott's 
offer depends on a finding that WS is responsible for all of a disputed 
play or only part, and, if only a part will suffice, how much is 
necessary.  Nor can I say with certainty that Mr. Egan claims that WS 
wrote all of Woodstock/1RII or only part.  It would be helpful if Mr. 
Egan set forth his precise contention in this regard and Mr. Elliott 
then responded with his answer.  Issue would then be joined and the 
assessors would know what precise question they are called upon to answer.

Presentation of Proof --

Mr. Egan would offer the assessors such written evidence as he wishes, 
and this can include the opinions of experts.  Presumably, he would wish 
to offer his entire book, and I see no difficulty in this regard.  Of 
course, the book would be too long to post to the List (and I doubt he 
would so cavalierly abandon his copyright).  A brief summary, by way of 
opening statement, would be posted to the List.  The exact length can be 
determined by agreement of the parties or ruling of the procedural 
judge, after consultation with Hardy if there is a question of 
compromising the bandwidth or the patience of the members.

Mr. Elliott would then present his evidence to the assessors, which may 
also include expert opinions, and post an opening summary to the List of 
equal or lesser length..

The contestants would then have a period -- a month seems reasonable -- 
to comment on each other's submissions and pose questions to each other 
by way of postings to the List.  They may also present additional 
relevant evidence to the assessors if they mutually agree or the 
procedural judge rules that there was justification not to have 
presented the evidence in the first instance.  Members of the List would 
also be able to comment online, as sort of amici curiae.

At the conclusion of the comment period, Mr. Elliott would present a 
closing statement, limited to a length to be determined by agreement or 
ruling of the procedural judge in the absence of an agreement (again in 
consultation with Hardy if excessive length is an issue).  This would be 
followed by Mr. Egan's closing summary.

Verdict -- There is an obvious question of whether the verdict should be 
unanimous.  My tentative feeling is that a majority (two-thirds) vote 
should be sufficient unless the contestants agree on unanimity.  But I 
do not have a strong position about this.  In the interests of 
scholarship, the assessors should be encouraged to express their 
conclusions in opinions.

Final settlement -- I do not see any compelling need for there to be a 
stakeholder.  Mr. Elliott can probably be relied on to pay off if he 
loses, and as his last post seems to waive any interest in Mr. Egan's 
counterwager (which is a good thing from a procedural standpoint) there 
is no other stake at issue.  If he fails to pay up, the universal 
opprobrium would overwhelm him.  Mr. Elliott's suggestion that the 
assessors be compensated is a good one, since their job is likely to be 
time consuming.  The honoraria should be paid in advance, so there would 
be no question of collection.  If I were chosen as procedural judge, I 
would not accept compensation.  (As an aside, I see no issue of internet 
gambling, as there is no element of chance in this.)

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Harvey Roy Greenberg <
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Date: 		Friday, 19 Aug 2005 18:40:24 EDT
Subject: 16.1348 Wager
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1348 Wager

The overall complex requirements and parameters of the bet proposed 
brings this unscholarly Shakespearean and poker player to wonder yet 
again if anyone can figure out the exact parameters of the bet proposed 
by Claudius re Hamlet's match with Laertes. Perhaps it has already been 
done, but I've laid it out to a number of Las Vegas types I hand around 
with, and the terms have confounded them.

Harvey Roy Greenberg

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