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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: July ::
Shakespeare Golden Ear Test
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0454  Friday, 6 July 2007

From: 		Ward Elliott <
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 >
Date: 		Thursday, 05 Jul 2007 19:26:58 -0700
Subject: 	Shakespeare Golden Ear Test

SHAKSPERians have been arguing for years about the relative merits of 
computer testing and informed intuition in distinguishing Shakespeare 
from non-Shakespeare. Rob Valenza and I are associated with the computer 
faction, but we are also interested in intuition, think there is a place 
for it, and would like to see how well it can be validated for short 
passages.  Over years, we have worked out a Shakespeare Golden Ear test 
to test the performance of intuitive recognition relative to other ways 
of determining authorship, and of finding people with high powers of 
Shakespeare recognition, "Golden Ears," to serve, if they wish, on a 
panel to use their intuition to judge disputed passages.  The test has 
28 passages of what we consider consensus Shakespeare and 
non-Shakespeare, and three disputed passages, logged but not graded. We 
invite SHAKSPERians to try it.

Pilot studies with undergraduates from The Claremont Colleges indicate 
that individual amateurs can distinguish Shakespeare from 
Non-Shakespeare with up to 79% accuracy, and that whole groups of a 
dozen or so, averaged, can reach 89% accuracy on sonnet-length passages 
of 100-150 words.  This is far better than any computer tests we know 
of, singly or in combination, for such short passages, though not as 
good as computers for passages of 1,500 words or more - and too many 
passages much longer could make the test too tedious to take.  We would 
guess that SHAKSPERians would do better than ordinary amateurs, both as 
individuals and in groups, but that more of their identifications will 
be from recollection, rather than from recognition.  We would also guess 
that, on average, screened, aggregated guesses by the most talented 
SHAKSPERians would be more accurate than individual guesses by everyone, 
but we don't yet have evidence to support it.

We are hoping that members of the SHAKSPER listserv, especially those 
most convinced that educated intuition is more accurate than computers, 
will try our Golden Ear test.  It is set up to encourage participation 
and to avoid public embarrassment if you don't do well.  Anyone can take 
the test anonymously and give us their name and e-mail address if they 
do well on the test by scoring in the Gold, Silver, or Bronze Ear 
ranges.  We are hoping that screening and aggregation will give 
intuition its best possible shot at validated accuracy.

We actually have two Golden Ear tests, a relatively easy, automated one 
on the web at http://goldenear.cmc.edu <http://goldenear.cmc.edu/>, and 
a harder one which will not be automated soon because the student who 
automated the first one has graduated.  Rather than wait a year for 
another student to do the second test from scratch (they always want to 
redo the first one as well), we'll find what we can from the first test 
and do the second by snail mail.

So please, SHAKSPERians, especially numerophobes, give the test a try 
and let us know if you did well and would be willing to consider taking 
the second test.  Enter SHAKSPER as your group name.  We would be happy 
to report our preliminary results when available in a few weeks.  Till 
then, we would appreciate it if comments and questions were sent to me 
offline, 
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  <mailto:
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 >, to avoid biasing 
the results for others.

Yours,
Ward Elliott
Claremont McKenna College

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