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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: July ::
Golden Ear Final Report
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0406  Wednesday, 16 July 2008

From:       Elliott, Ward <
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Date:       Tuesday, 15 Jul 2008 17:28:38 -0700
Subject:    Golden Ear Final Report

The Shakespeare Newsletter is publishing our final report on our Golden Ear 
project in its forthcoming issue. We are sending it separately as a long 
SHAKSPER posting, with thanks to Tom Pendleton of the SNL for publishing, and to 
Hardy and the 300-odd mostly-SHAKSPER respondents, without whom it could never 
have happened.

A year ago we reported the results of Round 1 of the Golden Ear Test 
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2007/0455.html. The short of it was that the 
average Round 1 respondent could get almost two passages out of three right; the 
best of them could get three out of four as individuals, and four out of five 
collectively, averaged by simple majority rule on each question.

Since then, we have given a Round Two test to the highest scorers on Round 1, 
confirming many of them as consistent high scorers and permitting a second 
screening for those who did well on both rounds. This double screening raised 
the Final Elite Panel's collective accuracy to a remarkable nine out of ten -- 
almost as accurate as computers are on longer passages, and far more accurate 
than any computer test we know of on the very short, sonnet-length passages we 
tested.

Besides testing them for accuracy against passages of known authorship, we also 
asked them to guess authorship of another 20 passages of disputed authorship. 
See the long posting for their answers.

Here's how we described our final elite panel:

"Our double-screened final elite panel of 23 was only 40% Shakespeare pros -- 
lit professors from well-regarded colleges and universities like BYU, Mount 
Holyoke, Rice, Monash University, Australia, and Claremont (though none were 
from Harvard or Yale). One was from a Mexican university and not a native 
English speaker. The remaining pros were stage people -- actors, directors, 
dialect coaches, or producers.  The other 60% could have come from one of those 
World War II movies where Kowalski, Cohen, Murphy, and Jones go over the top 
together: we had a Wall Street lawyer; several schoolteachers, a retired school 
librarian; a mathematician/computer technology worker; a self-educating 
housewife; two graduate students, one in chemistry; a finance columnist for 
Newsday; a bookstore manager, and a former stringer for the National Enquirer. 
One read Shakespeare to his kids every night for many years. Thirteen were 
alumni of the Round 1 Rated Group of 24; ten were newcomers, either from the 
original Claremont panels or from the Round 1 latecomers."

And here, at last, are the names of the final elite panelists, minus two who 
requested anonymity:

Peter Berek
Lynn Brenner
Janet Costa
Peter Groves
Gedaly Guberek
Dale Johnson
Don Kersey
Rachel Kohler
Bill Lloyd
Courtney McQueen
Alfredo Modenessi
Ted Nellen
Jennifer Rau Rader
Tom Reedy
Richard M. Rose
Meredith Skura
Peggy M. Smith
Ted Stearns
William Sutton
Larry Weiss
Bruce Young

We owe special congratulations and thanks to these for having the 
best-documented Golden Ears in the world. We hope that their celebrity will not 
get them flooded with future inquiries from authorship cranks, but we would not 
hesitate to go to them ourselves when something comes up that can't be settled 
by other means, whether new-optics or old. Thanks again to Hardy and the 
hundreds of SHAKSPER test-takers for their valuable input. To our knowledge, 
nothing like this has ever been done before, and it could not have been done 
without SHAKSPER and the internet.

Yours,
Ward Elliott and Robert J. Valenza

[Editor's Note: As a former "Contributing Editor" (and I believe the first so to 
be bestowed that honorific - I actually began working with Louis Marder before 
Tom, John, and Iona took over) to _The Shakespeare Newsletter_, I am not 
impartial in saying this: I encourage all to read this the upcoming issue of 
_The Shakespeare Newsletter_. If you are not a subscriber already, this is the 
perfect opportunity to send your $15 per year ($17 per year outside the USA) to 
become one: http://www.iona.edu/snl/doc/Ad.pdf. Further information can be found 
here: http://www.iona.edu/snl/ -Hardy ("One of the family.") Cook]


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