Botanical Wednesday: I’m surrounded by this! »« That’s going to be an expensive book-burning

I get email

And sometimes, it really isn’t my fault. Really. I think there’s a FAQ for Kooks somewhere, and it lists my name and email address as a place where you can send random whininess. Like this one that I got out of the blue a couple of weeks ago.

You are a Coward

Paul,

You appear to be just as much of a useless cowardly dimwit as all the other self-identified “skeptics”. I already pointed out that you have no trouble running you mouth about things you clearly know nothing about. And further taking positions that are clearly and obviously wrong.

So I might expect some response unless you would like to admit your cowardice.

Once again I my take on Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

https://sites.google.com/site/eternitypromised/

Perhaps just for fun.

Sincerely,
Alan Tarica

PS
You might find the following an inducement:

Dear Professor Tarica,

Thank you for sending me this copy of your analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, which I have read (quickly once) with pleasure. I am not enough of an expert to pronounce authoritatively on your work, but in my perusal I found nothing to object. …

With best wishes,

Morris Halle

Dear Alan,

It is very kind of you to send me your sonnet commentaries. I have already looked at a few and, indeed found them interesting. I won’t go through all of them at a single sitting. I simple don’t have the time or the patience any longer. But I will dip into them over the next several weeks.

It is a great enterprise. Congratulations.

Jay Keyser

Thanks. I am always pleased to see someone engage with the Sonnets in such detail.

Best,

Mike

Michael Schoenfeldt
John Knott Professor of English Literature

What? I looked at the links to see what I’d done, and the one where I’m supposedly running my mouth? That’s not me. It’s someone named Catmando; we have no connection other than that I’m on their blogroll. They wrote a post dismissing various Shakespeare conspiracies, a subject I don’t believe I’ve ever weighed in on, and apparently Mr Tarica is a frothing-at-the-mouth Edward De Vere fanatic, and I’m the cowardly target of his ire, and I guess I’m supposed to be impressed by the tepid acknowledgments of a group of people I’ve never heard of before.

OK, bye.

But then he kept on sending these accusations of cowardice. He was really quite angry with me. And then…

Real Skeptism

Paul

I realize now (I realized that previously and forgot) that you are not the blogger Catmando and thus not responsible for this stupidity essentially reasoning by the fallacy fallacy.

But I still expect an outspoken person like yourself to express some opinion.

https://sites.google.com/site/eternitypromised/

Alan

Wait. He realized that he’d made a mistake, and yet he still kept dunning me with accusations? And instead of an apology, he’s now telling me that I have to express an opinion on his obsession?

Gah. Screw you, Alan Tarica. I owe you nothing.

And now, this has started again:

You are a coward

[email protected]

You really are a coward aren’t you

OK, Alan Tarica. You win. I’ll express an opinion.

You’re a deep-fried dingaling. A real wackaloon. Your scholarship is a high-falutin’ version of fingerpainting with your own feces. I’d call you silly, except your attitude is so mean-spirited, petty, and blinkered that it isn’t even amusing: you’re a cheap party clown who thinks he’s philosophically deep. Fuck off.

Oh, and do you know who wrote Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets? William Shakespeare.

Comments

  1. Nentuaby says

    You mean to tell me, PZed, you’re a filthy Stratfordian? Damnit, this is one Deep Rift too far. Atheo-Skepticism is over. Time to get myself churched.

  2. george gonzalez says

    Then there’s the nut that found that you could run the sonnets through an algorithm and what came out the other end was always the phrase “Bacon wrote Shakespeake”. This was around 1935, so they had to run the algorithm with pencil and paper. Nobody had the heart to tell them that Laplace showed hundreds of years before that it’s always possible to fit an equation through any set of points.

  3. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Wait, you found the replies he got ‘tepid’ in their acknowledgement of his work? Gahh.

    I once received the following letter from my employer:

    Mr Jorsalfar,

    Your services are no longer needed by the company and your employment is terminated forthwith. You have fifteen (15) minutes to leave the premises.

    We wish you the best in your future endeavors.

    Frankly, I was moved to the point of tears by their warm wishes for my future, which I took as great endorsement of my work.

  4. Anthony K says

    Mr Jorsalfar,

    Your services are no longer needed by the company and your employment is terminated forthwith. You have fifteen (15) minutes to leave the premises.

    We wish you the best in your future endeavors.

    “Thanks. Fifteen minutes you say? I’d better get started. Can you send someone to help me get this copier down to the loading dock?”

  5. Nemo says

    I’m no Shakespeare scholar — barely even a casual fan — but what little I’ve heard from the conspiracy theorists has been enough to repulse me. AFAICT, all their arguments boil down to this:

    Noblemenz iz better.
    Shakespeare’s playz iz the best.
    But Shakespeare was a dirty commoner.
    Therefore, Shakespeare didn’t really write those playz. It was some noble dude. Obvz!

  6. peptron says

    PZ, how could you pass on this golden occasion of using the Shakespearean Insults Generator? SERIOUSLY, HOW COULD THOU!?!? Thou pribbling onion-eyed maggot-pie!

    Surely he was right: Thou thing of no bowels thou!

  7. says

    Yeah! Shakespeare was probably written by a different guy with the same name.
     
    When it comes to the whole ‘six degrees of Francis Bacon’ thing, I have the Alfred(?) Dodd (IIRR) edition of Our Shake-Speare’s Sonnets which proves that not only did Bacon write Shakespeare and Bacon (and probably Marlowe too), but he was also the illegitimate son of Q Elizabeth (the I-th, no. II wasn’t when Dod did it)—and (again IIRR) was the most loveable man and one of the greatest geniuses the world has ever known.
     
    Not bad for something based on perceived differences in the typographical weight of certain characters in a not-too-well printed book (Shakespeare’s I mean: Dodd’s was quire nicely printed).

  8. chigau (I don't like this eternal 'nym thing, either) says

    You have fifteen (15) minutes to leave the premises.

    How much does a briefcase full of sticky-notes and mechanical pencils weigh?

  9. Menyambal --- the penuchle of evolution says

    Hey, I’ve got people in the who-wrote-Shakespeare game—my legitimate family name is the same as one of the candidates. I could get glory by descension, there, and I don’t think it was anyone but Shakespeare.

    Maybe _As You Like It_ was written by somebody else, though. I just waded through it and was happy to go back to P. G. Wodehouse. Shakespeare is not funny.

  10. sigurd jorsalfar says

    @14 If memory serves, I think it was about 8 pounds. But that might have included my PBJ sandwich and store-brand diet soda.

  11. says

    Menyambal
    Shakespeare is too funny!!
    Who else could let you get away with making a joke like “…the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon.” in high school?!

  12. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Noblemenz iz better.
    Shakespeare’s playz iz the best.
    But Shakespeare was a dirty commoner.
    Therefore, Shakespeare didn’t really write those playz. It was some noble dude. Obvz!

    I wonder how much they cross-pollinate with the Ancient Astronuts?

  13. David Marjanović says

    taH pagh taHbe’. DaH mu’tlheghvam vIqelnIS.
    quv’a’, yabDaq San vaQ cha, pu’ je SIQDI’?
    pagh, Seng bIQ’a’Hey SuvmeH nuHmey SuqDI’,
    ‘ej, Suvmo’, rInmoHDI’? Hegh. Qong – Qong neH –
    ‘ej QongDI’, tIq ‘oy’, wa’SanID Daw”e’ je
    cho’nISbogh porghDaj rInmoHlaH net Har.

    But I still expect an outspoken person like yourself to express some opinion.

    What an utterly bizarre thing to say.

    I, for one, will certainly not express an opinion on a subject I simply don’t know well enough to express an opinion about it!

    Fallacy fallacy?

    That one’s real; it means “this argument contains a logical fallacy, so the rest of the argument must be wrong, too”.

  14. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Tony, your claim not to have heard of the Shakespeare conspiracy before makes it obvious that you are actually part of it.

  15. =8)-DX says

    From reading Mr Tarica it seemed that he was actually supporting the Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare theory. The reason I read him was because I thought he was a creationist and was waiting for him to vomit over the Origin, so I could then vomit over mankind’s chances of survival, giving the low average intelligence. Much more interesting conspiracy theories, are the Shakespeare was a woman and secret lesbian lover of Elisabeth I. Much food for thought there… (but then I’m also open to a bisexual sonnet-writing Shakespeare).

    And my favourite insult, provided by the Shakespeare Insulter linked above:

    You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!

  16. David Marjanović says

    Noblemenz iz better.
    Shakespeare’s playz iz the best.
    But Shakespeare was a dirty commoner.
    Therefore, Shakespeare didn’t really write those playz. It was some noble dude. Obvz!

    It’s more like “the plays reveal a lot of education, obsession with Italy & stuff, that’s not likely to have been available to Shakespeare, but was available to noblemen”…

    …at least in public. There are those who claim one of their own ancestors wrote Shakespeare; the case I’ve heard of is the claim that the contemporary duke of York did it.

    Ancient Astronuts

    Win.

    There really is a Shakespeare conspiracy??

    Not just one.

  17. David Marjanović says

    Hegh is the best sentence ever.

    HOW COULDST THOU!?!?

    Fixed it for thee.

    Shakespeare was a woman and secret lesbian lover of Elisabeth I

    Ooh, awesome.

  18. says

    Nemo
    The one exception I’m familiar with is the one that says Christopher Marlowe faked his death to become a secret agent, but kept writing plays which he arranged for his old pal Will to publish for him.

  19. blf says

    Nemo@10, Yep, that is precisely what all the Shakespeare-didn’t-write-Shakespeare claims boil down to. I know of no exceptions. Bill Bryson, in his Shakespeare bibliography, is even more damning: “…nearly all of the anti-Shakespeare sentiment — actually, all of it, every bit — involves manipulative scholarship or sweeping misstatements of fact.”

    What particularly gets my goat about about the claims is the problem of evidence:

     ●  There is no evidence at all, none, nothing, that Shakespeare did not write Shakespeare.

     ●  There is no evidence at all, none, nothing, that anyone else did write Shakespeare.

    The closest you come to either claim — and it’s not very close — is that’s it is known he did collaborate with other writers (albeit with who, on what, and when, is a subject of great debate and few certainties), and many of his plays are clearly based on earlier plays by others.

  20. says

    Kevin Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s stuff?

    Makes sense, come to think of it. Who else?

    But ya know, there’s something more going on here than scary levels of prolific. Guy’s in like, everything. His filmography as actor alone is stretching the limits of conventional space. Listen, how could he possibly even have been on all those sets at once?

    I tells ya, Hollow Man was not entirely fiction… Kevin Bacon is, in fact, the result of a DARPA project into extra-dimensional travel. He exists beyond time. Indeed, all atoms in this universe have a Bacon number of 1… They just don’t know it yet.

    Bet he probably wrote most of Bach’s stuff, too. Like Bach himself could possibly have had time, what with the 20 children (13 surviving to adulthood) thing.

    (… in other news, I did not generate this with The Conspiracy Theory Generator. Maybe next time.)

  21. says

    sigurd:
    Drat.
    You found me out.

    But see here, none of you people were around when “Shakespeare” wrote those plays. How do you know he really wrote them?

    (Someone else can go play stupid creationist tricks now)

  22. timberwoof says

    Dear Alan Tarica,

    In your commentary of Sonnet 29, you make an argument form ignorance, saying you don’t understand why the speaker would not want to be a king: “Certainly no explanation is offered in regard to the [final] couplet’s desire of the poet to change his state with kings.”

    The answer is in the first couplet: “When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state.” Who in a state of outcast disgrace would not want to trade places with a king? Why, the speaker of the sonnet, and he explains why. But you missed it. You are a dumb ass.

    The rest is silence.

  23. says

    I especially like the fact that he expects you to express an opinion, even though he also thinks that you know nothing about the subject.

  24. blf says

    Oh yeah, that goofy Marlowe hypothesis. It’s so silly I’d forgotten all about it.

    The rubbish about Shakespeare’s learnedness and alleged knowledge of Italy is just that, rubbish. As an example, for a supposedly-learned man, he was constantly getting the geography of Italy wrong. He did apparently have access to some Italian texts and either understood them or know someone who did. For instance, as I now recall, the play he reworked to become Romeo & Juliet existed (as far as is known) only in Italian at the time.

  25. says

    @Tony
    Yep, there’s quite a few, usually claiming one famous royal or other was the real writer. My favorite is that several royals wrote in collaboration and Shakespeare never actually existed. Or maybe those are two different theories that I’m conflating. Not sure.

    Anyway, the recent movie Anonymous shows pretty clearly one of the dumber conspiracy theories that are out there. Or maybe it’s one of the “better” ones, but the movie puts the ideas across as particularly idiotic. Either way the movie is pretty ‘meh’.

  26. timanthony says

    Alan Tarica comes across as being psychotic in the medical sense of the word. It’s all there: delusion, paranoia, confused thinking, playing with words and language (on his website). I’d have to guess that he is beyond having his feelings “meaningfully affected” by anything said to him or about him on this website. Or so one might hope. Also hope he’s not causing anyone else to lose any sleep.

  27. catmando says

    Sorry for setting off a rather mad hare with my post on the Shakespeare authorship non-question. Thought something was funny when my tiny corner of the blogosphere which normally gets about 50 hits a day suddenly got past 300 today. You’d have thought that Alan Tarica would have commented on my site but he didn’t.

  28. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    So this has nothing to do with Shakespeare as such, but more with people from post-Tudor times using quasi-Tudor language because they think it is “cool.”

    So a few weeks ago I went to Hill Cumorah (srsly, check out those hats!) because I was curious. And it was free.

    And lo, the person I went with and I got royally smashed and behold, it was good.

    Anyway.

    All the damn time in that play were people using “ye” as if it were singular (and simultaneously using “you” as a plural).

    Ye is a variant pronunciation of you. It is plural. The English second-person singular is thou (or thee, depending on accent).

    This apparently goes back to the BoM itself, which is liberally sprinkled with quasi-Tudor language like that. Because, of course, the language in the BoM is modeled on that of the KJV, which was deliberately written in old-fashioned-but-not-archaic vernacular in 1611.

  29. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    The other thing I learned at that pageant? That in 1836, after a 1600-year absence, Christianity was re-introduced to the world.

    Because in the year 200 or so, the Christians were massacred on a hill in what is now upstate New York by a group of people who wore feathers and whooped.

    No, I am not joking.

  30. chigau (I don't like this eternal 'nym thing, either) says

    Cuttlefish
    Yes *nod* *nod* I see.
    * backing away slowly *

  31. moarscienceplz says

    Cuttlefish,
    Didn’t you also write ‘Mandy’ and ‘Copacabana’?

  32. Moggie says

    Scr… Archivist:

    What a piece of work.

    Thou winnest the thread, sweet prince!

  33. bryanfeir says

    Heh. I always found Asimov’s argument that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare amusing, based as it was on the fact that Shakespeare could not be a highly educated man, as the educated man the conspiracists require would not have made some of the statements that were made in the plays.

    In particular, he pointed out several points in Shakespeare’s plays where people made comments about ‘the stars in their spheres’, and other similar references… when anybody familiar with Ptolemaic cosmology as it was taught at the time would know there was only one fixed sphere for all the stars. And you couldn’t even excuse this for poetic purposes, as ‘sphere’ and ‘spheres’ have exactly the same beat.

  34. dianne says

    Duh, of course Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare.

    Of course, the Doctor did give him a few pointers and Martha was the inspiration for his sonnets, but Shakespeare was the actual author.

  35. Larry says

    There really is a Shakespeare conspiracy?

    Gods yes. Been going on for ages.

    The first rule of The Shakespeare Conspiracy is that one does not talk about The Shakespeare Conspiracy!

  36. blf says

    Ye is a variant pronunciation of you.

    It’s even better than that. Ye is also an archaic printer’s abbreviation for the, and is pronounced “the”.

  37. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Noblemenz iz better.
    Shakespeare’s playz iz the best.
    But Shakespeare was a dirty commoner.
    Therefore, Shakespeare didn’t really write those playz. It was some noble dude. Obvz!

    Also because Shakespeare knew things about geography that only a well-traveled nobleman could possibly know.

    Like that Bohemia has a coast.

  38. gussnarp says

    @David Marjanović in re fallacy fallacy – Thanks, I see. Hard to imagine it was legitimate, buried in that screed, but it does make sense.

  39. blf says

    The other thing I learned at that pageant? That in 1836, after a 1600-year absence, Christianity was re-introduced to the world.

    What. The. Feck.
    Who was it, you or the person who told you this, who was more drunk / stoned / bouncing off the rubber walls?

  40. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Þe, actually, blf.

    When printing appeared in England, the German-made typesets did not include leads for the letter þ. So printers replaced it with a y.

    AFAIK, þe-the-article and þe-the-pronoun are etymologically unrelated.

  41. coffeehound says

    PZ, who the hell are you to run your mouth off on a subject not in your circle of expertise?! You didn’t?! Well,express your opinion , damn you!!
    What a weenie….

  42. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Who was it, you or the person who told you this, who was more drunk / stoned / bouncing off the rubber walls?

    Actually, the play itself said so. And this apparently is Accepted Theology (by Mormons).

  43. astro says

    Nemo,

    i am an indirect lineal descendant of edward de vere (my uncle, paul vere, just passed away in fact), and a fan of shakespeare, so i have taken some interest in deverism. you are EXACTLY RIGHT ON.

    David Marjanović,

    if you replace “the plays reveal a lot of education, obsession with Italy & stuff” with “the plays reveal a reasonable level of education based on certain readily accessible 16th century sources (mainly hollinshed, but there were a few others, and everyone knew the whole story of the war of the roses) and an obsession with plagiarizing older plays about italy” you’d have it about right. everybody forgives shakespeare for the plagiarism because (1) everybody did it and (2) his versions were just so much more awesome. i remember one class in college where we studied material that marlowe, bacon, and shakespeare stole from each other.

  44. says

    @blf
    I believe that Esteleth was referring to Mormonism, which contains a number of doctrines that are rather… interesting. In addition to the idea that the Native Americans are descended from ancient Jews, they also believe that all other forms of Christianity are degenerate and only the Mormon Church has restored what Jesus really intended.
    They tend to be careful about how they phrase that, though. When speaking to potential converts, they like to emphasize how Christian they are and generally try to seem as normal as possible. Milk before meat and all that.

  45. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    An analysis of the plays and sonnets, rather than indicating the education of a nobleman and a military background, instead point to someone of bourgeois upbringing, who attended grammar school, in rural England and then later lived in the city and interacted with tradespeople.

    Um, HI?!

  46. David Marjanović says

    Ye is a variant pronunciation of you. It is plural. The English second-person singular is thou (or thee, depending on accent).

    Nope, nope, nope.

    I – me
    thou – thee
    he – him
    she – her
    it – it
    we – us
    ye – you
    they – them

    nominative – oblique (merged dative & accusative)

    No, I am not joking.

    More precisely, you aren’t the one who is joking. :-)

    Ye is also an archaic printer’s abbreviation for the

    Not an abbreviation. The sets of types from the Netherlands simply didn’t have a þ, and y was the most similar letter that was available, so it got used till people resorted to th.

    Like that Bohemia has a coast.

    Oh. :-)

    Well, it might have one if the last pagan had become the first Protestant. But I digress rather massively. :-)

  47. pacal says

    There is of course the Prince Tudor nonsense in which the alleged author Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford was the son of Elizabeth I. Edward then became, many year later the lover of Elizabeth I, and they had a son the Earl of Southhampton. Who either Elizabeth I or the Earl had an affair with. Oh and Elizabeth had an affair with Sir Robert Raleigh who was also Elizabeth I’s son.

    The whole Edward de Vere wrote Shakespeare nonsense is populated by the above incest fantasies; some of which is repeated in the movie Anonymous.

    No doubt it helps the Oxfordians get their rocks off.

  48. witlesschum says

    It takes some industrial-strength faith to take the Book of Mormon seriously.

  49. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    David, by the time of the 1660s, thou and thee had completely merged, grammatically speaking, and thee was used exclusively.

  50. David Marjanović says

    everybody forgives shakespeare for the plagiarism because (1) everybody did it and (2) his versions were just so much more awesome.

    And 3) in the public consciousness of English-speaking places, Shakespeare (“the bard”) is the poet and the playwright. German has Goethe (“the prince of poets”) and Schiller, Italian has Dante and Petrarca and Boccaccio and whatnot, French has Molière and Rabelais and so on, but English has only Shakespeare. He’s treated by the general public as if he lived and worked in a vacuum.

    i remember one class in college where we studied material that marlowe, bacon, and shakespeare stole from each other.

    :-)

  51. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Hmm. Poking around reveals that the thou/thee merger may have been specific to a few specific subclasses and non-universal. Whatever.

  52. blf says

    AFAIK, þe-the-article and þe-the-pronoun are etymologically unrelated.

    I concur. Whilst continental printers did use ye for þe, English printers used þe (when their typesets had thorn), the, and ye. For example, according to Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge, “The first printing of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611 used the Y form of thorn with a superscript E in places such as Job 1:9, John 15:1, and Romans 15:29.”

    The KJV was, of course, published during Shakespere’s lifetime (and there’s another mad set of conspiracy theories saying he was involved in that project, again without any actual evidence). I presume, but don’t actually know, that ye was used in some printed versions of Shakespeare’s work, along with the.

  53. scottrobson says

    Shakespeare’s work could not have been penned at a time that was longer ago than the birth of the oldest person you can ask “if they were there?”. Since no one can claim to have been around much longer than about 120 years ago, Shakespeare must have been written at least within the last 120 years. Eric Hovind would agree anyway.

    My money is on Kevin Bacon. If you play “Stir of Echoes” backwards you would agree with me.

  54. cicely (Context-stripped and hating it.) says

    *sigh*
    Next we’ll see a conspiracy theory that we didn’t really land Shakespeare on the moon.
    *shaking head wearily*

    Okay, here goes. I hate kettle corn.

    Me, too.
    *settling back with big tub of theater popcorn*
    -

  55. melody says

    I’ve received letters from him. He seems to think CFI should be spending all of their resources on researching the true authorship of Shakespeare sonnets. We are all dimwits. You are in good company.

  56. chigau (I don't like this eternal 'nym thing, either) says

    I, too, hate kettle corn.
    Have you had the microwave version?
    *blech*

  57. edmundog says

    @blf – Bryson’s chapter on anti-Stratfordians is great. My favorite was when speaking of Mary Sidney, he said “The only thing missing to prove she wrote Shakespeare’s plays is the existence of any evidence at all.”

  58. Rich Woods says

    @Esteleth #42:

    Ye is a variant pronunciation of you. It is plural. The English second-person singular is thou (or thee, depending on accent).

    Tha can stuff it where tha likes.

    Not Elizabethan English: my granddad, about thirty years ago. I’ll leave it to you to work out how vowel shifts work and grammar changes.

  59. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    Hating kettle corn is a blasphemy on the par of believing Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare.

  60. Al Dente says

    Cuttlefish,
    Didn’t you also write ‘Mandy’ and ‘Copacabana’?

    At least he didn’t write “MacArthur Park.”

    I hope.

  61. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    You have never experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.

  62. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    Then there’s the nut that found that you could run the sonnets through an algorithm and what came out the other end was always the phrase “Bacon wrote Shakespeake”. This was around 1935, so they had to run the algorithm with pencil and paper. Nobody had the heart to tell them that Laplace showed hundreds of years before that it’s always possible to fit an equation through any set of points.

    It would mean the guy created the sonnets so that a particular hash function returns a specific phrase. By hand.

    Am I alone in thinking that would be kind of cool ?

    Eh, probably, unless someone else here has an interest in encryption algorithms and authentication signatures.

  63. David Marjanović says

    …which is why I helpfully provided comment 20. Should have replaced the apostrophes by proper ʻokina, though.

  64. bryanfeir says

    kemist @82:
    No, you’re not alone. There are probably a number of people here who like encryption algorithms. (Though more hang out on Bruce Schneier’s blog, for obvious reasons, considering he wrote one of the standard university texts on the subject.)

    Of course, anybody with any passing understanding of said algorithms also knows that if the algorithm is flexible enough, and your definition of ‘making sense’ is loose enough, you can get something that seems to make sense out of any block of data, including random noise.

  65. rabbitscribe says

    ● There is no evidence at all, none, nothing, that Shakespeare did not write Shakespeare.

    ● There is no evidence at all, none, nothing, that anyone else did write Shakespeare.

    This is too depressing. The Stratfordian theory is hands-down best, but the level of fanaticism here is unworthy of the skeptical community. This is not astrology or Creationism or something. So Shakespeare wrote the sonnets, plays and epics, but absolutely nothing else that we know of- not even a letter. He never learned to sign his name legibly or spell it consistently. At the height of his genius, he just quits and moves back to the middle of nowhere and spends the rest of his life suing anybody who looks at him cross-eyed. And judging by a will that disposes of everything in the house down to the teaspoons, at the time of his death he owned no books.

    Don’t get me wrong: the “Marlowe wrote it while dead” and “Bacon wrote it along with his own poetry which is really lame” theories are wholly unpersuasive, and De Vere not much better. But there is a BIG piece of the picture that’s missing. I’ll just leave this here pending the invention of time travel: it has something to do with “Mr. W.H.” and whatever the hell the dedication of the sonnets is about. Anyway, you can’t blame people for speculating under the circumstances and this is not a scientific discipline with failed hypotheses to discard. The absolutism is unwarranted.

    Incidentally, find Mark Twain’s take on the matter in “Is Shakespeare dead?” You won’t find it persuasive, but I hope you find it hilarious, as I do.

  66. Rob Grigjanis says

    Rich Woods @76:

    Tha can stuff it where tha likes

    Did your granddad say “thissen” instead of “yourself”?

  67. says

    Interlac:

    Interlac is the designated communication language of the 30th century United Planets in the DC Comics fictional universe,

    In its basic form it is a simple one-to-one substitution cipher. The Interlac alphabet corresponds perfectly to the twenty-six letters of the Latin alphabet and the numbering system corresponds to Earth Base-Ten form. Although nominally protected by differences in font spacing, the numbering system itself suffers from a minor stylistic flaw due to the potential for confusion of 6 and 7 with 41 and 42, respectively. Anyone writing it by hand could certainly introduce an error when read by another, and this could create problems with handwriting recognition, as well.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlac

    Sorry David. I let go of my inner comic book nerd and invoked the Legion of SuperHeroes .

  68. says

    De Vere is a lame entry in this sweepstakes. Marlowe, while dead, at least wrote some cracking good plays and was clearly know to the Bard. Bacon was an upstanding guy who wrote some great stuff and he lived long enough to write those damned plays. Alas, nothing else he wrote was poetry or even a bit poetic. De Vere was not only dead, he also wrote this memorable ode to a lady who is wanting a cricket bat:

    A thousand cupids fly
    About her gentle eye ;

  69. chigau (I don't like this eternal 'nym thing, either) says

    rabbitscribe

    …the level of fanaticism here is unworthy of the skeptical community…

    I will not be swayed from my stand on kettle corn.

  70. Graculus says

    Ye is a variant pronunciation of you. It is plural. The English second-person singular is thou (or thee, depending on accent).

    Except when the Y in “ye” is actually þ (thorn, “th”) so “Ye” in “Ye Olde Shoppe” is roughly pronounced as “The Oldy Shoh-pee”. Pronouncing it correctly usually annoys the originators of said crap, which makes learning Middle English not a complete waste of time.

    Did your granddad say “thissen” instead of “yourself”?

    now then, mine did.

  71. rabbitscribe says

    #93 Christine: Bacon wrote a fair amount of poetry, but it’s entirely forgivable that you didn’t know that as it’s been justifiably forgotten. A representative sample:

    Help Lord, for godly men have took their flight,
    And left the earth to be the wicked’s den:
    Not one that standeth fast to Truth and Right,
    But fears, or seeks to please, the eyes of men.
    When one with other fall’s to take apart,
    Their meaning goeth not with their words in proof;
    But fair they flatter, with a cloven heart,
    By pleasing words, to work their own behoof.

    But God cut off the lips, that are all set,
    To trap the harmless soul, that peace hath vow’d;
    And pierce the tongues, that seek to counterfeit
    The confidence of truth, by lying loud:
    Yet so they think to reign, and work their will,
    By subtle speech, which enters every where:
    And say, our tongues are ours, to help us still,
    What need we any higher power to fear?

    Now for the bitter sighing of the poor,
    The lord hath said, I will no more forbear,
    The wicked’s kingdom to invade and scour,
    And set at large the men restrain’d in fear.
    And sure, the word of God is pure, and fine.
    And in the trial never loseth weight;
    Like noble gold, which, since it left the mine,
    Hath seven times passed through the fiery straight.

    And now thou wilt not first thy word forsake,
    Nor yet the righteous man, that leans thereto;
    But will’t his safe protection undertake,
    In spite of all, their force and wiles can do.
    And time it is, O Lord, thou didst draw nigh,
    The wicked daily do enlarge their bands;
    And that, which makes them follow ill a vie,
    Rule is betaken to unworthy hands.

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure the guy who wrote that didn’t write the sonnets, unless he’s being deliberatively cringeworthy to throw us off the scent.

    Say, maybe I’m onto something here…

  72. Trebuchet says

    Could it be that Dennis Markuze has become interested in Shakespeare?

    And is it true that Shakespeare spelled his name in half a dozen different ways, none of which happened to be “Shakespeare”?

  73. says

    You “take things from work” people are seriously missing the most important target/

    Don’t waste your time with post-it notes and pens. What you do is you use the admin privileges you’ve granted yourself secretly in the corporate server (what, you haven’t? Come on! Corporate network admins almost always know far less about the system than you do!) and then you grab copies of all of the damning documents, copies of all of your glowing performance reviews that happened UNTIL you were targeted for dismissal, etc.

    There is lots of fun to be had reading the CEOs confidential memorandumums.
    Even more fun is when you find them and, like I did, discover that the CEO was planning all along on implementing that idea you came up with (and he misunderstood and waved away dismissively)… but that he was planning on doing it in a way to grab the credit and now acknowledge you.

    Then there are the internal documents that reveal the product safety concern that would necessitate a recall if the execs weren’t conspiring to hide the flaw from the CPSC so they can protect the value of their stock options…

    Seriously, that stuff is the good stuff.
    I almost got to be a whistle-blower :)

  74. says

    Your scholarship is a high-falutin’ version of fingerpainting with your own feces.

    *wipes tear from eye*

    Thanks PZ, I needed a good laugh. :)

  75. rabbitscribe says

    “And is it true that Shakespeare spelled his name in half a dozen different ways, none of which happened to be “Shakespeare”?

    I don’t know about “half a dozen,” but yes, he spelled it inconsistently. The most interesting is “Shake-spear.” Or might that have been someone else, writing under a pseudonym which simply referenced Venus, Goddess of Wisdom, who emerged from the head of Zeus shaking a spear?

  76. says

    @100, Trebuchet

    There are six surviving signatures, all of which are different and most of which use abbreviation conventions. They’re not consistent so you can’t deduce the correct spelling from them. There are also appearances in various legal documents and the printed plays. Not clear whether they would have actually asked the guy how he liked to spell his name. Nobody took spelling real seriously then anyhow, and that includes the Earl de Vere whose wacky spellings make Shakespeare look conservative.

    @99, rabbitscribe

    I’m guessing this is not the dude who brought us Lady Macbeth? It’s still nicer than de Vere though. Never mind, Bacon was busy enough being a scientific genius and can be forgiven.

  77. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Venus, Goddess of Wisdom, who emerged from the head of Zeus shaking a spear?

    Um, you might want to brush up on your Greek mythology. (Not to mention Roman….)

    Starting here.

  78. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    So Shakespeare wrote the sonnets, plays and epics, but absolutely nothing else that we know of- not even a letter. He never learned to sign his name legibly or spell it consistently. At the height of his genius, he just quits and moves back to the middle of nowhere and spends the rest of his life suing anybody who looks at him cross-eyed. And judging by a will that disposes of everything in the house down to the teaspoons, at the time of his death he owned no books.

    Right, because if there’s one thing that’s totally unheard of, it’s an artistic or literary genius becoming progressively eccentric as the years go on.

  79. Randomfactor says

    I remember an Isaac Asimov essay which suggested that Shakespeare probably did write the plays (specifically talking about The Merchant of Venice) because of scientific errors no well-educated man would have made.

  80. tyroneslothrop says

    Morris Halle and S. Jay Keyser are linguists who wrote about English stress and iambic pentameter (in, among other things, the work of Shakespeare) (generative metrics). Halle and Chomsky wrote a little book on English phonology (The Sound Pattern of English) that had a bit of an influence (though its influence, like Chomsky’s influence more generally, has waned). They were both at MIT for decades and they are both very kind and decent people–too polite I imagine to be outwardly rude. They have both been retired from MIT for years (though Halle still publishes). Pity they have to get such nonsense emails.

  81. cicely (Context-stripped and hating it.) says

    *passing popcorn to Tony*
    Go ahead and share it around—when this runs out, I’ll go get a refill.

    Could it be that Dennis Markuze has become interested in Shakespeare?
     
    And is it true that Shakespeare spelled his name in half a dozen different ways, none of which happened to be “Shakespeare”?

    Could it be that Dennis Markuze is Shakespeare, and didn’t know how to spell it?
    -

  82. says

    He didn’t really move back to the country at the height of his genius. It was after the death of Elizabeth, during a time of plague when large, showy outdoor plays were losing ground to darker plays staged in smaller enclosed theaters with higher admission prices and artificial lighting. He went back to Stratford and continued collaborating, then five years later he died. It’s all consistent with a successful man in failing health scaling back the more demanding parts of his profession, not adapting to new styles, and instead concentrating on his investments and his family. The will can be summarized as many instances of “this thing to this person” and then “all the rest to my daughter and her husband.” There’s plenty of strangeness in there but it’s all kind of believable when you imagine the sentimental stuff going to friends and a token bequest going to his more screwed-up family members and the remainder going to the daughter he liked.

  83. chigau (I don't like this eternal 'nym thing, either) says

    Won’t somebody think of the popcorn?

  84. cicely (Context-stripped and hating it.) says

    I am thinking of the popcorn, chigau.
     
    Extra buttery-flavor goop, please!
    -

  85. gijoel says

    What people don’t really was that Francis Bacon hired Shakespeare to be his front man. But he didn’t have much time to write all of the plays, and what he did write was dribble. So he hired Shakespeare to finish them all off.

    And that demonstrates the genius of William Shakespeare, he got paid twice for his work. :P

  86. chigau (I don't like this eternal 'nym thing, either) says

    cicely
    I know I have one last packet of microwave … somewhere …
    I want popcorn but am in no condition to play with hot oil.
    oh well, there’s always beer

  87. cicely (Context-stripped and hating it.) says

    I’m no expert on beer, but…perhaps not in the microwave?
    -

  88. Snoof says

    cicely @109

    Could it be that Dennis Markuze is Shakespeare, and didn’t know how to spell it?

    Quite possibly! As we all know, an infinite number of monkeys typing at an infinite number of keyboards will eventually produce the works of William Shakespeare. Markuze’s total output, while smaller, is still sufficiently large and random that he’ll eventually generate them, too!

    On the other hand, since none of Shakespeare’s plays or sonnets include references to Nostradamus, it’s highly probable that Markuspeare had an editor. Who was probably a playwright from Stratford-upon-Avon, but may have been Francis Bacon.

  89. bad Jim says

    It was my impression that “ye” was the plural form of “you”, and possibly the familiar plural.

    If you’ve read any of Marlowe’s plays, you’re unlikely to think him the actual author of Shakespeare’s. Marlowe’s good, but he doesn’t sing. He was educated, but he didn’t spend his life as a member of an acting company. Moreover, universities didn’t offer degrees in literature back then. The best way to learn playwriting would have been to act, then, with experience, rework other plays, which is consistent with the known story.

    We can suppose that Shakespeare would write an initial draft, alter it during rehearsal at the request of his partners, and alter it even further after performing it, a process which would have been far easier for a member of the acting company than an outsider, and resulted in a level of polish otherwise unobtainable.

  90. says

    As Co-Founder of the Deep-Fried FreeThinkers. I want you to know we claim no responsibility for the individual mentioned in the article.

    We are however looking into having a “Deep-Fried dingaling” award given out for various random stupidity.

    Thank you PZ for the idea. ;)

  91. says

    Someone else touched on the idea above, but I can’t resist:

    “It is now known that the plays of William Shakespeare were not written by William Shakespeare, but by another man, whose name also happened to be ‘William Shakespeare’.”

    (Caption to a cartoon by Sidney Harris.)

    Incidentally, let’s not forget that much of what we have of Shakespeare’s plays is not actually reprints of the scripts or copies which Shakespeare ever worked on, saw, or approved. Several of them are reconstructions, in part relying on the memory of actors, made years after his death. Furthermore, they were published by a man who was notorious for making edits unasked to “improve” the text. People who are worried about stylistic stuff and the large quantity of neologisms are generally ignoring this fact.

  92. DLC says

    Obviously Jesus was Shakespeare.
    And De Vere.
    And probably Sparticus too.
    As none of us were there, then my hypothesis must be true.

  93. Menyambal --- the penuchle of evolution says

    I ran across something in a book from the early 1900’s. They were discussing the Shakespeare conspiracy theorists, and it sounded totally familiar. They didn’t use “conspiracy theory” of course, but everything about it was the same as every internet nutcase, with made-up evidence, massive amounts of faith, and the same old paranoia about suppression by those invested in the prevailing system.

  94. edmundog says

    I love the people who harp on the idea that Shakespeare couldn’t spell his own name. No one could back then. Just ask Christopher Marlowe, who went by Marlo, Marley, and Marly, but never by Marlowe.

  95. says

    I still expect an outspoken person like yourself to express some opinion.

    Well, he got his own blog posting, and now thousands of people know what an ass he is. Be careful what you ask for…

  96. unclefrogy says

    regardless weather He wrote them all or in part they are all of a piece and were performed by his company of actors who he could rely on to play the plays in such a way as to make them a success.
    Like some one writing for music for a good orchestra they could play what he wanted and the audience liked.
    The idea the He did not write the stuff that has been attributed is class-ism, of all the other writers of the time only his plays are still in production.
    If he did not write them he should be acknowledged as the best script doctor of all time because his reworking of others work is fantastic he put the human being into the words and the stories better than any of his contemporaries he did it so well that few have ever equaled him with more than one work even today.
    uncle frogy

  97. richardh says

    Tha can stuff it where tha likes

    Did your granddad say “thissen” instead of “yourself”?

    I never met either of my grandfathers, but I have met “tha thee thissen” as the ultimate put-down for over-familiarity. And it neatly combines nominative/vocative, oblique and reflexive forms – no, they have not generally merged, except perhaps in American Quaker “plain speech”. Orreight?

  98. Sili says

    they also believe that all other forms of Christianity are degenerate and only the Mormon Church has restored what Jesus really intended.

    How is that different from any other flavour of Christianity?

  99. Nick Gotts says

    Not only did Bacon write the plays attributed to Shakespeare, Shakespeare wrote Bacon’s Novum Organum. (This is not my discovery, but I’ve forgotten whose it is, so let’s says it’s mine anyway.)

  100. Louis says

    I wrote Shakespeare and I ate Bacon.

    With popcorn. Bumcheese and banana flavour artisan hand wanked popcorn too. So there. With knobs on.

    Louis

  101. Forelle says

    “It is now known that the plays of William Shakespeare were not written by William Shakespeare, but by another man, whose name also happened to be ‘William Shakespeare’.”

    Jorge Luis Borges wrote a short story dealing with a variant of such an idea. Apart from the philosophical questions it might raise, there is a noticeable mockery of pedantic literary criticism — mockery to which, by the way, a lot of Borges’ devoted followers seem impervious.

  102. davehooke says

    My patience levels with conspiracy theorists in general are probably about the same as most of the readers of this blog. I have even less time for Oxfordians. The idea is motivated by snobbery. The evidence is essentially non-existent.

  103. says

    My favourite Shakespeare conspiracy theory is this, from memory from a short story from the UK comic 2000AD:

    Shakespeare’s plays were written by a 23rd century Shakespearean scholar who travelled back in time to try to meet the Bard early in his career. The scholar couldn’t find Shakespeare, and then had to *become* him in order not to cause a temporal paradox.

  104. mudpuddles says

    Oh, and do you know who wrote Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets? William Shakespeare.

    Yes indeed. So sick of reading tripe by dimwitted conspiracy theorists about how Willy the Shake was not really Willy the Shake, but actually some Prince, or the Lord of New Gloucenshire, or Gandalf, or someone else’s dog. Of course, they would know so much more than all those Renaissance historians and scholars of English arts and literature, and just about everyone else who lived in the past 400 years… of course they would…

  105. Rob Grigjanis says

    markw @137:

    The scholar couldn’t find Shakespeare, and then had to *become* him in order not to cause a temporal paradox.

    Basically the plot of Michael Moorcock’s Behold the Man, with Jesus replaced by Shakespeare.

  106. cicely (Context-stripped and hating it.) says

    With popcorn. Bumcheese and banana flavour artisan hand wanked popcorn too. So there. With knobs on.

    Louis, I’d appreciate it if you’d keep your knobs outta my popcorn, thank you so very much!
    -

  107. says

    Knobs? Plural? He’s got more than one?

    Hey, Louis. I think I can get you a job with this Japanese movie director I know.

  108. David Marjanović says

    He never learned to sign his name legibly or spell it consistently.

    Consistent spelling? In sixteenth-century English? Spelling back then was gibbering madness!

    Even the pronunciation is inconsistent; the same word sometimes rhymes differently in different works. (…Though see comment 119; I wasn’t aware of that.) The Great Vowel Shift hadn’t been fully completed yet, and I guess people talked differently upon Thames than upon Avon. Just look at comment 98, where Bacon rhymed fear with where.

    And how many people today have a legible signature? I do, because I’m deep enough in the autism spectrum; culturally it’s a very unusual thing to sign legibly. Yes, all the way to China.

    And is it true that Shakespeare spelled his name in half a dozen different ways, none of which happened to be “Shakespeare”?

    Yep. Compare Praise-God Bar(e)bon(e).

    It was my impression that “ye” was the plural form of “you”

    There’s some spot on the east coast of North America where that’s reportedly true. Nowhere else.

    – no, they have not generally merged, except perhaps in American Quaker “plain speech”. Orreight?

    Well, Daz, who is from northern England, recently told me “thee bizn’t wrong”…

    Goats are. Goat art.

    Goat is, unless thou art the goat.

    …d’oh!

    The scholar couldn’t find Shakespeare, and then had to *become* him in order not to cause a temporal paradox.

    Too late.

    (Or meta-late.)

  109. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    – no, they have not generally merged, except perhaps in American Quaker “plain speech”. Orreight?

    They have merged there. Which is where I learned it. Because once upon a time I actually talked like that.

  110. says

    @145:
    Oh, are you a Popcorn Traditionalist? The type that insists it must be popped on the stove in a huge pot with oil and kernels and whatnot…
    See here, I like partially burnt popcorn and you cant get that on the stove!

  111. cicely (Context-stripped and hating it.) says

    Oh, not true, Tony! I’ve partially burnt popcorn on a stove, many times.
    -

  112. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    It was my impression that “ye” was the plural form of “you”

    There’s some spot on the east coast of North America where that’s reportedly true. Nowhere else.

    Not quite true, David. It’s used that way here in Co. Cork, Ireland.