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SCARY Question: Did Shakspere Write Shakespeare?

July 11, 2017

Before walking into the dark alley that is the Shakespeare authorship question, let us briefly explore another scary question: Why did some apes become bipedal millions of years ago?

Humans are class: mammals, order: primates. Like some other mammals, but unlike any other primate, we have a head-to-toe layer of subcutaneous fat. Like some other mammals, but unlike any other primate, we have fairly smooth skin. Under the right conditions, human infants routinely swim and dive before they learn to walk.

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The swimming primate.

In the 1930’s, Alister Hardy theorized that our ancestors were coastal apes whose posture, skin, and fat allowed them to swim and forage in moderately deep water. It’s not such a shocking theory: all aquatic and semi-aquatic mammals that exist today evolved from land mammals. Hardy simply believed the physical differences between humans and other primates began with our ancestors’ steps down a well-worn evolutionary path.

After thirty years, Hardy finally spoke. His colleagues who supposedly understood evolution scoffed. More years passed. Elaine Morgan, shocked to learn Hardy’s idea was not being seriously discussed by professional anthropologists, wrote a series of books that were five parts evidence, three parts clarity of thought, one part scathing criticism. Professionals scoffed anew.

Humans are nothing if not predictable. Let us move on.

“Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare; just look at the title pages.” This is an argument put forward by scholars. It has a virtue: it’s catchy. But arguing that a name isn’t a pseudonym because it appears on a title page makes me a little queasy. And that is by no means the biggest problem here.

Looking into the question, one quickly finds out that William and his seven siblings were baptized “Shakspere” not “Shakespeare.” William married as “Shagspere” (with a ‘g’). His three children were all baptized “Shakspere.” He signed his name (as well as he could) “Shakspere.” Finally, he died “Shakspere.”

After William was gone, his daugther Judith named her son “Shaksper” (first name). Judith’s twin brother had died as a child and William’s three brothers were childless, so baby Shaksper was the final holder of the Shakspere name. Unfortunately, Shaksper lived only six months. The spelling on the burial record of the last male in the Shakspere line was “Shakspere.”

The fact that William himself didn’t seem to care much for the “Shakespeare” spelling may mean nothing. We know Shakspere went to London in the early 1590’s and got involved with the theater. He was referred to as “Shakespeare” on two theater-related documents, one from 1595 and one from 1599. Shakspere’s will mentions three of his theater “fellows” by name. Thus, we know Shakspere of Stratford was also Shakespeare of London. He was an investor in the theater and possibly an actor as well.

Shakspere’s arrival in London coincides roughly with “Shakespeare’s” first appearance on the title pages of two epic poems published in London in 1593 and 1594. In 1598, the “Shakespeare” byline began appearing on published plays as well. For most scholars, the fact that Shakspere was involved with the theater and was called Shakespeare and was in London when the name “Shakespeare” became famous is good evidence that Shakspere wrote Shakespeare.

The experts aren’t always wrong.

Unfortunately, when an expert uses “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare” as an opening argument in an authorship debate blithely skipping over inconvenient complications, it doesn’t inspire confidence. Claiming the authorship question is hardly worth discussing only makes things worse. Shakspere may have written Shakespeare, but saying there’s no question about it is absurd.

Here’s a breif list covering Shakspere’s entire documented life and death. All spellings are as in original documents. Theater associations are in purple. Documents identifying Shakspere/Shakespeare as a writer are in orange.

1564: Born as Shakspere.
1582: Marries as Shagspere.
1583: Daughter born Shakspere.
1585: Twin boy and girl born Shakspere.
1587: Court re: real estate.
1592: Loans money to Londoner.
1595: Shakespeare paid for performances.
1596: Son dies.
1596: Applies for coat of arms, London.
1596: Formal complaint in London that William Shakspare is dangerous.
1597: Tax evasion, London.
1597: Purchases one of the biggest houses in Stratford.
1598: Tax evasion, London.
1598: Grain-hoarding, Stratford.
1598: Neighbors Sturley and Quiney exchange letters re: Shakspere and money.
1598: Shaxpere sells stone.
1599: Coat of arms document, London.
1599: Shakespeare, theater shareholder.
1599: Tax evasion.
1600: Court re: loan.
1600: Tax evasion.
1601: Father dies.
1601: Shackspeare, theater shareholder.
1602: Buys 100 acres from neighbor John Combe.
1602: Buys a cottage near Stratford.
1603: Shakespeare, acting company member.
1604: Shakespeare, “player” issued ceremonial cloth for procession. 
1604: Malt sales.
1604: Loan to malt customer.
1604: Sues customer.
1605: Agricultural investment near Stratford.
1605: Actor leaves Shakespeare money.
1608: Court re: loans.
1608: Shakespeare, theater shareholder. 
1609: Court re: loans.
1610: Real estate transaction, Stratford.
1611: Agricultural investments yielding good returns.
1611: Leases barn near Stratford.
1611: Real estate documents, Stratford.
1612: Testifies re: third party domestic dispute. First signature.
1613: Real estate purchase in London near theater. Second and third signatures. 
1613: Shakspeare and actor Burbage paid for tournament accessory. 
1614: Series of Stratford real estate documents mention Shakspeare.
1615: Real estate documents re: London theaters mention Shakespeare.
1615: John Combe dies and leaves Shackspere money.
1616: Signs will, mentions actors, dies Shakspere, is buried in Stratford.
1616-23: Stratford monument identifies “Shakspeare” as a genius.
1623: First Folio identifies Shakespeare as the man buried in Stratford. 

Following in the footsteps of Elaine Morgan, Diana Price examined the evidence and employed simple, careful reasoning. Her book discusses a question she is not afraid to ask: Did Shakspere write Shakespeare? Her scary answer: “Probably not.”

The simplicity of Price’s approach makes her difficult to ignore. She introduces Ben Jonson’s documentary record as a standard for Elizabethan writers. She then measures the documentary record of Shakspere against this standard. The catchy slogans and overwrought claims of the mainstream placed next to Price’s work remind me of “Bambi vs Godzilla.”

We know the man born into the “Johnson” family and named Benjamin was the writer known as “Ben Jonson” not because the names are similar (!) but because when Ben Jonson died in 1637, he was buried in Westminster Abbey where he kept company with Geoffrey Chaucer (d. 1400), Edmund Spenser (d. 1599), and Francis Beaumont (d. 1616).

Jonson’s estate included a library with over one hundred books. It included letters received from friends and colleagues. Many of these letters discussed writing. Some of his friends owned gift copies of Jonson’s books inscribed with his signature. They also possessed letters received from Jonson discussing writing. A number of documents show that Ben Jonson was frequently paid and at least once jailed specifically for writing. A 40-page handwritten manuscript survives.

Like Shakspere/Shakespeare, Ben Jonson had to live and die with his name spelled inconsistently. The memorial in Westminster Abbey has “Ben Johnson” carved into stone. and “Johnson” was used to refer to him on other occasions. Jonson had dropped the ‘h’ on purpose, preferring the more distinctive “Jonson” and signed his name “Jonson” and published as “Jonson.”

Since Jonson is well documented, Johnson/Jonson causes no difficulty. Nor do we have to say “Jonson wrote Jonson because his name appears on the title pages.” The man who died in 1637 and who was buried in Westminster Abbey was obviously a writer.

benjonsongrave

Ben Jonson was buried in Westminster Abbey with Chaucer, Spenser, and Beaumont.

Not every Elizabethan writer left a trail as clear as Jonson’s. We hardly know anything about John Webster, for example. We suspect the name John Webster on the title page of The Duchess of Malfi refers to an actual person named John Webster partly because published verse under that name praises a fellow writer and describes him as a “friend.” A third writer praised someone named John Webster for writing The Duchess of Malfi and called the recipient of his praise a “friend.” A fourth person recorded that he paid someone named John Webster for a piece of writing.

This is what Price calls a “personal literary paper trail.” The mainstream says, essentially, that Price splits hairs in order to make it look like Shakspere wasn’t a writer. She responds that even mainstream biographers have marveled at the disconnect between the extensive documentary evidence of Shakspere and his supposed life as a writer.

To adjudicate this dispute, you might pile up the dozens of personal documents referring to Shakspere/Shakespeare. From a distance, the pile looks like Jonson’s. You might be looking at the one of the most extensive paper trails left by any Elizabethan writer. You rub your hands together and dig in.

Like Jonson, Shakspere left behind extremely clear documentary evidence of his vocation. There’s just one problem. The documents produced during his lifetime say Shakspere was an investor in real estate and in the theater and a grain merchant, not a writer. Shakspere’s paper trail looks nothing like Ben Jonson’s unless all that matters is size.

John Webster didn’t see in print anywhere near twenty-one plays and poems that Shakespeare did. Shakespeare’s popularity resulted in multiple editions totalling more than seventy separate publications before 1616. It was “staggering and unprecendented” in the words of one mainstreamer. Yet even Webster (!) left more of a personal literary paper trail than Shakespeare.

Of course we can fix the problem by including any reference to Shakespeare the author as personal, whether or not there is even a suggestion of a physical meeting. We can include title pages, for example. Some of the mainstream can do this without embarrassment.

But even if the mainstream can’t usually talk about title pages without blushing, there are still a boatload of irresistible references to Shakespeare by people who were not claiming to have ever met the great author. The mainstream’s torrid love affair with impersonal references might be a little embarrassing for some people. Nevertheless, two of the sexiest are mentioned below.

If we follow Price and stick with personal references, then for Jonson, Webster, and every other Elizabethan writer, the orange appears throughout their lives. Only for Shakspere does the orange only begin to appear at death.

These facts don’t bother mainstream observers. The documentary record fails to cause even a brief pause in the mainstream’s jaunty step even though mainstream biographers have repeatedly called attention to exactly the problem Price delineated.

Shakspere was Shakespeare, period.

The mainstream are technically correct. On documents drafted in London in 1596 related to his family’s application for a coat of arms, William’s father is referred to as “John Shakespeare.” In 1595, a payment for performances at court was made to “William Shakespeare” and two other members of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. In 1599, “William Shakespeare” is listed as a shareholder of the Globe theater. In 1603, “William Shakespeare” is listed as a member of the King’s Men. In his will, Shakspere leaves money to three members of the King’s Men.

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 4.41.34 PM

A London clerk wrote this pertaining to a coat of arms application probably made by William on behalf of his father, John.

Once you know Shakspere of Stratford was Shakespeare of London the theater investor and actor, you are one small step away from Shakespeare the author. You need only make the tacit assumption that acting and writing were inextricably intertwined in Shakspere’s life to the point where the two vocations virtually merged into one. You have now identified the writer of Shakespeare’s works. Your assumption is confirmed by the posthumous orange. Shakspere wrote Shakespeare. QED.

Unfortunately, as Diana Price points out with her trademark clarity, the documentary record doesn’t support this chain of reasoning.

When Shakspere died, he left behind a big house. He left a three-page will disbursing the house and the possessions therein; the house remained in his family for many years. You will not, at this point, be surprised to learn Shakspere didn’t have one hundred books in his library. He didn’t have a library at all.

London bookstores were bursting with Shakespeare books. But Shakspere’s twelve-thousand-square-foot house with its twenty bedrooms had no books in it written by Shakespeare or anyone else. There were no desks mentioned in the will and no pens or paper or inkwells either.

Shakspere’s estate also differs from Jonson’s in that there were no received letters discussing writing. There were no received letters at all about any topic. Neither has anyone found letters written by Shakspere to anyone else discussing writing. He apparently didn’t like writing letters, not even about his favorite topic: real estate. No letters written by Shakspere to anyone on any topic survive.

However, a Stratford man by the name of Quiney exchanged letters with another Stratford man named Sturley in which they discussed borrowing money from “Shakspere.” Quiney even wrote a letter to Shakspere to ask for money, but he never sent it and it became part of Quiney’s estate. Also, a clerk in Stratford named Greene referred to two letters he wrote to “Shakspeare” about real estate issues, but these letters have been lost.

So we have nothing for Shakspere. As a consolation prize, we do have solid evidence that Quiney, Sturley, and Greene were literate.

No one in Stratford or London ever referred to their friend, neighbor, or colleague Shakspere/Shakespeare as a writer while he lived. To his contemporaries, he was an actor, theater shareholder, money-lender, investor, real-estate owner, and businessman.

If Shakspere was an Elizabethan writer, he is the only one who was not a writer to anyone he knew.

Shakspere’s numerous recorded financial transactions include real estate purchases, sales of malt and stone, legal actions to recover debts, citations for tax evasion and grain-hoarding, and investments in agriculture as well as investments in the theater and payments for theatrical performances.

If Shakspere was a real estate mogul/businessman/theater investor/actor AND writer, the documentary record would include records of payments for writing, contact with publishers, legal actions to block unauthorized publications, and so forth. It doesn’t.

Needless to say, no manuscripts were part of Shakspere’s estate. We do have five intact signatures on legal documents, however. The signatures tell us much more than one would expect.

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 5.54.03 PM

Signature from The Masque of Queens manuscript.

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Signature from a court document.

Two signatures obviously in two different hands on two mortgage documents shown above, the vendor’s copy and the buyer’s copy, were signed either on the same day or one day apart.

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Signature on the second page of Shakspere’s will.

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Signature on the last page of his will. The first three words were obviously written for him. 

As Mark Twain pointed out (without the physics) more than a century ago, this is not some mind-bending paradox in special relativity. The documentary record tells the story.  Ben Jonson was a writer. John Webster was a writer. William Shakspere owned real estate.

Even the pittance of evidence left for Webster’s writing life would be fantastic if found for Shakespeare. So the search for documents continues. It may be as quixotic as the search for the Loch Ness monster, but there is always the chance Love’s Labours Won is languishing in someone’s attic, so by all means let us keep digging.

Samuel Schoenbaum, boldly accepting the challenge posed by the acute lack of Shakespeare documents not mentioning real estate, wrote a classic biography of Shakspere/Shakespeare. It was an important work. Price is one of many people who initially believed the authorship question was a silly one, but who changed their minds after reading Schoenbaum.

Schoenbaum duly noted the fact that Shakspere’s friends and neighbors knew the famous author only as a businessman. It didn’t bother him. The viewpoint of Shakspere’s “townsmen” was easy to rationalize.

“They probably troubled their heads little enough about the plays and poems. Business was another matter; they saw Shakespeare [sic] as a man shrewd in practical affairs.”

The “they” in Schoenbaum’s discussion of Stratford residents included Shakspere’s two adult children. Schoenbaum didn’t explore the implications of this. We shall.

As the wealthy landowner lay dying, his illiterate (!) daughters, Judith and Susanna, were, we imagine, by his side. They would have had tears in their eyes as Time’s scythe (Sonnet 12) took the man who, with his pen, had dared to Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time (Sonnet 16).

Indeed, Judith and Susanna’s illustrious father’s battle with his own mortality had energized his pen for years. In Sonnet 74, the great writer ominously foresaw his eventual capitulation to the “bloody tyrant” — he would be the coward conquest of a wretch’s knife. At the same time, he knew he would live on in his poetry — My life hath in this line some interest.

But Judith and Susanna knew nothing of this.

If only they had learned to read. The final two lines of Sonnet 74 especially — The worth of that is that which it contains / And that is this, and this with thee remains — would have given them comfort in their time of loss.

If only Shakspere’s house had contained a copy of the sonnets, they could at least have held it close to their chests even if they couldn’t read it. Susanna’s husband, John Hall, could have read Sonnet 74 to them — Hall was a doctor in Stratford whose handwritten diaries survive.

Judith and Susanna’s father may have been too busy writing plays and poems to teach his daughters to read, but his shrewdness in practical affairs would surely comfort them for a long Time to come.

For those of you who can read, here is Sonnet 74.

But be contented when that fell arrest
Without all bail shall carry me away,
My life hath in this line some interest,
Which for memorial still with thee shall stay.
When thou reviewest this, thou dost review
The very part was consecrate to thee:
The earth can have but earth, which is his due;
My spirit is thine, the better part of me:
So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life,
The prey of worms, my body being dead;
The coward conquest of a wretch’s knife,
Too base of thee to be remembered.
The worth of that is that which it contains,
And that is this, and this with thee remains.

The death of the Stratford businessman, the most well-read man in England, the greatest writer the English language had ever seen, maybe the most neglectful father in history was duly recorded in April, 1616.

Shakspere was buried in Stratford at the Holy Trinity Church. His second-best bed he passed on to his wife. Judith and Susanna he covered with the careful financial arrangements explained in detail in his will. To his “fellows” in London, members of the King’s Men, he left cash.

The Combe family of Stratford too was near and dear to Shakspere’s heart: he had purchased 100 acres from them in 1602 and Shakspere had been the recipient of a cash bequest in John Combe’s will. To John’s nephew, Thomas Combe, Shakspere bequeathed his sword.

Despite the immense fame in 1616 of the name “Shakespeare,” the real estate mogul of Stratford was not, as you have undoubtedly already guessed, buried in Westminster Abbey: Chaucer, Spenser, and the still-warm Beaumont and the still-alive Jonson would have to journey to eternity without Shakespeare.

After Shakspere’s death, the documentary record turns dramatically in the mainstream’s favor, suddenly becoming deeply orange. Sometime between 1616 and 1623, a monument was built at the Holy Trinity Church commemorating “Shakspeare” as the equal of Nestor, Socrates, and Virgil for wisdom, genius, and art respectively.

Sometime after the misspelt monument was built (so Shakspere and Jonson do have something in common!), an oversight was patched: Shakspere of Stratford was transmogrified into a writer complete with solid documentary evidence.

In 1623, the First Folio combined in a single volume ten plays published during Shakspere’s lifetime, two plays published in both accurate and corrupted versions during  his lifetime, five plays published only in corrupted versions during his lifetime, two plays published in virtually unrecognizable versions during his lifetime, one play published fairly accurately after his death, and sixteen plays that had never before been published.

But it was the prefatory material included in the First Folio that completed the transmogrification: Shakspere the businessman-actor became Shakespeare the famous author. Or, if you like, Shakspere finally got the credit he deserved.

In the prefatory material in the First Folio, the “Stratford moniment” is mentioned in a memorial addressed to Shakespeare. Two of Shakspere’s “fellows” from the King’s Men, mentioned as such in his will, together signed each of two letters — one to the reader and one to the two earls to whom the First Folio is dedicated. In their letters, they refer to Shakespeare as their “fellow” and also as their “friend.” Shakespeare is also called the “Sweet Swan of Avon” by none other than Ben Jonson. The full name of Shakspere’s town was Stratford upon Avon.

robinhood

The prefatory material is the primary arrow in the mainstream’s quiver.

Either Shakspere of Stratford and Shakespeare of London was also Shakespeare the writer or someone highly placed went out of their way to make it look like Shakspere wrote Shakespeare when in fact some nobleman or other had actually been using the name Shakespeare as a pseudonym.

There is no smoking-gun evidence for the theory that the prefatory material and the monument are fraudulent. No one has produced a written exchange amongst the perpetrators outlining their nefarious plot, for example. We don’t even have a written accusation by a contemporary observer that the monument and prefatory material are fakes.

Thus, we may wish to take the posthumous evidence at face value. In that case, we need to explain (or at least try to explain) the mismatch between Shakspere’s documented life and the life of a writer.

It is a difficult exercise, but not an impossible one.

Maybe Shakspere’s work as an actor/investor/landowner/money-lender simply overshadowed his work as a writer; maybe this explains the lack of personal references to Shakspere the writer. Maybe, since Shakspere’s daughters were country girls as opposed to wise Portia or moral Cordelia or brilliant Beatrice from his fiction, Shakspere didn’t feel his real-life daughters needed to learn to read. Maybe it wasn’t his decision. Perhaps, in general, Shakespeare/Shakspere wanted his life as a literary Londoner and his life as a Stratford businessman kept separate. Maybe he disposed of his books and letters before retiring in Stratford around 1610.

So far, the mainstream has not attempted any such explanation of the oddities in the Shakspere documentary record; they seem more sanguine with the claim that the oddities don’t exist even though they’ve been repeatedly mentioned by mainstream scholars! Again, this is not an attitude that inspires confidence. Still, the mainstream does argue, reasonably enough if rather weakly, that Shakspere was indeed referred to as a writer in his lifetime. These arguments are worth considering.

A poet referred to Shakespeare as “our English Terence” and portrayed Shakespeare as an actor playing parts. Terence was a great Roman writer. Aha! Shakespeare was being portrayed by this poet as both actor and writer. This doesn’t qualify as a personal literary reference, but it is nevertheless a coherent argument for the actor and writer being the same person.

There’s just one problem. Terence was described in two books from Elizabethan times not as a writer, but rather as a man who served as a front-man for two high-born writers! So “our English Terrence,” far from implying Shakspere was Shakespeare actually says the opposite unless one assumes that the author of the poem in question wasn’t familiar with this version of the history of the Roman playwright Terence.

The mainstream also points to a series of humorous plays by students from the period called the Parnassus Plays. The plays, like “our English Terence,” impersonally mention Shakespeare as an author-actor. Again, there may be a problem. The plays hilariously make the actor who refers to his “fellow” Shakespeare look like an absurd, bumbling fool who thinks Metamorphoses was a writer rather than a poem by Ovid. Ha-ha. Meanwhile, in the Parnassus Plays, the author Shakespeare is a great writer. The heavily satirical Parnassus Plays are obviously open to interpretation.

Except for the First Folio and the monument, centuries of searching for a clear connection between a man who (apparently) owned no books and who (apparently) wrote no letters and who (definitely) was not buried at Westminster Abbey and the author William Shakespeare have yielded what Price contends is an incredible mountain of nothing.

For Price and for the scary people the mainstream call “her followers,” the Shakespeare question is a mystery worth exploring as opposed to some crackpot theory.

Ducks

Mama Price and her anti-Stratfordian chicks.

It is not at all clear why the mainstream has developed a duckling phobia, but it is what it is. Perhaps we ducklings don’t know enough to be afraid. That said, let us bravely speculate just a little.

To say the Earl of Southampton — the dedicatee of Shakespeare’s epic poems and possibly the subject of the first 126 sonnets — was controversial would be an enormous understatement. As the reader will expect at this point, there is no record that would suggest Shakspere and Southampton ever met unless you first assume Shakspere is Shakespeare and then cite the dedications as evidence for a presumed meeting. Ivy league scholars are embarrassingly susceptible to reasoning in precisely this way.

Let us pause to empathize with our ivy league friends. Let us wait a moment for the red in our faces to clear. Now let us consider the implications of the fact that Shakespeare’s one and only dedicatee, the Earl of Southampton, was convicted of high treason in 1601 along with five other people, including a fellow earl.

The four knights and one earl, fools all, were summarily executed. They died, and not quickly. Then Southampton’s sentence was commuted to life in prison by Queen Elizabeth. Then Elizabeth died. Then Southampton was pardoned, released with his earldom restored, and promoted (!) by the new King, James I.

Trying to control the royal succession without a coherent plan was not one of Southampton’s most brilliant ideas: he should have died with his co-conspirators. No one knows why he didn’t. Let us suppose, briefly, that Southampton was indeed the subject of the sonnets.

In the sonnets, Shakespeare repeatedly tells Southampton that he (Southampton) will live forever in his verse (“such virtue hath my pen”). But the author won’t for some reason. He says to Southampton, “Your name from hence immortal life shall have, though I (once gone) to all the world must die.”

He doesn’t say why.

These lines and others from the sonnets together with the documentary record of Elizabethan authors and the documentary record of William Shakspere and the extraordinary circumstances of Southampton’s life, unfortunately prove nothing. However, they are food for thought.

This is a diet that is most unpalatable to the mainstream: most would sooner eat worms and some would sooner be eaten by worms than admit even the possibility that the sonnets may tell the story of Southampton’s outrageous good fortune. The mainstream is so frightened by this idea that if you mention the sonnets and turn your back, the mainstream will likely have mounted its horse and galloped away before you turn again.

The sonnets, they will say mid-gallop, are most certainly NOT autobiography even though they were written in the first person to a particular individual, were concerned with private matters, and were kept private for at least ten years before being published in 1609 by Thomas Thorpe.

Oh, and one more thing (they shout hoarsely before disappearing over a rise), Thorpe’s dedication does NOT mean the poet was dead in 1609.

Sonnet-Dedication

Sometimes you get the prefatory material and sometimes the prefatory material gets you.

We may sympathize with the poor galloping mainstream in this field and in other fields. For when the schoolchild says Africa and South America fit like puzzle pieces, the idea MUST be disregarded: think of the embarrassment if she is right!

When a professional anthropologist wonders if bipedalism was an adaptation to coastal living, ridicule is de rigueur: we are brave hunters, not fish!

When a researcher with temerity but without an ivy league professorship waves the documentary record like a red flag, it is imperative that she and “her followers” be gored to death: Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare; just look at the title pages!

I apologize for exaggerating: the ivy leaguers aren’t really so bad. But they could learn a thing or two from history.

In 1905, Einstein sent Special Relativity to a journal. The editor naturally assumed the theory was wrong. But, he thought, what is lost by discussion? The discussion would likely disprove the scary new idea, but this too would have value.

The editor knew what to do.

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