This presentation grew out of an attempt to track down what “flips the switch” inside someone’s head to persuade them that the Oxfordian interpretation of Shakespeare authorship is more persuasive than the Stratfordian interpretation. This distinction is important, because when one deals with literary history and literary biography, one is engaged in a forensic activity. And because the primary domain of investigation is over 400 years ago, very few things can be regarded as absolutely true. Therefore, it is always wise to realize that persons who speak on the Shakespeare authorship who use absolute statements, as if they know the absolute truth, are suspect in their motives. Believing you know the absolute truth when presented with a set of incomplete documents that require interpretation causes problems. The mind has an innate mechanism designed to create blind spots to data that contradicts what one believes to be absolutely true. So, both Stratfordians and Oxfordians will find it most healthy to frame arguments in terms of better and worse arguments, rather than in terms of “this is true until you prove absolutely otherwise.
This presentation presents a series of coincidences, which form the basis of circumstantial evidence. Contrary to the claims of Stratfordians, circumstantial evidence is often regarded as more powerful and persuasive than the testimony of a single eyewitness. For example, in criminal cases, if the circumstantial case (composed of a so-called coincidences) is powerful, it can overcome a single eyewitness. Suppose you tell jurors that a man is a murderer and you have one bit of evidence: The suspect is known to have worn Ferrigamo shoes, and the suspect wears Ferrigamo shoes. Of course, they would look at you funny. Suppose you tell jurors that a man is a murderer and you have one bit of evidence: The suspect was seen to be thin and tall, with long red hair. You say that the suspect is thin and tall, with long red hair. Again, they would not be convinced. Suppose you tell jurors that a man is a murderer and you have one bit of evidence: The suspect is known to have left the scene in a white ’65 Mustang with bald tires. They would still not be convinced, based on a single piece of evidence. It still could be a coincidence, because many people may fit that criterion. But supposed you told the jurors that the murderer wore Ferrigamo shoes, was tall and thin with red hair, and drove a white ’65 Mustang with bald tires, and the suspect fit all of these criteria. Now you would have a case and have reason to ferret out more evidence.
Because circumstantial evidence is so persuasive when properly applied, Stratfordians must find ways to weaken the circumstantial case. They do this by dividing up the coincidences and emphasizing the fact that they are only coincidences, attempting to keep people from seeing them all put together. Circumstantial evidence works like the Pointillist painters like Seurat: Is this dot on the canvas the image? No. How about this dot? No. how about this dot? No. But once you have enough dots, the image emerges, and only someone with an agenda tries to argue against the obvious pattern that is forming.
Stratfordians argue like the defense team for the Rodney King police brutality trial. The defense lawyers tried to keep the jurors from applying the entire videotape. Instead, they slowed it down frame by frame, showing each officer swinging a baton and asking, “Is this single hit police brutality? No? How about this one? No? How about this one?” and so on…
In this investigation, our approach is simple: The plays and poems constitute a crime scene. We must examine the crime scene to help generate a profile of the suspect – the true author. We may be able to trust appearances, but maybe not.
In this particular case we intend to follow a special procedure, one in which much of the evidence for the Oxfordian case will rely on hostile witnesses: Stratfordian scholars.
Our approach is to start by looking at seven categories as they apply to the crime scene: the poems and plays of a writer called Shakespeare. The image from the First Folio represents the writer Shakespeare.
The first step is to ask What do Stratfordian scholars say about the writer Shakespeare? Next we try to see what kind of evidence exists that connects to William of Stratford? Finally we look for the evidence that connects to Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford.
Along the way, please note something special about the kind of connections we are examining: These are the kinds of connections that in some way are idiosyncratic and intimate, often to the state of consciousness of the person. The intimacy of the connections is what’s so profound about the circumstantial case. We challenge proponents of William and Stratford, Marlowe, and Bacon to devise similar presentations for comparison.
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