October 16th, 2003

amused, smiling

finding words, and "going fishing"

A friend of mine is taking a class exploring the classic English department whodunit: "who wrote Shakespeare's plays?" Now, before you wonder "is this a trick question?", apparently the answer is "no."

I don't have the details, but according to her prof (who's a Linguistics prof) the real author was Edward DeVere. Unfortunately, it may not be as straightforward as we might like to make this case. I suspect a bad smell, but her final project (I may get to help with the coding) will involve doing the proper statistics with sonnets of Edward DeVere, William Shakespeare, and some other poet from the same period.

Anyway, having thought about this, I remembered the Bible Code silliness, of which some of this style of author-ship detection relies. I did some online research, and here's what I found and sent to my friend who's working on a similar question this quarter:
I was looking for information about the "Bible Code" nonsense and I found a fairly good debunking of the whole thing at:


(read his links to those who make theclaim -- second paragraph -- they're pretty wacky).

Anyway, I send you the link because the refuters (Brendan McKay et al) have some good statistical critiques of "going fishing". (In addition, they uncover some very fishy science in the Bible Codes stuff).

Anyway, the sociology here is almost as interesting as the math, but I think you'd have fun with both of them. My favorite rebuttal to "Equidistant Letter Sequences in the _Book of Genesis_" is "Equidistant Letter Sequences in Tolstoy's _War and Peace_", both of which are linked from the web site above.

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I haven't watched sports in a long time.

But I enjoyed spending three and a half hours in a basement pub off campus tonight, the room crowded with Red Sox fans, Yankee enemies, and a few hardy Yankee fans. We screamed and shouted when the tension was high, got beer spilled on us, and generally had a good time.

The game ended tragically -- Boston lost in the 11th, after leading the first six innings. I tried to explain why I was rooting for the Sox to exterra; the best I could do was:

It's like a contest between Apple and Microsoft. You don't gotta love Apple, but you'll root for anybody against the giant monopoly.
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