We seem to have migrated the Shakespeare question to literature.se where it may find a warm home, but I think a case can be made for keeping it here.

While it is clearly in a grey area where a truly definitive conclusion may be impossible and people might well want to spout mere opinions rather than facts, it would still be valuable to have a thorough skeptical analysis of the logic behind the alternative author theories. As far as I can tell many of the alternative authorship theories are based on very tenuous logic and evidence.

My view is that allowing skeptical analysis of those ideas might actually enhance skeptics.se. Of course it might just lead to an unproductive flamewar. But until we have seen what sort of analysis emerges how do we know? I'd vote to un-migrate the question until we know what sort of answers we get; if we get good skeptical analysis of evidence let it stay.


It's already got a really good answer on the literature site, and I don't see any reason to bring it back from there. It's more likely to get a good answer on a site populated with literature experts than one populated by experts in...whatever it is Skeptics is expert in. This isn't exactly a challenging question for literature experts. Plenty of people will probably be very happy to give a summary of Shakespeare authorship theories.

  • I don't think the answers are very good so far from a skeptical point of view. I was hoping that skeptics could be more, well, skeptical than to accept a small number of arbitrary coincidences as evidence. Could we both host the question and see who produces the better analysis?
    – matt_black
    Oct 20 '11 at 19:10
  • What would you like to see that makes the answer more skeptical? The question has been visited many times by many authors, producing a huge number of papers and many books. Oct 20 '11 at 19:45
  • I think I'd like to see more insistence of evidence not speculation. The basic starting point for many not-Shakespeare arguments is that he couldn't possibly have imagined his characters doing what they did (for example, because he was just a commoner). But this is about as credible as saying that Thomas Harris needed to be a psychopathic cannibal to invent the character of Hannibal Lecter.
    – matt_black
    Oct 20 '11 at 19:54
  • You misunderstand. "Being" is not the same as "knowing about". If Thomas Harris knew nothing about mental illness, had never heard of the concept of a psychopath, had never been inside a mental institution or knew anybody who had been (and lived in an age when reading about such things was impractical) then you might wonder how he managed to write such accurate accounts. But seriously, you are countering speculation with speculation of your own. Oct 20 '11 at 20:09
  • So how does that change the argument about Shakespeare? He could have known about unfaithfulness, the goings on of the Elizabethan court etc. without being an unfaithful aristocrat. So the majority of the anti-authorship arguments drop right there. Besides I was just reading a great pro-Shakespeare book and was hoping to stick a summary in as an answer!
    – matt_black
    Oct 20 '11 at 20:24
  • 2
    Nothing to stop you writing an answer on the Literature site. Oct 20 '11 at 20:33
  • @matt_black: Indeed, I would welcome additional answers on the literature site.
    – Jivlain
    Oct 21 '11 at 4:38
  • 1
    By that rationale, most of questions can be transferred to SE sites of their appropriate fields: Biology, Physics, History, Parenting, Medicine, whatever.
    – user288
    Oct 21 '11 at 22:49

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