Saturday, August 27, 2005

Out Damned Spot

Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays? Shakespeare, of course.

The eternal recurrence and historical persistence of even the most ludicrous and untenable of conspiracy theories (Holocaust denial, Apollo lunar landing disavowal, certain currently popular books sold by the millions to credulous readers with abysmal taste, ad infinitum) is best explained in religious or mythological terms. For conspiracy theorists, belief is an act of faith, not a question of evidence or of reasoned analysis. This faith “rejects the most obvious explanation of an event, and reinterprets evidence to fit a preconceived idea . . . . Facts that contradict the theory are explained by conspiracy, but this ploy means that ‘conspiracy theories are really not theories at all’, but faiths, which cannot be proved false.”
Writing in the London Times Literary Supplement, Brian Vickers reviews various contemporary regurgitations of the “theories” that Francis Bacon or the Earl of Oxford, rather than William Shakespeare, were the authors of his immortal plays (and one contemporary refutation of the “hypotheses”) and asks “Why Not Shakespeare?”. Why not, indeed? His brief essay is an excellent summary refutation.

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