Author Topic: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter  (Read 1320 times)

Hopscotch

AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« on: October 09, 2023, 06:11:54 AM »
Sweden’s ‘queen of Noir’ Camilla Läckberg accused of using a ghostwriter
Guardian  8 Oct 2023

“...bestselling crime novelist Camilla Läckberg...[Sweden’s] answer to Agatha Christie...last week had to deny that she had tricked her admirers into buying books that were not written by her, after data analysis suggested she had used unattributed ghostwriters for some of her recent novels....journalist Lapo Lappin ran Läckberg’s novels through a ‘stylographic’ data tool, which counts the most common words in a text, processes them using statistical methods and then compiles the results in a diagram.  The tool found a consistency of style in the mystery novels...that first made Läckberg’s name...A more recent series of revenge thrillers, however, was mapped on a different corner of its diagram altogether...The programme noted a marked similarity between the style of Läckberg’s revenge novels...and the output of fellow crime writer Pascal Engman, who has worked as Läckberg’s editor at publishing house Forum. With another short novel,...the programme identified Engman as the sole author....the novelist took to Instagram to suggest the investigation into her work had been born out of literary snobbery....Some critics have argued that the enormous global demand for Scandi noir means readers cannot realistically expect every word to be written by the author named on the cover. Others disagree....”

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2023/oct/08/swedens-queen-of-noir-camilla-lackberg-accused-of-using-a-ghostwriter
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TimothyEllis

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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2023, 01:39:50 PM »
This is where Bot use is getting stupid.

It's like if you put any writing through a Bot, and it will come back and say yes, it's Bot generated.

In this case, all the Bot has detected is the editor did more work on the book than previous books.

Maybe there was a change in relationship, so instead of doing the edits herself, the editor is trusted to do them instead.

Any writer who uses an editor will over time tend to write the way the editor has submitted the edits.

That's just normal.

My writing has changed a lot in the last few years just based on what my proofreader finds and suggests. Because when you make the same changes book after book, eventually you make them as you write instead.

I hope the author mentioned here is suing whoever made the accusation for libel. And whoever is selling the Bot as well.
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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2023, 02:27:51 AM »
I'd have to see the underlying data to comment on whether or not it has any real validity, but I think this isn't necessarily on artificial intelligence issue.

People's writing styles do change over time, and an editor may certainly influence that, probably more so in trad publishing than with indies.

However, stylometric analysis (also called forensic linguistics) can be a valid tool for assessing questions of dependency or authorship. (It was one of the tools used to catch the Unibomber, for example, by matching the style of his manifesto with Ted Kaczynski's style from letters and other sources.) The devil is in the details, however. Every resemblance by itself is not necessarily conclusive. One has to see a lot of resemblances (and close ones) to begin to make any definitive conclusions. In this case, one has to also be able to rule out other possible reasons for those resemblances. Timothy makes a good argument regarding the author-editor relationship in this case. The author makes exactly that claim in the linked article.

What the journalist in this case should do is run comparisons of other writers in similar circumstances (that is, pairs in which one writer influenced the other) to see if the degree of similarity is comparable to what one finds with Lackberg and her editor.

It would also be interesting to know how much the journalist reviewed the AI findings. Did the journalist just look at the graph or drill down and check the actual resemblances? As far as I know, it still takes a human mind to distinguish which resemblances are significant and which aren't. (Some may be due to subject matter, influence of other sources, etc.) Fans picked up on the fact that Stephen King was writing the Richard Bachman  books without, as far as I know, using any software to do it. Much later, they quickly picked up on the fact that Stephen P. King (who wasn't at first using the P) wasn't the same Stephen King.

I'm a big believer in the plagiarism software (Turnitin) that I used when I was teaching. But I could cite some horror stories about colleagues who just looked at the percentage of repeated text and didn't check the specifics. (Research papers would have all kinds of quotations from sources flagged, even though they were all properly cited. One would expect a higher degree of similarity in such writing than one would in an autobiographical piece, for example.) 

The fact that there's a genre change here may also be significant, although mystery and revenge thriller have some features in common. Someone writing epic fantasy would probably have a different style than the same author writing urban fantasy.


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LilyBLily

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2023, 02:38:07 AM »
If you go back far enough in any artist's style, you will find who they copied the most before they developed their own style. Interesting that authors might evolve less like themselves and more like others.
 

Post-Crisis D

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2023, 03:30:12 AM »
I remember a site(s?) where you could enter a selection of your writing and it would tell you what other author(s) was most similar in style to your own.

Entering different selections would generate different results.

Your style can change over time and, if you write in more than one genre, your voice is likely different in one than the other.

So, just because some "AI" tool says a book is written by someone else doesn't necessarily mean that it was.  We all know AI has a tendency to make stuff up so I don't think you can rely on it for accurate analysis.

That's the problem with using computerized tools for certain things.  For example, word counts.  I can take a Pages document on my iPad and transfer it to Pages in Mac and the word count will be different in both.  Likewise, I can take that document from Pages and export it to another format that can be opened in a text editor, Word, LibreOffice or whatever and get a different word count.  And it is all in how the software is programmed to count "words."

So, if machines can't even count words consistently, how can you expect them to correctly analyze who may or may not have written something?

Heck, even humans screw stuff up.  I remember an essay I did in high school that was entered into something and each essay was judged by three different teachers.  One docked me points for not meeting the word count.  I met the word count.  I manually counted the words.  He/she estimated based on lines/pages and also deducted the words of one or two quoted poems I hadn't included in my manual count.

Okay, yes, that still irks me.
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LBL

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2023, 05:23:54 AM »
Yikes. This reads like a prequel to '1984', or 'Minority Report'.
 

Jeff Tanyard

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2023, 02:20:21 PM »
Yikes. This reads like a prequel to '1984', or 'Minority Report'.






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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2023, 06:16:21 AM »
Three may be current things that suggest 1984, but I don't think this is one of them.

Technology like this has been around for several years and isn't really like contemporary AI. It's just a collection of algorithms geared to a very specific task.

As I said before, the key is human involvement. The software can tell how how much two pieces resemble each other in terms of style, vocabulary, etc. But it can't necessarily determine the significance of those similarities. For that, you need skilled human interpreters. If the software in this case is actually making a blanket statement  about ghostwriting, then it needs to be rewritten. If the journalist is doing that without fully analyzing the data, the journalist needs to reconsider the methodology.

For a potentially more benign application of the same technology, any of you who have an interest in Shakespeare's background might want to take a look at Dennis McCarthy's books on Shakespeare, for example, Thomas North: the Original Author of Shakespeare's Plays

Troubled by certain discrepancies in Shakespearean data, McCarthy used online databases of Elizabethan literature in conjunction with online plagiarism software and discovered that Shakespeare's plays had a huge number of parallels with North's writings. We have long known that some of the plays (the Roman ones in particular) borrowed heavily from North's translation of Plutarch. But McCarthy found large similarities all over the place. Even more telling, McCarthy discovered a previously unpublished travel journal of North and other private writings that were also reflected in the plays. In addition, he found proof that North had been paid for playwrighting by the Earl of Leicester's men.

All of this, together with biographical data of North's that is also reflected in the plays, led McCarthy to conclude that North wrote and published plays anonymously (since they weren't considered literature and gentlemen of noble birth didn't write for the theater). When North fell on hard times (right before Shakespeare emerged as a writer), McCarthy speculates he sold his old plays to Shakespeare, who then (lightly) adapted them. Shakespeare's earliest published plays even say, "adapted by William Shakespeare" or something similar on the title page.

I've generally believed that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. It was the forensic linguistic evidence, in conjunction with other historical data, that pushed my over the edge. McCarthy's case is so conclusive that I think it will be the consensus in a few years.


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Hopscotch

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2023, 08:49:17 PM »
I'll look for the book as always interested in Shakespeare's sources.  But must say that lack of manuscript evidence that Shakespeare wrote his own plays is not proof that lack of manuscript evidence that someone else wrote them actually wrote them.  His contemporaries thought he wrote them and they knew him and competed w/his work.  They also knew or knew of Thomas North (and everyone else some now think wrote the plays).  And all knew that writers (commercial and other) including Shakespeare sought and used all the source material they could find, copycatted, rewrote old plays and swiped good stuff from each other.  But that doesn't mean North or any other is the true(r) Shakespeare, or that there is sufficient comparable material for AI to figure it out for us. 
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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2023, 12:09:14 AM »
I'll look for the book as always interested in Shakespeare's sources.  But must say that lack of manuscript evidence that Shakespeare wrote his own plays is not proof that lack of manuscript evidence that someone else wrote them actually wrote them.  His contemporaries thought he wrote them and they knew him and competed w/his work.  They also knew or knew of Thomas North (and everyone else some now think wrote the plays).  And all knew that writers (commercial and other) including Shakespeare sought and used all the source material they could find, copycatted, rewrote old plays and swiped good stuff from each other.  But that doesn't mean North or any other is the true(r) Shakespeare, or that there is sufficient comparable material for AI to figure it out for us.
It's not lack of manuscript evidence. Original manuscripts for any of the plays don't exist, just some of the earlier printed copies. And yes, the practice of rewriting old plays is widespread.

What clinched the deal for me was "Shakespeare's" use of North's private documents as sources (as verified by lots of textual similarities). Shakespeare could have grabbed North's old plays, but how did he get ahold of something like North's travel journal?

As far as the sufficiency of material is concerned, North was a prolific translator, who did not only Plutarch but also a couple of other lengthy works that have survived. Those plus his travel journals and other private papers provide a large amount of material. By the time all the resemblances are accounted for, Shakespeare's contribution shrinks to almost nothing. "Rewrite" becomes more like "change a word or phrase here and there." The only exception may be some of the humorous scenes.

In the previous post, I didn't go into other evidence McCarthy presents, such as North's access to French and Italian works that were plot sources for Shakespeare but that didn't exist in English at the time. North knew both languages and had traveled in both countries. As far as we know, Shakespeare knew only English and a little Latin. Also, there are a lot of biographical links between North's life and the texts. By themselves, those links wouldn't have convinced me--there are a lot of ways to connect different people's lives to the plays. But those links in conjunction with the forensic linguistic evidence are persuasive.

I understand where you're coming from, though. Like you, I want Shakespeare to be Shakespeare. But it's possible to accept that North wrote the vast bulk of the canon, with very light editing by Shakespeare, and still leave Shakespeare a role. In The Apocryphal William Shakespeare, Sabrina Feldman is writing to promote a different theory--that Thomas Sackville wrote Shakespeare. But based on her study of the Shakespearean apocrypha, she concludes Shakespeare may well have written many of the plays critics were convinced weren't good enough to be by Shakespeare. Sadly, she didn't do forensic linguistics on the texts, but she identified general stylistic features that these plays shared. They were almost all printed in Shakespeare's lifetime and attributed to Shakespeare, an attribution he surely would have rejected if he were truly the author of the traditional canon, because these plays are inferior from a literary standpoint. What they did have was mass appeal.  There was less philosophy but much faster action and more humor, much of it unrefined. The groundlings would have loved it, and these plays match some of the criticisms made by Shakespeare's contemporaries.

In other words, Shakespeare built a name for himself by filling seats in the theater. He knew how to please a crowd, even if later critics turned their noses up at his output. If Shakespeare wrote these popular but crude plays and then used his popularity to preserve the essence of North's more sophisticated work (which he may also have rewritten for popular consumption, one theory about where the bad quarto versions came from), then he played an important role. He might still be responsible for some of the humor in the canonical plays, but he's also responsible for popularizing theater and preserved many cherished works that might have disappeared otherwise. It's not the role we thought he had, but it's still a considerable contribution.

Anyway, to get back to the actual subject of the thread, forensic linguistics can be valuable for a variety of purposes, from making a case for plagiarism to clarifying relationships among past literary works. It might also play a role in modern authorship disputes. However, as I've said, that involves a human being looking at the evidence piece by piece and not relying solely on an AI statistical analysis. But considering the employing a ghost writer is neither illegal nor unethical, that seems to be waste of time to me. Are fans complaining about the quality of the disputed books? Not as far as I can tell. If they were, it would be they, not a journalist with AI software, who raised the question. In such a case, the author should get the benefit of the doubt. 



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Hopscotch

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2023, 01:21:36 AM »
In such a case, the author should get the benefit of the doubt.

I agree, the authorship issue for W-S is amusing but trivial.  The great plays are the thing.  But I remain curious for W-S as for Lackberg, and so far I haven't seen convincing textual analysis (AI-supported or otherwise) for either.  Sometimes AI is just a toy.
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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2023, 01:28:44 AM »
In such a case, the author should get the benefit of the doubt.

I agree, the authorship issue for W-S is amusing but trivial.  The great plays are the thing.  But I remain curious for W-S as for Lackberg, and so far I haven't seen convincing textual analysis (AI-supported or otherwise) for either.  Sometimes AI is just a toy.

Why, after all this time, does it even matter?

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Post-Crisis D

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2023, 01:36:38 AM »
Why, after all this time, does it even matter?

Truth?  Giving credit where actual credit is due?


Of course, we already know who originally wrote Shakespeare's plays:
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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2023, 01:48:13 AM »
Why, after all this time, does it even matter?

Truth?  Giving credit where actual credit is due?

This far away in time, the truth is gone.

People can play games with dumb bots and pretend they're discovering truth, but it's all lost in time now.

Anyone petty enough to want to rewrite history using a dumb bot at this point, just gets my contempt.
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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2023, 02:08:19 AM »
Literature is a product of its author's environment. What we write reveals something about us. Who we are reveals something about our writing.

That's the only reason who wrote Shakespeare makes a difference. Knowing something about the author helps inform our understanding of the author's work. I think keeping the authorship with Shakespeare is appealing psychologically because it gives us a nice success story--poorly educated butcher's son rises to create some of the greatest literature ever written in English. Who wouldn't want to believe that? We always want to root for the underdog. And there are real stories about that kind of success. But it now appears Shakespeare isn't one of them.

The forensic linguistic evidence makes a compelling case, particularly when it shows dependence on North's private papers that WS couldn't have had access to. When you add biographical connections to North, the case becomes overwhelming. Shakespeare could have gotten information about how nobles behaved from one of his noble patrons. But is it likely he could have gotten the story of murder of Gonzago (the play-within-the-play in Hamlet), a story not available in English or generally known in England? North visited the castle of the Duke or Urbino, from whose family the murder story comes. His journal indicates he could have gotten the story firsthand, but he preserves an erroneous version of the name of the victim, an error that would have been unique to him but that appears in Hamlet. McCarthy even traces the imagery used in the castle's artwork to other Shakespeare plays. Detail after detail, the plays relate clearly to North's experience but not at all to Shakespeare's.

Here's a really interesting tidbit. The play Arden of Feversham, once regarded as falsely ascribed to Shakespeare, is now regarded as mostly his because of resemblances to the canonical plays. But it turns out those resemblances are all to parts of the plays clearly written by North. What makes the play really interesting is that AF is a domestic tragedy--based on North's own family. Thomas Arden was murdered by his wife, who also happened to be North's half-sister. The play contains a lot of details that are accurate when compared to the historical information we can reconstruct. The murder itself was famous, but whoever wrote the play knew a great deal more than the average person, even to the point of having accurate geographical information about the setting. North has a personal reason to know so much about it. Shakespeare doesn't.

Anyway, the Italian plays make much more sense as the products of the pen of someone who traveled extensively in Italy. The supposedly Shakespearean part of Henry VIII, with its full throated and anachronistic praise of the Catholic Catherine of Aragon makes more sense as being written originally when Catherine's daughter, Mary, was queen and Catholicism was still the state religion than it does as a Shakespearean product during the reign of James I, when Protestantism was the state religion. There are a lot of references that make more sense coming from North at an earlier time than from Shakespeare at a later one.

And then there's the fact that many of Shakespeare's contemporaries either didn't praise him or actively criticized him as a plagiarist and/or a mediocre writer. We used to attribute those to jealousy, but there are a lot of them, and they make much more sense if in fact Shakespeare was, among other things, the front man for someone else.

I never used to believe this. I believe it now only because the textual evidence is overwhelming. But it helps that that evidence is also confirmed by other circumstances.



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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2023, 02:18:08 AM »
I believe it now only because the textual evidence is overwhelming. But it helps that that evidence is also confirmed by other circumstances.

Here in Australia, we call this "Tall poppy syndrome."

The need to cut down anyone who gets put up on a pedestal. It's pretty sickening to watch. imo.

Everything I've read here on this is circumstantial and coming from a Bot. None of it represents truth, just speculation by something which is known to make sh*t up, and then people hyping it.

The truth is lost.

The only thing going on here is the character assassination of an author who made it.

Like what sparked this in the first place.
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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2023, 02:33:36 AM »
Why, after all this time, does it even matter?

Truth?  Giving credit where actual credit is due?

This far away in time, the truth is gone.

People can play games with dumb bots and pretend they're discovering truth, but it's all lost in time now.

Anyone petty enough to want to rewrite history using a dumb bot at this point, just gets my contempt.
If the truth is gone, then why not list all the plays as anonymous?

You and I share a similar contempt for dumb bots, but using a very specific kind of dumb bot as a plagiarism detection tool convinced me of their usefulness in certain defined circumstances, providing that humans interpret the data intelligently.

We also know that writers do leave their fingerprints in what they write. Stephen King's attempt to publish under the Richard Bachman name was foiled by fans who recognized the writing as King's. Similar pseudonymous works by JK Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith) were also discovered by fans. In some way, the anonymous book, Primary Colors was identified as the work of Joe Klein. Earlier, I mentioned that Ted Kazcinsky was identified as the Unibomber using forensic linguistics. it is possible to identify writers through their style and vocabulary.

That being the case, is it that far-fetched to think that a bot could be fed lexical and stylistic data and find resemblances?

I would suggest that anyone interested read the book before deciding that contempt is the appropriate response.

As a quick note, Dennis McCarthy started out as an indie author with his first book, North of Shakespeare. Ironically, he is also kind of like the success story told about Shakespeare. McCarthy doesn't have a college degree and wasn't a good student in school. But he was able to self educate in areas that interested him. Without a biology background, he was able to learn enough about biogeology to publish successful works on the subject (even in peer-reviewed scientific journals). He changed our understanding of how certain species exist only in widely separated areas. Without an English background, he took on the Shakespeare authorship question and has attracted the support of at least one major scholar in the field (who, like me, was convinced Shakespeare was the author before seeing McCarthy's evidence).

I can understand people disagreeing with him. But I don't think he merits contempt.

I think we're all unhappy with potentially unfounded accusations being leveled at a fellow author. I'm not convinced by the general statements in the thread-starting article that the accusations are sufficiently supported. But that shouldn't prejudice us against forensic linguistics, which is a valid tool if properly used.


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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2023, 02:42:16 AM »
but using a very specific kind of dumb bot as a plagiarism detection tool convinced me of their usefulness in certain defined circumstances, providing that humans interpret the data intelligently.

Those tools are demonstrably unreliable.

The number of Quora questions all asking how to convince teachers their essay wasn't plagiarized after the tool said it was, is major.

Quite frankly, I wouldn't trust any of those plagiarism checkers to be right about anything.

My advice to students there is within Word to turn on track changes. So they can print out every change they made while typing out their essay. The only way to prove you didn't plagiarize these days is lousy typing, fixing and editing, and showing all the mistakes and changes.
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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2023, 02:59:27 AM »
I believe it now only because the textual evidence is overwhelming. But it helps that that evidence is also confirmed by other circumstances.

Here in Australia, we call this "Tall poppy syndrome."

The need to cut down anyone who gets put up on a pedestal. It's pretty sickening to watch. imo.

Everything I've read here on this is circumstantial and coming from a Bot. None of it represents truth, just speculation by something which is known to make sh*t up, and then people hyping it.

The truth is lost.

The only thing going on here is the character assassination of an author who made it.

Like what sparked this in the first place.
I agree that "Tall Poppy Syndrome" is bad. And I've always found earlier disputes about Shakespeare's authorship to be supported by insufficient evidence.

But that doesn't mean that every potential authorship challenge is necessarily wrong.

In the sense that we don't have eyewitnesses saying that Thomas North actually wrote the plays, then yes, I guess the evidence is circumstantial. But if we adopt that standard, we'd have to throw out many established historical facts, because their credibility was established through circumstantial evidence. For any history before the modern period, we are often reliant on accounts written long after the fact and have to use circumstantial evidence to confirm or deny them. And even some of those written by people in a position to know aren't always accurate. Julius Caesar's remarks about druids, for example, aren't backed up by archaeology or by accounts of his contemporaries and seem to be mostly propaganda.

Hopscotch is right that there was a lot of borrowing and adapting going on, most of which wouldn't be allowed by modern copyright laws. But the level of verbal resemblance here means that North wrote most of the substance of the plays currently attributed to Shakespeare. If we used modern conventions, the title page would read something like, "Romeo and Juliet by Thomas North, edited by William Shakespeare." The actual title pages of published Shakespeare plays say something like, "adapted by William Shakespeare." The only ones that aren't qualified in that way are for plays in the Shakespearean apocrypha.

For the sake of focus, let's address the one part of the evidence that I think is the most incontrovertible. Shakespeare's plays contain numerous parallels to unpublished works by Thomas North. The most natural explanation would be that writing containing large amounts of such material was written by Thomas North or was at least a substantial source for the finished product.  What other possibilities are there?

That the resemblances are coincidental--statistically impossible

That WS is the illegitimate son (or otherwise related) to TM and thus had access to his private papers--no evidence, circumstantial or otherwise. They may have met. McCarthy's theory assumes that North, then having financial hard times, sold his plays to WS, which would imply they met at some point. Their careers overlapped, so they could have been in touch in other ways. But there's no reason to assume a personal connection enough for North to be passing along his private papers to Shakespeare. The language borrowed from them is so thoroughly integrated into the plays that the more logical assumption is that North must have baked it in when writing the original plays.

That WS and TM collaborated on the plays. One could argue for some collaboration. For example, I think it's possible they collaborated on the Ur-Hamlet (1589 or so). But if the language in the play ends up being overwhelmingly North's, then it really doesn't matter how it came about. Whether North wrote a play Shakespeare adapted or whether they worked on a play together, the overwhelming authorship credit, in the modern sense, belongs to North. Shakespeare may well deserve the credit for preserving and popularizing the work. He knew how to please a crowd.

I can't think of any other logical possibilities. But I'm always happy to be proved wrong.


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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2023, 03:22:31 AM »
but using a very specific kind of dumb bot as a plagiarism detection tool convinced me of their usefulness in certain defined circumstances, providing that humans interpret the data intelligently.

Those tools are demonstrably unreliable.

The number of Quora questions all asking how to convince teachers their essay wasn't plagiarized after the tool said it was, is major.

Quite frankly, I wouldn't trust any of those plagiarism checkers to be right about anything.

My advice to students there is within Word to turn on track changes. So they can print out every change they made while typing out their essay. The only way to prove you didn't plagiarize these days is lousy typing, fixing and editing, and showing all the mistakes and changes.
Based on my experience, I'd have to disagree. When the verbal resemblance gets beyond a certain point, there's really no other logical explanation except plagiarism.

That said, as I mentioned earlier, it's certainly possible for teachers to misread the data. I had a colleague who automatically assumed a student was plagiarizing if the percentage was beyond a certain point (and the target wasn't even that high). That's clearly faulty analysis. One has to look at the specifics and make a reasonable determination. Software like Turnitin's identify similarities (and are demonstrably accurate about that). They pointedly don't call anything plagiarism. That is a determination properly made by the teacher.

On such matters, I was very definitely a "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" kind of guy. So I sat with each essay that had a suspiciously high percentage and ruled out
--coincidental resemblances involving common phrases or phases likely to come up when discussing a particular subject
--quotations properly marked as such and cited appropriately (though I might have dinged someone for over-quoting if the essay had turned into a patchwork quilt of quotes with very little writing holding them together--that's more like a cut-and-paste job than a real essay, though it wasn't technically plagiarism)
--single unmarked quotes where the student was generally conscientious, on the theory that the omission was a mistake rather than deliberate.

Then I would look at whatever remained. If there were massive blocks of word-for-word text, well, what can I say? That's like the suspect was caught covered in the victim's blood and carrying the smoking gun. But in somewhat less obvious cases, I looked at other factors.

Sometimes, plagiarists aren't very good writers on their own. (I know, shocker!) Sometimes, the plagiarized material is off-topic, or a series of plagiarized blocks don't really fit together well. Other times, the material deals with concepts beyond the likely understanding of the student or uses vocabulary uncharacteristic of the student. In a case like that, I'd ask the students about the concepts and/or vocabulary. What usually happened was that they drew a complete blank. Case closed. You can't claim you wrote something when you don't understand it.

There's more, but I think you get the point. All the dumb bot does is identify the resemblances with potential sources. From there, it's the teacher's job to distinguish plagiarism from appropriate use of sources and coincidence. If there are problems, they are problems with interpretation, not with the original data. As for the students on Quora, you never know. Some of them may be suffering from teacher misinterpretation. They should ask to see the originality report and go over it with the teacher. Some of it may be students who are guilty as sin and just trying to find away out. Amazingly enough, even people in the covered-with-blood-and-holding-the-smoking-gun category will all claim that they tripped and fell in the blood, panicked, and rolled around in it for a while, right before someone handed them the gun and ran. Sigh!


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LilyBLily

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2023, 03:58:34 AM »
What I've never liked about the debunking Shakespeare contingent was their insistence that only a nobleman could have written the plays. The need to somehow prove that only nobly born people can do anything creative or honorable or whatever seemed to have died out in the 20th century, and good riddance.

I'm not an idolator, so if the person North, whom I've never heard of before, was the actual author of the plays, well, that's okay. It will take some getting used to, but as he may have said, "the play's the thing."
 

Post-Crisis D

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2023, 05:35:29 AM »
Why, after all this time, does it even matter?

Truth?  Giving credit where actual credit is due?

This far away in time, the truth is gone.

Maybe, maybe not.  You never know what evidence might be found.

My inclination would be to continue to credit Shakespeare unless authorship is proven otherwise.


Literature is a product of its author's environment. What we write reveals something about us. Who we are reveals something about our writing.

That's the only reason who wrote Shakespeare makes a difference. Knowing something about the author helps inform our understanding of the author's work.

For fiction, I lean toward "The Death of the Author" so a work should be judged on its own and not based on the author.

For non-fiction, it can be important because, for example, you probably don't want to take relationship or financial advice from a drunken couch potato who can't hold down a job and beats his wife during the commercial breaks.
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Hopscotch

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2023, 06:47:25 AM »
Here’s an interesting rebuttal by an Oxfordian (a competitor to McCarthy’s theory) including a list of methods of textual analysis about midway down the article w/the note that “parallels from plays of uncertain or contested authorship prove nothing.”

Plus a comment by McCarthy’s fellow researcher:  “Not once...have I found anything to disprove the notion that Thomas North wrote source plays for all of the plays in the Shakespeare canon. Nor, however, have I found anything that definitively proves it....there are no surviving plays with Thomas North’s name on them, or even hard evidence that North was a playwright.....”

https://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/blanding-north-hyde-review/

Let the debate roil on.
. .
 

Jeff Tanyard

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2023, 07:00:03 PM »
I'll look for the book as always interested in Shakespeare's sources.  But must say that lack of manuscript evidence that Shakespeare wrote his own plays is not proof that lack of manuscript evidence that someone else wrote them actually wrote them.  His contemporaries thought he wrote them and they knew him and competed w/his work.  They also knew or knew of Thomas North (and everyone else some now think wrote the plays).  And all knew that writers (commercial and other) including Shakespeare sought and used all the source material they could find, copycatted, rewrote old plays and swiped good stuff from each other.  But that doesn't mean North or any other is the true(r) Shakespeare, or that there is sufficient comparable material for AI to figure it out for us.


Yeah, this.

I'm on the "Shakespeare wrote his own stuff" team until some sort of smoking gun appears to suggest otherwise.  Mere linguistic similarities don't rise to the level, for me, of a smoking gun.


Literature is a product of its author's environment. What we write reveals something about us. Who we are reveals something about our writing.


And if two men are products of the same time and place, then it's hardly beyond the realm of possibility that they might end up writing linguistically or topically similar stuff.  We see this sort of thing today.  Two different authors will write nearly identical books at the same time and often even employing similar turns of phrase, and it turns out it's all by sheer happenstance, not plagiarism.

Plagiarism happens, to be sure, but literary coincidences happen, too, and I usually prefer to err on the side of not jumping to accusations.


Quote
The supposedly Shakespearean part of Henry VIII, with its full throated and anachronistic praise of the Catholic Catherine of Aragon makes more sense as being written originally when Catherine's daughter, Mary, was queen and Catholicism was still the state religion than it does as a Shakespearean product during the reign of James I, when Protestantism was the state religion.


This isn't necessarily anachronistic at all.  Shakespeare's plays, while cleverly written, were nevertheless low-brow stuff full of gratuitous violence, sex jokes, and shots at the establishment.  They were intended to titillate the masses.  In all seriousness, I think their modern analogy would be to professional wrestling.  Never forget that these plays weren't written to be literature; they were written to be performed in front of a live audience.  Academics often make this mistake, and they used to do the same thing with Beowulf until Tolkien's essay about it convinced them to change their thinking.

As for James I, he was rumored to be a closeted Catholic in a time of religious turmoil, so banging the religious drum vis-a-vis the monarchy would have been a good way for a playwright to get an audience riled up.  I'm not saying that's what happened in the matter of this particular play, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility.

And saying "Protestantism was the state religion" might be true, but it was still a highly contentious issue for the whole 17th century.  The Gunpowder Plot occurred less than a decade before Henry VIII was first performed.  Between Anglicanism, Catholicism, Puritanism, Presbyterianism, and various sub-groups and ethnic grievances mixed in, the British archipelago of the time was chock full of violence and abuses.  The matter of the monarch's religious loyalty wouldn't be settled with any finality until William and Mary and the Act of Settlement of 1701.  The Wars of the Three Kingdoms were fought in part over this stuff. 

We see demagoguery, caricaturing, and socio-political sniping all the time in modern entertainment.  Sometimes the propaganda accurately reflects reality, sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes it's done for giggles or clever satire, sometimes it's completely serious and malicious.  Sometimes, as in professional wrestling, it's just done to whip up the crowd.  However it manifests itself, though, it shouldn't surprise us to find that sort of thing in Shakespeare's plays.


Based on my experience, I'd have to disagree. When the verbal resemblance gets beyond a certain point, there's really no other logical explanation except plagiarism.


I don't doubt your experience as a teacher dealing with plagiarism, but it's not the same thing at all as someone writing for fun or profit.  High school students in general don't want to be there, don't want to be doing what they're doing, and are sorely tempted to take the path of least resistance.  It's a completely different social dynamic.
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PJ Post

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2023, 11:56:02 PM »
As far as Shakespeare's plays go, they stand on their own. They would be just as important even if we had no idea who wrote them. So, Shakespeare is as good an <insert author here> as anyone else. His personal history, while curiously interesting, is fairly irrelevant to the plays.

But by all means, history should try to sort it out because that's what historians do, although, their work won't make 10 Things I Hate About You any less enjoyable.

___

As for Camilla, AI didn't accuse anyone of anything. An individual (the accuser I presume) almost certainly had a grudge/gripe/complaint/bitch with her and went fishing to find something to use against her. It could just as easily have been a cancelling tweet if there was one to find. The alternative is he was trying to make a name for himself by throwing her under the bus. This is just another example of people being kind of awful to one another.

Leave AI out of this.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2023, 12:06:04 AM by PJ Post »
 

LilyBLily

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #25 on: October 13, 2023, 12:24:01 AM »
I had never heard of this Camilla previously, so the accusation has given her some name recognition, too. And heck, to be debated in comparison to Shakespeare debates--not bad.
 

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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #26 on: October 13, 2023, 01:32:58 AM »
Here’s an interesting rebuttal by an Oxfordian (a competitor to McCarthy’s theory) including a list of methods of textual analysis about midway down the article w/the note that “parallels from plays of uncertain or contested authorship prove nothing.”

Plus a comment by McCarthy’s fellow researcher:  “Not once...have I found anything to disprove the notion that Thomas North wrote source plays for all of the plays in the Shakespeare canon. Nor, however, have I found anything that definitively proves it....there are no surviving plays with Thomas North’s name on them, or even hard evidence that North was a playwright.....”

https://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/blanding-north-hyde-review/

Let the debate roil on.
It's certainly an interesting twist for someone with Stratfordian inclinations to present an Oxfordian as evidence. I didn't see that one coming. But I commend your desire to search for concrete evidence.

That said, the Hyde review is flawed (at least in terms of evidentiary value) in several ways:

First, it's more than two years old and reflects only some of McCarthy's research, which is also true of the Blanding book being reviewed. For instance, it says that there's no evidence North ever wrote plays aside from one possible mention in Heywood. Subsequently, McCarthy discovered evidence that North was paid for playwriting by the Earl of Leicester's Men, and I believe there were other pieces of evidence as well. Hyde isn't reacting to McCarthy's entire case but only to part of it. We can see this clearly in his focus on George North's Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels as a possible source for Shakespeare, which turns out to be only a very small part of North's case. Thomas North's own travel journal, for example, is far important but barely touched upon in the review.

Second, Hyde isn't looking at McCarthy's evidence directly but at McCarthy's evidence filtered through Blanding, which isn't quite the same thing. The way Blanding organizes his material brings out some of McCarthy's points clearly but isn't always as clear as McCarthy's own exposition. And the conclusion you quote from Blanding is, once again, based on only part of the evidence.

Third, Hyde clearly has his own axes to grind, which comes out when he inserts questions about whether Oxford could have had access to some of the documents in the North library. The point Blanding and McCarthy were both making is that Shakespeare would have been hard-pressed to have gotten direct access to North's library, and thus to sources that weren't publicly available. That Blanding doesn't really consider Oxford's claims to be Shakespeare is irrelevant, since Blanding is writing what amounts to a history of McCarthy's search, not an argument of his own about authorship.

Fourth, Hyde leans very heavily on Schoenbaum's cautions about using verbal resemblances--from 1966. Scholars weren't at that time in a position to collect verbal parallels in the same way McCarthy was. Also, Hyde misses the point, perhaps not evident in Blanding, that McCarthy generally follows Schoenbaum's methods. For example, he works from known writings of Thomas North and writings supposed to be by Shakespeare, not generally from anonymous works. And he does adopt negative checks, verifying that the same phrasing doesn't occur in other surviving sources. Many of his parallels are either rare or occur only in two authors--North and Shakespeare. Buy you'd never know this from the Hyde review.

The quote that you use from the Hyde review is followed by several paragraphs of qualification, some of which I'll reproduce below (emphasis mine).
Quote
What I am left with, however, is one indisputable thought: if Thomas North didn’t write plays that Shakespeare adapted, then there are an awful lot of coincidences to suggest that he did. That his half sister Alice Arden was the subject of one of Shakespeare’s likely plays. That the subtitle of Arden of Faversham almost exactly matches a chapter heading in North’s Dial of Princes. That his father wrote poems criticizing Cardinal Wolsey, who is criticized in Henry VIII. That he visited Mantua and saw frescoes by Giulio Romano and lifelike statues like the one in The Winter’s Tale. That he visited the home of the Duke of Urbino, subject of Hamlet’s play-within-a-play, “The Murder of Gonzago,” and even misspelled Gonzaga as Gonzago. That he studied law at the Inns of Court, where he was urged to write Senecan dramas like Titus Andronicus. That his patron, the Earl of Leicester, was a fan of commedia dell’arte and Italian comedies like The Taming of the Shrew. That his second translation, The Moral Philosophy of Doni, features characters like those in Othello. That he visited France during a time when the four main characters in Love’s Labour’s Lost were besieging La Rochelle. That his brother, at least, attended the famous Kenilworth festival that seems to have inspired A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That his Plutarch’s Lives is the source for Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, from which Shakespeare alone took passages verbatim. That another relative wrote a manuscript that includes Jack Cade, like Henry VI, Part 2. That he went to war in Ireland against a MacMorris, who shares a name with the only Irish character in the canon. That his life story of poverty and familial conflict mirrors, at least in part, the plots of As You Like It and The Tempest. And that doesn’t even get into the thousands of verbal parallels that McCarthy has found with his plagiarism software between North’s prose translations and the plays. Or the fact that so many of the plays seem to attack the queen’s choice of suitors on Leicester’s behalf—Erik XIV in Titus Andronicus, Don John of Austria in Much Ado About Nothing, and the Duke of Alençon in the Henry VI plays. Or that attacks by other playwrights in Groatsworth of Wit and Cynthia’s Revels seem to point to Thomas North and call out his relationship with Shakespeare.... McCarthy can line up nearly every play in the canon in terms of source, subject matter, and biography with the facts of Thomas North’s life and writings. That body of evidence extends far beyond what any anti-Stratfordian has been able to amass for Edward de Vere, Francis Bacon, Mary Sidney, Henry Neville, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Sackville, or any of the dozens of other authorship candidates.

Blanding, Michael. In Shakespeare's Shadow: A Rogue Scholar's Quest to Reveal the True Source Behind the World's Greatest Plays (pp. 442-444). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.
In other words, Hyde presents Blanding as neutral, but it's clear that Blanding finds McCarthy more plausible than not. And neither Blanding nor Hyde have seen the entire case for North. 


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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #27 on: October 13, 2023, 01:37:28 AM »
One of the reasons that McCarthy can make a better case for North than Oxfordians can make for Oxford is that only a few Oxford poems--and no plays--have survived. In other words, on the Oxford side, there's nothing to compare to the Shakespeare plays. There's a whole body of work on the North side.


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Hopscotch

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #28 on: October 13, 2023, 02:52:52 AM »
I'm wrong about many things, as my family will confirm, but ready to suffer correction.  Trouble is, McCarthy's arguments for North as Shakespeare are no more convincing than are the arguments made for any other candidate.  Not against Will's fellow playwrights and competitors who, over his 25yr writing career, thought he wrote 'em.  Until solid contrary evidence, I stick with Will.
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Jeff Tanyard

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #29 on: October 13, 2023, 05:16:26 PM »
While we're on the subject of Shakespeare, here's an interesting video for anyone who hasn't seen it yet:


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Hopscotch

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #30 on: October 13, 2023, 09:52:27 PM »
Yep, hearing Shakespeare in OP opens up the rhythm of the words and makes clear a lot of the jokes easily missed in modern pronunciation.
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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #31 on: October 14, 2023, 12:36:12 AM »
I'm wrong about many things, as my family will confirm, but ready to suffer correction.  Trouble is, McCarthy's arguments for North as Shakespeare are no more convincing than are the arguments made for any other candidate.  Not against Will's fellow playwrights and competitors who, over his 25yr writing career, thought he wrote 'em.  Until solid contrary evidence, I stick with Will.
For the record, I was correcting Hyde, not you.

However, I will disagree with the assumption that McCarthy's arguments are no better than anyone else's. There have been plausible attempts to relate events in the plays to the lives of a number of different people. But most of those people either have very little writing to compare to the plays or have writing that doesn't sound like the plays at all (Francis Bacon). McCarthy's forensic linguistics are hard to ignore. Since I think I'm the only person here who's actually looked at the evidence, I was initially puzzled by people's ability to dismiss it, sight unseen. But as I think about it, perhaps it isn't so puzzling.

In the conventional biographies, Shakespeare is a success story of the small-town-boy-makes-good type. And as LilyBLily mentioned earlier, a lot of the impetus behind early movements to remove Shakespeare as the author were rooted in snobbery. The essence of the argument is that a commoner like Shakespeare, and an incompletely educated commoner at that, couldn't possible have written the plays attributed to him. I agree that's a snobbish way to look at it. There are plenty of self-educated people who've done great things (including, ironically, McCarthy). By itself, I've always found the argument about birth and education flawed. But that isn't the approach McCarthy is using.

Another complication is our attitude about AI, and I'm not any happier about that than anyone else, as my posts in other threads will document. But the software in question isn't AI. It's a narrow-purpose algorithm for finding textual similarities. That's not anything like the current AI (though the software the journalist used to impugn Lackberg may be different. I don't know). McCarthy started with online plagiarism software of a type similar to what I used. In contrast to current AIs, that kind of software doesn't make stuff up. It identifies actual similarities, though the significance of those similarities requires a human interpreter, as I have said.

If you were to look at the similarities, you would see that some of them are closer than others. And it is true, as Jeff said,
Quote
And if two men are products of the same time and place, then it's hardly beyond the realm of possibility that they might end up writing linguistically or topically similar stuff.  We see this sort of thing today.  Two different authors will write nearly identical books at the same time and often even employing similar turns of phrase, and it turns out it's all by sheer happenstance, not plagiarism.
When I was checking for plagiarism, I certainly looked at whether or not phrases were common and/or likely to turn up in a similar context. But the thing is, McCarthy checked for that kind of thing using EEBO (Early English Book Online), which includes a rich selection of texts from Shakespeare's lifetime. He found some possible similarities were indeed commonplace. But he also found that many were rare, and a lot were unique to North and Shakespeare. If they were in fact common phrases or expressions that many people in the time period might have used, then they shouldn't have been unique to those two authors. There should have been other examples of them.

At the risked of beating the point to death, the fact that those resemblances included not just North's published works but also works that were unpublished or unpublished at the time. Shakespeare scholars have certainly not run to embrace McCarthy's theory, but none of them have so far offered a convincing explanation for those resemblances, at least to the best of my knowledge.

On your point about the attitudes of his contemporaries, it's not really the case that they universally thought Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him. McCarthy cites numerous examples of contemporaries raising doubts, and Feldman cites even more (though in support of a different authorship theory.) The most famous one is from Robert Greene's last work:
Quote
. . . an upstart crow beautified with our feathers, that with his tyger’s head, wrapt in a player’s hide, supposes he is as well about to bombast out a blank verse, as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.
The tyger's head part is a reference to a line in Henry VI Part 3. Shake-scene (scene stealer) is presumably a play on Shakespeare's name. Writers at the time lampooned each other frequently, but to avoid possible censorship or legal action, they normally made their attacks without using the playwright's actual name. There are a lot of other, similar references from various authors.

Keep in mind that noblemen might have written plays but typically didn't publish them or have them performed under their own name for a variety of reasons. Even if someone suspected North was behind the plays, they wouldn't have linked North's name to Shakespeare's because of the potential backlash.

There is also the previously alluded to problem of Shakespeare's title pages. The plays currently considered to be by him and published in his lifetime all have some formula similar to "adapted by" before his name. In other words, Shakespeare himself isn't claiming to be the original author.

The only plays published in his lifetime and listed as written by him are some of the Shakespearean apocryphal plays (rejected by critics as not good enough to be by Shakespeare). But if that were the case, why is there no record of Shakespeare rejecting the attribution? Feldman makes the claim that in fact the apocryphal plays are much more Shakespeare's real work than those considered his. And whatever critics think of them today, they were crowd pleasers in their own day.

In other words, the contemporary evidence is at best mixed. We know a lot of plays were performed under Shakespeare's name, but by the explicit record of the print editions, the ones we think of as his aren't the ones he actually claims to have written, at least, not in their original form.

Who knows? New evidence may come to light that somehow refutes McCarthy's theory. But in the meantime, we seem to have more than enough to be the proverbial smoking gun. 


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Hopscotch

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #32 on: October 14, 2023, 03:34:31 AM »
You make good arguments but I'm sure you also know there are equally good refutations for all of them.  Espec in thinking about how a writer writes stories set in places s/he may not know personally (eg, Tim in space and me in the Wild West), I recall another William (Faulkner) who said that when he ran out of ideas for stories he went to the library and got some.  W-S did his research but he lightly scraped his dataset bc his plays are littered w/military, geographic, etc, factual errors, which tends to give backhanded credence to the authorship by a rustic w/"little Latin and less Greek."
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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #33 on: October 15, 2023, 03:54:27 AM »
We all draw on our imaginations and on a variety of other sources. For fantasy, I'm often poking around mythology and folklore for material.

I've also found a nice trick that helps with places I want to describe but haven't visited. If they are in areas with decent road systems, they're probably covered by Google Earth. It can't help with the sounds or smells of a place, but it can certainly help with relatively recent and detailed visuals--at least as long as we're talking about places on or near a road. I've been able to add descriptions of a number of places I haven't visited or haven't visited in a long time. It's a great for urban fantasy or anything else contemporary that has at least some settings that are real places.

All of that said, I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for Shakespeare's apparent knowledge of unpublished papers of Thomas North. Perhaps someone will address that as the scholarly debate continues.


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Post-Crisis D

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #34 on: October 16, 2023, 08:23:16 AM »
All of that said, I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for Shakespeare's apparent knowledge of unpublished papers of Thomas North. Perhaps someone will address that as the scholarly debate continues.

If it is true that there are no surviving copies of the plays that Thomas North wrote, how can we be sure that what was found in North's unpublished papers wasn't also found in those plays?  We can't rule out the possibility that what is deemed today as having been unpublished wasn't circulated in some way back in the day where Shakespeare may have had access to it.
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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #35 on: October 16, 2023, 11:42:07 AM »
All of that said, I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for Shakespeare's apparent knowledge of unpublished papers of Thomas North. Perhaps someone will address that as the scholarly debate continues.

If it is true that there are no surviving copies of the plays that Thomas North wrote, how can we be sure that what was found in North's unpublished papers wasn't also found in those plays?  We can't rule out the possibility that what is deemed today as having been unpublished wasn't circulated in some way back in the day where Shakespeare may have had access to it.
Perhaps I wasn't being sufficiently clear, but what you're saying is exactly McCarthy's point--that the only logical way for Shakespeare to have had that material would be if Thomas North included it in the source plays. Even if WS had somehow had access to the unpublished material, he would have had to dig through huge amounts of text to find things that fit into the play. North, being more familiar with his own material, could have borrowed from it much more readily than an outsider could have.

In other words, published material combined with unpublished material became the basis for North's plays. While WS made some modifications and additions, the vast majority of most of the plays came from North, not WS.

If McCarthy is right about chronology, the unpublished material North was drawing was often something he was working on when he wrote the plays that borrow from that material. By the way, copies of his published work from North's own library include his marginal notes. Interestingly, his only annotations cover a relatively small part of each work and relate mostly to material that ended up in the plays. Most of the surviving texts from the period are annotated throughout by their owners. North's very selective annotations are further evidence that he drew on his material to produce plays.

None of that means that Shakespeare contributed nothing. His fame is the only reason the plays in his name survived. The bulk of plays from the same time period didn't. And the reason he became a big name in the first place was that he knew how to please a crowd. If, as Feldman and Sams have both argued, some of the plays in the Shakespearean apocrypha are largely Shakespeare's work, we can see why. They aren't as intellectually stimulating or poetic as the plays normally attributed to Shakespeare, which is the reason scholars have long resisted attributing them to him. But if we see most of the attributed plays as largely the work of someone else, there's less reason to reject the contemporary title page evidence that Shakespeare wrote them. (One of them, Mucedorus, though not attested as WS's on the title page, did belong to his company and was one of the most performed and definitely the most printed play of time period.) Most of these plays had coarse humor, some bordering on slapstick, lots of action, and some other characteristics that tie them together. Shakespeare may have been writing them during the "lost years" during which we have no information about what he was up to. But he was referred to as a playwright earlier than the likely composition of any of the plays attributed to him. Some of the bad quartos of attributed plays also place more emphasis on humor and action than the canonical texts. Perhaps they were modifications for public performances. The canonical texts are more likely to have done well in performances at court.

To use a modern analogy, North is more like literary fiction. Shakespeare's own writing may have been more like what intellectuals would today call a guilty pleasure--not necessarily edifying, but definitely entertaining. (Think relatively unchallenging comedy or action flics where something blows up every few seconds--big box office stuff.) The attributed plays normally blend these elements. Shakespeare could have taken North's highly intellectual and poetic efforts and added some of his signature crowd pleasers.

Anyway, that's what I get from combining North's insights with those of Feldman and Sams, even though the last two don't agree with McCarthy's position on authorship. (Sams died before McCarthy published.)

Who knows what Shakespeare studies will look like in fifty years. For now, it's heartening to see that so many people even care. Of course, in a community of authors, that is what one would expect.

 


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She-la-te-da

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #36 on: October 18, 2023, 02:21:25 AM »
I don't trust anything this so-called AI junk says. It can't write, it can't draw, it can't do anything original and using it for anything is being a cheat. I have no idea who this woman is/was, and don't care. Tons of people use ghostwriters, it's not illegal or unethical or immoral by current standards.

And Shakespeare was da' bomb.
I write various flavors of speculative fiction. This is my main pen name.

 
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Mark Gardner

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #37 on: October 19, 2023, 11:54:38 PM »
I'm a big believer in the plagiarism software (Turnitin) that I used when I was teaching. But I could cite some horror stories about colleagues who just looked at the percentage of repeated text and didn't check the specifics. (Research papers would have all kinds of quotations from sources flagged, even though they were all properly cited. One would expect a higher degree of similarity in such writing than one would in an autobiographical piece, for example.) 

Ugh, Turnitin was such garbage. As both a student and staff at a college, I had access to turnitin and wanted to test it out on a paper. Like you said, it flagged passages that were direct quotes and properly cited. It also found 5- to 7- word sequences that had been used before, like "in this paper I will prove that" that it marked as plagiarized. Once, it even compared a rough draft submitted to my final paper and the percentage was something dumb like 85%. It even flagged portions of my bibliography as plagiarized. MY BIBLIOGRAPHY! Anyway, I have a hard time accepting these bots (they're not AI) as reliable methodologies to detect plagiarism.
 

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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #38 on: October 20, 2023, 12:25:44 AM »
I'm a big believer in the plagiarism software (Turnitin) that I used when I was teaching. But I could cite some horror stories about colleagues who just looked at the percentage of repeated text and didn't check the specifics. (Research papers would have all kinds of quotations from sources flagged, even though they were all properly cited. One would expect a higher degree of similarity in such writing than one would in an autobiographical piece, for example.) 

Ugh, Turnitin was such garbage. As both a student and staff at a college, I had access to turnitin and wanted to test it out on a paper. Like you said, it flagged passages that were direct quotes and properly cited. It also found 5- to 7- word sequences that had been used before, like "in this paper I will prove that" that it marked as plagiarized. Once, it even compared a rough draft submitted to my final paper and the percentage was something dumb like 85%. It even flagged portions of my bibliography as plagiarized. MY BIBLIOGRAPHY! Anyway, I have a hard time accepting these bots (they're not AI) as reliable methodologies to detect plagiarism.
It's important to distinguish the fact that turnitin doesn't explicitly mark anything as plagiarized. It identifies similarities. That's all. What you're describing is turnitin doing what turnitin is designed to do. As I said earlier, it's up to the teacher (or students, if they're self-checking), to determine the significance of the similarities. Many, as you suggest, are not indications of plagiarism. I haven't looked recently, but in the old days, that's exactly how turnitin described the process. It specifically advised teachers to examine the specifics of the originality report rather than just looking at the percentage.

Personally, I'd rather have a bot find the similarities and interpret them myself than have an AI try to interpret them. (With a 48% accuracy rate on factual questions in a recent study, asking AI to made subtle distinctions isn't likely to work well, anyway.)

Parenthetically, turnitin is also good for highlighting some areas of writing on which students need to improve. For example, students may be overquoting (using more from the sources that required to make a point) and underthinking (letting the sources make the point instead of using them as support for student-created analysis).

Even before turnitin, I could sometimes catch student plagiarism by feeding odd or uncharacteristic phrases (things that didn't fit or things that didn't sound like the student) into a search engine. Other things might betray the use of unacknowledged sources, like writing an essay on Oedipus in which character names aren't spelled the same way they are in the translation used (like Iokaste instead of Jocasta--it's kind of hard to miss that).

But turnitin undeniably makes the process much easier, given that I can't retain the text of millions of internet documents in my head. It also catches one student submitting another's work. I'd probably notice two identical essays in the same class, but not necessarily several years apart (siblings) or students submitting the same essay to different teachers. In my experience, 50% or so of all plagiarism was students plagiarizing each other. Every essay submitting to turnitin becomes part of its database, making student-to-student plagiarism much more difficult. It also kills a lot of paper mill business. Those websites say that each essay they sell is unique, but often, that's not the case.

So no, turnitin isn't junk. But the journalistic use of a similar program might be. It depends upon whether the journalist really examined the similarities (or lack thereof) rather than just making assumptions based on quantity of similarities rather than type and quality. A good question here, since a genre change is involved, is how much of the difference might be due to genre.

It's dangerous to use such programs without knowing how to use them, particularly when the result is to cast doubt on someone else's work.


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Hopscotch

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #39 on: October 20, 2023, 01:07:30 AM »
Yikes, hadn't realized that AI forces teachers to run student papers thru plagiarism s/w before assessing their thought.  But could this open a new industry that certifies (w/a pretty seal) student papers as genuinely self-made before they are submitted to teachers?  Indie authors wrecked by AI could use the work.
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LilyBLily

Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #40 on: October 20, 2023, 01:31:17 PM »
 

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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #41 on: October 20, 2023, 11:06:52 PM »
Yikes, hadn't realized that AI forces teachers to run student papers thru plagiarism s/w before assessing their thought.  But could this open a new industry that certifies (w/a pretty seal) student papers as genuinely self-made before they are submitted to teachers?  Indie authors wrecked by AI could use the work.
Unless things have changed a lot since I retired, AI doesn't force teachers to do anything, and in any case, turnitin isn't AI. It's a pattern recognition algorithm--unless AI features have been added recently. But in any case, using turnitin is normally a teacher or school choice, not something compulsory. I highly recommend using it or something like it, however, for the reasons mentioned above.



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Re: AI accuses Camilla Läckberg of using a ghostwriter
« Reply #42 on: October 20, 2023, 11:16:18 PM »
More Shakespeare madness:

https://shakespeareauthorship.com/shaxicon.html
From a quick glance, it looks like an attempt to determine which parts Shakespeare might have acted himself, rare words from which he later transferred into the plays he was working on at the time.

Unfortunately, North's works aren't included in Shaxicon, which might affect the analysis considerably. But some points (such as Shakespeare often playing kings) can be confirmed from other sources. Occasionally, the texts of the plays themselves even hint at that. In Edward III, there is a line in which the soldiers are told to shake their spears to honor Edward. Elizabethans did like their puns!


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