ERDNASE

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Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » January 28th, 2020, 7:01 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I know who the candidate is. It's beyond preposterous.


Honestly, if the named candidate for Erdnase (who presumably contributes substance to a substantial portion of the book) is "beyond preposterous", and taking into account the fact that nobody really considers Karr a noted "card expert" ... I can't see the book being in much demand?

If the book was $75.00 I'd consider it if not just for the fact that it would contribute to my being an obsessive Erdnase completest, but at a few hundred bucks and with a history of shaky Miracle Factory pre-orders ... it's not likely to spur much interest.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 28th, 2020, 7:10 pm

Invest your money in Steve Forte's new set of books. His chapter on Erdnase is all you need.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Christopher1979 » January 28th, 2020, 7:25 pm

Forte must have some very compiling evidence regarding Erdnase otherwise there would be no way he would even publish it.

"Roger M. - If the book was $75.00 I'd consider it if not just for the fact that it would contribute to my being an obsessive Erdnase completest"

I agree completely, I considered buying the book for that reason but at that price point... I think I will give it a miss.

Steve Forte's book will be all you need as Richard says.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » January 28th, 2020, 8:03 pm

Christopher1979 wrote:Forte must have some very compelling evidence regarding Erdnase otherwise there would be no way he would even publish it.

It'll be interesting to see what Forte says and how it differs from and goes beyond Tony Giorgio's claims that Erdnase was a magician, not a gambler. I found Giorgio's arguments interesting though not conclusive. It's not just a matter of some "ground truth" about gambling techniques but how you interpret Erdnase's text and his motives/approach for writing what he did. Plus there's no black and white line between being a gambler vs a magician. Erdnase strikes me as being more concerned with the artistry than either winning the money or getting the applause. In any case, from its description, I don't think the Forte book makes claims about who Erdnase actually was beyond the magician/gambler issue, does it?

The Karr book, on the other hand, presents actual biographical/historical evidence pertaining to Erdnase's identity. The book webpage blurb says the book contains "The author’s own annotations to The Expert at the Card Table" and "Rare photos of the author performing moves from the book" and "Selections from the author’s notebooks of card magic". He also says "All evidence carefully documented; no speculation." So if all that's true, he's revealing something very different than Forte. If the candidate is preposterous (as RK says), then it sounds like the claims made on the book website can't all be true.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby JustinM » January 28th, 2020, 8:15 pm

steve forte wrote the introduction to erdnase in the italian edition... it's in an old genii issue and also can be found on another forum...

it was written in 1995.. so it will be interesting to see how much his perspective has changed or if it remains the same...

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » January 28th, 2020, 10:52 pm

JustinM wrote:steve forte wrote the introduction to erdnase in the italian edition... it's in an old genii issue and also can be found on another forum...

it was written in 1995.. so it will be interesting to see how much his perspective has changed or if it remains the same...


See Genii, June 2001 (with Paul Osborne on the cover)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 29th, 2020, 1:04 pm

"The Karr book, on the other hand, presents actual biographical/historical evidence pertaining to Erdnase's identity."

Hahahahahaha.

He's trying to sell books: it's ad copy.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » January 29th, 2020, 1:57 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:"The Karr book, on the other hand, presents actual biographical/historical evidence pertaining to Erdnase's identity."

Hahahahahaha.

He's trying to sell books: it's ad copy.

Could be...You clearly know quite a bit more about what's in the book beyond what's been publicly released. I was just contrasting the differences in the *claims* (w/r Erdnase) that the two books seem to be making. Forte's takes up the question of whether E was a magician or gambler, while Karr tries to identify exactly who he was. The validity of their arguments/claims is a different question, and maybe Karr's case is preposterous as you said earlier. However, until I hear more about it, I remain very curious to learn more about Karr's candidate and evidence.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby performer » January 29th, 2020, 2:08 pm

Both claims may well not contradict each other.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 29th, 2020, 3:33 pm

This claim is particularly hilarious: "The author’s own annotations to The Expert at the Card Table."

So, you happen to locate a copy of Erdnase that belongs to person X, and suddenly person X's copy now becomes Erdnase's copy because you have a fantasy that person X is Erdnase and is annotating his own copy of Expert. Nonsense.

I also have Person X's notebooks. You can fill a book with the material, but it has little to do with Expert at the Card table.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » January 29th, 2020, 3:40 pm

Chirs Wasshuber, in his new newsletter:
"While it is always of interest to hear what others have to say about Erdnase, I would be surprised if anything particularly new and insightful will be argued by Steve Forte."

That goodness we have Chris to warn us off from placing any stock in what Steve Forte, probably the greatest expert on gambling sleight-of-hand ever, has to say. Is it too late to get a refund on my purchase price?

He closes with "I think . . . Forte might like Gallaway as Erdnase." So he's got that going for him. Which is nice.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Christopher1979 » January 29th, 2020, 6:00 pm

When I read the contents of the Karr book I nearly fell off my chair "Rare photos of the author performing moves from the book"... Just this sentence alone. We are talking about actual photos of Erdnase performing moves from the EATCT?.... and the way we describe this is RARE?....

"The Expert at the Card Table, with his additional writings"...... I suppose the additional writings come from the notepad he discovered while going through Erdnase's personal effects that he has stored away without ever telling a soul about until now!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Gilbert » January 29th, 2020, 9:30 pm

Sounds like somewhat hinkey ad copy.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 29th, 2020, 9:32 pm

There are no photos of Erdnase performing sleights out of Expert. Just like the "annotated copy," this is wish fulfillment nonsense. There are published photos of person X (same guy) doing some card sleights, but he's not Erdnase.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » January 29th, 2020, 9:56 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:There are no photos of Erdnase performing sleights out of Expert. Just like the "annotated copy," this is wish fulfillment nonsense. There are published photos of person X (same guy) doing some card sleights, but he's not Erdnase.

Right, the main question is what evidence he has that person X is Erdnase. If he can't credibly establish that, then all the annotated texts and photos of X are meaningless. You know who the new candidate is and presumably also have some idea of the evidence he has for that candidate. So that puts you in a position to make a judgement. But without knowing those specifics, it's much harder to conclude anything.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Christopher1979 » January 29th, 2020, 9:58 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:There are no photos of Erdnase performing sleights out of Expert. Just like the "annotated copy," this is wish fulfillment nonsense. There are published photos of person X (same guy) doing some card sleights, but he's not Erdnase.


I am surprised they have the nerve to publish this book in the first place then? Presumably, they realize this jumbled up theory holds no weight.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Grippo's Wish » January 29th, 2020, 10:27 pm

L’Homme Masque was Erdnase

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » January 29th, 2020, 10:38 pm

Christopher1979 wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:There are no photos of Erdnase performing sleights out of Expert. Just like the "annotated copy," this is wish fulfillment nonsense. There are published photos of person X (same guy) doing some card sleights, but he's not Erdnase.


I am surprised they have the nerve to publish this book in the first place then? Presumably, they realize this jumbled up theory holds no weight.


While I don't know much more than has been stated in this thread, I have spoken a little with Todd about his candidate in general terms. He doesn't believe the theory is "jumbled up"; as far as he is concerned, it is legit. Likewise, Chris W. believes that Gallaway is Erdnase, and that his evidence supports that theory; and Marty Demarest finds the case for W. E. Sanders to be convincing.

So the question is, what is the evidence? I, ultimately, did not find the evidence for Sanders to be persuasive, and the evidence for Gallaway even less so. Maybe Todd has put together a better case.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Christopher1979 » January 29th, 2020, 10:42 pm

I suppose the main question now is who is going to cough up the money to buy a copy of this book in order to find out! I feel pretty happy to give it a miss.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » January 30th, 2020, 3:10 am

It looks like there are already 32 pre-orders for the $350 "deluxe" edition of the Todd Karr book, which brings to mind a comment I made last year in regards to this failed Kickstarter campaign ...
There are people who collect any and all editions of Erdnase.
For these people there is a need to own at least one copy of every edition ever printed or else their collection will be incomplete.
Therefore, I feel that if you were to print 100 copies of each variant and priced them at $100 apiece, you would quickly sell out.

I then went on to correctly predict that the Kickerstarter campaign would most likely fail ...
Paradoxically however, I think there is a good chance that you will not make your $12,000 Kickstarter goal.
Although the obsessive collector will quite readily part with $300 for three copies of new editions that exist, he may not be so ready to pay $300 to bring three new editions into existence.

Christopher1979 wrote:I am surprised they have the nerve to publish this book in the first place

I know from first hand experience that Mr. Karr is in no way lacking in nerve!
I would like to read this book but agree that the price is too steep.
My prediction for this venture is that it will be a profitable one for The Miracle Factory - however; unlike the Steve Forte book; this book will never sell 1000 copies.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Joe Lyons » January 30th, 2020, 8:13 am

Eugene Burger, paraphrasing Jesus, said Magic is a house with many rooms.

Mine is more of a library than a stage.

Having as of yet been burned by Mr. Karr, I pre-ordered the book and look forward to reading the evidence in the case of Mr. X. If they arrive late I have many more unread to keep me occupied. My only disappointment would be if the case were poorly made.

When my girls (or I in my dotage) sell the books, if they fail to recoup their price, I have dozens more in my collection that will dollar cost average the investment.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » January 30th, 2020, 10:11 am

Richard felt comfortable stating that the Karr candidate was "preposterous", and that statement resonates heavily IMO.

Predicating an entire book on a false premise seems a massive waste of time.
On the other hand, I very much look forward to reading Forte's thoughts as he lays out his opinion of Erdnase.
In the absence of hard evidence, I've long made note of the fact that I though deep understanding of, and solid expertise with the actual card work in EATCT was the only route to trying to determine how, when, and where the author came up with what became the contents of EATCT - possibly pointing to his background, even if we couldn't determine his actual name.
Forte fits that bill perfectly ... Gallaway's champion and Karr himself most certainly don't fit that bill.

I don't think a purchase of the book is required to determine which way the wind is blowing however - what with book reviews, blogs, podcasts, Facebook, and this very thread ... I'm sure we'll start hearing quite quickly from people.

I'm beginning to strongly suspect that there's a trend developing whereupon authors offer poorly researched and terribly outrageous proposals as to who Erdnase might have been, not to further the Erdnase discussion in any constructive way, but with the sole purpose selling 100 - 400 books at a few hundred dollars a pop.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leo Garet » January 30th, 2020, 10:24 am

Roger M. wrote:I'm beginning to strongly suspect that there's a trend developing whereupon authors offer poorly researched and terribly outrageous proposals as to who Erdnase might have been, not to further the Erdnase discussion in any constructive way, but with the sole purpose selling 100 - 400 books at a few hundred dollars a pop.


Indeed.

But it's hardly exclusive to Magic and Erdnase.

Just look around at history and "historians". There's more codzwallocks from people who know nothing, or at least haven't dug particularly deep than at any time in, well history.

And as for TV documentaries.

So maybe Magic is getting off lightly. Maybe.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brian Hebert » January 31st, 2020, 4:17 pm

Is it possible that Rufus Steele wrote Expert at the Card Table? Perhaps with help from Dr. James Elliott?
Has anyone already looked into him? Just a thought Ive had for awhile. I need time to read all 181 pages of this thread.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » January 31st, 2020, 4:30 pm

Brian Hebert wrote:Is it possible that Rufus Steele wrote Expert at the Card Table? Perhaps with help from Dr. James Elliott?
Has anyone already looked into him? Just a thought Ive had for awhile. I need time to read all 181 pages of this thread.

Rufus Steele was born in 1881, which would have made him around 21 in 1902. That seems too young and conflicts with M. D. Smith, who said Erdnase was about 40 when he did the illustrations.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 31st, 2020, 6:30 pm

I don't think MD Smith's memory can be trusted, not that it matters.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby performer » January 31st, 2020, 11:02 pm

I have heard that Rufus Steele was not a particularly good writer and in fact got another writer to pen his books. I think (but am not sure) that the other writer was Robert Parrish.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zig Zagger » February 1st, 2020, 4:52 am

Grippo's Wish wrote:L’Homme Masque was Erdnase

Probably as much as any other. Any proof to back it up, maybe certificates of his mastery of the English language, to start with?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » February 1st, 2020, 11:38 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I don't think MD Smith's memory can be trusted, not that it matters.

It matters ... why do you think that?

Doubting M.D. Smith's mental acuity isn't that rare a concept, but I always wonder what exactly that line of thinking is based on?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zig Zagger » February 2nd, 2020, 3:44 am

As I recall these discussions, there are at least five points to consider:

1. In general, people are lousy observers and horrible witnesses. You can ask any police officer, criminologist or judge about this. Also think of phenomena such as inattentional blindness and change blindness.

2. There is recent research that shows that we can create false memories ourselves over time, and we fully believe them.

3. Try to remember any single, insignificant event in your life 40+ years ago in detail and describe height, manner, speech etc. of any person you have met only once or twice back then... Good luck! Except for some major events (like „...and that guy smacked me with a big yellow stuffed rabbit!“) you are very likely to fail or misremember.

4. Smith was not under rigorous interrogation, but likely prodded and influenced by an enthusiastic and biased Martin Gardner, who may inadvertently have forced many „facts“ on Smith, seeking affirmation.

5. Smith was the only real person mentioned on the frontispiece of TEATCT, so there is a chance that he was „in on it“, so he may have given false clues in order to protect the anonymity of Erdnase.

In total, I wouldn‘t count much on Smith‘s „recollections,“ and I would never exclude a promising candidate because „his height or age doesn’t match with Smith‘s description.“

As for inattentional blindness, I have put a small test on my blog. If you think you know the faces of your beloved playing cards in and out, take the test and experience the limits of your attention and memory system! You are likely to fail miserably. If not, you can even win a little prize. ;)
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Gilbert » February 2nd, 2020, 6:41 am

I see your point Zig, but (for me) I remember unique experiences with much more clarity than the mundane. I guess one thing to ask about Smith's memory of the event, was it a really odd event in his life. I imagine meeting a guy to draw pictures of his hands holding cards would be a very interesting/different job. Therefore, maybe more likely to have been a stronger memory?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zig Zagger » February 2nd, 2020, 11:59 am

Sure, Tom, that may be. But then again, a free-lance artist may have met hundreds, if not thousands of clients over the years, maybe with quite a few of them having very "special" assignments. And was drawing hands a totally odd job at the time? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows.

And maybe a fine artist would pay special attention to the hands of this strange clients. But then again, maybe he was so busy getting the finger positions, cards, and angles right that he wouldn't remember a thing about the man's real hands...

As for estimating a person's age and height, this seems very thin ice to me. There's a huge subjective factor in it. Also, from today's perspective, a lot of people on photos 100 or more years ago seem to look so much older then they actually were at the time.
And as I've just learned from Joe Posnanski's interesting book, "The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini," even the world's most famous and most publicized artist of his time, who undoubtedly was a short man, had quite a range of heights attributed to him.

My biggest point though are the indisputable limits of our senses and our brain when it comes to attention, perception, and memory. Please feel free to take my little test on http://www.zzzauber.com. If, after 10,000 or more hours of toying with playing cards right under our noses, we are not even able to tell which Jack looks which way or which Kings do not sport a mustache, what kind of peripheral information are we supposed to report reliably then decades after an incident?

I think it's so telling that we marvel at the few enviable people with eidetic memories, as this incredible trait is so many light-years away from our own experience in daily life.

That's why I wouldn't bet more than a dollar on the reliability of Smith's recollection. And I certainly wouldn't use them as "evidence" against or in favor of one Erdnase candidate or another.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 2nd, 2020, 12:20 pm

There was nothing special about the job to MD Smith--draw a bunch of hands holding playing cards. It was just another job of many hundreds of jobs.
Many decades passed between when he met Erdnase and when he was questioned about it.
I would not trust any details he shared because they are just as likely to be wrong as right.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » February 2nd, 2020, 1:30 pm

Zig, I think there's a big different between remembering small visual details such as which way different picture cards face vs remembering the approximate age, height, race, sex, hair color, body build, etc of a person. If you remember a person at all, you'll generally remember those sorts of things about them.

I looked at your memory test about the court cards and couldn't even form a picture in my mind of any of them to that level of detail! In contrast, I have no trouble recalling some main salient characteristics of various people I associated with from decades ago, even if can't picture them exactly. So I think that Smith's recollections are pretty relevant, even if they're only approximate and subject to error. He said he had a vivid memory of the time and location of the meeting (since it was a bitter cold winter day) and other aspects of the meeting and of Erdnase himself. And he readily admitted when he couldn't remember something or if the memory was vague. For example, all he could recall about his name was that it might have a W in it.

In the case of Rufus Steele, it seems to me that the age difference (21 vs 40) is the type of categorical difference (young vs middle aged) you would remember if you remember a person at all. Smith was 28 at the time, so Erdnase would have been over a decade older vs Steele being more than a half a decade younger. This is similar to the huge height differential with Milton Andrews vs Smith's memory of Erdnase. Smith remembered Erdnase being short (about 5'6) and looking down at him (Smith was 6'). While he would have had to look up at Andrews (who was over 6'1). Even if you're not sure of or can't remember the exact height or age, it's normal to remember the general direction and approximate degree of difference relative to yourself.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zig Zagger » February 2nd, 2020, 2:45 pm

Bob, I agree with your first point, and I didn't mean to imply it that way. Inattentional blindness is just one (very obvious and very telling) phenomenon among many others when it comes to revealing the weaknesses of our power of attention, observation, memory storage, and recall.

A "vivid memory" may exactly be part of the problem. It may have been a bitter cold winter day. It may have been in Smith's initial memory. It may have been deduced by him from other facts, like a cold hotel room or a man not taking off his coat. And it may have become a false memory over time. In the article I once read about false memory research, the scientist said something along the lines (if I do recall it correctly...) that our memory files are constantly being rewritten without us noticing, especially in episodes we tell and "remember" over and over again. Vernon may have firmly believed that his father had brought home a copy of The Expert.

If details may either be right or wrong, facts or factoids, I don't see how they can be relevant. As the discussion shows, when Smith's recollections fit someone's candidate, they are considered worth a ton of gold; if not, they are questioned and rejected. That problem cannot be solved, and hence it doesn't drive the investigation further.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » February 2nd, 2020, 3:29 pm

I read the comments of Zig and Richard and all I can really think is "OK, but nothing mentioned applies specifically to M.D. Smith"?

In the complete absence of any solid evidence or research otherwise, there is little reason to doubt the descriptions and comments offered by M.D. Smith, a man who spent his life observing the world deeply, and interpreting what he saw with his own eyes into artworks on a canvas.

And if you create an "instant" conspiracy, like one that posits that M.D. Smith was "in on it", well then sure, you can doubt everything ... but creating an instant conspiracy is no different than picking a name out of a hat and declaring to the world that you've discovered the identity of Erdnase - when in fact you've done nothing of the sort.

If you start off with the assumption that there's something wrong with M.D. Smiths memory, you immediately wind up getting nowhere. All that works then is finding some sort of document that says "Jack Roberts is S.W. Erdnase, and here's a photo of him holding the original printing plates for EATCT to prove it" ... and that, is highly unlikely to happen in any of our lifetimes.

M.D. Smith is one of the very few fact based elements of the story, I'd not be so quick to toss it away.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » February 2nd, 2020, 4:04 pm

I think the relevance of Smith's recollections to a given candidate is combination of a) how much weight to give to Smith's memories generally b) how strong/specific the particular memory was and c) how closely his recollections match the candidate. i.e. it's not all or nothing but a weighting of factors.

I don't think Smith's account should be discarded or accepted based on whether it fits a candidate or not. Nor should a candidate be discarded if they differ in minor ways, since 40 year old memories are necessarily fuzzy and subject to some distortion. But a major difference should raise a red flag. Of course, there's always the possibility that Smith is lying or confusing someone else with Erdnase (or other forms of false memories), in which case a candidate who doesn't match is still possible. Though it seems to me that Smith is relatively honestly and accurately describing what he remembers. Note how he pushes back on Gardner when Gardner tries to get him to validate MFA. And when he doesn't remember something he says so.

Regarding false memories...I think most memories are just fuzzy, not false. If memory was so faulty and false memories common, we'd have a hard time functioning. And we'd notice it happening very frequently. Instead, I think false memories are outliers. More common is just not being able to remember at all, or vagueness -- only remembering the most salient characteristics but not all the details. And that's easy to test/verify. For example, you can try to remember hair color or general height/weight of classmates or teachers from high school and then go check pictures in a yearbook. If you actually still remember a person, it's those basic characteristics that stick in your mind.

Joe Lyons
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Joe Lyons » February 2nd, 2020, 5:18 pm

OK, having spent the last couple of days contemplating the meaning of the words Limited Edition and the last couple of minutes preparing wings for the bowl game and failing Zig Zagger's memory test, I ask you: who do you think Karr's candidate for Erdnase is?

He claims it is "not the colorful conman E. S. Andrews or any other lead I previously examined."

Kaufman knows but he's not telling.

My own candidate for Erdnase? Hilliar. Don't ask me why, it's all circumstantial.

Any guesses as to who Karr is nominating?

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 2nd, 2020, 7:18 pm

It's not Hilliar.

And the best argument against Smith's recollections is the amount of time that had passed.
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Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » February 3rd, 2020, 1:39 am

I'm far from exemplary in the memory department, but as a 63 year old man today, I have vivid recollections of dozens to hundreds of different scenarios that occurred when I was 20 in and around the touring club band scene (even with the associated booze). Those memories are confirmed by friends who were there then, and are still around now.

I think lots of folks have a memory that can accurately recall occurrences from 40 or 50 years ago, and do so quite easily.


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