Page 51 of 192

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 16th, 2011, 6:22 pm
by Chris Aguilar
I don't find the "living around the corner from a bookstore with remaindered copies of EATCT" thing compelling (or even relevant) at all. It seems like a real stretch compared to other, more compelling evidence (dates, physical descriptions, etc.)

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 16th, 2011, 7:17 pm
by Roger M.
Chris, I'm not trying to convince you of anything........but just point out that these were First Editions.

In that it was self-published by the author, it would (or could) imply that the author (there was no publisher) had to walk in the front door and make the deal, and then hand off the books.

An E.S. Andrews who played a lot of cards, and lived a few blocks away from said novelty company thus is of interest to those who search.

The USA is a big enough place that, with the above taken as a whole, I have chosen (as have many others) to find it compelling enough to want to know more.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 16th, 2011, 7:29 pm
by Chris Aguilar
The book remainder thing seems to have no logical connection at all. It presumes far too much for me. I see no special significance that a bookstore in San Francisco might have had first editions to remainder. I assume that the same could have been said for any city that got a shipment of the book (which need not have necessarily come directly from Erdnase) and didn't sell out of them. And since a few of the candidates traveled extensively, we have no evidence that any particular candidate provided books to any particular bookstore.

The card game thing is slightly better, but I'd question "played a lot of cards". I suspect that you're getting that from the following, but I just don't see it. We get a reference of a guy (called "Edward" no "Edwin") ducking a single game of cards one time. Seeing how popular such games were, I don't see it as particularly significant. Mullin's presumes from the article the "Edwards" was a regular player, but it provide no evidences for his actual reason for ducking out. It's certainly interesting, but not terribly (at least to me)compelling without further evidence.

San Francisco Call 1/13/1911 p 4
MYSTERY OF THE "PIPPINS" SOLVED

Ed Andrews Can No Longer Dodge Session by Trip to Watsonville

EDWARD ANDREWS of the Pere Marquette has always boasted of a method, all his own, of being able to escape a game of cards when he does not feel so inclined. His excuse has always been that he had to journey to Watsonville and see about a shipment of "Pippins." A few days ago friends from the other side of the bay saw him in Market street conversing with several young women. It happened that there was to be an evening at cards in an Alameda home that very evening and when Ed reached home he was requested over the telephone to join in the games. "Very sorry," he said, "but I am going to Watsonville in about an hour to see about a shipment of 'Pippins.'" "How about the three 'Pippins' you were seen talking to this afternoon?" was returned to him over the 'phone. When the story came out at the club yesterday afternoon William F. Schmidt of the Missouri Pacific, who makes frequent trips to Watsonville, remarked that it was funny that he had never thought of Andrews' idea.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 16th, 2011, 9:04 pm
by Richard Kaufman
Until there's some evidence that Edwin Sumner Andrews was a writer, and interested in magic (both things we have with W.E. Sanders), he is not in the top tier of candidates from my point of view.

However, Marty's point that Sanders knew a lot about card cheating, but was not a professional cheat himself, is important: Sanders was neither a cheat nor a magician, yet knew a lot about both. Erdnase was almost certainly not a cheat for reasons cited many times by both Tony Giorgio and Marty.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 16th, 2011, 11:32 pm
by Bill Mullins
Richard Kaufman wrote: However, Marty's point that Sanders knew a lot about card cheating . . .


From p. 58 of the article:
But there are no records that W.E. was ever caught cheating at cards.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 12:32 am
by Chris Aguilar
Bill Mullins wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote: However, Marty's point that Sanders knew a lot about card cheating . . .


From p. 58 of the article:
But there are no records that W.E. was ever caught cheating at cards.


Those two quotes are not mutually exclusive.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 12:35 am
by Bill Mullins
Where did Marty make the point that "Sanders knew a lot about cheating"?

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 12:38 am
by Magic Fred
Richard Kaufman wrote: Erdnase was almost certainly not a cheat for reasons cited many times by both Tony Giorgio and Marty.


If you are referring to Giorgio's articles in Genii, he does not provide a single convincing argument against Erdnase being a cheat.

I maintain that the evidence within the book itself proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the author was a highly experienced and accomplished card cheat.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 2:22 am
by El Harvey Oswald
"W.E.'s status as a writer is a crucial detail."

It is perhaps the single most compelling angle. Sanders' experience, education, and social position all comport with the book's tone, intellectual rigor, and ironic edge.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 2:51 am
by Magic Fred
All other things being equal, lack of evidence indicating Sanders was a gambler speaks as much in his favor as against.

Having used a fake name in writing a book on his nefarious activities, it might be reasonable to assume that he would have taken similar, if not more stringent, precautions whilst actually indulging in them...

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 6:16 am
by El Harvey Oswald
"All other things being equal, lack of evidence indicating Sanders was a gambler speaks as much in his favor as against."

how does his not having been a gambler make his having written a book about gambling methods more likely? (and in equal measure to also making it less likely, thereby conveniently canceling out the gambler variable) that Sanders was a writer of some ability, a distinctive voice, and with certain repeating flourishes is quite possibly the most important variable of all. but gambling experience, or lack of it, is similarly important, and it points in only one causal direction. if Sanders gambled, it's more likely he wrote the book; if he didn't, less likely. if the idea is that a non-gambler is somehow more consistent with Sanders' background and family, that's circular, amounting to little more than saying Sanders was Sanders. if he wasn't a gambler (honest or not), it doesn't negate, or even affect the potent writer variable. but it reduces the overall likelihood that he wrote the book - assuming the premise that, more likely than not, the author of what was by far the most comprehensive treatise on gambling methods was himself a gambler. (and in anticipation of magic cafe-types offering an ALL-CAPS intellectual revelation fully a century past its "sell by" date -- in this instance that he didn't HAVE TO have been a gambler: yes, that's right; that's how probability works.)

"Having used a fake name in writing a book on his nefarious activities, it might be reasonable to assume that he would have taken similar, if not more stringent, precautions whilst actually indulging in them..."

yes, it's likely he'd have used a fake name while gambling. but i don't quite feel the ominousness suggested by the pregnant ellipsis.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 6:27 am
by Bob Coyne
Magic Fred wrote:All other things being equal, lack of evidence indicating Sanders was a gambler speaks as much in his favor as against.

Having used a fake name in writing a book on his nefarious activities, it might be reasonable to assume that he would have taken similar, if not more stringent, precautions whilst actually indulging in them...



I thought it was pretty clear from Marty's article that Sanders did play cards and gamble, with various references to his knowledge of card games, frequenting card club, etc. Also, the letters to him about repayment of gambling debts are hard evidence supporting this point. Of course, whether he cheated at gambling is separate issue.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 6:33 am
by Magic Fred
El Harvey Oswald wrote:
how does his not having been a gambler make his having written a book about gambling methods more likely?


Not quite what I said. I was saying that, all other things being equal, an absence of evidence for card playing would not sway me in the least.

My point being that the author was obviously extremely intelligent and accomplished in artifice, so it would not surprise me had he left not a trace of evidence from his card playing days.

So, if a compelling candidate was presented with the one stumbling block that you can't attach him to any card playing activities, I wouldn't see that as a stumbling block at all...

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 6:46 am
by Magic Fred
*my use of Sanders as an example of a candidate who can't be attached to card playing activity was a result of reading another post to quickly... apologies.

Just wanted to make the point that the absence of such evidence is almost to be expected. In fact, were there plentiful evidence indicating that a candidate was an avid card player under his real name, I'd be somewhat suspicious.

Not to say that it's impossible that the author played openly under his real name. That's the point. :)

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 6:47 am
by Bob Coyne
El Harvey Oswald wrote:"W.E.'s status as a writer is a crucial detail."

It is perhaps the single most compelling angle. Sanders' experience, education, and social position all comport with the book's tone, intellectual rigor, and ironic edge.


Yes, this is what really seals the deal for me too. In fact, I think EATCT is such good writing that it should be viewed as literature as much as an inventory of card technique. It's a great piece of writing, pure and simple. And it's the writing style and voice of the writer as much as anything that has inspired the many readers of the book.

btw, I noticed another instance in Sanders/Erdnase writing similar to his ironic use of scare quotes and those parenthetical mid-sentence "(?)". In this case Sanders inserts parenthetical letters mid-word (in "in(co)herent") to make the word do double duty, again in an ironic tone.

"It sufficeth to say that only the innate and in(co)herent modesty of the objective subject of this 'story of a life' prevents the Class Historian (officially -- when writing of Billy Sanders) from dealing in higher superlatives than these hereinafter detailed, specified and contained, to wit: ..."

(Sanders writing about himself in the Columbia 1885-1910 25 year reunion book)

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 4:34 pm
by Bob Coyne
Has anyone [Marty?] looked at the correspondence and diaries of James Sanders (the elder brother of Wilbur)? They seem to be available in the Montana Historical Society. Perhaps they'd contain information pertaining to Wilbur.

http://nwda-db.wsulibs.wsu.edu/findaid/ ... 44/xv80716

[James Sanders (1859-1923) was a Helena, Montana, attorney and librarian of the Montana Historical Society. Papers include general correspondence (1878-1922), writings, and diaries (1875-1888) covering his boyhood, education, travels, and early legal career. [Diary includes a copy of Harriet P. Sanders' diary (1867). Separated from Wilbur Fisk Sanders Papers (MC 53).] ]

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 17th, 2011, 8:52 pm
by Marty Demarest
As I mention in Genii, one thing that is notable in James' papers is his correspondence to his brother regarding the posthumous publication of their father's speeches and essays. I find it very telling that James sought Wilbur's advice on self-publishing, even down the quality of the paper used. I suspect that if anyone knew about Wilbur's work on The Expert, it was James. The two of them shared an office during 1902--the year of The Expert's publication.

A knowledge of self-publishing is one of Erdnase's demonstrable traits. I think any credible candidate for Erdnase must be both a writer and a self-publisher.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 18th, 2011, 4:14 am
by Magic Fred
"It sufficeth to say that only the innate and in(co)herent modesty of the objective subject of this 'story of a life' prevents the Class Historian (officially -- when writing of Billy Sanders) from dealing in higher superlatives than these hereinafter detailed, specified and contained, to wit: ..."

I have to say, in all honesty, this sounds nothing like Erdnase to me.

Granted, I'm not academically qualified to make a literary analysis, but I think I have a decent grasp of the language (and certainly a familiarity with Erdnase).

I look forward to reading more examples when I get my hands on the article.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 18th, 2011, 7:51 am
by Bob Coyne
Magic Fred wrote:"It sufficeth to say that only the innate and in(co)herent modesty of the objective subject of this 'story of a life' prevents the Class Historian (officially -- when writing of Billy Sanders) from dealing in higher superlatives than these hereinafter detailed, specified and contained, to wit: ..."

I have to say, in all honesty, this sounds nothing like Erdnase to me.

Granted, I'm not academically qualified to make a literary analysis, but I think I have a decent grasp of the language (and certainly a familiarity with Erdnase).

I look forward to reading more examples when I get my hands on the article.


As Marty pointed out in the article, Sanders is adept at changing his writing style for the situation. In this case he's writing it in a facetious tone, intentionally mimicking overly formal language as an effect ("towit", "hereinafter detailed..."). If you read it in full context, that's apparent. He puts on different voices, not just at the word-level but in the pronunciation too (by varying the spelling) throughout this same document.

So in some sense you could flip your observation around and say that Sanders doesn't sound like Sanders! For example, in the very same paragraph as the "towit" stuff, he abruptly switches voices and describes himself with: "lie air young an' beautifullest an' fair; he hez carroty face an' a freckled hair; he seems pure an' nobil ez he kin bebut, nixkumarouse, Bill, yer kaint fule me ! He hez wondrous grace in hiz nether pegs, when he pir-hoo-etts on hiz rear hind legs: an' he thinks he's sum with hiz hullaballoo; but he kaint fule meknow him throo an' throo! "

We actually see a bit of that same ability to mimic different speaking styles in Erdnase, albeit in a completely different voice, with "Dont trouble bout no two hans, Boss. Get yo own han. De suckah, hell get a han all right, suah!.

But that wasn't my point anyway -- instead I thought this example of using mid-word parenthetical letters in "in(co)herent" was in the same vein as the mid-sentence use of parenthetical question marks "(?)" and the heavy use of scare quotes in both Erdnase and Sanders. All used in a humorous or ironic manner.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 18th, 2011, 2:33 pm
by El Harvey Oswald
it "sounds like Eardnase" only insofar as it reflects his adeptness with language, innovative use of parentheses, deliberate use of pompous phrases like "to wit," and ability to inhabit multiple "voices" (perhaps explaining the differences some have noted in the legerdemain section as a deliberate tonal shift), which is of course a useful skill for someone concealing his identity. no one thinks the tone and content of a farcical alumni magazine entry are directly akin to the book.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 18th, 2011, 4:36 pm
by Magic Fred
So his ability to sound unlike Erdnase furthers his candidacy... hmm. Maybe Tamariz was right after all!

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 18th, 2011, 5:08 pm
by Bill Mullins
So,

If we don't know he gambled, that supports the idea that he was Erdnase.

If his writing doesn't match the style of "Expert", that supports the idea he was Erdnase.

Hmm.

I think that if we can conclusively show that Sanders was not related to Dalrymple, then case closed!

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 18th, 2011, 5:15 pm
by Marty Demarest
The Dalrymple family was related to the Edgerton family.

Alas, Bill, it won't be so easy.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 18th, 2011, 7:29 pm
by Bob Coyne
Marty Demarest wrote:The Dalrymple family was related to the Edgerton family.


Wow, that's quite a big bit of news!! Solid evidence for it? Close enough relation to have been known and mentioned to Smith by Erdnase/Sanders?

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 18th, 2011, 9:55 pm
by David Ben
Marty

If you could please, please be more specific. What evidence do you have of the relationship between Dalrymple and Sanders, other than the political cartoon? Would you be kind enough to name the actual source of this information and, or produce the document?

Thanking you in advance.

David

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 19th, 2011, 5:05 am
by Magic Fred
Bill Mullins wrote:
If we don't know he gambled, that supports the idea that he was Erdnase....


I agree entirely with the sentiment of your post :)

I'd just like to clarify my thoughts regarding a candidate having been a gambler: it is quite a different thing to say there is no evidence that he was a gambler, as opposed to "we can demonstrate he was (or was not) a card player."

So my position on the matter would be:

- demonstrate that he never played cards and it's obviously not Erdnase.

- demonstrate he was a known card player under his own name: still possible that he was Erdnase, but I'd be very suspicious.

- no evidence either way of having been a card player under his own name: this would be the most likely candidate, for me.

Edit: of course there is a fourth option, if you can demonstrate he was a card player under a fake name then that'd probably further his case.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 19th, 2011, 4:59 pm
by Leonard Hevia
Just finished reading the article, and I'm surprised no one has mentioned the fact that Sanders' parents were staying at the Windsor Clifton Hotel in Chicago during the winter of 1901-02. Sanders was in Duluth, Minnesota in early November 1901. It's not a stretch to believe that he traveled to Chicago to visit them, among other things. Smith remembered meeting Erdnase at a hotel that was nearby the Windsor Clifton, possibly the Globe Hotel.

Other items in Marty's article that stood out for me were:

1. Marty's explanation for the misspelling of the word "Charlier" to "Charlies" in Expert. It was easy for the printer to mistake the lower case letter "R" in Sanders' cursive writing for an "S"--if Sanders was the author.

2. Sanders' preoccupation with the condition of his hands. This is in keeping with someone such as a card gambler or magician who handles a deck of cards on a continual basis. The "hand protection" Sanders' purchased among the other items for his ten-week trip into the Rocky Mountains is evidence of this.

3. The fact that Sanders purchased six decks for his Rocky Mountain trip suggests a real love for the pasteboards. Laymen don't usually purchase six decks at once.

4. The fact that Sanders was a highly skilled writer who could slip in and out of different writing styles as easily as he could his mining boots. Marty also included examples of Sanders' prose in the vernacular speech. The fact that both Erdnase and Sanders could wrote in vernacular speech is striking.

We know that Erdnase may have had a copy of P. T. Selbit's The Magician's Handbook as a source for the color changes in Expert. Since Sanders must have owned books and journals, could there have been gambling and magic books in Sanders' library? Since Sanders had no children, what happened to his library at the Berkeley home?

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 19th, 2011, 5:27 pm
by Frank Yuen
Richard, in your Genii Speaks column you wrote that you saw some inconsistencies with the illustrations. Care to elaborate?

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 19th, 2011, 10:46 pm
by Bob Coyne
I've been looking more at the similarity of language used by Sanders and Erdnase. Sanders' chapter (50 pages) in Mine Timbering (MT) is actually quite similar to the technical descriptions in Erdnase (EATCT) in tone, terminology, and clarity. The prefaces and introductory sections in both works also share similarities, including their way of delineating the scope and approach of the respective works.

-----

Both offer the reader a treatise (of sorts) and stress the importance of details.

EATCT: A TREATISE on the Science and Art of Manipulating Cards
EATCT: the sum of our present knowledge is PROFFERED THIS IN VOLUME
EATCT: IMPORTANCE of DETAILS (full section heading)

MT: it has appeared worth while to make the present COLLECTION WHICH IS OFFERED not as a complete TREATISE on the subject, but rather as a series of essays which go fully into many IMPORTANT DETAILS

-----

Both give disclaimers, describing the limitations of what is covered:

EATCT: IT IS NOT OUR PURPOSE TO DESCRIBE the various kinds of apparatus, or prepared or mechanical cards, that play so great a part in the professional conjurer's startling exhibitions.
MT: IT IS NOT THE PROVINCE OF THIS ARTICLE TO TOUCH UPON methods of mining in use above ground, whether by hydraulic mining, or other processes, but rather to deal with the support of underground excavations by the use of timbers, and the details of mining therewith connected. NOR IS IT INTENDED TO ...

---

Both take time to describe the relevance of the illustrations:

EATCT: Therefore the writer has expended much time and care in illustrating many manoeuvres that at first may seem unimportant, but all of which are essential to the curriculum of artistic card handling.
MT: in the figures drawn to illustrate the article, sizes of timber most frequently used have been arbitrarily taken for convenience. The figures giving dimensions are working drawings showing the methods of framing, as explained, and can easily be applied to frames and timbers of any desired dimensions.

---

Various other parallel wordings/concepts:

EATCT: DESCRIBING with detail and illustration EVERY KNOWN expedient, manoeuvre and strategm of the expert card handler
MT: the mines operated under these methods PRESENT EVERY KNOWN characteristic of lode formation.

EATCT: LITTLE OR NO skill is required, BUT a practiced hand can locate and bring the cards to the top
MT: large excavations may be supported with LITTLE OR NO timbering, BUT usually...

EATCT: various METHODS OF LOCATING AND PRODUCING selected cards
MT: the METHODS OF LOCATING AND ALIGNING the sets are those used for...

EATCT: and the tip SHOULD BE HELD SUFFICIENTLY ABOVE IT TO RECEIVE the lower packet
MT: with sides that SHALL PROJECT BEYOND THE SIDE of the chute into the tramway SUFFICIENTLY FAR TO ALLOW the rock to fall...

EATCT: An expert can run the whole deck WITH THE UTMOST rapidity
MT: huge timbers that have been framed WITH THE UTMOST precision

EATCT: though this method IS now BY FAR THE MORE prevalent among men who play for money
MT: this station, while requiring more excating to construct, IS BY FAR THE MOST economical in the end

EATCT: we shall describe several of the BEST METHODS known for secretly exchanging
EATCT: the BEST AND SIMPLEST METHODS of accomplishing the sleights
MT: probably the SIMPLEST METHOD OF aligning the side plates of inclined-shaft sets
MT: being the SIMPLEST AND CHEAPEST METHOD OF framing

EATCT: the other fingers and thumb HOLDING the packet FIRMLY TOGETHER.
MT: in order to BIND the frames FIRMLY TOGETHER at this point

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 19th, 2011, 11:50 pm
by Bill Mullins
Wilbur Sanders, literary critic:

Sir Some time ago, a report that was stated to have been the result of an examination made upon a mining property . . . came into my hands and has been carefully preserved by me as a classic. . . . Certainly in part it is too good to keep, and in a spirit of benevolence and as an offering upon the shrine of professional goodwill toward professional brethren, the following extracts have been exhumed from their obscure place of burial among files containing many another mining report that is less pictureseque, less unique. The following contains the rich kernel removed from the enclosing shell.
[ Extended quote follows.]
How plain and simple it all is to write a mining report. Not necessarily one that will 'stick,' but a picturesque and unique document that is readable and fairly well filled with data culled in a measure from geologic reports and folios of the region or from other vicarious sources and containing more or less uncertain assumptions and statements as to ore values and to positive, probable, and possible ore reserves that from their very artlessness and ingenuousness should convince, but which somehow fail to carry a satisfactory weight when their authors are brought 'upon the carpet.' And how many reports presuming to describe mining properties are written that should never have been penned because of the wicked waste of ink resulting therefrom.
Wilbur E. Sanders
Sonora, California, July 6.

From Mining and Scientific Press, Aug 9, 1913 p. 233.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 20th, 2011, 10:23 am
by Carlo Morpurgo
Just fooling around with the title page (and nothing more...)

http://tinyurl.com/3gc7bzq

Can you read W.E. Sanders?

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 20th, 2011, 10:32 am
by Roger M.
Great find Carlo.

That right there is pushing the boundaries of "pure chance".

I find it especially interesting that you didn't have to move any of the text (hand-set type in its day) off the page in order to find the hidden name.

I'm interested in what others have to say about Carlo's find?

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 20th, 2011, 10:47 am
by Andrew Pinard
That's pretty remarkable! What other names can be generated by sliding the text back and forth?

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 20th, 2011, 11:08 am
by Carlo Morpurgo
Andrew Pinard wrote:That's pretty remarkable! What other names can be generated by sliding the text back and forth?


who knows, probably thousands...certainly Andrews, but not ES (or MF) Andrews. I just wanted to see if I could come up with WE Sanders, assuming that 1. he wrote the book 2. he liked to play with words 3. he played with the first part of the title, and given that 4. he decided to split the words and sentences in that weird way (especially "conjurer" and "illustration". again, just playing around....

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 20th, 2011, 11:36 am
by Andrew Pinard
Well... Just thought I would try a couple of the obvious examples...

Ummm... E.S. Andrews doesn't work.
M.F. Andrews doesn't work.
S.W. Erdnase doesn't work.

Huh! Possibly thousands would work, but this is still pretty remarkable considering the recent scholarship. Talk about staring you in the face.

ajp

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 20th, 2011, 12:56 pm
by Bob Coyne
This is interesting!

Here's one simple way to think about the chances. If we assume the constraint of the typography making the pyramid of the same shape and size, then the number of letters on each line is fixed. Ignoring spaces, the first line has 38 letters, the second has 29, etc. We can then calculate the chance that every line would have the corresponding required letter in "WESanders" somewhere on it. The probability that the first line *wouldn't* have a W is (25/26)^38 (i.e. that all 38 letters on that line are something other than a W). The chance that the first line *would* have at least one W would be 1 minus that, or .77. The chance that every line would have at least one instance of its required letter is the product of these per-line probabilities. This turns out to be .0055, or less than 1 in a hundred.

So it's not very likely that WESanders would appear there by chance given those assumptions -- which implies it's intentional. Some of the above assumptions, however, are bogus. For example, the letters in WESanders are fairly common and hence more likely than other letters to appear in any given text. If you take relative letter frequencies into account, the probability comes to about .05 (or 1/20). So, it's still on the unlikely side that his name would be there just be chance. Of course, other assumptions made above would change the odds in different ways.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 20th, 2011, 2:02 pm
by Leonard Hevia
That was an amazing discovery Carlo. It might even be the explanation for the pyramid design on the title page. Without that pyramid layout of the sentences, you wouldn't be able to slide the sentences left and right and stay within the margins of the page.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 20th, 2011, 2:35 pm
by Carlo Morpurgo
Bob Coyne wrote:This is interesting!

Here's one simple way to think about the chances. If we assume the constraint of the typography making the pyramid of the same shape and size, then the number of letters on each line is fixed. Ignoring spaces, the first line has 38 letters, the second has 29, etc. We can then calculate the chance that every line would have the corresponding required letter in "WESanders" somewhere on it. The probability that the first line *wouldn't* have a W is (25/26)^38 (i.e. that all 38 letters on that line are something other than a W). The chance that the first line *would* have at least one W would be 1 minus that, or .77. The chance that every line would have at least one instance of its required letter is the product of these per-line probabilities. This turns out to be .0055, or less than 1 in a hundred.

So it's not very likely that WESanders would appear there by chance given those assumptions -- which implies it's intentional. Some of the above assumptions, however, are bogus. For example, the letters in WESanders are fairly common and hence more likely than other letters to appear in any given text. If you take relative letter frequencies into account, the probability comes to about .05 (or 1/20). So, it's still on the unlikely side that his name would be there just be chance. Of course, other assumptions made above would change the odds in different ways.


Glad you (and others) found it interesting...but I am not entirely convinced about the "a posteriori" probability argument, just based on occurrences of letters. You'd have to think about the fact that letters cannot be randomly chosen, they need to form words, and words need to form sentences etc. But even then I'd argue that a calculation "after the fact" should not be interpreted as likelihood of "intentions". For example, I could argue the the probability that you start a post in this forum with a "T" and end it with an "S" is about 0.0015, which does not indicate to me that in your post above you intentionally wanted to start with T and end with S...this is a silly example I know, maybe you can come up with a better one....

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 20th, 2011, 3:00 pm
by Bob Coyne
Carlo Morpurgo wrote:
Glad you (and others) found it interesting...but I am not entirely convinced about the "a posteriori" probability argument, just based on occurrences of letters. You'd have to think about the fact that letters cannot be randomly chosen, they need to form words, and words need to form sentences etc. But even then I'd argue that a calculation "after the fact" should not be interpreted as likelihood of "intentions". For example, I could argue the the probability that you start a post in this forum with a "T" and end it with an "S" is about 0.0015, which does not indicate to me that in your post above you intentionally wanted to start with T and end with S...this is a silly example I know, maybe you can come up with a better one....



On the first point...I don't think the constraints on which letters can appear in which words would make too much difference in the probabilities since the overall frequencies of letters is derived from words they occur in (e.g. that E is 12% and W is 2% is based on their occurances in words in actual text). And as you say, there are also other issues like what words can most likely follow each other and how that might affect the letter frequencies for a given number of words on a line. But for a rough estimate I think it's OK to ignore those sorts of things.

On the second point, I agree. You'd have to take into account all the plausible different ways Sanders' name could have been inserted into the text (upside down, first letter of each word, spelling out w-i-l-b-u-r, etc) and then penalize those for *not* occurring. So it sort of becomes like a magic trick with multiple outs where you can always spell in some way to the card or whatever. That's why I put in the caveats about how the calculation (and its interpretation) was based on the assumptions being made. btw, the constraint that the letters can only slide within the page and not off (an assumption I didn't make) would make WESanders appearing there by chance alone less likely.

Re: ERDNASE

Posted: August 20th, 2011, 3:36 pm
by Carlo Morpurgo
Bob Coyne wrote: btw, the constraint that the letters can only slide within the page and not off (an assumption I didn't make) would make WESanders appearing there by chance alone less likely.


Yes...that is a stronger case...In the sense that it's reasonable that if Sanders wanted to have his name appear in that sort of way, then the easiest way (and safest perhaps) was by shortening the sentences (as Leonard also pointed out above). The alternative of course was to use a fixed width, with the letters in his name already aligned vertically or in some other "intentional" shape....within a longer paragraph.