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  • #16
    Blame

    John seems to lay the lion's share of the blame for anti-Anderson attacks at the door of Philip Sugden. True he allows for the excellent job of research that Sugden carried out but he then goes on to make a virulent attack on Sugden, far in excess of what should be sober and objective criticism of the man's work.

    I have recently stated, and have done so in the past, that I do not agree with all of Sugden's opinions and conclusions. But I have huge respect for the man and the accuracy of his work. Forgetting that he is a valued friend I have to say that I am very impressed with the way that he came into a field that was not of particular interest to him and yet mastered the facts and showed an incredible insight on the subject coupled with an unparalleled understanding of the pitfalls awaiting the unwary Ripperologist. In the case of John, he has studied Sugden's work with a view to identifying it as the major incentive for what he views as an 'anti-Anderson campaign.' It would be nice if Sugden could respond to John's piece, but I know that he has no particular ongoing interest in the case and follows his own particular areas of interest.

    John regards Sugden's work on Anderson as 'dangerous and damaging' and that it 'persuades the reader to disregard what quite possibly could be the best clues and only avenue ("if my conjectures be correct") that merits our full attention.' Well John, that is, of course, in your opinion.

    The truth is that any dedicated and intelligent researcher, unlike the general reader, will not be deflected from his course by any book, including Sugden, as we well know from those dedicated souls, like John, who sail the Anderson course. But Sugden appears to be John's bete noire. In John's opinion, even if not responsible for 'the current anti-Anderson campaign, Sugden is at the very least 'complicit in establishing the negative light in which Anderson is most often cast.' He then qualifies this statement by saying, "This faulty view has dealt a serious blow to objective study..." It would appear that John believes that if everyone took Anderson at his word we could obviate 'the bevy of wild goose chases' and concentrate on the only real lead.

    Don't you believe it John. But what John is advocating, judged by his own standards, is in itself just as 'dangerous' and would stifle other productive avenues of research as everyone would be taking Anderson at his word and following no other line of research. Personally I like to think that the majority of serious readers are intelligent enough to see the difference between opinion and fact and will follow their own preferred lines of research no matter what. But, apparently, not in John's opinion. For 'the growth of enlightenment has been stunted by the sheer mass of anti-Anderson propaganda that is trotted out every time a suggestion is made that Mr. Anderson may have know what he was talking about. These anti-Anderson minions are quick to produce enough words and "shout-down" rhetoric to clog every bog [toilet] in the East End.'

    Strong stuff John, but perhaps you should take a closer and more objective look at the true character and nature of this man that you are raising to an unrealistic stature. I'm afraid that the further one reads into your article the more the phrase 'brainwashed' suggests itself. I hate to say this, but you really do come across as obsessed with Anderson. And to indicate that a modern author's work has elevated your blood pressure to the degree that you issue forth the same sort of rhetoric that you accuse others of using does lead to some concern for not only your objectivity, but your whole mindset.

    At a personal level I must assume that John regards me as 'an anti-Anderson minion', indeed he speaks, in a footnote, of 'Efforts by such esteemed "Ripperologists" as Stewart P. Evans (in particular) to produce the "dirt" on Anderson...' It's interesting to know that I'm the producer of 'dirt' as opposed to solid research and facts. Maybe I should get back to the drawing board and re-assess my motives and aims. Sadly, I regard this remark, by a perceived and assumed friend, to be at the least pejorative and at worst defamatory (of my work). Indeed, the more I study John's article the sadder I feel.
    Last edited by Stewart P Evans; 08-17-2010, 10:36 AM.
    SPE

    Treat me gently I'm a newbie.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Stewart P Evans View Post
      John seems to lay the lion's share of the blame for anti-Anderson attacks at the door of Philip Sugden. True he allows for the excellent job of research that Sugden carried out but he then goes on to make a virulent attack on Sugden, far in excess of what should be sober and objective criticism of the man's work.
      Morning Stewart,

      I think John has made it all too easy for people to reciprocate by attacking the tone of his article as much as, if not more than addressing what sober and objective criticism of Sugden's work on Anderson should have looked like, assuming this would be both possible and welcomed.

      We may not like what John wrote, or how he wrote it, but we can still offer sober and objective criticism of his work, and a sober and objective case for Sugden's conclusions being soundly based and Anderson's ripper pronouncements being based on hot air.

      The positive thing is that articles like John's may prod us into looking again at how all the top ripper authorities interpret their material and reach their sometimes very different verdicts. I doubt that many of us will make our decisions or choose our 'side' based solely on one writer's observations.

      Love,

      Caz
      X
      "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


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      • #18
        No Argument

        Originally posted by caz View Post
        Morning Stewart,
        I think John has made it all too easy for people to reciprocate by attacking the tone of his article as much as, if not more than addressing what sober and objective criticism of Sugden's work on Anderson should have looked like, assuming this would be both possible and welcomed.
        We may not like what John wrote, or how he wrote it, but we can still offer sober and objective criticism of his work, and a sober and objective case for Sugden's conclusions being soundly based and Anderson's ripper pronouncements being based on hot air.
        The positive thing is that articles like John's may prod us into looking again at how all the top ripper authorities interpret their material and reach their sometimes very different verdicts. I doubt that many of us will make our decisions or choose our 'side' based solely on one writer's observations.
        Love,
        Caz
        X
        As I have explained, I have no argument with fair and proper criticism. At the level of the contentious nature of Sugden's opinions and interpretatations John makes several good points.

        However, larded as it is with heavy bias and rhetoric I feel that John does little for his own cause or of how his own opinions are perceived. Indeed he carries it so far the other way that the lasting impression is of a rhetorical attack on Sugden rather than a sober and thought-provoking critique. But I should like to feel that most readers recognise where an author is 'coming from' and are able to distinguish between fact and opinion. All sides need to be addressed but those espousing particular theories tend to be a bit 'over the top' in their presentation of their ideas.

        Whilst it is true that articles like this will generate a flurry of responses and interest, amongst a minority, they are soon archived and forgotten in the general scheme of things. Personally I should like to see John produce a commercially available book on the subject about which he is so passionate. A Rob House/John Malcolm collaboration would be welcomed in the field and could provide the definitive volume on the Polish Jew theorising.
        SPE

        Treat me gently I'm a newbie.

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        • #19
          Properly Assessing Anderson

          In his article John states that it is not meant as an endorsement of Anderson's "theory" [sic] but that his goal is to 'clear away some of the rotting refuse that has built up around the "definitely ascertained fact" and return to square one, allowing for a clear, hard and fresh look at what may, in the end, turn out to be the simplest and most obvious solution.'

          Well, I'm afraid that things aren't quite as easy as that and, no matter how you look at it, this is never going to be clear, simple and obvious in its resolution. John, and other Andersonites, simply dismiss all the 1910 criticism of Anderson as politically motivated and quite wrong. But it's not as simple as that and much of the criticism levelled at him at that time was valid. It is obvious that John would prefer to see these political aspects of the case against Anderson (they being one of the reasons for disbelieving or strongly doubting Anderson) dismissed from the equation. But Anderson was a very political animal and in no small way very bigoted. It was a major part of his makeup and must be assessed with all other aspects of the man to decide upon his true nature and the veracity of his word.

          John obviously regards this as all part of 'the sheer mass of anti-Anderson propaganda' which is 'trotted out' by the likes of me (an 'anti-Anderson minion') in order to clog up the East End 'bogs' and 'distort what little we know of "the truth". Amongst the "dirt" on Anderson recently produced by me, and which I can only imagine that John feels is totally irrelevant to the central premise, is a piece I quoted from Anderson's Sidelights on the Home Rule Movement only three years before he wrote of the 'definitely ascertained fact' of the Ripper's identity in The Lighter Side of My Official Life.

          As we know Anderson was obsessively opposed to the Irish Nationalist MP Charles Stewart Parnell and the Home Rule Movement. This resulted in the series of anonymous articles that appeared in The Times in 1887 which sought to associate Parnell with the Irish terrorist movement and outrages such as the Phoenix Park murders of 1882. It was Anderson's admission to writing some of these articles, in his published work in 1910, that led to the Parliamentary debate and the near loss of his pension. The Parnell Commission set up in 1888 to look into the case of Parnell v. The Times newspaper eventually decided in favour of Parnell and damning letters allegedly written by Parnell proved to have been forged by Richard Piggot. Piggot, as we know, committed suicide in a Madrid hotel at the time of the Commission.

          When Anderson wrote of these matters in Sidelights on the Home Rule Movement he sought to shift the onus for the main letter incriminating Parnell back to Parnell by claiming it was not forged by Piggot. Anderson wrote, "And as regards the Parnell 'facsimile letter' of May 15, 1882, I have received definite confirmation of my statement that it is in the handwriting of Arthur O'Keefe. I have obtained further proof, moreover, that at that period O'Keefe was employed by Mr. Parnell as an amanuensis." This statement disagrees with the verdict of history yet Anderson provides none of his proof nor any other sort of confirmation of his claim. The parallels with his claimed 'definitely ascertained fact' regarding the Ripper's identity are there.

          Anderson's writings invite speculation and criticism and his unsourced and unsupported claims, quite frankly, are unacceptable to a modern audience. He provides insufficient information and gives no sources. It is presented as a bare fact with no corroboration. We are expected, however, to accept what he says merely because he is Sir Robert Anderson and he would not lie.
          Last edited by Stewart P Evans; 08-17-2010, 03:30 PM.
          SPE

          Treat me gently I'm a newbie.

          Comment


          • #20
            Hello John,

            Originally posted by John Malcolm View Post
            From everything we know up to this point, I think the "facts" only push us into a corner: hung jury, deadlock, stalemate, whatever...I do see these particular debates as polarized, and one of the things I'd hoped to get across is that I think it's foolish to pick sides here; my main objective was to "attack" Mr. Sugden exactly how he attacked Anderson (and I think if you look carefully at the article and Sugden's chapter on Kosminski you will find that I go much easier on Sugden than he does on Anderson, about whom he seems to have nothing at all good to say)- my point being to show how perceptions can influence beliefs; and how precarious it is to theorize.
            I can see where you are coming from, some researchers seem to be too dogmatic when it comes to Anderson and his credibility, hence the polarized and more often than not fruitless debates based on different interpretations of his written words and those of his contemporaries concerning his person or actions.

            That is why I find it all the more unfortunate that you mingle the laudable attempt to point out flaws in the general perception of Anderson and his role in the Ripper case with digs against Philip Sugden, who, as you write, is an accomplice of the "anti-Anderson minions". If it really was your objective to appeal for a less hysterical approach towards the Anderson discussion and against boundless theorising, taking sides and killing debates with knockout arguments, I feel that you should not have resorted to adding fuel to the fire by bashing on the one side (anti-Anderson) while effectively building a case for the other (pro-Anderson), all that on the back of errors found in one chapter of Philip Sugden's Complete History.

            Maybe this was not your incentive but I fear your output may seem as such to those whose polarizing you so obviously despise, thus creating even more of it.

            Regards,

            Boris
            ~ All perils, specially malignant, are recurrent - Thomas De Quincey ~

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            • #21
              Like a Teddy Bear

              Oh dear, round and round the Anderson garden again. FWIWIMHOLOL the case was sorted out in early 1889 before the Alice McKenzie murder so to me Anderson's 1910 statements make perfect sense and they also have nothing to do with Kosminski as far as I can see, given this and that and the other.
              allisvanityandvexationofspirit

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Stephen Thomas View Post
                Oh dear, round and round the Anderson garden again. FWIWIMHOLOL the case was sorted out in early 1889 before the Alice McKenzie murder so to me Anderson's 1910 statements make perfect sense and they also have nothing to do with Kosminski as far as I can see, given this and that and the other.
                What do you mean by this?

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                • #23
                  Hello All,
                  This will be an attempt to address the issues of the article that have been brought up, so please bear with me...

                  Stewart,
                  First and foremost I would like to comment on your observation that "Certain phrases and ideas in the article clearly show where John derives his beliefs from - it's a pity that those sources are so biased." I'm assuming that you are referring to Paul Begg and Martin Fido here. This is partially correct, as one of the first books I read on the subject was The Crimes, Detection and Death of Jack the Ripper, and as is quite often the case, first impressions are lasting impressions. As you know, for the longest time I'd been very keen on David Cohen as my "suspect of choice", so this in itself seems to support your contention; and as my continuing support of Anderson also indicates a parallel to Paul Begg's non-dismissal of Anderson, putting two and two together seems logical. But I don't believe it's that simple. I'm very familiar with your position that these two authors have been less than objective, but I can't completely agree with you about this. That said, I have to put forth something that you may find hard to believe- YOU have been my biggest influence when it comes to this subject. Maybe you think this is the most ridiculous thing I've said thus far, but if this wasn't "a definitely ascertained fact" in my mind, this particular article of which we are speaking would have come out (in an even more venomous form) several years ago. You rightly pointed out my "Beggian slant" in '05 when my little book came out, which was something that I had not previously recognised. It convinced me to re-evaluate all of my "pro-Anderson" leanings and has caused me no little grief in the meantime. I'm sure that you have no idea how tedious plowing through Anderson's non-secular works can be. I know you don't believe there is any relevance to his character or the Whitechapel Murders, but I feel that it is an obligatory task, if one truly wants to get closer to the bottom of our enigmatic ex-Assistant Commissioner (but of course that's another story). And you are absolutely correct in stating that the stand I am taking is "actually fired by frustration." Frustration not borne out of some desire to be proved right in any of my opinions, but frustration because I cannot reconcile my positions with the person who has gone more out of his way to help me in my "quest for Jack the Ripper" than anyone. Maybe I'm falling short of explaining myself here, but to say the crafting of this article has been torturous, unpleasant and conflicting might be an understatement. A "turd", a "hairball", whatever my current choice of words to characterize this thing might be, one thing that I tried to make perfectly clear is that my thoughts on Anderson and his "theory" or theory are pure opinion. The "tone" of the article notwithstanding, how can you possibly characterize my words as a "rhetorical attack on Sugden rather than a sober and thought-provoking critique", and not apply the same to Sugden's "rhetorical attack" on Anderson? I think the issues I raise are valid, and as hugely influential as The Complete History of Jack the Ripper has been and continues to be, I think his chapter on Kosminski is an oozing pimple on an otherwise stellar contribution to the field of Ripperology. I think I need to take a breath before I continue, I apologize for not getting to the nitty-gritty of your comments, but I think it's best if I come back later, fresh, before I go off the rails.

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                  • #24
                    Treatment

                    Originally posted by John Malcolm View Post
                    ...
                    The "tone" of the article notwithstanding, how can you possibly characterize my words as a "rhetorical attack on Sugden rather than a sober and thought-provoking critique", and not apply the same to Sugden's "rhetorical attack" on Anderson? I think the issues I raise are valid, and as hugely influential as The Complete History of Jack the Ripper has been and continues to be, I think his chapter on Kosminski is an oozing pimple on an otherwise stellar contribution to the field of Ripperology. I think I need to take a breath before I continue, I apologize for not getting to the nitty-gritty of your comments, but I think it's best if I come back later, fresh, before I go off the rails.
                    I think that I indicated that the tone of your piece resulted in it coming across as a 'rhetorical attack', which parts of it are. I also acknowledged that you make some valid points which I agree with.

                    As regards Philip's treatment of Anderson, well, it is not his book that I am responding to here, it is your new article. As I stated, it would be good to see you produce a definitive book on your chosen area of study and you have a very good co-author in the shape of Rob. Now that would be the best place to address Sugden's treatment of Anderson.

                    For my pasrt, as I have indicated I was none too happy to be accused of producing 'the dirt' on Anderson as opposed to carrying out valid research. I publish whatever I find on the man, good or bad.
                    SPE

                    Treat me gently I'm a newbie.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Deja Vu Sir Robert Anderson....

                      Goodday Stephen Thomas,

                      I think the phrase you are looking for is "Goldfish Moment".

                      JOHN RUFFELS.

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                      • #26
                        John Ruffels wrote to Stephen Thomas: I think the phrase you are looking for is "Goldfish Moment". Even as a newbie, I think I get it! The debate on Anderson must have been going on for the last 150 years.
                        I've finally managed to read Mr. Malcolm's essay, and I have to say, I found the criticisms on Philip Sudgen's Kosminsky chapter fascinating and convincing, esp. for a newbie who has only very recently acquired Sudgen WITHOUT yet having gone through the book (!!!!!) – besides the perusing of pieces and parts from it online before ordering it!
                        Still, I was frequently bothered by the over the top rhetoric in Mr. Malcolm's essay, and I believe that his point would have come across much better without the dramatics. (And by the way, Mr.Malcolm, the best of lucks with the icing of your ice hockey related bruises, I've got a long experience in this myself, frequently engaging in figure skating/freestyle snowboarding jumps. )
                        As for Anderson's supposed ethical decency and reliability, the details of his anti-Parnell campaign in The Times in 1887 are well-known, and as a consequence thereoff I would entrust the least possible faith in his claims of a “definitely ascertained fact“ pertaining to the Ripper's identity. Still, future research might clear this up.
                        Best regards,
                        Maria

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Johnr View Post
                          Goodday Stephen Thomas,

                          I think the phrase you are looking for is "Goldfish Moment".

                          JOHN RUFFELS.
                          Thankyou, John, for increasing my vocabulary. Actually I was p*ssed as a newt when I made that post but,to continue the watery analogy, Kominski is an overlarge red herring in this discussion and though certain people might want to have a whale of a time thinking Anderson was referring to him, they are seriously misguided.

                          Anderson didn't know Kosminski from his backside

                          John Malcolms's article was sweet and apt whatever people might say.

                          All the best

                          ps. In Libya oil is cheaper than water.
                          allisvanityandvexationofspirit

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                          • #28
                            The Dangers of Spreading A Broad Net

                            Hello Stephen Thomas,

                            I like your continuation of the water analogy.(I was not make personal aspersions of anyone there incidentally).

                            A motto I have coined after years of research, (and this continues your water analogy into fishing...):

                            "The only trouble with spreading a broad net when your research fishing is, that you will encounter so many Red Herrings it gets harder to see the Blue Sardine!" JOHN RUFFELS, 2010.

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