Originally Posted by David Orsam
Oh my dear boy, a world renowned and respected academic historian once told me that questions containing "would have" and "if" are not correct questions for a historian and do not assist us at arriving at historical truth, or some such guffins.
So I would normally refuse to answer - were it not for the fact that this same expert historian has also opened my eyes to the fact that Jack the Ripper was leaving coded clues all over the place in 1888, including in newspapers, so that one needs to be very alert when we see a single discrepancy of this nature.
So my dear boy, my thought process, if there would have been no other differences than the expression "slightly visible" would, obviously, be that the killer had somehow managed to insert those words into the newspaper and was sending out a message in code.
Clearly he was telling us that within the words "slightly visible" there is a clue which is slightly visible.
Now, it was the first murder in a series so I would be looking to rearrange some of the letters to form some kind of number. Because I would assume he was going to tell us how many murders he was going to commit.
And, oh my lord, there it is, right there, just slightly visible. THE NUMBER EIGHT !!!!
It's the only number in there between one and fifty. He was intending to murder eight women.
Firstly this is an example drawn from an historical fact, i.e. the paper did write that expression, even though it in itself is insignificant.
The example is just a tool for testing hypothetical options and not part of history writing.
So it has nothing to do with if:s and wouldhaves in history writing.
But you donīt understand the example and the question I wrote.
The expression would have been be made up by the paper if there was just one paper writing it. No paper had any "extra" information.
That is an if and would have answer to an if and would have question.
And this has now turned into an hypothesis. What do you say about it?