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  • SPE's Worldview

    I sort of appropriated this from a thread on Casebook...I hope SPE won't mind...but its a terrific post and one which should be read.
    ********************************



    An unsolved murder is just that, unsolved. In not one of the 'Whitechapel' murder cases, from Smith in April 1888 to Coles in February 1891, was the offender identified although, obviously, there was more than one murderer at work. Where no hard evidence has been adduced, and no offender has confessed, it is not possible to positively identify a common hand for x, y, or z murders. That said certain facts should be obvious -

    1. Each murder should be treated as an individual case and examined on its own merits.

    2. No murder in the series should be assumed to have been committed by any particular suspect. That said it must be recognised that no hard evidence existed against any given contemporary suspect.

    3. To treat a fixed number of that series of murders as having been committed by a common hand will influence all subsequent theorising and affect the conclusions reached.

    To rigidly adhere to these criteria in a case with minimal evidence anyway, and for which no hard evidence is going to emerge at this remove in time, will prevent positive identification of any suspect, known or unknown.

    Such ideas are unpopular with both the theorist and the fantasist - for they appear to stifle progress in seeking a solution to the case. And therein lies the rub - the case is incapable of solution.

    So what are we left with? Only theorising, hypothesis and opinion I'm afraid. Accept it - it's a fact. We may certainly add to our peripheral and tangential knowledge and clear up minor mysteries in the case. Indeed, this has been the main thrust of Ripper studies for many years, certainly throughout the 'Internet years.'

    Also it is possible internalise as much relevant information as is possible and to make informed and common sense deductions from what we have. From this we may arrive at our own, individual, conclusions. We may decide upon which of the murders have been committed by the Ripper, which of the known suspects is the most viable and which of the known facts are the most relevant and reliable. We may also decide what source material is the best. All this should be tempered by certain caveats.

    1. No conclusion or opinion so arrived at is fact.

    2. An open mind should be kept with regard to the conclusions and opinions reached and flexibility of thought that is receptive to new information and ideas.

    3. Common sense and the rule of Ockham's Razor should prevail.

    I have been accused in the past of being empirical and to a degree that may be true. Having been a police officer for nearly 30 years, and having studied this case for over 45 years, such influences cannot be ignored. For nearly all my working life evidence, law, and police procedure has been my bread and butter. But the greatest aid to any police officer (and as a tutor constable I personally instructed over 60 probationer constables) is common sense.

    This all boils down to my own personal standpoint. First I fully accept that every individual has his or her own methods, ideas and preference for what they get out of the field of Ripper studies. I do not expect anyone to blindy accept what I say nor to think the way that I do. But personally speaking, and with regard to points raised above, I should like to finish by saying the following.

    I do not like the term 'the canonical five' but I do agree that it has a certain 'convenience' when describing the five victims 'positively' identified by Macnaghten. In my opinion, based mainly on modus operandi, I believe that only Nichols, Chapman and Eddowes appear to be the common victims of a single killer. That does not mean that I reject Tabram, Stride and Kelly as Ripper victims, merely that the evidence in those cases is less compelling.

    I have heard all the arguments over the years, all the debates, all the theories (daft and otherwise), all the hypotheses, &c. and I don't need some tyro to come along and tell me what is what. I have lost count of the times I have heard or read the ridiculous claim that 'Jack the Ripper' has been identified - all have fallen short of proof positive.

    It is not boasting to say that I have the largest collection of Ripper books, files and material in the world (I am happy to hear from anyone who challenges that claim) and, therefore, almost all that is available I have to hand. I have tried to assist others working in the field whenever I can but this can become onerous. For years I have worked closely with Richard Whittington-Egan and Donald Rumbelow and have been encouraged, and advised, by my good friend Philip Sugden as well as the three pioneers of modern, more scholarly, Ripper research, Paul Begg, Martin Fido and my close friend Keith Skinner.

    All that said, I am not an all-knowing Ripper oracle without peer and impervious to challenge. In fact, at times I grow quite sick of it all. Basically, I am a Ripper enthusiast (how I hate that word in this context) who happens to have written a few books on the subject - more by luck than judgement.

    Finally a word on suspects. We shall never know who Jack the Ripper was. I am happy to state that as a fact. What we can do, though, is to read all that is available, listen to all the arguments for and against, and then reach our own personal opinion on who he most likely was or the sort of person that he was. Research will continue to produce more peripheral information that may influence these ideas and this is the biggest appeal and goal in 'Ripperology.'
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  • #2
    Allow me to just mention that in our Case, we are faced,as we all know or should know, with incomplete data.

    Imagine purchasing and then setting up a crib for your newborn child with 1/3rd of the necessary and not so necessary pieces missing.

    Many of us would immediately return the crib and the box and holler for our money back.

    But we don't do that in Ripperology. We'll just keep plugging along.

    In fact, the plugging along by Messrs. Riordan,Spallek,Wood, and Hutchinson just over the last year are very encouraging.
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    • #3
      I think I'd agree with both posts. A good friend of mine, who is generally acknowledged as the "world expert" in his field, once gave a reporter a good perspective. The reporter asked what it felt like to be the expert in the field. He told him that "In my field, there are no experts - just aging students." We can progrssively define more features of the black box but the internal workings of the box must remain unknown.

      Best,

      Tim

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank You

        Originally posted by How Brown View Post
        Allow me to just mention that in our Case, we are faced,as we all know or should know, with incomplete data.
        Imagine purchasing and then setting up a crib for your newborn child with 1/3rd of the necessary and not so necessary pieces missing.
        Many of us would immediately return the crib and the box and holler for our money back.
        But we don't do that in Ripperology. We'll just keep plugging along.
        In fact, the plugging along by Messrs. Riordan,Spallek,Wood, and Hutchinson just over the last year are very encouraging.
        Thank you for the kind words How. Yes there are some great individuals working in the field, those you mention being amongst them.

        But there are many others who add greatly to our overall knowledge and understanding, some unsung and unpublished, who in their own way add much. Many are to be found here and over on the Casebook. I have great admiration for many and it would be unfair to list names. I have told many of them that I admire their work.

        Many individuals make their own unique contribution to the case, even those who may not come up with new information but cause us to look at things in a new way or put interesting new interpretations on known facts.

        I certainly don't wish to put anyone off research nor to dampen enthusiasm. And I do wish to assist serious students of the case whenever I might be able to do so. They keep this subject alive.

        Comment


        • #5
          Although SPE can be a bit of a prickly pear at times, I have always admired his sense of purpose and his state of being, a sort of constant in an ever shifting world where we are left with not much to cling to, apart from his common sense and his no-nonsense attitude when it comes to the facts of the matter.
          He has a single fault, and that is an inability to walk away from his younger days when Tumblety was king, for this causes him to stumble today...and my wish is that he could be what he really is today, a master, and dismiss yesterday as the stuff of youth.

          Comment


          • #6
            Opinion, Conviction, Belief.

            In view of the foregoing*, I have to say that I am very confident that Dr Tumblety and 'Jack the Ripper' were one and the same, however I do know that it is unlikely that I will ever be able to prove it conclusively. The mystery will live on. But I do say, just how many coincidences do you need before you realise that this man has a lot to answer to?

            Stewart P. Evans
            November 5th, 1996
            While opinions are unreflective and external, convictions—which are more akin to belief than opinion—are the result of extensive reflection and invariably concern things to which one feels closely tied. Like opinions that have entrenched themselves to the point of becoming actual claims, convictions are felt to be definitive, beyond modification. However, when I claim that nothing can change my conviction, I must either affirm that I have already anticipated all possible future scenarios and no possible event can change my conviction, or affirm that whatever events do occur—anticipated or unanticipated—they will not shake my conviction. The first possibility is impossible. The second possibility is based on a decision, a decision to remain constant whatever may come. However, upon reflection such a decision seems as over-confidant as the claim to have anticipated the future. By what right can I affirm that my inner conviction will not change in any circumstance? To do so is to imply that, in the future, I will cease to reflect on my conviction. It seems that all I am able to say is that my conviction is such that, at the present moment, I cannot imagine an alteration in it.

            Belief is akin to conviction; it is, however, distinguished by its object. Marcel insists in many places that proper use of the term “belief” applies not to things “that” we believe, but to things “in which” we believe. Belief is not “belief that…” but is “belief in…” Belief that might be better characterized as a conviction rather than a belief; however, to believe in something is to extend credit to it, to place something at the disposal of that in which we believe. The notion of credit placed at the disposal of the other is another way of speaking about disponibilité. “I am in no way separable from that which I place at the disposal of this X… Actually, the credit I extend is, in a way, myself. I lend myself to X. We should note at once that this is an essentially mysterious act(Marcel 1951a, p. 134). This is what distinguishes conviction from belief. Conviction refers to the X, takes a position with regard to X, but does not bind itself to X. While I have an opinion, I am a belief—for belief changes the way I am in the world, changes my being. We can now see how belief refers to the other, and how it is connected to disponibilité: belief always applies to “personal or supra-personal reality” (Marcel 1951a, p. 135). It always involves a thou to whom I extend credit—a credit that puts myself at the disposal of the thou—and thus arises the problem of fidelity.

            Opinion, Conviction, Belief.

            ~~~
            Originally posted by Pilgrim View Post
            Consistent with the theory of confirmation holism, some scholars assert "fact" to be necessarily "theory-laden" to some degree. Thomas Kuhn and others pointed out that knowing what facts to measure, and how to measure them, requires the use of some other theory.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Pilgrim View Post
              .....
              convictions are felt to be definitive, beyond modification. However, when I claim that nothing can change my conviction, I must either affirm that I have already anticipated all possible future scenarios and no possible event can change my conviction, or affirm that whatever events do occur—anticipated or unanticipated—they will not shake my conviction. The first possibility is impossible. The second possibility is based on a decision, a decision to remain constant whatever may come. However, upon reflection such a decision seems as over-confidant as the claim to have anticipated the future. By what right can I affirm that my inner conviction will not change in any circumstance? To do so is to imply that, in the future, I will cease to reflect on my conviction. It seems that all I am able to say is that my conviction is such that, at the present moment, I cannot imagine an alteration in it.

              Very true, Pilgrim, the last sentence especially.
              Itsnotrocketsurgery

              Comment


              • #8
                Opinion

                In view of the foregoing*, I have to say that I am very confident that Dr Tumblety and 'Jack the Ripper' were one and the same, however I do know that it is unlikely that I will ever be able to prove it conclusively. The mystery will live on. But I do say, just how many coincidences do you need before you realise that this man has a lot to answer to?
                Stewart P. Evans
                November 5th, 1996

                This remark was made 13 years ago and I stated that I was 'very confident' in expressing that opinion, with, I note, the caveat that I felt it very unlikely that I would ever be able to prove it.

                I still find many of the coincidences very interesting. However, the accusation then that I was a 'Tumblety man' through and through may have been truer then than it would be now. I have not been involved in Tumblety research since then and have concentrated since on objectivity and overall knowledge of the case. Having a fixed suspect can limit your view and areas of research, something I do not wish to do.

                Others have now taken on the 'Tumblety mantle' and know a lot more about him than I do. In writing a book about a suspect you cannot be totally objective, selectivity being one thing that must be employed. It's easy to criticise a suspect theory.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Never mind Tumblety, Stewart - where do you stand on Gabriel Marcel and Thomas Kuhn?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks very much for the comments,Mr. E.

                    If a researcher/theorist doesn't get caught up in the passion of Ripperology once in a while...and it is easy to see why Tumbelty could do that to someone at that time...then I think they are less likely to pursue the "hunt" as a rule of thumb for the amount of years you have been engaged in this field.

                    Hey ! Its better to go with Tumbelty than a shlub like Stephenson which this idiot,H.Brown,Phila.Pa., did....since in Tumbelty's case there are sources to verify claims
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                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Stewart,

                      Is there a possibility, in your opinion, that the entire approach may be flawed, which has resulted in "solution apathy"?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Approach

                        Originally posted by Stan Russo View Post
                        Stewart,
                        Is there a possibility, in your opinion, that the entire approach may be flawed, which has resulted in "solution apathy"?
                        Stan, I think that the approach to the case varies depending upon the individual and how they perceive things.

                        Some may be apathetic, but if so why do they stay interested in the case? Again the answer depends on the individual.

                        To my mind one of the worst approaches is the closed mind, usually caused by fixation on one suspect or theory.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SPE View Post

                          To my mind one of the worst approaches is the closed mind, usually caused by fixation on one suspect or theory.
                          An excellent statement, SPE.

                          Chris
                          Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                          https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                          Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                          Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Stewart,

                            Fair enough, yet and you knew there would be a yet, could the same hold true for those who do not even attempt alternative options?

                            Let's use Bruce Paley as an example - I think we can all agree that while an interesting theory, Paley, while writing the definitive book on Joseph Barnett, including the best researched to date on the history of the actual man, has not gone any further than his 1995 book. Why not?

                            It could be many reasons but here are two:

                            a - he is fixated on Barnett as murderer and despite not getting past a hypothetical level and a theory with major holes, he is not doing any more with Barnett because he does not want to.

                            or

                            b - he cannot do anymore because he either simply cannot get further with his theory or that the theory itself can go no further.

                            Either choice places him in the same category, in my opinion, akin to your final statement. His research on Barnett was brilliant - why not apply that to another suspect and see where that leads him?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Over Simplifying?

                              Originally posted by Stan Russo View Post
                              Stewart,
                              Fair enough, yet and you knew there would be a yet, could the same hold true for those who do not even attempt alternative options?
                              Let's use Bruce Paley as an example - I think we can all agree that while an interesting theory, Paley, while writing the definitive book on Joseph Barnett, including the best researched to date on the history of the actual man, has not gone any further than his 1995 book. Why not?
                              It could be many reasons but here are two:
                              a - he is fixated on Barnett as murderer and despite not getting past a hypothetical level and a theory with major holes, he is not doing any more with Barnett because he does not want to.
                              or
                              b - he cannot do anymore because he either simply cannot get further with his theory or that the theory itself can go no further.
                              Either choice places him in the same category, in my opinion, akin to your final statement. His research on Barnett was brilliant - why not apply that to another suspect and see where that leads him?

                              Stan , I fear that you might be over simplifying the situation here.

                              Taking your example of Paley, let's look at it. I do not know Bruce and have, I believe, only ever spoken to him once on the telephone. We do not know his personal circumstances, nor do we know if his great interest in the case has endured. Others may know Bruce and be in a position to answer this.

                              I should imagine that he has remained faithful to his proposed suspect but, of course, only he can answer that. Whether he can or cannot do any more in this regard, again only he can answer.

                              From our restricted knowledge of his situation, both personal and with regard to his suspect, how can we categorize him? It would be unfair to do so.

                              The answer, again, must lie with each individual. For instance I know several 'Ripper enthusiasts' who once had a great interest but then, for whatever reason, have lost all interest and have no more to do with it.

                              For others, such as myself, the interest is enduring, I have had it for over 45 years, and although I know the case cannot be solved that does not stop me continuing my research and providing new information for others, amongst whom are those who have that vigorous new interest in a suspect and are continuing valid research.

                              We must also get this thing into the correct perspective. In the wider world the identity of an unknown killer of 120 years ago who murdered a few down and out street women (and I am not deliberately demeaning them here) is of no, or little, interest. Also identifying the killer really has no great effect on history, albeit of the greatest interest to criminologists.

                              You may think that my saying that the case cannot be solved will put others off trying to do so. I don't think it will, do you? And, I'm afraid, I have to be honest about it.

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