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Current State of Ripperology 1/12/2013

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  • Current State of Ripperology 1/12/2013

    Well?

    We can all see it.

    SPE spelt out clearly his opinion.

    What's gone wrong?

    Monty

  • #2
    Originally posted by Monty View Post
    Well?

    We can all see it.

    SPE spelt out clearly his opinion.

    What's gone wrong?

    Monty

    I am of the opinion that the only real progress in the field of "Ripperology" comes from research, finding new stuff. Arguing endlessly about the same old tired debates is basically useless.

    RH

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Monty
      SPE spelt out clearly his opinion.
      He did? Recently? Where?

      Yours truly,

      Tom Wescott

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Rob House
        I am of the opinion that the only real progress in the field of "Ripperology" comes from research, finding new stuff.
        I would largely agree, but I think that's only the half of it. A man could go to the lumber yard and buy a lot of wood to buy a house, which I liken to the research and finding of things. But then it comes time to build the house, and no two people build houses the same way. That's the other half, the making sense out of of all the dry facts and pieces. Deciding what to keep and what to throw away, or set aside for the time being. It really is a group effort, though not always organized as such, and if someone's writing up an article or a book, it's their vision of the information that will be represented, even though the efforts of many people would have contributed to the end result.

        In short, I would say the study of any historical mystery requires research, vision, imagination, and balanced perspective.

        As for Monty's question, 'What went wrong?' To that I would have to ask, 'When was it right?' because to my knowledge there's nothing inherently wrong with the current era.

        Yours truly,

        Tom Wescott

        Comment


        • #5
          As for Monty's question, 'What went wrong?' To that I would have to ask, 'When was it right?' because to my knowledge there's nothing inherently wrong with the current era.
          Tom Wescott

          Amen Tom.
          More or less, its an age of cleaning up the errors, wishful thinking, and false info left by previous generations and providing data inaccessible to previous researchers which perhaps enabled the previous generations to foist said errors and at times, outright lies.

          One other thought....when Knight was running the proverbial show 35 years ago, in terms of media exposure, or Cornwell, in her prime a decade ago, hacking up meat in a documentary in her Forensics Lab jacket....or the Maybrick Diary and the twists and turns in that saga were front page....there weren't sites like the Forums or Casebook to go to and express (genuine or otherwise) disdain for the climate.
          Now people can and do complain, which is their guaranteed right to do on the site ( Casebook too I would assume ).
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          • #6
            In all fairness, I believe Stewart was referring to discussions on internet forums for the most part. That's the only relatively new dimension involving 'Ripperology.' The other aspects that have been around for many years have always contained instances of negative connotations, and even personal vitriol on occasion, but not at such a rapid pace and availability to everyone as the internet possesses.

            And the way some threads seem to deteriorate from time to time, it is more noticable and -unfortunately - garner the most posts without any benifit to better understand what should be a common interest. But not eveyone's interests share the same motive.

            However, there's never been a time in history that so much information is being researched and processed to the benifit of all... and these internet forums are now the main repository for that along with fine electronic publications such as RIP.

            Unfortunately, everyone remembers the trainwrecks instead of the people minding the station. Look at how many hours Howard Brown dedicates to the progression of this site every week, and it ain't for people who like to come on here and play big fish in a small pond; its hopefully to provide information, enable others to do so and discuss the subject without it looking like the Ripper is part of their gene pool.

            Internet Ripperology is at a crossroads now. It just needs a few more people to make sure the traffic is going in the right direction and less folks bent on reckless driving. Stewart Evans is one of those people who has always driven with the headlights on, and it is indeed an irrefutable tragedy that some have tried to run over him instead of offering him a lift on occasion. Sometimes that's all someone needs when they are feeling burned out. After all, he's someone who might better help you get to your destination since he's already been down most of the road already.

            The same goes for Paul Begg - and he and Stewart have squared off on some occasions, but still, in their debates, they were exchanging information to make their point... a real difference from some of the roosters who run around crowing the loudest and flogging each other over one little scrawny hen.
            Best Wishes,
            Cris Malone
            ______________________________________________
            "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

            Comment


            • #7
              I'll ask again...where did Stewart post or publish these opinions?

              Yours truly,

              Tom Wescott

              P.S. Howard, the Casebook was around for Cornwell. Oh my goodness, was it around. I haven't forgotten those times at all. In fact, weren't you on the scene by then?

              Comment


              • #8
                Tom:
                Yep, just started in the life around that time.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cris Malone
                  In all fairness, I believe Stewart was referring to discussions on internet forums for the most part. That's the only relatively new dimension involving 'Ripperology.'
                  I would disagree with that. Ripperology in earnest began when Evans and Skinner published 'Ultimate', followed by 'Letters From Hell'. The internet gave us a place to gather and talk, but these volumes gave us all a common, factual ground on which to build a better Ripper and decide what should be talked about. In other words, Rippology, which was once by a large a parlor game, suddenly became a serious historical pursuit in the year 2000. When you stop and think about it, the Ripper crimes were 19th century, but Ripperology as we know it now really began in the 21st century.

                  'One day Ripperologists will look back and say we gave birth to the 21st century.' - Stewart P Evans & Keith Skinner.

                  Yours truly,

                  Tom Wescott

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree with your last post Tom

                    My finding The Ultimate in a bookshop really turned the tide for me

                    I think Monty is referring to Stewart's comment in post 25 of the current Swanson thread about his role during the murders

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Whilst I believe we should indeed be aiming to produce well researched, historically accurate and sound information, I do have to say I do not like the way that we sometimes seem to start to aspire to be something we are - in the main - not. That is to say that at times it feels like we are asking for Ripperology to be an academic division of universities. I have said it once and I will say it again, why? We are basically being snobs against ourselves to suggest that the only way to produce good research is to be part of an institution that has an academic department, to have a phd etc. This is not fair. Sure, I am not saying we shouldn't be doing research that is academically valid and soundly researched - I'm not an idiot, but that there is only one way to achieve this is false. That even the most respected of Ripperologists got here because of a great academic historians CV on paper is not - as far as my memory serves me - true. Sure I have a relatively good education, not in criminology or history - i feel certain that I would not be interested in Ripperology at all if I did. What I am getting at is that if we truly want Ripperology to be that type of field - and I don't - then we are forcing not only ourselves, but all current Ripperologists out of the field. This is a ridiculous notion, we should stop it. We are intellectual we should embrace that we are perfectly fine and stop trying to prove ourselves to each other.

                      We have to embrace what is good about what we are, armchair detectives is an insulting phrase and not correct, nor would it be fair to call the fine work done by many Ripperologists amateur as it requires a great deal of knowledge and skill. What I think I am trying to drive towards is that it is interesting and productive precisely because the skill set of various member's of the community is varied and different that it can work.

                      I know exactly what people mean when they talk about Ripperology being overtaken by stupidty - or similar - but as someone else said - when was this ever not the case. It is unfair to judge a field based soley on the opinions and actions of a few of its members - yes some people strongly promote views which to normal people seem mad. This isnt the internet's fault - it was the same when all we had was books and print media. Do we really do the majority of our Ripperology by having discussions on the internet? What really? No discussions on the internet - the actual process of having a discussion - probably account for less than 10 percent of the discoveries in Ripperology for the year. It is a false perception. Most people dont have a suspect, these people are not active on threads called - i dont have a suspect. Do you know what I mean? And its been 12 years for me now - when is this golden era that people harp back to where people on message boards were civil and polite and never argued about anything? It doesnt exist.

                      I have a genuine feeling that if we really wanted we could knuckle down and do some great joint research by using our collective knowledge. But for most people it is just a hobby they dont spend that much time on. Not enough time to give energy to being committed to a joint project.

                      The best Ripper book/documentary/ripperology would take information and knowledge from a variety of people with different expertise and use the best researchers among us to find new info on a variety of topics. It would be written by the best writers and be so collaborative it would be impossible to divide royalties. In fact it would probably be impossible to write.

                      Which is probably why we didnt do it

                      Jenni
                      "be just and fear not"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        McDonald Ripperology

                        Thanks for pointing me in the right direction, Nemo. Yes, that seems to be what Stewart was referring to. However, the only reason these documents weren't questioned pall mall back in the 1960's is because none of them existed in the public domain as they do now, and there was no 24/7 gather place for anyone and everyone to air their views. So are those really the good old days? I'm willing to put up with a pretty large measure of nonsense (and, yes, dish my own occasionally) in trade for having all this data and information that wasn't around then, along with all the online newspapers and documents, and share in a space where we can all benefit from the hours put in by the likes of Howard (60 a week!) and Debra Arif (it's not polite to ask a lady how many hours she researches).

                        I can completely agree with Stewart's sentiments, but most of us can't personally relate to the decades he spent slowly searching, acquiring, writing letters, making important discoveries solely on his own, and amassing a one-of-a-kind collection. Stewart's fortunate in that he's been able to experience both eras of Ripperology and take advantage of them both. We romanticize about that lost era, but I think if suddenly we were thrust back into it, many of us would drop off the scene and the rest would be pulling their hair out. We're McDonald Ripperologists, like it or not. But is that so bad? I live a continent away from many of you, but can be looking at the exact same thing and discussing it with you in virtual real time. To me, that's worth putting up with a few crackpots and the occasional heckler.

                        Yours truly,

                        Tom Wescott

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think its unfair generalization.

                          I can think of numerous examples of Ripperologists doing fine work that involved 'proper' research. Adam Wood and Keith Skinner's fine research on the Swanson Marginalia and MacNaughten Memo certainly couldnt have taken place in McDonalds. Debra Arif's endless hours of searching and sifting the historical records - though in a different way to the old days - certainly dont happen in McDonalds, ditto Chris Scott. Neil Bell and Rob Clack didn't uncover new graffti writing over a big mac they did so doing proper historical research in a proper archive. Because we know about it near to when it happens, does not invalidate it.

                          Jenni
                          "be just and fear not"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jennifer Shelden View Post
                            We have to embrace what is good about what we are, armchair detectives is an insulting phrase and not correct, nor would it be fair to call the fine work done by many Ripperologists amateur as it requires a great deal of knowledge and skill. What I think I am trying to drive towards is that it is interesting and productive precisely because the skill set of various member's of the community is varied and different that it can work.
                            Professionals built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark. So I'm perfectly okay with being called an amateur. And I wasn't aware there was some movement towards academia with Ripperology? The two simply don't mesh.

                            Originally posted by Jennifer Shelden
                            I have a genuine feeling that if we really wanted we could knuckle down and do some great joint research by using our collective knowledge. But for most people it is just a hobby they dont spend that much time on. Not enough time to give energy to being committed to a joint project.
                            You've hit on one of the sore points I think many of us have...that is many of us who take this case and our research quite seriously. The forums give everyone an equal voice, whether it be cranks, hobbyists, authors, or fly-by-night troublemakers. All of us who've been around for a long time have been annoyed by this, because let's face it, we're not all equal. Imagine it from someone like Stewart's perspective, when you've not only researched the case longer than any one, but have written actual best-selling books on the case, been paid by movie company's to hang out with Johnny Depp, etc. He shares hard won information only to have some schlub 'Cadet' who calls himself Nosewrinkle85 question the authenticity of Stewart's information, or tell him that he's not qualified to offer analysis. I'm sure Stewart doesn't have enough middle fingers for all us who've behaved that way over the years.

                            Originally posted by Jennifer Shelden
                            The best Ripper book/documentary/ripperology would take information and knowledge from a variety of people with different expertise and use the best researchers among us to find new info on a variety of topics. It would be written by the best writers and be so collaborative it would be impossible to divide royalties. In fact it would probably be impossible to write.
                            This is Utopian, but just so you know it HAS been done before. Arguably the best book written about he Marilyn Monroe case was a message board collective who called themselves the DD Group. Very good, but long, book.

                            Yours truly,

                            Tom Wescott

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jennifer Shelden View Post
                              I think its unfair generalization.

                              I can think of numerous examples of Ripperologists doing fine work that involved 'proper' research. Adam Wood and Keith Skinner's fine research on the Swanson Marginalia and MacNaughten Memo certainly couldnt have taken place in McDonalds. Debra Arif's endless hours of searching and sifting the historical records - though in a different way to the old days - certainly dont happen in McDonalds, ditto Chris Scott. Neil Bell and Rob Clack didn't uncover new graffti writing over a big mac they did so doing proper historical research in a proper archive. Because we know about it near to when it happens, does not invalidate it.

                              Jenni
                              Not unfair, Jen. It was self-efacing, and I was looking at US from the perspective of someone like Stewart (okay, so there really IS no one like Stewart). You can choose to be offended by 'Armchair Detective' or 'amateur' or 'McDonald Ripperologist', or you can own up to it and still choose to be the best. Your precious universities will have to pay me to come speak...and they'll do it.

                              Yours truly,

                              Tom Wescott

                              Comment

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