Professor Greenblatt doth protest too much, methinks

No, Harvard English Professor Stephen Greenblatt hasn't signed the Declaration, but he has given us an excellent example of why the Declaration is needed. On August 30, 2005, New York Times arts and education reporter William Niederkorn wrote an article in which he asked rhetorically, “What if authorship studies were made part of the standard Shakespeare curriculum?”

In a letter to the editor of The Times, Greenblatt responded as follows:

“The idea that William Shakespeare's authorship of his plays and poems is a matter of conjecture and the idea that the 'authorship controversy' should be taught in the classroom are the exact equivalent of current arguments that 'intelligent design' be taught alongside evolution.

“In both cases an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on a serious assessment of hard evidence, is challenged by passionately held fantasies whose adherents demand equal time. The demand seems harmless enough until one reflects on its implications. Should claims that the Holocaust did not occur also be made part of the standard curriculum?”

Greenblatt should know, having published his so-called “biography,” Will in the World, in 2004. But in an article in Harvard Alumni Magazine (Sept-Oct 2004), referring to the authorship controversy, Greenblatt is quoted as saying:

“... the process of writing the book ... has made me respect that preposterous fantasy, if I may say so, rather more than when I began ... because I have now taken several years of hard work and 40 years of serious academic training to grapple with the difficulty of making the connections meaningful and compelling between the life of this writer and the works that he produced.”

Greenblatt found it “difficult” to make meaningful connections between the writer and the works! This is our point, and it is the main reason why so many prominent people have expressed doubt. It was hypocritical of Greenblatt to make that admission, and then attack Niederkorn a year later.

No mainstream biologist sees difficulties with the theory of evolution. No reputable historian finds difficulties with the evidence that the Holocaust occurred. There is no comparison between the authorship controversy and “intelligent design” or Holocaust denial. There is a solid empirical basis for the authorship controversy, as outlined in the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.

Can proponents of “intelligent design,” or Holocaust denial, compile a list of supporters including the likes of Charles Dickens, Henry James, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and all of the other outstanding doubters named in the Declaration? Can Professor Greenblatt compile such a list of supporters for his position that there is no room for doubt? We think not.