I recently linked to an article on stylometry, by Erica Klarreich (whom I didn’t even credit). The Discouraging Word is informed enough to point out a gaping hole in the article (on January 14th).

bq. Klarreich mentions Brian Vickers’ recent work on Shakespeare in his Shakespeare, Co-Author, but that’s enough to make clear her glaring omission of one famous example of stylometry gone awry: Donald Foster’s admission in 2002 that his attribution of “A Funerall Elegye” to Shakespeare was wrong, thereby making all of the editors who stampeded to include that text in their collected works of Shakespeare look a bit…foolish.

Don Foster, at one of the links given by The Discouraging Word, says he was wrong and suggests he learnt from criminology and forensic linguistics to be more cautious:

Since 1997 I have had a second career in criminology and forensic
linguistics that has taken time from an unfinished project that remains,
for me, a source of frustration. The Shaxicon database-which
contributed to my own conviction, in 1996, that Shakespeare wrote the
elegy-is still unpublished. Nor have I yet determined where I went
wrong with the statistical evidence. Still, my experience in recent
years with police detectives, FBI agents, lawyers, and juries has, I
hope, made me a better scholar.

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