Ready to Collect

It’s takeByrnesn me a wBrudneyDoylehile, but I’ve finally pulled together the necessary materials to conduct my study. As an essential overview, I’ve decided to test the influence of Supreme Court clerks on the opinions of their justices by direct analysis of authorship. In my initial research I stumbled across a study conducted by Federick Mosteller and David L. Wallace in 1964 titled Inference and Disputed Authorship. It’s goal was to apply a then relatively unused form of statistical probability analysis called Bayesian Theory. They applied the theory to a set of 12 papers from theĀ Federalist Papers, whose authorship had been disputed. Some claim that James Madison had written all 12, others that he and Alexander Hamilton had split them. Wallace and Mosteller focused on the theory that the frequency of certain Rutledge“function words” (i.e. is, that, in, for, of) could constitute an authorial fingerprint, that, when analyzed, could determine authorship. This experiment took them several years to develop and years more to conduct, but with much less advanced statistics, a smaller sample size, and faster technology, I hope to conduct what is essentially a small scale version of their experiment.

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