Miss Minahan vs Lowe


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Frances Adler

Guest
Oops! I had not read the Minahan bios here on ET & always assumed they were husband/wife/daughter. I see now after looking over them that Dr. Minahan was Daisy's brother-in-law, not father!
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
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Hallo, Frances!

As you’ve decided to launch into some personal invective here, perhaps you won’t object if I respond? ;-)

After placing my small post, I scrolled up to read all the preceding ones & I had no idea there'd been such a long, drawn-out debate over Lowe! I must say I do not wish to get into a debate w/ the rather ferocious Ms. Sheil

Would you care to cite instances which you feel my posts merit the term ‘ferocious’? Historic debate can be sometimes vigorous, and I make no apologies for stating my opinion as assertively as my opponents do. This comment, however, verges on a personal attack.

but I am very much disturbed by her convenient excuses for Officer Lowe's obvious mean streak & prejudice. I am grateful for Joe Shomi & George Behe for their more even approach to the debate.

;-) By the same token, I’m rather disturbed by your reductive approach to the position I have adopted in this debate, and your adversarial tone. I have not offered ‘convenient excuses’, as you characterised them. I have offered an alternative view on his actions, one informed by considerable research on the subject, which you highhandedly dismiss. You speak in one breath of ‘obvious mean streak and prejudice’ (characteristics which are under debate, and not ‘obvious’ at all), then in the next applaud a ‘more even approach’ because it accords with your own judgment of man who was operating under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

If you were interested in achieving a true appreciation of why individuals acted as they did the night of the disaster — whether the individual in question is Harold Lowe or anyone else — you need to move away from such simplistic character judgments as your statement that Lowe had a ”bad attitude & even worse temper” and look at individuals and events in context.

For all Ms. Sheil's boasting of her academic qualifications & research training methods, her proposed book will be of no value whatsoever if she attempts to cover up the negative side to Lowe's personality. Most of us are willing to grant Lowe was heroic, that he was probably not all bad, maybe even for the most part good, but you can't ignore the validity of statements by those who saw through his swaggering & found something less than heroic.

Would be most interested to see where I’ve ‘bragged’ — particularly about ‘research training methods’ Simply explaining my approach and methodology hardly qualifies as ‘bragging’.
Had you read my responses you would have seen that my view of Harold Lowe is considerably more shaded then your simplistic pronouncements on the man. My interpretation is considerably more complex than that suggested by your accusation of an attempt to ‘cover up’ the ‘negative side to Lowe’s personality’. You assume that this ‘negative side’ is some sort of empirical, indisputable fact — if you’re familiar with academic research and dispute, you’d be aware that such a reductive position is bound to be challenged. Rather than making the simplistic judgments you’re attempting, I have endeavored to understand Lowe’s character and motivation.

The ‘negative’ character traits I ascribe to Lowe have been thus far outside the scope of this debate — you are not fully conversant with my full interpretation, and are in no position to judge the merit of my work.

I also understand that bad words fly under stress & I'm not faulting Lowe specifically over that. I'm only saying that taken as a whole, Lowe's behavior the night of the disaster (the Ismay run-in, the later admissions to Mrs. Brown, the comments re: the Asian passenger, the over- reaction to the male passenger he thought was dressing as a woman, etc) indicate a less than calm demeanor which may have not been the best disposition for an Officer in an emergency.

And yet this officer whose ‘disposition’ you question managed to accomplish so much, and earned the admiration of the Comptons, Harris, Walcroft, Cameron and others, who particularly commended him on his demeanor. Have you read all these sources? Are you aware of what they say about Lowe’s conduct? Are you aware that Collyer’s account of Lowe’s comments re the Asian passenger are in dispute? Can you understand the position that Lowe’s reaction to Ismay was not only human, but understandable and arguably justified? By what right do you judge Lowe’s reaction to the passenger disguised as a woman as an over-reaction? By what standard do you judge him? As to his ‘less than calm demeanor’, if you were more familiar with the sources extant on this point you would be aware that Lowe was specifically praised by some for his cool reaction under pressure. If he did snap from time to time (which does not mean that he reacted in this way throughout the sinking), remember that even the even tempered Boxhall snapped at a passenger.

My take on all this is that those who praise him are right to do so but those who criticize him are also on the mark.

His personality was a volatile one & that's why there are such disparities in opinion on who & what this guy was. He wasn't a saint & he wasn't a monster but somewhere none too conveniently in between.

Actually, according to the interviews I’ve conducted with those who knew him, his personality was not ‘volatile’ at all. He was an extraordinarily self-disciplined man, as his remarkable achievements in his career demonstrate.

I presume you didn’t read my comment:

‘Dark side’ is too strongly emotive a term, and it carries connotations of a polarity that is too simplistic (i.e. that as human beings we are composed of ‘dark’ and ‘light’, and our actions fit into these categories). Will you settle for a ‘gray’ side? In fact, will you settle for ‘infinite shades of gray’ rather than black and white, or light and dark?

The concept that he ‘wasn’t a saint & he wasn’t a monster’ is one to which all participants in this debate have thus far agreed on.

Regards,

Inger
 

Chris

Member
Feb 8, 1998
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Frances,
As you see there isnt a way to mention INger without getting long belabored and confrontational replies. she singlehandedly ruined the lowe flotilla discussion forum and has no clue how to make short simple responses and retorts. all of her responses and comments will be tinged with agrression and stridence and snappiness and the best route to take is to not read her posts and never mention them. there are others (even those who agree with her stances)in the titanic world more worthy of professional debate.

Chris
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
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Hallo, Chris -

Another personal attack ;-)

I don't comment on the Lowe Flotilla, but perhaps you would care to explain how I 'ruined' it? We had a difference in direction, but up until the time I left (due to a difference in methodolgy and interests and the fact that one member was fabricating sources), I posted on the forum with no acrimony. I am still in touch with and on very friendly terms with several members.

Simply because I adopt an assertive position and am prepared to defend my views does not make them 'snappish' - however, I would question the adversarial tone of your response, and your lack of material supporting your assertion.

Inger
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 26, 2000
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Excuse me, Chris, but you haven't made one observation or comment on this entire long thread and THEN you only show up to attack Inger? If you're just going to act as a sniper you won't be much help to any discussions.

Cook
 

Jay

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Mar 18, 1999
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Hello everybody,

I don’t believe what I’m reading in these posts. I wrote here the first time a few weeks ago and then I emailed Inger Sheil and asked her what stories about Lowe she was talking about. She was very nice in her reply, and helped me find them.

I think it’s funny that these people have decided to attack her. What have they done in studying the Titanic? Inger has contributed a lot to the study of the Titanic, even to Encyclopaedia Titanica. Just recently she was able to point out the lies that have been spread about Officer Moody’s death, which I believed were true.

I know that everybody has an opinion but there is no reason for people to attack someone just because she has one. She puts her thoughts down very well and she has a lot of facts to back up what she says. I don’t want to get involved in a fight but it seems to me that the people who wantto fight are those people who attack her just because she had strong opinions. She has posted a lot on this board and has always been interesting. She also offered to show me around the research places in London which shows how much she cares about Titanic research.

I hope you will think about what I have said because you look very foolish in attacking someone who is very helpful and who knows a lot about what she talks about. Pat Cook is right and it is not smart at all.

Jay

P.S. Inger I am looking forward to your book as from what you have said you have a lot of very interesting things and information on Harold Lowe.
 
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Karen Angstadt

Guest
I second that Michael! I am always amazed at the knowledge I see here in general and from Inger in particular. The time it must have taken to research all the information that has been gathered here must be monumental. I am quite the novice at all this and very fascinated by what I read. Keep it coming Inger! Karen
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
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Hallo, Cook, Jay, Michael and Karen -

Many thanks for your posts and continued interest in the research I've undertaken.

I don't talk much about the book because it is still very much a work in progress. You're quite right, Michael - I do like to get all my ducks in a row, and in the case of the bio my collaborator and I are busy gathering information on Lowe's entire life and career, most of which has gone untouched by researchers. We were fortunate at the outset to have the support and recollections of the late Harold WG Lowe, and I recently came to England to base myself here to conduct further work on the project. There is no projected publication date as yet, but there are a few periodical articles and other things we're working on at the moment.

Regards,

Inger
 
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Frances Adler

Guest
Simmer down, darlings! There's no reason for the tumult.

Why must this always be an "either/or" argument w/ this brood of Lowe fans? And why can't Ms. Sheil, in her obviously unassailable position as self-appointed authority on the life & times of Harold Lowe (and therefore chieftan of the Clan Lowe), just admit there are other ways to see him that aren't in keeping w/ her particular view? For all that long response she jabbed my way she didn't address any really worthy points. She won't give merit to anyone in the historical record who thought Lowe was a cad - only those who sang his praises, bla-bla-bla. This is not the objective approach for a "scholar" to take.

And I stand by my calling Sheil ferocious as her latest spurt of aggression will attest.

All I can say my dear Ms. Sheil is you have in common w/ your hero a very nasty temper which really ought to be checked. There's no reason to continue jumping all over people who don't agree w/ you. The energy you're wasting on me & others who don't altogether agree w/ your premise could be much better spent on researching for your book which, despite your antagonism toward me for only expressing my opinion, I wish you all the luck in the world on.

I am always in the corner of the serious writer & feel sure your book will be an important one - provided you give equal time to all aspects of the situation instead of trying to be one of these biographers who psycho-analyze their subjects to pieces so that readers have no chance of deciding for themselves the truth.
 
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Frances Adler

Guest
I just felt I ought to say one last thing before signing off this discussion for good. As an editor I do not want to leave Ms. Sheil, obviously an inspired researcher who has admirably faced a daunting task of assembling facts on the life of a controversial figure, thinking that her efforts are not appreciated. An artist must at all costs be encouraged. Nothing is worse than feeling unappreciated. The story of Lowe is one that merits attention and I believe a book dealing honestly with his role in the Titanic disaster will be of inestimable value. She has I am sure the support of all those interested in Titanic and I urge for the benefit of history and the sake of scholarly research that writers and general enthusiasts alike will offer their services when and if needed so that Ms. Sheil can have the most and best evidence from which to base her findings. Ms. Sheil has my complete support in her continuing investigation and I repeat that I wish her the best of luck.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
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Hallo, Frances!

**Simmer down, darlings! There's no reason for the tumult. **

Lol! You’ve completely misread the tone of the posts if you feel the need for anyone to ‘simmer down’ (and you're taking yourself much too seriously) — the only particular spite here has come from Chris, and I certainly haven’t expended any particular emotional energy on the debate.

Why must this always be an "either/or" argument w/ this brood of Lowe fans? And why can't Ms. Sheil, in her obviously unassailable position as self-appointed authority on the life & times of Harold Lowe (and therefore chieftan of the Clan Lowe)

You’re judging the temperament of others, and yet you adopt a snide tone in your own posts. I have never claimed an ‘unassailable position as self-appointed authority’ on Harold Lowe. I am, however, fairly conversant with the sources extant relating to him — rather more than you are, judging by the glib and facile comments you’ve made on the topic.

just admit there are other ways to see him that aren't in keeping w/ her particular view? For all that long response she jabbed my way she didn't address any really worthy points.

Actually, I specifically and categorically addressed the points you raised, and have done so throughout the course of the debate. On the other hand, your only contribution thus far has been to offer simplistic polarities. I’ve pointed out quite explicitly that I reject any reductive assessment of an individual’s character, and yet your own posts are littered with your own value judgments.

She won't give merit to anyone in the historical record who thought Lowe was a cad - only those who sang his praises, bla-bla-bla. This is not the objective approach for a "scholar" to take.

As you’re phrasing your arguments in terms of emotive assignations, I’d question your qualification to judge what is scholarly ;-)
I have in the past also resisted simplistic assessments of Lowe as ‘heroic’, or highlighting only positive characteristics. If you can’t stop seeing individuals in all their humanity beyond the polarities that you’ve been littering your posts with (eg “good” and “bad”) you’re never going to gain much of an appreciation for the complex shadings of human emotion, action and motivation that would help you understand why Lowe acted as he did.

And I stand by my calling Sheil ferocious as her latest spurt of aggression will attest.

And I’ll cheerfully stand by my view that you are adversarial in your tone and aggressive to boot. With no supporting data, you accuse me variously of ‘covering up’ characteristics that you attribute to him in your analysis which is, in the end, as subjective as any other. You also attribute ‘boasting’ to me, citing no examples and proclaim my book will have ‘no value whatsoever’ if I don’t subscribe to your interpretation of events.

All I can say my dear Ms. Sheil is you have in common w/ your hero a very nasty temper which really ought to be checked.

You’re as mistaken in your assessment of Lowe’s temper as you are in your assessment of my own. Simply because I advocate a position that differs to your own, and am willing to defend that position, does not make aggressive. However, personally attacking an individual as you have done is a hardly a desirable character trait.

There's no reason to continue jumping all over people who don't agree w/ you. The energy you're wasting on me & others who don't altogether agree w/ your premise could be much better spent on researching for your book which, despite your antagonism toward me for only expressing my opinion, I wish you all the luck in the world on.

Don’t concern yourself with the research for my book — partaking in this debate is taking minimal effort, and I have plenty of time left over for research. I am not ‘jumping all over’ people who disagree with me. If my opinion differs, I will dispute it. If you scroll back over the posts, you will find that I have not initiated any of them — I have simply responded to the comments of others, including your own. And while you champion freedom of opinion, you are remarkably dismissive of mine because it does not concur with your own. I have never denied the right to freedom of all to hold an opinion (preferably an informed one), but that does not curtail my own right to respond with my views.

I am always in the corner of the serious writer & feel sure your book will be an important one - provided you give equal time to all aspects of the situation instead of trying to be one of these biographers who psycho-analyze their subjects to pieces so that readers have no chance of deciding for themselves the truth.

I have remarked before on the dangers of drawing too long a bow on psychoanalysis of a biographical subject, although there are factors in Lowe’s past and character that are reflected in his actions, and it is my aim as a biographer to place these before the reader as they are tools in understanding him. Having spend some time working with biographical subjects such as Emily Bronte and Elizabeth Siddal about whom there is comparatively little extant data, I am all too conscious of how tenuous a thread one can follow if one extrapolates too much from too little information (which is what some writers in this thread have done, projecting a whole character facet from a single incident or interpretation). This is why I always cite sources that are as specific as possible in support of a position when I state it. One drawback to popular history is the superficial interpretation placed on individuals, and Lowe has suffered from this in the Titanic community. He is subjected to the hero/villain polarity, with curious results. The hot-headed, short-tempered officer has been given a niche in the Titanic canon, and it has gone unchallenged for too long. We accepted it until the material we were uncovering began to reveal different facets to Harold Lowe — and it all started with an interview with a man who called Harold Lowe ‘the most even-tempered man I ever knew’.

Inger
 
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Jeremy Hall

Guest
Jumping into this for a moment, I just want to say that Ms. Adler seems reasonable in what she has said as to Lowe and Ms. Sheil's rather verbose posts. It does seem to me too that Sheil has dismissed negative comments made by reliable sources against Lowe in an effort to make him appear likeable. Or at least she seems to be giving more weight to those comments that are more favorable. All I'm seeing in what Adler has said is that these opposing viewpoints need to be more balanced. I mean afterall, Ms. Adler has said she thinks Lowe was a hero despite his attitude problems so why all this disagreement on whether he was good/bad? No one is saying that just because the guy wasn't easy-going all the time that he was a louse. All I can think of is Sheil's mad because Adler said she was "ferocious" which isn't really such an insult - nor very far off the mark. I think Sheil is taking remarks about Lowe too seriously and too personally.
 
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Don Bolling

Guest
My God, not this argument still! I read the board weeks ago and this was going on then. So I'd like to weigh in finally & say something myself. To me, Inger Sheil's book-length replies dissecting every single tiny thing and using her sociological clap-trap ("simplistic polarities," emotive assignations," etc)is tiresome and alienating. Why does she have to take everybody to task? Her accusation that Frances Adler was being intolerant of other views doesn't square with what I have read in her posts. Adler seems to be calling for a realistic view of Lowe - not the whitewashed image Sheil seems content on putting out there. And I don't think Adler has made "simplistic value judgements" on Lowe - she's only deducing what anybody with any sense can easily deduce from what is known already and from what has been discussed on this board. Also, if Inger Sheil's book will resemble her posts with all this boring, puffed-up language then I don't think it will be a pleasant read.
 
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Lili

Guest
Shiel needs to remember the old line from Desiderata:

"Speak your truth clearly and quietly and listen to others."

And to that I would add the immortal words of a famous philosopher who said:

"If your arguments are concise and brief, they will have more impact than you might ever imagine."7
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Dear Inger,

I'd like to step out of the firing line on this & redirect slightly by asking you a question re: Fifth Officer Lowe and the Duff Gordons.

Like you I am engaged in research on a book project - on Lady Duff Gordon (Lucile)who has had her share of critics as well and has, like Lowe, fallen prey to typecasting by many in Titanic circles.

That these two subsequently controversial figures came into contact w/ one another during (& possibly just after the Titanic sinking) is the interesting point I am anxious to know a bit more about and I am hoping that, with your expert knowledge of Lowe's story, you can help me clarify his connection to Lady Duff Gordon in particular.

First of all, in the May 23, 1912 issue of the "Daily Sketch" Officer Lowe is identified as having assisted First officer Murdoch in loading and launching Lifeboat No. 1 and that he was in fact responsible for lifting Lady Duff Gordon, among others, into the boat. Officer Lowe said in his testimony during the hearings of the British Inquiry, in response to a question as to whether he had spoken directly to Lady Duff Gordon, that he "simply bundled her in." Do you know more about this? Did Lowe, in letters or in conversations with others later, ever mention more about his involvement with Boat 1?

Secondly, in the April 23, 1932 issue of "Liberty" magazine, an article by Rene Harris makes the curious revelation that Officer Lowe made some rather caustic (though undisclosed) remarks to the Duff Gordons on the Carpathia at the time of the taking of the series of photos of Boat 1's occupants, some of the crew of which were assembled in lifejackets.

This had apparently upset Mrs. Harris, sitting on deck nearby, and Lowe, taking notice of this, had gone up to them to register his complaint. "In no uncertain words," Harris claims," he told the titled couple what an Englishman thought of his own countrymen." She concludes that the pictures were not taken. This we know is not true for there were at least 4 taken (I own a hazy original copy taken by Dr. Blackmarr which is featured on the Duff Gordon pages here on ET)so I'm wondering what you make of the story in its entirety. Was she exaggerating Lowe's comments to the couple? Would she have known what he said at all?

For the record, Mrs. Harris, in an earlier paragraph concerning the Duff Gordons, did claim they escaped in the lifeboat with all their luggage, though we know this is certainly untrue.

What do you make of all of this? Did Officer Lowe ever admit to speaking forcefully to the Duff Gordons aboard the rescue ship? I'm very interested to know your thoughts on this. Thank you.

Best Wishes,

Randy
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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Hallo, Jeremy:

Jumping into this for a moment, I just want to say that Ms. Adler seems reasonable in what she has said as to Lowe and Ms. Sheil's rather verbose posts. It does seem to me too that Sheil has dismissed negative comments made by reliable sources against Lowe in an effort to make him appear likeable.

No, I treat all comments about Lowe with the same critical analysis — be they Minahan, the Comptons, Walcroft, Harris, the crew in #14, Brown etc. There has, however, been an unfortunate tendency in the bulk of Titanic material to emphasize Minahan and Collyer, at the expense of the less well known accounts such as those of Cameron, Walcroft and Harris — I have attempted to redress that imbalance.

Or at least she seems to be giving more weight to those comments that are more favorable. All I'm seeing in what Adler has said is that these opposing viewpoints need to be more balanced.

The definition of balanced in this case being an opinion that concurs with his/her own.

No one is saying that just because the guy wasn't easy-going all the time that he was a louse.

If you read Adler’s comments, you find sweeping judgments such as that declaring that there was no doubt the guy had a bad attitude & even worse temper. No qualifiers there. Hardly the stuff of a reasoned assessment there, and the ‘no doubt’ is an attempt to establish an opinion as an empirical fact.

All I can think of is Sheil's mad because Adler said she was "ferocious" which isn't really such an insult - nor very far off the mark. I think Sheil is taking remarks about Lowe too seriously and too personally.

;-) I’m more amused than “mad”. And the remarks Adler has made — as have others — have been extraordinarily personal.

Inger
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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To me, Inger Sheil's book-length replies dissecting every single tiny thing and using her sociological clap-trap ("simplistic polarities," emotive assignations," etc)is tiresome and alienating.

My terminology (which is derived from my training in historiography, btw, not sociological studies) is a specific tool used to denote specific concepts. It comes from my background and training, and is the mode discourse normally adopted by academics. Criticizing my means of expressing concepts is hardly a legitimate entry into a debate which had degenerated from a discussion of Harold Lowe to a personal attack ;-)

Why does she have to take everybody to task? Her accusation that Frances Adler was being intolerant of other views doesn't square with what I have read in her posts.

Adler speaks of freedom of opinion and the need to respect others, and yet denigrates not only myself but also my work.

Adler seems to be calling for a realistic view of Lowe - not the whitewashed image Sheil seems content on putting out there.

Even within the posts on this board, I have not ‘whitewashed’ Lowe — I have referred to his use of invective, his hasty responses, and the fact that there are actions which, ideally, he should not have taken. I have other criticisms of the man, but they have thus far been outside the scope of this debate.

And I don't think Adler has made "simplistic value judgements" on Lowe - she's only deducing what anybody with any sense can easily deduce from what is known already and from what has been discussed on this board. Also, if Inger Sheil's book will resemble her posts with all this boring, puffed-up language then I don't think it will be a pleasant read.

Adler’s value judgments — his/her generalisations on his ‘temper’ and ‘attitude’, for example — do not accord with the evidence of other that I have cited here who specifically commend him for his conduct, and also do not accord with material I have accessed which is not in the public domain. ‘Easily deduced’ is yet another assumption — one that all interpretations are obvious, and to disagree with your interpretation is to be in the wrong — the very assumption you accuse me of making.

As for the book’s language — well, I’m not striving for yet another popular history tome on the Titanic (there are plenty of them around if that’s what you’re after ;-) ), and you will of course be under no obligation to purchase or read any of my work.

Inger
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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Shiel needs to remember the old line from Desiderata:

"Speak your truth clearly and quietly and listen to others."


I do indeed seek the opinion of others — this is one reason why I engage in debates in this forum and in others.

And to that I would add the immortal words of a famous philosopher who said:

"If your arguments are concise and brief, they will have more impact than you might ever imagine."


Unfortunately, all too often in Titanic circles (as in other areas of historical studies) debate becomes reduced to glib, facile answers. I respond according to the point raised, fully as possible and citing as much specific material as possible. I make no apologies if my responses seem involved — I like to respond to each point as fully as possible, as I would never insult the intelligence of ET readers by assuming they were not capable of sustaining a prolongued academic debate. If this is not to your personal taste, you are under no obligation to either read or respond to my posts.

Regards,
Inger
 

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