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Re: Our 'enry


I have what may be a slightly different viewpoint than yours.  (At very least
the language I use to describe it is different).  I would say that the sequence
of events that Niven (and others) have put together tracing the major
milestones of Henry's life is plausible, but not certain.  In the terms I used
in an earlier post, on a scale from 1 (false) to 5 (true), it is probably a 3
(possibly true).  So labeled, it needn't embarrass anyone.  Moreover it has
great value.  It ought to be considered as a working hypothesis, and tested the
way such hypotheses are usually tested.

Included Causal Chains: If a hypothesis has a included causal chain connecting
the principal elements, then it is vital that all the elements in that chain
have reasonable probabilities of being true.  If one element is clearly false
then the whole chain is false.

A simple example:

Event 1: Henry sets sail for the new world
Event 2: Henry sends his ships back, and stays for a period
Event 3: Henry builds a ship or ships in the new world
Event 4: Henry sails back to Caithness / Orkney.

Just for the sake of argument, let's say that events 1 through 3 are probably
true , but event 4 is very unlikely because the trees available to him there in
Nova Scotia are unsuitable (too small, wrong type, etc.)  for building a ship
strong enough to make the crossing.

Thus, since P(causal chain 1:4) is P1xP2xP3xP4, then since P4 is zero, (the
voyage across the stormy North Atlantic can't be made in such a weak ship) then
even though some of the earlier events in the sequence might possibly be true,
the entire causal chain must be untrue.  (I am not making this argument mind
you.... I am just using it as an example)

Consequences:  Hypotheses can also have causal consequences, i.e. if a working
hypothesis is true, then certain other events must follow.  You can view these
as consequences that must necessarily flow from the working hypothesis.  If
those consequent events do exist, then the working hypothesis has predicted
something, and is generally viewed by the academic community as being "more
certain" than before.  If they do not exist, then the hypothesis is viewed as
less certain.

Preconditions:  Similarly, sometimes a working hypothesis has necessary
preconditions which must be in place before the working hypothesis can "start".

For example, Take the example [causal chain (1:4)] cited above.  A necessary
precondition for this to be true is that Henry had to either: (1) already have
the requisite number of suitable ships available; or (2) had to have the money
and resources to build them (and if he did, where did he build them?
...certainly not treeless Orkney); or (3) he had to have access to other's
ships.   If each of these three alternatives is false, then it is most unlikely
that they voyage was actually made.

BTW since the typical lifetime of a working merchant sailing ship plying the
high seas is from 15-40 years depending on where she sails and the maintenance
she gets, it is most unlikely that the original missing "templar fleet"
survived long enough to be used by Henry.  Their seaworthiness in the North
Atlantic is also most suspect, as they were used in much more moderate seas

So, in summary, Niven's hypothesis provides fertile ground for other
research.   Specifically, we can try to identify and search for necessary
preconditions.  We can also search for consequences, and try to find supporting
evidence that way.  Using such a technique we can "nudge" the working
hypothesis closer and closer to the truth, whatever it may be.

Personally, although Niven's hypothesis has always intrigued me, I have always
wondered how the secret of the voyage could possibly be kept so well.   Given
the garrulous nature of the human species, it is very very hard to understand
why the story didn't find its way into popular culture in Scotland and
elsewhere in the north.  (This is in fact one of the consequences I was
referring to, and represents in my mind one of the most serious objections to
the whole story.

What do you think?

Best regards,

Joe Erkes
Albany NY

Sinclair wrote:

> There are unanswered questions  about Henry Sinclair 'what made him a
> Prince, which of his titles are valid, what effect did his voyages have, and
> why did he make the voyage(s)?" There is no primary source
> evidence that proves, one way or the other that Henry went to Nova Scotia. I
> think he did from circumstantial evidence. At some point you must make a
> 'Leap of Faith'.  What I wish to do is separate fact from fiction.
> Zeno is unreliable even if we accept that Henry is the man referred to in
> the writings. I know that Niven has many theories, I have a great respect
> for Niven, and many of these theories are gleaned from countless hours of
> reading and research. I cannot agree with all of his conclusions.  It is
> difficult to accept historical reasoning that has no basis in factual

[ Excess quotations omitted. ]