Whose Dreams?

9 10 2008

This is a fascinating article by Jack Cashill titled: Who Wrote “Dreams From My Father”?

It compares the writing style of Obama in “Dreams From My Father” to the writing style of Bill Ayers in “Fugitive Days“. The conclusion is that the style of “Dreams From My Father” is remarkably similar to the style of “Fugitive Days”. Given that no other document written by Obama shows the same writing style, and the fact that Obama refuses to release most of his writing from his university days, this leads Cashill to speculate that maybe Ayers was involved in writing Obama memoirs.

Here is a sample quote describing statistical comparison. But there is a lot of other analysis in the article, for example regarding similar metaphors used:

The “Fugitive Days” excerpt scores a 54 on reading ease and a 12th grade reading level. The “Dreams'” excerpt scores a 54.8 on reading ease and a 12th grade reading level. Scores can range from 0 to 121, so hitting a nearly exact score matters.

A more reliable data-driven way to prove authorship goes under the rubric “cusum analysis” or QSUM. This analysis begins with the measurement of sentence length, a significant and telling variable. To compare the two books, I selected thirty-sentence sequences from Dreams and Fugitive Days, each of which relates the author’s entry into the world of “community organizing.”

“Fugitive Days” averaged 23.13 words a sentence. “Dreams” averaged 23.36 words a sentence. By contrast, the memoir section of “Sucker Punch” averaged 15 words a sentence.

Interestingly, the 30-sentence sequence that I pulled from Obama’s conventional political tract, Audacity of Hope, averages more than 29 words a sentence and clocks in with a 9th grade reading level, three levels below the earlier cited passages from “Dreams” and “Fugitive Days.” The differential in the Audacity numbers should not surprise. By the time it was published in 2006, Obama was a public figure of some wealth, one who could afford editors and ghost writers.

A very interesting reading, once again proving that we know very little about Obama – especially as he prefers to keep his past hidden.

UPDATE: More nautical metaphors.

UPDATE (10/18): This is getting curiouser and curiouser: Evidence Mounts: Ayers Co-Wrote Obama’s Dreams.

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