Think Outside The Box

When people look into the Jack the Ripper case there is a tendency to simply take as gospel facts, statements and even theories that are spouted by those who are considered experts on the subject.

Of course, the whole point of this unsolved mystery is that nobody can really claim to be an expert on it.

How can they?

Since the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders was never actually brought to justice then any fact about his (or her) identity is nothing more than conjecture, and one person’s opinion is as valid as any one else’s.

The Punch Cartoon Blind Mans Buff showing a blind-folded police officer being taunted by criminals.
Blind Mans Buff – A Punch Cartoon From 1888. This could equally Apply To Today’s Field Of Study!


One of the things that gets more and more apparent is that those who think of themselves as experts are often more than willing to shout down those who put their heads above the parapet and proffer an opinion in public forums.

Time and time again somebody who has just discovered the Jack the Ripper mystery, and who is enthused and ready to make a contribution to the field, will pop up in a Facebook group, put forward a theory or an opinion, only to find themselves shouted down and ridiculed by people who think themselves superior on account of the fact that they have been studying Jack the Ripper for twenty, thirty or forty years.

Often the newcomers retreat feeling deflated and humiliated, and they shuffle away with any knowledge they have – or, more lamentably, taking with them any knowledge that they might come by as their interest and research increases.


Of course, the obvious response to those founts of Ripper knowledge should be, “forty years, and you’ve still not solved it, why not? What have you been doing for all those forty years?”

Of course, that isn’t the response, as many of those who come fired up and enthused to the field are a little uncertain of themselves and are in awe of the self-ordained experts that they encounter.

And yet, that is a very valid point.

Why haven’t they solved it?


The actual reason is that the mystery is now unsolvable. It could be argued that it probably always has been. The police could not solve it in 1888, how can we solve it today when so much of the evidence and prime source material has been lost or destroyed?

And the reason it hasn’t been solved is because many people are too entrenched in what they consider to be the established facts, whatever they may be.

For example, just because Sir Melville Macnaghten insisted that there were five victims and five victims only doesn’t mean that there actually were five victims and five victims only.

Those who were willing to challenge the established ripper lore have always found themselves shouted down by armchair detectives (or nowadays keyboard detectives) who have no right or business to force their opinions on others claiming them to be facts.


Yet, if you plough your own furrow, ignore the self-proclaimed “experts” and put forward your own theories or information, you will probably do more to further the future of ripper studies than any expert has done in the last twenty, thirty, or forty years.

And, if you think about it, the only reason those “experts” get angry with the newcomers is because of the fear that they might just find or spot something that those who have been studying the case for decades have missed.

So, if you are new to the field don’t be shouted down.

Shout your theories and facts loudly and proudly. Think outside the box, and make a promise that, as you begin to emerge as a leader in the field, you will be generous in your support of newcomers and the knowledge they bring with them in the future.