Esoteric news, January 2012

Among the updates: 1st International Conference on Contemporary Esotericism

A number of newsworthy things have popped up in the world of esotericism scholarship lately, but as I have been tied up with reaching deadlines, they have not found their way to Heterodoxology yet. The solution? A brief list of updates, below. Some of it you may already have read about over at Invocatio, the Phoenix Rising website, or some other etheric place, but no harm is done in hearing something twice.

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Errata, and a lesson of caution for “culturomics”

In the previous post I shared my enthusiasm about possible applications for digital, quantitative tools for studying historical data. Focusing on how Google’s N-gram Viewer may lead to interesting findings in the field of esotericism, both in order to gauge trends in popularity or spread of a certain term (such as “esotericism” itself) in various languages, and in order to research philological matters. In the latter case, one of the preliminary results seemed much more like a breakthrough at first sight than it really appears to have been. In fact, now instead we have an illustration of a serious difficulty with this kind of research, which emphasises the necessity of the critically-minded, suspicious human scholar in the middle of all digital tools.

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