I don’t cotton to footnotes. To some extent, they perform the same function that the poll tax performed in Southern states. They do, I admit, perform some useful functions. In order of priority, these are:
Proper academic credit assignment
In the academic world, credit for knowledge is the source of wealth; it is therefore imperative that credit be assigned correctly. Footnotes serve this need.
A footnote purportedly provides the evidence to support the author’s claims. In practice, however, things aren’t anywhere near as clear as that. Sometimes it’s impossible to obtain the document to which the footnote refers. It isn’t so difficult for somebody with access to an academic library, but I’m not writing primarily for an academic audience; most of my readers will not have that access, and so will not be able to verify my statements through footnotes.
Moreover, sometimes the reference does not explicitly provide the evidence the perspicacious reader seeks; the source must be closely read to understand how and why it supports the original author’s claim.
Positioning within the existing literature
It is useful for academics to know how a specific work fits into the overall state of knowledge. Footnotes position a work within that body of knowledge; they allow the academic to compare and contrast the author’s work with the work of others. This, of course, is only of utility to academics; other readers, who have not devoted their lives to mastering a specialty, will derive no benefit from this positioning.
One benefit of the footnote is that, even without following it up, it demonstrates that the author has done proper research and knows what he’s talking about. I have employed another strategy for establishing my credibility: the bibliography. As yet, it presents only a fraction of the books I’ve read on the subject; I’m still filling it in at random occasions.
Academia is not relevant here
This may strike the reader as a peculiar statement, but I believe that this work will attract little interest from academics, and outright rejection from those few who do encounter it. They’ll reject it not because it’s wrong, but because it’s not peer-reviewed, it lacks footnotes, and, above all, it offends their sense of territoriality. Academics are highly specialized masters of a very narrow slice of the body of human knowledge; this work sprawls over a broad range of specialties: neurophysiology, evolution, evolutionary psychology, ancient history, Greek literature, linguistics, the history of science, legal history, and the separate histories of diverse cultures. It is simply too broad to fit into any academic discipline. The experts in each and every one of these fields will not be able to overcome their resentment of an amateur (in the original sense of the word) intruding into their turf, and will clutch at every straw they can find to rationalize their already-established rejection. So there really isn’t any point to catering to their needs.
As you can see, none of the proper reasons for footnoting apply to this work. I recognize that, without academic acceptance, it will likely be as lost as the moon of an unknown planet in a distant solar system in a galaxy somewhere in the cosmos of the Internet. But I have long since learned that finding the truth and convincing others of the truth are two completely independent efforts. I am not a salesman; all I propose to do here is lay the truth down for any passerby to see. I’ll not waste my time selling it, as I have too many other truths to explore. I am satisfied that I have found this truth, worked out its details, and left a small pile of rocks to mark the trail for any other sojourner who comes this way.