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Archiver > APG > 2008-10 > 1223573466

From: "Rondina Muncy" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Proof or conclusion
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 2008 12:31:06 -0500
References: <393ff0080810081301o65265800r5d00f5bd81e2fb1f@mail.gmail.com><48ED6A5F.6050503@JonesResearchServices.com><48EE4844.4070600@worldnet.att.net>
In-Reply-To: <48EE4844.4070600@worldnet.att.net>


You have hit the nail on the head. This is exactly the reason I asked the
question in the first place. Why we bandy about the word 'proof' in such a
careless fashion. Why is 'Proof' on the bottom of the Research Process Map
in the front of _Evidence Explained_?


On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 1:07 PM, Kathy <> wrote:

> The issue of using the term "proof" in the field of genealogy creates
> problems for a couple of reasons, at least.
> "Proof," as widely used throughout the intellectual world, in the
> dictionary definition, and in professional as well as lay writings,
> means the establishment of a definitive fact, one that is derived either
> through empirical research (induction) or logical analysis or reasoning
> (deduction), or some combination of the two. We all know that in any
> discipline Humpty Dumpty can declare a word to mean whatever he wants it
> to mean (for example, the use of the words "charm" and "flavor" in
> physics to refer to characteristics of subatomic particles). The
> problem comes in disciplines that communicate with the outside world,
> which tends to share the more commonsense understanding of a term. This
> is not much of a problem in particle physics where lay persons seldom
> carry on conversations about subatomic particles. But genealogy
> afficionados come from a wide variety of backgrounds, most of which
> assume the definition of the term "proof" as referring to a definitive
> fact. Thus, in assigning it a specialized, technical meaning that is
> different than the commonly accepted one, we bump up against a
> pre-existing social construction of reality, which can only cause
> confusion, as expressed in the original query on this topic.
> Second, the fact that "proof" is used so sparingly among scientists, of
> both the hard and social varieties, is because of the continual process
> of research and knowledge acquisition in their disciplines. The same is
> true of genealogy. Moonbeam McSwine may stumble across a box of dusty
> documents in the basement of the Dogpatch County Courthouse next week
> whose contents indisputably overturn some of the heretofore
> well-accepted conclusions about the Yocum family. Given the
> ever-changeable state of knowledge about the Yocum family, those
> well-accepted conclusions hardly qualify as "proof;" nor do any
> genealogical conclusions that can be overturned with additional
> compelling evidence, irrespective of whether any particular set of
> standards were adhered to in arriving at the original conclusions.
> It would be much simpler if the Genealogical Proof Standard were named
> the Genealogical Research Standard. The GPS does, after all, describe
> the research process, and the standards to be employed there, and not
> the level of evidence to be attained or the degree of probability that
> must be achieved, such as used in legal standards of proof.
> Just my thoughts,
> Kathy
> ======================
> Kathleen Lenerz, Ph.D.
> .
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