GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2001-06 > 0991491631
From: "Dewayne E. Perry" <>
Subject: Re: Forbes-Smith with a note on Gifford
Date: Sat, 02 Jun 2001 09:20:31 -0500
References: <ONNZJLv6AHA.88@cpmsnbbsa09>, <Mm5S6.20070$Bn1.firstname.lastname@example.org>
well said! much of what we put together is indeed circumstantial
evidence and it is in the reasoning about these circumstances that
we make our case. there are many difference kinds of evidence: naming
patterns are one very good set of evidence and there have been very good
studies to show just how well they do support our claims.
while it is nice to have certainty, many of our cases are not so clear cut.
what is necessary is to document our reasoning in all cases. all too often
that is left out and the hypothesis gets stated as fact - certainly that is
the overwhelming problem with almost all the material available on the web:
not only is there no documentation there is no accountng of the reasoning
about the use of the documentation.
footnotes are a wonderful tool for just such reasoning and documentation.
cheers - dewayne
John Steele Gordon wrote:
> Paul is quite correct that this is 150 years off topic for SGM. But let me
> note one thing that *is* on topic.
> This particular case is entirely a circumstantial one and should be treated
> as such. There is no contemporary documentation saying that James Forbes
> married Jane Smith, daughter of Charles Somerset Smith, at least that has
> yet been found. (Go ahead, someone, make my day and find it).
> Instead, a circumstantial case assembles evidence, all of which is
> consistent with, and supportive of, the hypothesis advanced. Further there
> must be no evidence that would absolutely contradict the hypothesis. So the
> hypothesis stands or falls on the *totality* of the evidence rather than on
> the strength of each individual part. Even if it were found, in this
> instance, that the Jane Smith in the Sothoron cemetery was, in fact, James's
> sister not wife, that would only diminish the pile of evidence in favor of
> the hypothesis, not contradict it.
> Was it proved that the Jane Forbes in the Sothoron cemetery was the wife of
> James Forbes? No, it's conceivable that it might be someone else. But that's
> the simplest explanation. Does the fact that James Forbes had a son named
> Charles Somerset Forbes prove that the boy's grandfather was Charles
> Somerset Smith? No. But that's the simplest explanation. And so on and so
> forth. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and possesses
> various other characteristic typically anatidian, at some point Ocham's
> razor forces you to say, "OK, OK, it's a duck."
> Whether we have reached that point in this particular case must be decided
> by each reader, but many a guilty man has been hanged on circumstantial
|Re: Forbes-Smith with a note on Gifford by "Dewayne E. Perry" <>|