GENEALOGY-DNA-L ArchivesArchiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2005-07 > 1121455240
From: "Glen Todd" <>
Subject: Standards of evidence (was: DNA results utilized in hereditary societies?)
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2005 13:20:40 -0600
I'm not a lawyer (and hail the High Ones for THAT), but I'm an amateur
player in both genetic and 'traditional' (paper trail) genealogy. I tend
to regard 'proof' as an asymptotic curve, that approaches unity more and
more closely but never actually reaches it. The question becomes; where on
the curve does a particular event fall.
I am a firm believer in (to borrow Spencer Wells' phrase) "Ock the Knife",
otherwise known as Ockham's Razor. That is the standard that I apply to
both traditional and genetic genealogy work. I very, very rarely say that
something is 'proven'; rather, I say; "It is most likely that ..." This
even applies to genetic genealogy, since while the genetics themselves are
basically rock solid, the relationship between that and the paper trail is
still a subject in which there is a certain amount of ambiguity.
So, if a genetic signature is one of a number of factors that all point in
the same direction, I can feel fairly confident in saying that; "The
simplest explanation that fits all of the available evidence is ...",
especially if a reasonable case can't be made for a contradictory theory.
"The simplest explanation that fits all of the available evidence ...",
however is not in a rigorous sense proof.