TMG-L ArchivesArchiver > TMG > 2011-03 > 1301586113
From: "Darrell A. Martin" <>
Subject: Re: [TMG] Evidence and conclusions
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2011 10:41:53 -0500
References: <firstname.lastname@example.org> <4D9373B9.email@example.com> <011001cbef26$250b89e0$6f229da0$@com> <4D93FE86.firstname.lastname@example.org><001601cbef60$5f575950$1e060bf0$@com>
On 3/30/2011 11:59 PM, Cheryl Freeman wrote:
> I think we are on the same side :)
> I still don't' know who my husband's 4-gr grandfather was. I have a working
> hypothesis - assumption, if you will- which is well thought out and rarely
> shared with other researchers. However, I do know why deeds for another
> Freeman (as transcribed in the deed books) were dated 7 years after his
> death in 1770. That is a conclusion after a review of all the evidence and
> ruling out other possible explanations. There is a difference. And when I
> replied, it was documentation that meets the GPS standard on my mind, and
> not "assumptions".
We are indeed on the same side. My difference with you is solely over
terminology, not practice. I like your approach. What follows needs to
be understood in that light.
A "working hypothesis" which is "well thought out" is not an assumption.
In fact, "hypothesis" is a better word. Assumptions PRECEDE a search for
evidence, step by step. Here is a fictional example. It is a bit long,
but I hope easy to understand:
- I have a transcription that says John Quincy PUBLIC died in Chicago in
1910. I have no further information on any John PUBLIC.
- I assume the deceased was born in 1840. I "assume" because there is no
supporting evidence. It is plausible (1740 isn't) but plausibility is
- An online search based on the assumed birth date provides two birth
records, both for persons named John Q. PUBLIC: one in Boston in 1845,
and one in Detroit in 1846.
- I assume that the person who died in Chicago was born in Boston, only
because I have to look someplace first. It could as easily be Detroit.
Since I lack information to make a reasoned choice, I assume.
- I find two census records in Boston for the name John PUBLIC: age 5 in
1850 and age 15 in 1860. My evaluation is that the birth record and the
census records are probably for the same person. (This is not proof! It
is, however, based on the evidence, not an assumption.)
- I assume, because it helps search for more evidence, that the person I
identified as being in Boston moved to Chicago after 1860.
- I find these census records in Chicago for John PUBLIC: age 25 in
1870, 35 in 1880, and 55 in 1900. It is reasonable that this might be
the deceased. Because there is some evidence, I am not assuming.
- I now assume the deceased was born in Detroit (otherwise I wouldn't
look at Detroit records). I find census records for John PUBLIC: age 5
in 1850, 15 in 1860, 25 in 1870, 35 in 1880, 55 in 1900, and 65 in 1910.
My evaluation is that the birth record and these census records are
probably for the same person. (This is not proof! It is, however, based
on evidence, not assumed.)
At this point, I would evaluate the body of evidence and say it is
likely that the John Quincy PUBLIC who died in Chicago in 1910 was born
in Boston in 1845, and moved to Chicago between 1860 and 1870. I would
also say a John PUBLIC was born in Detroit in early 1846 and probably
lived there until at least 1910. I would enter the data that way in TMG.
*HOWEVER*, I am not so silly as to think I have proved anything, or that
I am finished. Questions remain. If my TMG output looks like "settled
facts", I deserve all the criticism I get. However, my evaluations are
not merely assumptions. I am far past that. There is no hypothesis that
as reasonably explains the evidence I have, although there are clearly
other possibilities. My conclusions are certainly tentative, but
protests to the contrary they are conclusions. That is not to say
proved; I know no proof standard that would be satisfied.
Two, hopefully obvious, final points: first, I need to enter source
citations in such a way that any reader can see both how I reasoned from
my sources, and that I have *not* really eliminated other possibilities;
and second, I need more evidence!