TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM-L ArchivesArchiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2010-06 > 1277856917
From: "Michael Hait" <>
Subject: Re: [TGF] Evidence Explained Discussion - Fundamentals ofEvidenceAnalysis - Basic Issues (1.1)
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2010 20:15:17 -0400
Harold, I agree. I would add one thing -- once the evidence starts to point
toward Frank as the father, all of the records concerning Frank should be
located, systematically, or reasonably exhaustively :) -- but then the
identity of Frank in each of these individual records has to be established,
then added into the sum of all previously identified evidence.
(Did I jump ahead in the chapter?)
From: "Harold Henderson" <>
Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2010 6:59 PM
To: "Sue" <>
Subject: Re: [TGF] Evidence Explained Discussion - Fundamentals of
EvidenceAnalysis - Basic Issues (1.1)
> Interesting thoughts! I have no problem with trying to disprove one's
> hypothesis, but I would be uncomfortable *starting out* with a known
> Thomas Smith and gathering data about a bunch of George Smiths who
> might conceivably be his father -- unless there were a decent reason
> to do so.
> Wouldn't it work better to first gather information on Thomas's life
> and records and associates, and develop a hypothesis from what you
> know? Then you might be spared the thankless and endless task of
> chasing down George Smiths -- when the census shows Thomas living next
> door to a man named Frank who is 30 years older, being deeded land by
> him, and having him in his household after he's widowed. In this
> hypothetical case, you might still want to try to disprove the
> hypothesis that Frank is Thomas's father, but you would have arrived
> at the hypothesis in a way that wasn't just random name-gathering.
> What bothers me is that the data-gathering stage as described seems
> rather disconnected from what you already know (i.e., Thomas). I'm not
> experienced enough at the practice of science or genealogy to know if
> that is a fundamental difference, or just a different way of talking.
> On Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 5:44 PM, Sue <> wrote:
>>> The first section discusses basic issues surrounding Fundamentals of
>>> Evidence Analysis.
>>> 1.1 Analysis& Mindset
>>> However, to start the discussion, what are your personal insights to the
>>> mindset you bring to your research? Does your mindset change when doing
>>> personal research vs. client research? How does your mindset effect your
>>> analysis? What do you think is important for doing analysis?
>> Having originally trained for a career in biochemistry, I still bring
>> the scientific method to bear on my research and analysis. To me that
>> means stating a problem, collecting data (not evidence at this point --
>> just information), and forming a working explanation (a hypothesis). The
>> part of this non-scientists have difficulty with is the "null
>> hypothesis." The null hypothesis is the disapproval of the opposite of
>> your explanation.
>> So, if you are looking to prove that a particular George Smith is the
>> father of "your" Thomas Smith, you begin by gathering all of the data --
>> about persons named George Smith, the area he is said to have lived in,
>> any documentation of his life. Then, using all of this data, you try to
>> prove George is _not_ Thomas' father. If you can show that George is
>> probably not the father, you must search for more data, and keep testing
>> it. Either more documentation on this George, another George, or someone
>> else entirely.
>> To me, this constant testing of the opposite often leads me to more
>> data, or a conclusion that I need to find more data. Since genealogical
>> research is rarely "proved" in the records, my interpretation has to be
>> tempered by what I find. George may be Thomas' father, or he may not be.
>> I list the data I have collected in a T and then begin to analyze what I
>> have found and how strongly it supports one or the other explanation.
>> The analysis takes into account the weight I give to each piece of data.
>> Original or derivative, self-serving or impartial, and so on.
>> I do the same for clients that I would do for my own research. In fact,
>> if the client has limited where and what I can look at for data, it may
>> be that my own research is more rigorous. But I would still voice my
>> conclusions to a client in terms that make it clear that the problem has
>> not been solved conclusively and may require more data. George could be
>> Thomas' father, but there are things pointing to his not being Thomas
>> father, etc.
>> This is a "mindset," not a rigid plan. I do eventually come to the null
>> hypothesis and the T list most of the time, just to complete my own
>> thought process. I would find it difficult to change the way I look at
>> problems this late in my life, but I am certainly open to learning what
>> other folks find valuable.
>> Sue Masse
>> The Transitional Genealogists List was created to provide a safe
>> environment for genealogists to learn best practices as they transition
>> to professional level work. Please respect the kind intentions of this
>> To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to
>> with the word
>> 'unsubscribe' without the quotes in the subject and the body of the
> Harold Henderson
> Research and Writing from NW Indiana
> The Transitional Genealogists List was created to provide a safe
> environment for genealogists to learn best practices as they transition to
> professional level work. Please respect the kind intentions of this list.
> To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to
> with the word
> 'unsubscribe' without the quotes in the subject and the body of the
|Re: [TGF] Evidence Explained Discussion - Fundamentals ofEvidenceAnalysis - Basic Issues (1.1) by "Michael Hait" <>|