TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM-L ArchivesArchiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2010-10 > 1287442693
Subject: Re: [TGF] EE Discussion - Section 1.15 - Proof Arguments -Addressing Conflicting Evidence
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2010 17:58:13 -0500
References: <4CA23816.email@example.com> <4CB07A6D.firstname.lastname@example.org><4CB09FE6.email@example.com>
>Another point made in EE [1.15] is "When contradictory or conflicting
evidence exists, we must address it and offer quality evidence or reasoning
to rebut the contradiction or resolve the conflict."
Laurie then wrote:
> While it is easy to see why we would want to explain contradictions and
conflicts that we find in records and other sources, I wonder just how far
we should carry this. My prime example that I've been pondering is
Ancestry.com's public trees (although I'm sure there are other relevant
examples out there. ...
>I am finding it harder and harder to find the original perpetuator of the
inaccuracy in online trees because they are growing so many so fast; . . .
I have not been successful a single time at asking a tree owner where did
they learn of certain information and getting an answer other than from
another tree, and that tree owner from another and from another and so on.
Ginger's experience is mine also. So how does this fit into the advice at EE
1.15 that Michelle quoted? The bottom line is that not every assertion
qualifies to be considered evidence or deserves to have our time wasted on
it. Relevant information provided in a document should qualify as evidence.
An assertion by a modern person who supports his or her assertion with a
citation to a seemingly valid source remains an assertion until we consult
that source and verify that the source does make the statement credited to
it. As assertion that is unsupported by solid evidence is simply an
assertion. (And sometimes it is obviously utter nonsense.)
IMO, we'd drive ourselves crazy trying to document every such assertion in
all the copycat trees that exist online at all sorts of sites---and few of
us would likely live long enough to contact every one of the copycats,
considering the rate at which those trees multiply. In my own records, I
typically sum up these situations with a simple sentence such as this: "Many
online 'trees' present our William as the son of Jehosephat, but I have
found none that provide evidence to support that assertion." An appended
citation will point to a couple of representative trees. Then I present the
actual evidence that does exist and analyze the pros and cons of each.
It *is* possible, in other situations, to backtrack 'legends' or
'traditions' if and when a real paper trail exist. Compiled genealogies that
contain a reasonable amount of narrative, local histories, newspaper
stories, etc., often parroted each other in ways that are traceable. But
with online trees that consist of nothing but names and dates, there's
virtually no evidentiary trail to follow. Some trees may cite, say, a
Broderbund family tree disc that might lead back to an early poster; but, in
my experience, the effort to follow these trails has rarely led to tangible
Ginger also wrote:
>I have even asked researchers I've deemed to be pretty reliable and
Ginger, might I make a suggestion here? We get into trouble when we start
thinking about our contemporaries as "reliable" and "credible" suppliers of
information on the past. Even the best genealogist makes mistakes; we're all
human. Ergo, opinions or conclusions about reliability or credibility is
best reserved for a particular assertion in a specific document--not for a
person who tells us about it.
But, of course, I suspect that what you meant was "researchers I've found to
be generally careful and thorough"--or something of that ilk. :)
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
The Evidence Series
|Re: [TGF] EE Discussion - Section 1.15 - Proof Arguments -Addressing Conflicting Evidence by <>|