Wednesday, 7 November 2012

What does the Obama victory have to do with genealogy?

The answer is ... probably not much directly. Romney would have been positively inclined toward the LDS church's work on family history, but Obama too has good links to some in the community.

Likely more significant, if only a step along a long road, is the success of Nate Silver, writing a blog for the New York Times, in using Bayesian statistical techniques to correctly predicted the winner in all 50 states (although as I write Florida is still not settled). If you're not familiar read Pundit Forecasts All Wrong, Silver Perfectly Right. Is Punditry Dead?

So what's the connection to family history?

The Bayesian approach is the one I've been advocating as a technique to add to the Genealogical Proof Standard. See my three part post here, here and here. Just as Nate Silver combined the evidence from polls conducted by others to make a superior quantitative prediction, so genealogists could use similar techniques to combine evidence from various sources to provide more confidence, or perhaps less confidence where it isn't justified, in genealogical conclusions.

I`m not holding my breath that political pundits will immediately take to Bayesian statistics, and the same for professional genealogists.



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