Wednesday, 25 February 2015

BCG Webinar: F Warren Bittner CG

On Tuesday evening F. Warren Bittner, a Trustee of the (US) Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), gave a well presented webinar "Complex Evidence: What it is, How it Works, Why it Matters." The major part was a case study showing how putting together diverse sources built a case for who the parents were for the person of interest (known as Minnie - with substantial name variations in the different sources.) There was no one smoking gun document.

As Bittner pointed out piecing together evidence is something that most experienced genealogists do although perhaps not deliberately following the formality of the genealogical proof standard. The case built seemed convincing in demonstrating the affinity between child and parents.

I found the last two questions posed after the talk interesting.

One was on DNA evidence. Bittner had not apparently pursued or considered whether such evidence might be available for this case study or would be necessary for a reasonably exhaustive search. His answer was a general one, that DNA evidence could either confirm the conclusion or perhaps blow it out of the water.

The second question posed related to quantifying the degree of certainty in the conclusion. Bittner dismissed the idea saying that it moved back toward the preponderance of evidence approach which BCG abandoned in 1998. He said several times that genealogy is more an art than a science.

Has BCG thinking advanced since 1998?

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