Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Just because it can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true

This week, in his eloquent Irish way, John Grenham hits the nail on the head.

His post this Monday, Proof, No Pudding, is food for thought for disciples of the Genealogical Proof Standard.

To be honest GPS advocates do point out that all conclusions arrived at are "best available" and subject change as new evidence becomes available. So just because it can be "proved" doesn’t mean it’s true.

I noted particularly he mentioned that the best researcher should "assess probabilities". Unfortunately there's no standard terminology for probabilities within the genealogical profession. Without a standard a probability assessment is little more than the whim of the assessor.

Could the title to this have been "Just because it isn't true doesn’t mean it can't be proved"?


Gail B said...

What a terrific, pointed column, from John Gresham. Confirms suspicions. Registrars, family lore, so many mistakes make it into the 'records'. Genealogical Standards are only as good as the person that reported the births, families, correctly, as much as they understood them so very long ago.
Thanks, John R.

Audrey Collins said...

Great stuff from John Grenham (and John Reid), as usual. Just to put another cat among the pigeons, even official documents can be wrong - I don't mean a little bit off with regard to age, or a badly misspelled name, or a wrong birthplace given in good faith - I mean really wrong! As in deliberately fictitious, fraudulent, complete pack of lies wrong. The General Register Office for England & Wales holds a number of entirely fictitious birth and death entries, and I know of at least two wills proved in the PCC that are forgeries. Sleep well, One-namers!

JDR said...

Right on Audrey. It doesn't only happen in the UK either!

Gail B said...

And more. Back in the late 1980's and early 90's I received money back from the Registrar General of Ontario for searches that turned up nothing, yet I knew they existed. I persisted. Nagged, even, and finally, a formal apology for an 'oversight' -- correct records sent and money back. Even in the current day. Pity.

Peter Munro said...

Mistakes still happen.

When I got married in 1992 in the Scottish Highlands, I was the Senior Business Analyst at Borders Regional Council, some 200 miles to the south (and about 7 hours journey).

My Marriage cert shows the right job title but shows my employer as Highland Regional Council.

Even though it was the registrar's mistake, they wanted to charge me £75 to have it corrected.

Needless to say, I didn't bother.

Gail B said...

Oops. I may have not sent this. Sorry to bang on but our son was born in Boston in 1968 where my husband was a newly minted Ph.D and I was a technical writer for M.I.T. A team of technical writers at the nascent computer industry at M.I.T. & Co. wrote the first ever Programming Language manual (PL1) there. Pretty heady work for a young Cdn girl. On our son's birth certificate, my husband is listed as a professional, and I am listed as a 'housewife'. This is in 1968. Pity.