Genealogy Facts vs Family Beliefs

You Control Your Own Research Project: Do You Research in Instant Reject  Mode? This consists of believing you know the answer before you have collected the data, analyzed the evidence, compared what you already have, and resolved discrepancies between what you thought or believed to be true and what the records actually say? Research requires that you…

constantly question your work: what do you believe to be true?

constantly gather factual information wherever you can.

constantly consider new information that may be in conflict with your believings.

Research requires that you pay attention to evidence that challenges your initial conclusions or the conclusions reached by others.

Deductive Reasoning – You begin with a belief, you check the evidence which supports that belief, and you prove it to be true. The flaw here, is that when your belief appears to be proven, you often stop your research. You don’t examine all the candidates, you don’t account for all the discrepancies, and you may miss the real ancestor hidden in the evidence awaiting your discovery.

Inductive Reasoning – You search the records; you line up the evidence to see who emerges from the pile. The facts you find and the proof that emerges dictate the pedigree. Fact-finding is a very profitable thing to do because one solid fact, supported by documented evidence, is worth a hundred beliefs. That is, if you set aside your belief in order to use the facts you find. And let the facts dictate the pedigree.

The evidence of belief is quite different from the evidence of fact. Family tradition is belief. And by now, you know that I never discredit family traditions. Kernels of fact lace through reams of belief. Because it is your tradition, those kernels are connectors for you to the truth of your background. Just don’t let traditions lead and determine the direction of your research. Your favorite Scots-Irish genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS This kind of thoroughness takes time. Speed is not a friend of true pedigrees.

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