[APG Public List] Who Are We, Really?

LBoswell laboswell at rogers.com
Fri Oct 2 15:09:41 MDT 2009

And yet has the GPS ever been tested, or do we just continue to assume that adhering it generates more credible results than an experienced researcher would achieve without referring to it?  Any comparisons (anecdotal always) compare inexperienced researchers who don't adhere to the GPS to experienced and skilled researchers.  The difference could be do simply to inexperience.

For a field that has taken so many steps to try to avoid the mistakes that arise from acting on assumptions, the very underlying guidelines we work from have yet to be tested in a credible fashion.  They are assumed to be more effective approaches. I don't believe that the GPS is any more effective in achieving results, compared to what an experienced, skilled researcher would achieve by another approach.  In fact, I think that the GPS gives a false sense of security in some results.

And some great wider studies done by genealogists. Or so they seem at first glance, but because they weren't conducted in a way that can be evaluated, how to know if the results mean anything?  Migration patterns. Name variations studies, can't think of others, but there are many of them. Yet because there's no widespread understanding about how to conduct a basic investigation, each study follows its own rules with the result that there's no way to judge whether the results are actually credible. Many disciplines in the social sciences have worked out how to conduct credible studies in ways that can be evaluated by other researchers. 


----- Original Message ----- 
  From: jfonkert at aol.com 
  To: apgpubliclist at apgen.org 
  Sent: Friday, October 02, 2009 3:54 PM
  Subject: Re: [APG Public List] Who Are We, Really?

  Obviously, awareness of the GPS drops off sharply among beginners and hobbyists.  But again, speaking from my Minnesota perespective, we have a cadre of genealogical educators that talk about evidence, analysis and the GPS is almost every talk they give.  Our rank and file genealogists have been exposed to the most important concepts.  Does it always sink in?  Of course not.  But, the solution is not professionals talking to professionals, it is professionals mixing with and talking to the broader genealogical community.  I think we are doing a good job of that in Minnesota.

  Jay Fonkert, CG
  Saint Paul, MN

  -----Original Message-----
  From: hhsh at earthlink.net
  To: Barbara Mathews <bmathews at gis.net>; apgpubliclist at apgen.org
  Sent: Fri, Oct 2, 2009 2:41 pm
  Subject: Re: [APG Public List] Who Are We, Really?

> where are
> we as a "profession" if the Genealogical Proof Standard isn't even widely
> accepted or even known? That underlying common stringent methodology for
> evaluation and thesis-testing is missing from the repertoire of many
> conference attendees.

Thank you for putting up a lightning rod, Barbara! This is a great question. My 
worm's-eye view is that most professionals know the GPS, and most non-
professionals don't. The phrase never appears in the state and regional 
periodicals I follow, and only occasionally does the content of the periodicals 
suggest that anything like it is in use.

The comparisons we use -- cross-stitch on one hand, history/anthropology on the 
other -- may not be exact enough. Genealogy, unlike most academic disciplines, 
will always be an activity with a huge base of self-educated do-it-yourselfers. 
The question is, how much can the top-level expertise percolate down? 

Some other disciplines may resemble genealogy a bit in this respect. Astronomy 
is or has been an area where amateurs sometimes do function quasi-
professionally. Others may have better examples of "popular" disciplines that 
face unending challenges and opportunities in raising the standard of grass-
roots practice. Perhaps (I really don't know) we can learn something from them.


Harold Henderson
Research and Writing from Northwest Indiana
hhsh at earthlink.net
home office 219/324-2620

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