Recent comments

  • Reply to: It's a Fact. No Discussion Needed. Or Is It?   1 day 6 hours ago

    An existentialist might argue that there are no hard facts, but I don't want to go there  :-)

    Given that there always is/was just one truth -- irrespective of whether we know of it -- then we're either relying on direct observation of it (I'm wet, and it's definitely raining), memory (I believe it was raining last Monday -- always a good bet in Ireland), or information provided from elsewhere (another person or recorded information).

    There's certainly a sliding scale where some information (e.g. direct observation) will be treated as hard fact for all practical everyday usage, but others will be suspect and quite possibly wrong. My point was simply that typical genealogical sources will be much further down that scale, and so the term fact was never a good choice.

    I have noticed you quoting the term, and I do the very same when I have to use it, but I deliberately avoid it in all other cases. Of course, if I used the same software as everyone else then I would probably find that choice a lot more difficult.


  • Reply to: It's a Fact. No Discussion Needed. Or Is It?   1 day 7 hours ago

    Of course, Tony, we're back to the same basic issue: words are defined differently in different fields. In software terms, for example, the noun document often is used for the piece of writing that provides instructions. In a historical sense, a reference to a document means something else entirely. In genealogy, there is a vast difference between a document and a how-to guide.

    It is not just genealogy that uses the term fact "inconsistent[ly] with the ... usage of the term" in the field in which you were trained. History does also. So do journalists. So do courts. And attorneys. And detectives. When the crusty old Jack Webb admonished eyewitnesses with "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts," he wasn't asking her for information that was indisputable He was asking for pieces of information based upon her observation--i.e., evidence.

    On a personal basis, often when writing about this term I put it in quotation marks to signify the so-called sense. But doing so over and over again in any piece of writing becomes overwrought quickly. That point can be made once and, past that point, fact can be used in the sense that it is commonly used outside hard sciences.

    Our bottom line?  The fact of the matter is that in our daily research fact more often means assertion, claim, or piece of evidence--entirely in a different sphere from the fact that the world is round (or spherical).

  • Reply to: It's a Fact. No Discussion Needed. Or Is It?   1 day 12 hours ago

    I tried hard to resist commenting here, but the will is weak ...

    Facts, in the hard literal sense, cannot be debated, although their consequences can. However, genealogy does not deal with such facts, otherwise there would be no need for evidence. Surely, what it deals with are "facts": those items of recorded information that may be used as evidence of some hard fact.

    I could be mistaken but it seems that genealogy software -- and especially those with a database -- have elevated this term to something inconsistent with the normal usage of the term.

    Cue confusion, argument, and grief ...


  • Reply to: Citing multiple dates   3 days 8 hours ago

    What a wonderful project, trashhound!

  • Reply to: Citing multiple dates   4 days 4 hours ago

    Dear editor - thanks for clearly pointing out my error.  Each date will be cited.  The majority of the people involved in this project have their records at St. Anne's.  The church put out a CD in the late 1990's.  I have indexed it and spent a great deal of time with it.  It is in at least 3 languages - French, English and Latin.  Thank you for your advice.  Trashound