Using Wiggle Words (Qualifiers):


10 March 2014

Within sound historical studies, statements about dates, events, identities, places, relationships, and similar matters are frequently prefaced by qualifiers. Apparently, likely, possibly, and probably are common choices. However, adding a cautionary word without an explanation is a cop-out.

When we use wiggle words in our assertions about personal details (e.g.: Luis Tomassino apparently came from Barcelona; Franz Ritter was probably the man of that name who ...) we should always explain the reasoning that underpins that qualifier. Users of our work need and deserve to know, exactly, the basis for our conclusion, our theory, or our hypothesis. Even more importantly, we will need to know our own reasoning, every time we come back to this piece of research.

EE 1.6 discusses levels of confidence and the qualifiers that we might choose to best express each level.