Monday, March 26, 2012

Does Our Bias Inform Our Speculation?

Many African Americans believe that we are all descendants of slaves.

Is that a bias (an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternatives) or a speculation (the process of thinking about possibilities, or a particular conclusion arrived at from such thought). Both definitions come from Wikipedia.

In genealogy and family history research, we like to think of ourselves as good thinkers and detectives. Our analytical skills are definitely above average whether we went to school for it or not.

"I don't know" is not the end of the discussion, it is the beginning of the journey for us genealogists and family historians. We will spend years searching and re-searching until 'we do know'. It's what we do. When we are finished (if that's ever possible), we want to present our findings to the world. And that's when the spectre of the Genealogical Proof of Standards rears itself like a three headed monster.

The BCG, or Board of Certified Genealogists, has come up with the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). The GPS consists of five elements:

  • a reasonably exhaustive search;
  • complete and accurate source citations;
  • analysis and correlation of the collected information;
  • resolution of any conflicting evidence; and
  • a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.

If you can do these five steps you are good to go.

At any given time during American Slavery, 10 percent of the African Ancestored people were 'Free Persons of Color'.

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