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Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Another facet of research is that it starts with a goal. The goal may be fairly general. For example it might be to gather information about a certain surname in a certain area and during a certain time period. Often, though, the goal relates to a hypothesis. Goals and Hypotheses In most research a hypothesis […]

Genealogy Literati

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Literati, (plural noun) – well-educated people who are interested in literature. One of the most important things about open research is that it makes it possible not just to check research but to avoid repeating it unknowingly. In science, no one wants to turn in a grant proposal for an experiment only to be informed […]

Holding the Door Open

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

This week, I need to start where I left off last week, with reproducibility. This week comes a facet to research that overlaps greatly with reproducibility—openness. If reproducibility is central to true research, there must be some way to see inside what someone else has done. It must be possible to understand not just the […]

The Genealogists Friend, John Q. Tangential

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

John Q. Tangential is one of my favorite people in genealogy. He married a great-aunt or bought land next to a third cousin once removed. Then he moved west and was found in the census on the same page as another family of interest that wasn’t supposed to be related to him in any way […]

The Hard Part is Knowing What to Leave Out

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

When Steve Jobs passed away a few days ago, the news popped up on my Mac and I read his obituaries online. Somehow that seemed both natural and fitting. There were many, many angles in those obituaries. He was a CEO, technology visionary and showman but what struck me were all the mentions of his […]

DNA—To Inherit or not to Inherit?

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

To pick up where I left off last week, after discussing yDNA and mtDNA, I should go over autosomal DNA, the vast majority of our genetic material. Autosomal DNA Autosomal DNA is a very different story from yDNA and mtDNA. On the plus side, autosomal DNA covers every line of our pedigrees, not just the […]

Holes in my Genes

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Last week’s post started out as just an example to use in a post about DNA in genealogy. The example grew and grew until it became a post of its own, so this week I’ll backtrack and just discuss a bit about DNA. This post has in turn grown out of control and I’ll have […]

Romanov Cocktail

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

On July 19, 1918 at about 2 am, a firing squad left a puzzle for DNA to solve. Over the previous eighteen months, Russia had undergone two revolutions, capitulated to Germany and suffered an ongoing civil war between communist and anti-communist armies. The  first revolution led to the Tsar’s abdication. The second revolution and the […]

School of Hard Knox

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

“Aunt Debbie” has been my nemesis for a while now. I’ve mentioned her before as I’ve tried to decide if she is a red herring or an important clue for a client. I know of her from letters that don’t tell me whose aunt she was, let alone how she might be related to one […]

To confirm or not to Confirm?

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

To confirm or not to confirm? That was not Hamlet’s question, partly because he was pondering weightier matters and partially because people, including presumably even Hamlet, have a very strong tendency to subconsciously choose “confirm.” We simply tend not to ask ourselves my opening question. We tend to confirm. “Confirmation bias” as it is technically […]

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