Modern Software Experience




There is increasing interest in my articles about scientific genealogy. I've provided a list of articles, links with some comments, to several correspondents. This article is an expansion of that. It is a quick introduction and an overview of the articles about or related to scientific genealogy.

Traditional Genealogy

Traditional genealogy is dishonest. Not only is it rife with vague and ill-defined concepts, it is also based on a simplistic worldview, dogmas that conflict with each other, muddy reasoning and a seriously confused notion of what constitutes proof. Its conceptual basis consists of ambiguous everyday words and deliberately dishonest conventions of polite society.
To be blunt: traditional genealogy is nonsense. Traditional genealogy is genealogy done wrong. It needs to be replaced by a scientific approach.

Scientific Genealogy

Scientific genealogy is genealogy done with scientific honesty and clarity of thought. It uses solid reasoning around well-defined concepts. It has a conceptual basis in the Genealogy Framework, which provides a scientifically accurate worldview, free from inherited dogmas and cultural conventions. It embraces the scientific notion of proof that rejects invalid reasoning. It is a replacement for traditional genealogy, yet does not require that we throw all existing genealogies away.


One issue with traditional genealogy is that it uses vague and ill-defined concepts that different practitioners understand differently. A scientific approach requires clear, well-understood terminology. The section on terminology provides an exhaustive list of articles about terminology.

I recommend starting with What is Genealogy? first to get you thinking about what genealogy is and is not.
It is not necessary to read any of the articles about terminology first, but it may be helpful to read the articles on vital events and records, to be aware how oddly inconsistent traditional definitions and usage are, and learn the crystal clear definitions used within scientific genealogy.

The article Adoption in Genealogy discusses how think about and handle adoption in genealogy, without specific reference to scientific genealogy. It continues discussion of what genealogy is, by discussing how to deal with adoption in genealogy. It discusses treatment of adoption in reports; whether to include adoptees in reports, whether to indicate adoptees when you do include them, and whether adoption requires special reports.
Its central message is that adoption isn't a special case, but a common occurrence and should be treated as such. This can be understood as a requirement that a conceptual framework for genealogy has to meet.

Genealogical Principle: Facts discusses treatments of facts; a baptism record isn't a birth records. It introduces the concept of the primary and secondary events. For our earliest ancestors, secondary events are often the only primary information we have. Facts should be respected, none should be made up. Secondary events do not deserve second-rate treatment.

Genealogy Framework

What is Genealogy? gets you thinking about what genealogy is and is not.
Two Genealogical Dogmas continues where What is Genealogy? left of; it points out that dogmatically held traditional ideas about what genealogy is and how genealogy is done are not compatible with each other, but in conflict with each other; official records aren't biology. It presents an heretical solution out of this dogmatic dilemma; Two Genealogical Dogmas introduces the radical idea that you have more than one genealogy.

A Framework for Classical Genealogy introduces the Classical Genealogy Framework; a conceptual framework for classical genealogy (genealogy without the complications introduced by medical technology) that does away with the dishonesty inherent in traditional genealogy. This Genealogy Framework provides the conceptual basis for scientific genealogy.
The Classical Genealogy Framework recognises three related but different genealogies, a biological genealogy, an official genealogy and a legal genealogy. It discusses how these relate to each other, to official records, and to family history.

Simplistic Genealogy contrast scientific genealogy with traditional genealogy by comparing the Classical Genealogy Framework with the simplistic worldview of traditional genealogy. It points out that scientific genealogy does not only provide a sound solution to the problems of traditional genealogy, but does so without throwing our genealogical legacies away; well-documented traditional genealogies are legal genealogies.

Applying the Classical Genealogy Framework explores what the Classical Genealogy Framework means in practice by exploring how some issues fit in the framework; family history, adoption, guardianship and same-sex marriages. It notes that the framework is consistent, it is not influenced by and does not favour any political notion, religion or personal preference; a particular type of genealogy always includes or never includes particular facts or relationships simply because it is associated with particular record types.
The Classical Genealogy Framework provides many benefits over traditional genealogy; one interesting property is that the official and legal genealogy remain stable in the face of discoveries about bloodlines.

Traditional Genealogy Software points out that all existing software and genealogical standards are still based on the dishonest notion of traditional genealogy that there is just one genealogy; the mistaken idea that the biological, official and legal genealogy are the same. Traditional software and standards offer only superficial support for events and relationships that do not fit that simplistic model. This mistaken approach to genealogy is most evident in the limited reporting capabilities. What is needed is a second generation of genealogy standards and software and based on the Genealogy Framework.

Researching Biological Genealogy outlines how the Classical Genealogy Framework supports research into biological genealogy, something that traditional genealogy does not support at all. This discussion of how biological proof fits into the framework illustrates how different scientific genealogical thinking is from traditional genealogical thinking. Scientific genealogy does not disregard official genealogy, but uses it as the stable backbone for research into biological genealogy. Traditional genealogists experience biological discoveries as negative events that strip them of many ancestors, scientific genealogists experience it as positive event that progresses their research into biological genealogy, without affecting their official genealogy. Scientific genealogy requires second generation genealogy to support this research process.


A basic tenet of science is that you need clear, unambiguous terminology to communicate. The Genealogy Framework provides a clear conceptual framework, but does not fix all existing terminology. Several articles address usage and abusage, as well as vague and ambiguous definitions. Some of these have more bearing on how scientific genealogy is different from traditional genealogy than others.

The Ahnen Ahnung series consist of four articles. The first three articles explain ahnentafel, ahnenlist and ahnen numbering respectively. Those first three articles provides clear examples for each concepts, including the original ahnentafel, and the final article cites many sources to discuss the existing confusion.

There are two articles about vital events and records. The first one discusses the oddly inconsistent definitions of vital records in traditional genealogy, including the abusage of vital records to mean either BMD records or civil records. The second one discusses the crystal clear meaning of vital event in scientific genealogy, relates vital events to civil status, and makes some observation of secondary events.

What is Genealogy? discusses existing definitions of genealogy and what's wrong them. It makes you think about what genealogy is and is not, and that makes it a good lead-in to the articles about scientific genealogy.
A Framework for Classical Genealogy defines multiple genealogies.

Software and Standards

A Framework for Classical Genealogy introduces the Classical Genealogy Framework. This provides conceptual clarity and the basic notions that scientific genealogy software and standards must be based on.

Simplistic Genealogy discusses major issues with traditional genealogy. Applying the Classical Genealogy Framework explores some issues that show the benefits of the framework. Traditional Genealogy Software discusses major limitations of traditional genealogy software and standards, and concludes that we need a second generation of genealogy software and standards.

The Core of Genealogy explains why placing the placement of the traditional nuclear family at the core of a genealogical model, as GEDCOM does and many traditional genealogy applications do, is wrong. The core of genealogy is formed by individuals and their relationships to each other.


2010-10-12 The Core of Genealogy

Add The Core of Genealogy, and referenced it in the Software and Standards Section.



Genealogy Framework

software and standards



vital events

Ahnen Ahnung series