Modern Software Experience

2010-08-15

genealogy

You have more than one genealogy. That may seem a genealogical heresy, but heresy is just another word for truth that conflicts with dogmatically held beliefs.

dogma

You have more than one genealogy. That may seem a genealogical heresy, but heresy is just another word for truth that conflicts with dogmatically held beliefs.

The reigning genealogical dogma is that you have just one ancestry; you have two parents, they each have two parents, and so on, and that is your ancestry. Most genealogist agree with that. In fact, as What is Genealogy showed, many more or less authoritive sources even define genealogy that way.

Another genealogical dogma, strongly held by those who aspire to some standard of professionalism in genealogical research and publication, is that you must proof your genealogy through official documents. You build your genealogy using the birth, marriage and death certificates, census records and so on.

Most genealogists agree with both dogmas. That is odd, as those two dogmas are not compatible with each other, but in conflict with each other.

Official records aren't biology.

conflict

Most genealogists are well aware that the officially recorded father is not always the biological father. Estimates about how often mothers lie about the identity of the father of their children vary, but disagreements about the actual percentage aside, fact is most genealogist would laugh when someone claimed that the official records always document the biological father.
They would laugh when someone explicitly made such a claim, but at the same time belief those two incompatible dogmas, that can only seem compatible to them by implicitly making that laughable assumption. Official records aren't biology.

The chance that a well-documented genealogy matches the biological reality reduces with every child-parent relationship added to it; the larger the genealogy, the smaller that chance. Although each individual parent-child relationship has a high probability of being correct, the chance that a medium size genealogy matches biological facts is practically zero.

more than one

The solution for this problem is simple; you have more than one genealogy. You have a biological genealogy. Your biological genealogy fits the blood-line definitions of genealogy. You also have an official genealogy, that is the genealogy evident from official records. Generally, those two genealogies are not the same.

You have more than one genealogy, because there is more than one kind of genealogy. One dogma is true for biological genealogies, the other is true for official and legal genealogies. They are never true at the same time for the same genealogy. Which one is true depends on the type of genealogy.

Most genealogists do not perform blood tests, but peruse official documents. They aren't biologists, but historians.

genealogies

Most genealogists do not perform blood tests, but peruse official documents. They aren't biologists, but historians. Most genealogists do not research bloodlines, but legal lines.
That genealogists generally research legal genealogies is just fine; a legal genealogy is an excellent basis for family history.

Most published genealogical are neither biological genealogies nor official genealogies. Most published genealogies are merely approximations of legal genealogies. How well a published genealogy approximates the legal genealogy depends on the quality of the research.
Even a top-notch official genealogy isn't a biological genealogy. Official records aren't biology.

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