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JR Olsen

Genealogy and Science

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JR Olsen

I have interest in learning about the science used in Norwegian genealogy. It would be appreciated if someone would post a sampling of Norwegian genealogy containing science, and point out where that science is in the writings.

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Lars Løberg

The best introduction for you to read is probably the late professor Ottar Dahl's article "Genealogi og historieforskning i Norge etter annen verdenskrig". NST 38 (2001 [2002]): 121-128. In his article professor Dahl defines why genalogy is a science, how it is related to history as a science and how modern historians use genealogy as a tool in their studies.

 

In Norway you can also study genealogy at university level. The best place to do so is probably at the regional college of Volda.

 

You will also find usefull information in the guidelines produced by NST for authors wishing to present their studies for fellow researchers for publishing in the journal.

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Ivar S. Ertesvåg

Ottar Dahl has influenced a generation (or two) of history students through, among other, his "Grunntrekk i historieforskningens metodelære", Universitetsforlaget (several editions). Scanned copies of the 1967 and 1973 issues are available at The National Library (www.nb.no) although only for Norwegian IP-addresses.

 

I must make the reservation that it is some time since I read Dahl's article referred above, and that memory can be unreliable (I do not have a copy and the library is closed for the easter holiday). However, as far as I remember the article, it was based on a presumption that method was known and applied, without describing this method in detail.

 

Hence, it will not answer the request made by "JR Olsen".

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JR Olsen

"how it is related to history as a science and how modern historians use genealogy as a tool in their studies."

 

I did not read the material, but I already like the author.

 

The other poster brings up an interesting point. Here is  a question to all. How much room is there in research (history, genealogy) for presumptions, assumptions, opinions, especially when science is applied (or alleged to be applied)?

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Ivar S. Ertesvåg

The other poster brings up an interesting point. Here is  a question to all. How much room is there in research (history, genealogy) for presumptions, assumptions, opinions, especially when science is applied (or alleged to be applied)?

 

The point in my posting was that Dahl referred the reader to previous writings (specifically or generally), including his own book. When something is already written, it is not necessary to repeat it. This is a customary practice in science.

 

A presumption (or expectation) on the readers' previous reading and knowledge is fundamentally different from a presumption or assumption on facts and realities.

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JR Olsen

Although I appreciate your reply, it did nothing to address my question.

 

After reading information on Ottar Dahl, it is obvious that his influences are present in today's Norwegian historians (at least the ones that I had communicated with).

 

I do not know if it is his words or another, but  " collection of data guided by questions". It is important to realize when you read/study the research of another you must keep mind that the author of that research gave himself/herself a limited set of questions. Of course main questions are What do I want to know? and Why do I want to know it?

 

Is the research you are conducting a matter of choice or chance or a combination of the two?

 

Here is a word to contemplate - perspective

 

Perspective changes as one experiences maturity growth. Without the needed quality and quantity of said growth then ones perspective remains the same. It is safe to say that today's human societies have experienced a sufficient amount of perspective maturity growth since the time of their ancestors of long ago. Given that, how reliable is today's research as it pertains to ancient perspectives?


for those who are not interested in posting, here is a mind twister. The words and saying are my creation.

 

Humans are so far removed from their origins that they need only to extend their hand to touch their origins.

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Christian Arentz

Item # 5:

 

I happended to come accross an article (Oct. 1933) that i believe is still very much valid in the US, not so much in Norway, perhaps.

 

The article relates to how much room there is for presumptions, assumptions and opinions. Over there, we frequently used hypotheses testing before entering into a conclusion, and before launching a final theory.

 

 

"in most of the sciences, conclusions are reached only after the collection of all facts which might affect the matter, and after experimentation; which, in genealogy, means the setting up of hypotheses, the testing of these hypotheses by known facts, and the successful elimination of all but one hypothesis, which is then accepted as the only one which fits and explains the facts."

 

http://www.progenealogists.com/exactscience.htm

 

Her hjemme har nok dessverre ordet hypotetisk fått en ufortjent dårlig klang 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ivar S. Ertesvåg

"in most of the sciences, conclusions are reached only after the collection of all facts which might affect the matter, and after experimentation; which, in genealogy, means the setting up of hypotheses, the testing of these hypotheses by known facts, and the successful elimination of all but one hypothesis, which is then accepted as the only one which fits and explains the facts."

 

There is an obvious flaw in this statement: The testing against evidence/data might eliminate all the hypotheses, not only all but one. That is, unless you keep as one of the hypotheses that evidence/data is unsufficient. I seems not clear from this text whether the originator is aware of this.

 

Endret av Ivar S. Ertesvåg

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JR Olsen

Ivar, I suggest you re-read the statement. You have the flaw in misunderstanding the true meaning.

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JR Olsen

Mr Arentz, thank you for the link and other information.

 

Now, one could get into a formal discussion with the fancy words, however, I always keep it at a level for all to understand. Here is what it comes down to...possibility versus probability.

 

1. possibility

2. testing of possibility

3. determining level of probability

4. theory

 

Is my belief correct that Norwegian researchers prefer to ignore possibility and go directly to probability?

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Ivar S. Ertesvåg

Ivar, I suggest you re-read the statement. You have the flaw in misunderstanding the true meaning.

 

I have read and re-read. It still says that the investigator(s) should be left with one of the hypotheses that are set up. Eliminating all hypotheses seems not to be an option. Do you understand it differently?

Endret av Ivar S. Ertesvåg

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JR Olsen

It refers to the strongest one remaining (through the process of elimination )and then further testing is to take place on the remaining one. Against what you have stated, all can not be eliminated.

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Ivar S. Ertesvåg

It refers to the strongest one remaining (through the process of elimination )and then further testing is to take place on the remaining one. Against what you have stated, all can not be eliminated.

 

I can agree if you keep as one of the hypotheses that evidence/data are insufficient.

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JR Olsen

I do believe that they would use/test any data that was deemed insufficient. That would be the only time that all would be eliminated. If they are going to apply all of that attention, time, and effort it would be wise to ensure that the possibilities have enough sufficiency to justify testing.

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Ivar S. Ertesvåg

3. determining level of probability

 

Probability is math and depend on the input data.  In the other thread you used the term, but did apparently not want to explain how you calculated it.

 

You need a lot of data. How do you find such amounts of data in genealogy?

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JR Olsen

Apparently (and I say it respectfully) that you are getting into your personal opinion. Not all probability is based on a mathematical calculation. Well I guess it depends on the depths you wish to travel. Probability vs math is a whole different debate


I respectfully ask are you a historian as oppose to a genealogist. You 'speak' as a historian.

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JR Olsen

Before you come back saying all probability is math, I fully understand that measurement is needed to determine the level of probability. Ok, using the term measurement then yes probability is math. (do not want to get into a useless argument about math). One uses as much data that is available. You appear to be suggesting that only huge amounts of data could be used to make mathematical calculations.

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Ivar S. Ertesvåg

Apparently (and I say it respectfully) that you are getting into your personal opinion. Not all probability is based on a mathematical calculation. Well I guess it depends on the depths you wish to travel. Probability vs math is a whole different debate

I respectfully ask are you a historian as oppose to a genealogist. You 'speak' as a historian.

 

You like to cathegorize people, but refuse to identify yourself. 

Is it respectful to ignore the rules that you accepted when entering this forum?

 

 

 

Before you come back saying all probability is math, I fully understand that measurement is needed to determine the level of probability. Ok, using the term measurement then yes probability is math. (do not want to get into a useless argument about math). One uses as much data that is available. You appear to be suggesting that only huge amounts of data could be used to make mathematical calculations.

 

Although eveyday speach is different, in science (all disciplines and all countries, I would believe), "probability" is a quantity defined in statistics (a branch of mathematics). If you practice your own terminology, you will be misunderstood. When you write such thing as "1% probability" and "99% probability", as you did in the other thread, it will be understood as results from a statistical calculation and you will be expected to describe these calculations.

 

Calculations can be done on a small amount of data, but statistical calculations (e.g. probability) require large amounts of data to be valid.

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David Widerberg Howden

I will be following your post, as I think its interesting.. But as Ivar pointed out in your other thread its hard to see how you go from the primary sources to your conclusions, without using statistics and calculations.. Mathematical calculations is something that I simply don't trust in genealogy without other theories backing it up. An equation/statistics can be used to prove anything you want, its just a matter of how much data you have available (or want to use). But I will try to understand your view..

 

Since you asked Ivar, it would be wise to present yourself first, are you a genealogist/historian/scientist/etc..

My profession is craftsman: Joiner/carpenter. But I have a bachelors degree in Cultural heritage & Conservation, studied Cultural history

and now studies Bachelor in Buildings conservation. So I speak as a craftsman who wants solid proof, a conservator who is interested in 

primary sources and interpretation, a cultural historian who is interested in the individuals, the cultural and social context of genealogy.

And as a genealogist I like to connect individuals together in a historical context.

 

To me this research paper by Jo Rune Ugulen: www.ub.uit.no/ansatte/jorune/Avhandlingrevidert.pdf is a great example of good research...

 

Endret av David Widerberg Howden

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JR Olsen

David, your comments are respectful, so I will address them (or attempt to)

 

As for myself, I do not like labels. I am far from being a scientist. I am insulted when referred to as a historian. If you prefer a label, then I am a researcher (as oppose to a person who did research).

 

You and Ivar appear to have a lot of focus on math, calculations, statistics. Research does not revolve solely around them. Yes, it could be argued that everything involves math. If (and I say this respectfully) the main focus or approach to history/genealogy in Norway is based solely on stats and calculations then I can see where the problem is located. It baffles me when you and others say that my research appears to be all about stats and calculations. To come up with such things as percentages, then yes they are used.

 

My research involved gathering all needed (and perhaps not needed as well) information, analyzing the information one thread at a time, placing information in proper categories (geography, kinship, association, land occupations, and others). Each sub-group received further analysis...

 

I may have just thought of an easier explanation (hopefully). As I mentioned, I analyzed one thread at a time. Now, imagine this, each thread is of one solid color, but not all threads are the same color. I grouped the threads based on their color. I examined each thread closely for any and all weaknesses and strengths. After that process was complete, I then experimented to see how different colored threads fused together or refused to fuse together.....I will stop here to see if your can grasp this.

 

I believe that this statement is necessary.....The vast majority of the English words/wordings by Norwegians are understood, but at times it is difficult to understand due to the style used. The Norwegian language (as well as all languages) has its own style. When that style is used with English text, it gives an appearance of words being forced together without any logic. The initial exchanges with Lars Loberg had that appearance. I started to believe that Lars was an idiot, but then I compared the two languages and realized what the problem was. As it turns out Lars is not an idiot (humour). It is certain that Norwegians, at times, have difficulty understanding my (English) style of text.

Endret av JR Olsen

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JR Olsen

David, I re-read your post. In it you said " in your other thread its hard to see how you go from the primary sources to your conclusions, without using statistics and calculations". I am glad that you said that. Now, I understand where the problem is as it pertains to Norwegians understanding (or not) my research. On the flip side, I can not understand how you and others can come to that conclusion. Will you provide more details?

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Ivar S. Ertesvåg

You and Ivar appear to have a lot of focus on math, calculations, statistics. Research does not revolve solely around them.

After all, the one that brought the mathematical terms and numerical quantities into focus was.... you.

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Jonas Jonsson

 

.

Endret av Jonas Jonsson

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JR Olsen

Ivar, once again I suggest your re-read. I did not bring it into focus. The focus on math is owned by you and others.

 

When statements are made that books/articles/whatever contain "scientific proof" is the focus on math? Do Norwegians depend on math for scientific proof, always?


Jonas Jonsson, twice you posted and then deleted. Say what you want.

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Ivar S. Ertesvåg

Ivar, once again I suggest your re-read. I did not bring it into focus. The focus on math is owned by you and others.

 

 

I can read....  In posting #10 of this thread, you intended to change the focus of the discussion. Among the few things you then brought into focus was the mathematical term "probability".  Also in the first posting of the other thread, percentage probabilities had a key role.

 

If you were not interested in the math, why did you bring it into the discussion?

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