Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The perfect is the enemy of the good . . . and of the getting published

From my new talk, "Why We Don't Write and How We Can" (which is a larger first cousin of my 2012 blog post of similar title):

We genealogists are already trained to be more picky and more detail-minded than normal people, but this good habit can turn against us and strangle our own work if we're not careful. Eventually we have to learn that a "reasonably exhaustive search" that the Genealogical Proof Standard calls for is not the same as an [impossible] "exhaustive search." Similarly, a "soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion" is not the same as an [impossible] "irrefutably reasoned, perfectly written conclusion." In both cases it can take a while, but we need to realize that we are looking for something that is good enough to meet standards, as opposed to perfect.

If you want to hear the rest, show up at the Monroe County Public Library in Bloomington, Indiana, tomorrow afternoon, or at the New England Regional Genealogy Consortium in Providence, Rhode Island, Friday, April 17, 2015. (And if you're wondering, yes, it was proposed for NGS in May 2015, but not accepted.)

Harold Henderson, "The perfect is the enemy of the good...and of the getting published," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 14 October 2014 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

1 comment:

Geolover said...

Well said, Harold.

Furthermore, inability to document one part of a person's life-path does not necessarily invalidate writing proofs for what has been found. E.g., if a relative was dropped off by aliens in 1729 in Delaware, one must begin with what can be discovered.