Monday, September 17, 2018

Kickin' it with W. I. B. Beveridge and Jack White

"Freeing my mind of all thoughts of the problem I walked briskly down the street, when suddenly at a definite spot which I could locate to-day---as if from the clear sky above me----an idea popped into my head as emphatically as if a voice had shouted it."
"I decided to abandon the work and all thoughts relative to it, and then, on the following day, when occupied in work of an entirely different type, an idea came to mind as suddenly as a flash of lightening and it was the solution . . . the utter simplicity made me wonder why I hadn't thought of it before."
"The idea came with such a shock that I remember the exact position quite clearly."
W. Platt and R. A. Baker, "The Relationship of the Scientific 'Hunch' Research," J. chem. Educ., (1969): 8. As quoted from pp 68-69 in the chapter, Intuition, W. I. B. Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1957).

Some of the best analytical thinkers are genealogists. When they are impassioned and fixated on a problem, they will walk circles around it for years, trying to find a solution to a genealogical question. I really enjoyed Beveridge's book The Art of Scientific Investigation for this and many reasons.

This resource was in the bibliography of both a Tom Jones chapter in Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice and Standards and in Robert Anderson's Elements of Genealogical Analysis and when you see resources and references shared by two great analytical minds in genealogy, you ought to follow up and study.

The chapters in this book are preparation, experimentation, chance, hypothesis, imagination, intuition, reason, observation, difficulties, strategy, and scientists. My personal favorite chapters are preparation (because creating an inventory is something smart people do) and chance (all genealogists gamble a little!). The fact that a chapter on imagination is even in the book is inspiring. There needs to be more imagination in genealogy.

This summer, I have been enjoying the new Jack White album, Boarding House Reach. If the song, "Corporation" don't get you moving, then nothing will. See if you can walk a problem out.

W. I. B. Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation. Reprint! And here.

Jack White, Boarding House Reach (2018).