Applying Occam's Razor

+9 votes

laugh Enthusiasm is all very fine, wonderful even, but it can be overwhelming and when combined with rampant speculation ...
It is ASSUMED that Winnie Elizabeth Clanton's maiden name was AUTRY. Nary a shred of evidence to support that.
Her mother's maiden name was thought to be Autry and indeed was Autry on the marriage record. 
There is no evidence so far collected to indicate that Winnie Elizabeth Clanton, reported daughter of Nathaniel and Martha (Autry) Clanton, was ever surnamed anything at birth other than Clanton. 
And until and unless someone can provide evidence that it was as MRS Marha (unknown) Autry married 2nd to Nathaniel Clanton, and brought along her daughter by her 1st husband ... 
I applied Occam's Razor to this ... and stated it in the profile for Winnie Elizabeth (Clanton) Clanton because I truly believe that in this particular case Occam's Razor is warranted. 

I can with confidence state that due to the diligence and remarkable talents of Cousin Mickey Riley Jr I now know "things" about this particular branch of Clanton ... and I will be finding out more after tracking down the Census for Winnie  

THE POINT being it is sometimes warranted for a PM to apply Occam's Razor 

WikiTree profile: Elizabeth Cason
in The Tree House by Susan Smith G2G6 Pilot (581k points)

2 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
Good job on using the proper meaning of the term.  Often folks think it means the simplest answer is the best.  Actually, since it says of two competing hypotheses the one with fewer assumptions is more LIKELY the correct, it provides no answer at all rather simply an heuristic.  As it is merely an heuristic, anything based on it should be in the RESEARCH section rather than the BIO section IMHO.
by Thom Anderson G2G6 Mach 6 (60.2k points)
selected by Susan Smith
+3 votes

I'm occasionally doing something similar, like with the profile of the 9 year old kid Kari Abrahamsdatter. Although I don't explicitly invoke Occam's Razor, it's indeed the rule that I'm following.

I agree with Thom that such discussions don't belong in the Biography section, but rather in the Research Notes section. I'm using that header whenever there's anything queer going on, such as conflicting evidence.

by Leif Biberg Kristensen G2G6 Pilot (130k points)

Related questions

+11 votes
3 answers
+4 votes
2 answers
+4 votes
1 answer
136 views asked Jan 4, 2016 in Genealogy Help by Michael Hruska G2G6 Mach 5 (53.4k points)
0 votes
2 answers
+1 vote
1 answer
115 views asked Nov 4, 2019 in Genealogy Help by Susan Smith G2G6 Pilot (581k points)
+9 votes
1 answer
+20 votes
7 answers
+2 votes
0 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright