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Genealogical Fallacies

This page describes common errors in genealogical research and how to avoid them.


Definition: Fallacy = Falling into a fallacious conclusion


These fallacies often arise because novice genealogists fail to consider

Fallacy Types

Here are a few of the types of fallacies that seem to be commonly found.

Everyone with my surname is related to me.

For some (a few) names, this may be true. For most common names, it's not.

Two people with the same name are the same person.

The technical term for this fallacy is "confabulation", a sort of "squishing together" of two separate people.

Everyone in the world is related to everyone else.

True, if at all, only in the most general sense. And, since genealogy relies on written records to document relationships, any family ties

If it's published, it must be true.

This fallacy isn't restricted to the Internet, where we can find misinformation galore, but also books. In some case, the older the book the more likely it is to contain misstatements of fact.