Genealogical research is an uncovering of truths as they apply to your life, others’ lives, the past and the future. There never truly is a single answer to what happened, how it came to be, and what was best or worst. The options and answers are often many, complex and perhaps even indeterminate. Inter-dependencies, inter-relationships abound. However, applying the rule of six can be a useful tool in helping you attain insights into the past you might otherwise miss.
What follows is a brief description of the Rule of Six by Paula Underwood Spencer:
One of the attitudes taught in my [Oneida] tradition is the Rule of Six. The Rule of Six says that for each apparent phenomenon, devise at least six plausible explanations, every one of which can indeed explain the phenomenon. There are probably sixty, but if you devise six, this will sensitize you to how many there may yet be and prevent you from locking in on the first thing that sounds right as The Truth.
But your task isn’t over yet. Because you can’t just float on a multiple option basis. Now your task is to apply your life experience, which is unique to yourself, and use it as a base to evaluate each of those options. Now you assign a probability factor. That probability factor can never be 100% . . . and absolutely never zero.
You keep a floating attitude toward life, but you constantly know where you are in that context. [...]
If you are courageous and flexible enough to follow Paula’s advice, you will learn more than you can ever imagine about your past, your family, and perhaps even a little bit about how things became as they are…