On 5/30/06, Ray Saintonge <saintonge(a)telus.net>
That's a great example of a non sequitur.
It's usefulness won't be
established by choosing one of the most common names as a straw man.
Once you've established that a person lived at a particular address his
continuing appearance in the phone books for a 15 year period is
evidence that he may have lived there for that 15 years. Whether any
information source will be useful depends on what we are trying to do
with it. Why dismiss it prematurely?
What did I do to deserve having the word "straw man" thrown at me?
You extrapolated the frequency of the name "Ng" in the Melbourne
directory as an argument to prove the much broader hypothesis that phone
books are not valid sources. That name was the straw man. Choosing a
much rarer name may have resulted in the quite different conclusion that
a phone book is _sometimes_ a valid source. If among all those Ngs
there is only one Egg Foo Ng it might still be useful there. And we
haven't even mentioned the usefulness of the yellow pages in
establishing the existence of a business over a time frame.