About Amerisurv| Contact    
Magazine | Newsletter    
Flickr Photos | Advertise    
HomeNewsNewsletterAmerisurv DirectoryJobsStoreAuthorsHistoryArchivesBlogVideosEvents
 
advertisement


Subscriptions
Sponsored By

Software Reviews
Continuing Series
     RTN
An RTN expert provides everything you need to know about network-corrected real-time GNSS observations.
Click Here to begin the series,
or view the Article PDF's Here
76-PageFlip Compilation
of the entire series
Test Yourself

Got Answers?
Test your knowledge with NCEES-level questions.
  Start HERE
Meet the Authors
Check out our fine lineup of writers. Each an expert in his or her field.
Wow Factor
Sponsored By


Product Reviews
Partner Sites

machinecontrolonline 


lbszone.com

GISuser.com

GeoJobs.biz

GeoLearn

 

Spatial Media LLC properties

Associates

ASPRS

newsnow 

Home arrow Archives   The American Surveyor     

Thought Leader: Facts are Facts Print E-mail
Written by Robert W. Foster, PE, PS   
Friday, 24 March 2017

A 83Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

One of the strangest issues to appear during this very strange political season is the concept of alternative facts. Pundits and commentators have had fun with this one and reputations have been permanently affected.

I am inclined to give the author of this term a little slack. I expect that what she meant was alternative understanding or interpretation of facts. Surveyors are well aware of the distinction. We deal with facts in our profession and we know that what qualifies us as professionals is the ability to examine and evaluate the facts contained in the ubiquitous field handbook, or the memory of a data collector, at the end of every property survey.

We (and the Law) understand that our field crew personnel can collect, exhibit, even testify as to the existence of the facts, but that only a licensed professional surveyor can testify as to the meaning of those facts. The assortment of apparent evidence including pipes, pins, points, stones and stumps must be evaluated against the record to determine relevance: Is that iron pipe really at the parcel corner or is it merely a left-over horse shoe pit? Is that oblong piece of granite a property corner or is it merely a left-over from the most recent glacial age? That those items are there is important; determining their significance is even more important.

A dictionary definition of the word is a thing that has actually happened or that is really true. Surely, a politician and a politician's spokes-person, professionals just like us, do understand the meaning.

Speaking of the Law ...

Black's Law Dictionary devotes over 6 column inches to the subject of facts. Under Evidence it is explained as "... a physical object or appearance, as it usually exists or existed. An actual and absolute reality, as distinguished from mere supposition or opinion." Absoluteness pretty much rules out the possibility of alternativeness.

Under a different heading it is explained that "Fact questions and their finding are generally not appealable though rulings of law are appealable." On the contrary, the pundits and commentators are regularly appealing the `facts' being offered up for argument these days.

Black's mentions a handy and timely device, the Fact finding board: "A group or committee appointed by business or government to investigate and report facts concerning some event or situation." This could be an important institution today and most of the major newspapers have their own fact-checkers. On the other hand the newspapers have been roundly accused of distorting the truth. Who to believe?!

There may be no such thing as alternative facts, but the Law seems to recognize fabricated facts. Black's explains this phenomena as follows: "In the law of evidence, a fact existing only in statement, without any foundation in truth." This is easily understood, but the Law being the Law, the subject becomes more complex with the following: "An actual or genuine fact to which a false appearance has been designedly given ..." which may be close to what is happening in the political discourse these days.

Paralogism is a word in logic meaning reasoning contrary to the rules of logic. It may be an explanation for what we are seeing and hearing but fortunately there is no place for it in the world of the professional surveyor.

Robert W. Foster, PS, PE, of Hopkinton, MA, is in private practice, offering professional consulting services nationally in arbitration, dispute resolution and litigation involving surveying and civil engineering issues. He is past president of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG).

A 83Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

 
< Prev   Next >

 American Surveyor Recent Articles
Editorial 
Thought Leader: Land is Too Important to Be Left to Land Specialists
A while back I was searching the Internet for an old treatise on land titles. A Google query yielded a book published in 1914. The author was Charles Claudius Kagey and the book was titled "Land Survey and Land Titles, a book for boys and girls, a reference volume for property owners, a text ....
Read the Article
Jason E. Foose, PS 
Decided Guidance: Wacker vs. Price - Irony in Sevenfold
This month's case takes us to Phoenix, Arizona in 1950. The Arizona Supreme Court went all guns-a-blazin' in Wacker vs. Price (216 P.2d 707 (Ariz. 1950)). Maybe it's just me, but I'm sensing plenty of irony and have taken license to point it out along the way. I like what the Court did with this case ....
Read the Article
Allen E. Cheves 
Around the Bend - A Visit to Carlson Software
The Ohio River is one of America's greatest, running near 1,000 miles between Pittsburgh and the Mighty Mississippi. Much of the coal and other products that fueled our nation's industrial expansion flowed between the shores of this maritime ....
Read the Article
Lee Lovell, PS 
Surveying & Mapping Economics Part 3 - Customers & Services
This article continues an inquiry into the economic conditions of the Surveying and Mapping industry (NAICS 541370) using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This time we will look at customers and services. The data comes from the Economic Census conducted every 5 years on American ....
Read the Article
Jerry Penry, PS 
True Elevation: Black Elk Peak
Black Elk Peak, located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, is the state's highest natural point. It is frequently referred to as the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Two other peaks, Guadalupe Peak in Texas and ....
Read the Article
Larry Trojak 
Bringing The Goods - Mobile Scanning an Integral Component
When Jim Smith, Jerrad Burns and Charlie Patton left the Memphis division of a major construction company in 2015, they took with them the knowledge of how to get even the most complex jobs done and what equipment could best serve them in making that happen. So when they joined West ....
Read the Article
 
Lee Lovell, PS 
Test Yourself 41: Integers, Integers, and Integers
ABF is a 5:12:13 triangle, ACF is a 48:55:73 triangle, ADF is a 3:4:5 triangle, and AEF is a 7:24:25 triangle, all with integer sides and inscribed in a semi-circle. What are the lengths of BC, CD, and DE? ....
Read the Article
Wendy Lathrop, PS, CFM 
Vantage Point: Sunset or Sunrise?
While we often think of legislated government programs as static, they do change over time. Such evolution and opportunity for transformation are part of the dialogue in reauthorizing these programs. Every so many years there is a sunset on each government program, and this September is the ....
Read the Article
 

deliciousrssnewsletterlinkedinfacebooktwitter

Amerisurv Exclusive Online-only Article ticker
Featured Amerisurv Events
List Your Event Here
please
contact Amerisurv


Google
 
AMERISURV TOP NEWS

JAVAD Intros
Spoofer Buster

GOT NEWS? Send To
press [at] amerisurv.com
Online Internet Content

Sponsor


News Feeds

 
Subscribe to Amerisurv news & updates via RSS or get our Feedburn
xml feed

Need Help? See this RSS Tutorial

Historic Maps
Careers

post a job
Reach our audience of Professional land surveyors and Geo-Technology professionals with your GeoJobs career ad. Feel free to contact us if you need additional information.

 

Social Bookmarks

Amerisurv on Facebook 

Amerisurv LinkedIn Group 

Amerisurv Flickr Photos 

Amerisurv videos on YouTube 

twitter

 




The American Surveyor © All rights reserved / Privacy Statement
Spatial Media LLC
905 W 7th St #331
Frederick MD 21701
301-620-0784
301-695-1538 - fax