Scholars and researchers alike have many skills in common. Dealing with sources and sifting some of them carefully is one. As for conclusions that are drawn, it pays to be very careful or guarded. That is common knowledge among scholars and scientists who are not just speculating and fabulating - which may have its uses as well, among other forms of entertainment.
Get apt. Being apt may help learning. It is an overarching concept, and goes into what lots of scholars go for, as 'apt' means proficient or competent, and much else too. There are many sides to aptness, including aptness of study. Apt branches out too.
Study the evidence gathered. Through study we learn how to grade and handle evidence, including what is given in sources, and document them with a measure of competence that is fit for our study.
We often need evidence to maintain our findings. If we lack evidence, maybe we may get some, but it takes much time. Besides, it is often unwise not to take into account the main evidence or even bits of evidence furnished by others - notable others.
Once we have got much evidence, we may need to go through it and sort it to the best of our ability. It often leads us to discard much menial evidence. It may lead to discarding all we once thought was evidence too.
Many sources are mistaken, and some are poorly founded. Deal with it. How? Grade the sources well: Use intrinsic criteria, such as coherence - and outward ones, such as prestige, renown, respectability. Use a blend of intrinsic and outward criteria and learn to sort or grade them up to snuff.
While we adhere to the rigours of scholarly aptness - or better: a scientific aptness which aspires to find out things directly - it happens that we end up with citations that seem neat, but lack much founding. Accepting that, we either shelve them or use that as citations. For it is also a fact of life that what is little documented may prove to be true anyway, and what is not documented at all, later becomes documented, or proved to be mistaken - more or less or wholly, as the case may be.
"What sort of evidence do we have?" often needs to be asked, since all evidence is not much worth, not "good evidence". It may pay to adhere to validity and reliability some way or other (see the synonyms and deduce from apt meanings). We aim at findings that have a sound measure of significance (statistics is for coming up with results that have a certain degree of significance. Then one can assert, "There is something in the claims, something that means anything above mere chance assertions."
As for citations about fairies, Celts and life itself, judge for yourself whether or how far this applies: "Unproven, perhaps, but could be true to life still - more or less, under such and such circumstances."
A full milk pail
One day a youth, Columban by name, when he had finished milking, went to the door of St. Columba's cell carrying the pail full of new milk that, according to custom, the saint might exorcize it.
When the holy man had made the sign of the cross in the air, the air "was greatly agitated, and the bar of the lid, driven through its two holes, was shot away to some distance; the lid fell to the ground, and most of the milk was spilled on the soil."
Then the saint chided the youth, saying: "You have done carelessly in your work today; for you have not cast out the demon that was lurking in the bottom of the empty pail, by tracing on it, before pouring in the milk, the sign of the Lord's cross; and now not enduring, you see, the virtue of the sign, he has quickly fled away in terror, while at the same time the whole of the vessel has been violently shaken, and the milk spilled. Bring then the pail nearer to me, that I may bless it."
When the half-empty pail was blessed, in the same moment it was refilled with milk.
Milk from a bull
At another time, the saint, to destroy the practice of sorcery, commanded Silnan, a peasant sorcerer, to draw a vessel full of milk from a bull; and by his diabolical art Silnan drew the milk.
Then Columba took it and said: "Now it shall be proved that this, which is supposed to be true milk, is not so, but is blood deprived of its colour by the fraud of demons to deceive men; and straightway the milky colour was turned into its own proper quality, that is, into blood."
And it is added that "The bull also, which for the space of one hour was at death's door, wasting and worn by a horrible emaciation, in being sprinkled with water blessed by the saint, was cured with wonderful rapidity."
It is not milk you can draw from a bull. Likewise, it is not good proof you milk out of poor, unfit or irrelevant evidence. Further, it is good to be oriented that fanciful medieval legends of saints pretty often were wilfully exaggerated a whole lot (maybe also into lies) to make impressions on many. Deal with it.
The two Medieval stories are sourced - Adamnan's Life of St. Columba., B II, cc. xvi, xvii. They may not be concocted lies and may not be all true for what we know. It is not always good enough to refer. This is often a problem that scholars try to deal with. For the lack of substantial evidence, we end up with citations - a form of entertainment. Again, even if they seem to go unverified, some could be true all the same, or quite true, or somehow true under given circumstances. It rests on us to find out so as to improve many sides to our living, methinks.
City dwellers have . . . permitted conventionality and unnaturalness to insulate them. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. xxxvii
The mind of the business man in our great cities tends to be obsessed with business affairs . . . the politician's with politics similarly . . . In the slums, humanity is divorced from Nature under even worse conditions. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. xxxviii
If anyone would know Ireland . . . [l]et him dare to. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 2. Abr.
The spirit creatures cannot be stuffed and put into museums, like rare animals and birds. - Douglas Hyde, p. 25
In The Celtic Twilight Mr. [William B.] Yeats makes the statement that the "fairies in Ireland are sometimes as big as we are, sometimes bigger, and sometimes, as I have been told, about three feet high." - W. B. Yeats, p. 242. Early Celts recognized an intimate relationship between man and nature: unperceived by man, unseen forces . . . guided [people]. p. 278
A "tentative position": If we examine all fairy-like beings from a certain superficial point of view, or even from the mythological point of view, it is easy to discern that they are universally credited with precisely the same characters, attributes, actions, or powers as the particular peoples possess who have faith in them . . . p. 281, 282.
A mechanical classification by us is unnecessary. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 18
In most cases, as examination will show, the evidence is so clear that little or no comment is necessary. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 18
Not only do both educated and uneducated Celtic seers so conceive Fairyland, but they go much further, and say that Fairyland actually exists as an invisible world within which the visible world is immersed like an island in an unexplored ocean, and that it is peopled by more species of living beings than this world. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 18
When we hear legendary tales which have never been recorded save in the minds of unnumbered generations of men, we ought not on that account to undervalue them. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 18-19
But the peasant will not be our only teacher, for we shall also hear much of first importance from city folk of the highest intellectual training. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 19
The evidence . . . is presented as discovered. The only liberty taken with some of the evidence has been to put it into better grammatical form, and sometimes to recast an ambiguous statement when I, as collector, had in my own mind no doubt as to its meaning. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 19-20
In no case has testimony been admitted from a person who was known to be unreliable, nor even from a person who was thought to be unreliable. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 20
The ultimate truth . . . may or may not reside in the testimony of sane and thoroughly reliable seer-witnesses. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 21
The best of witnesses, like ourselves, are only human . . . and therefore no claim can be made in any case to infallibility of evidence. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 21
The Fairy-Faith is common to all classes of Celts, we do not state that it is common to all Celts. - W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 22
A NOTE. The tales that Evans-Wentz collected, may be classified as "single cases" one after another - in other words what looks like anecdotal evidence. The experience can make a great impact on those who hold they met a giant, for example, but tales about those experiences usually carry little weight if judged by rigorous scientific standards. They can still be interesting enough to evoke further study. Besides, the entertainment value og good tales may astound.
"But Rocambole was not dead!" is an expression that is still in use. Rocambole is a fictional adventurer created by Pierre Alexis Ponson du Terrail, a 19th-century French writer. We deal with fantastic tales about spirits, such a "Rocambole." There are many who believe in fairies and pixies today also. We may ask elder relatives if they have seen any of the sort, or maybe they tell of their own accord. Go on; look to Scotland and Findhorn too (below). Then we could benefit from learning to deal with the data or lack of it. Books contain hints and main ways of such handling. We may try to apply "A little here, a little there, and adapt to the tales, we find and other issues that could well be at stake.
Bartling, Sönke, and Sascha Friesike. 2014. Opening Science – The Evolving Guide on How the Internet is Changing Research, Collaboration and Scholarly Publishing. Cham, DE: Springer Open.
Blaxter, Loraine, Christina Hughes, and Malcolm Tight. 2006. How to Research. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press.
Bobish, Greg, and Trudi Jacobson, eds. 2014. The Information Literacy: User's Guide. Geneseo, NY: State University of New York.
Bowker, Natilene, ed. 2007. Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing. Palmerston North, New Zealand: Massey University.
Clare, Judith, and Helen Hamilton. 2004. Writing Research: Transforming Data into Text. Reprint ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling. The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. London: H. Froude, 1911. ⍽▢⍽ This book is the source of of what referred to throughout, unless otherwise specified.
Findhorn Community, the. The Findhorn Garden Story. 4th ed. Findhorn Press, 2008 (1st ed. HarperCollins, 1976).
Fulwiler, Toby. 2002. College Writing: A Personal Approach to Academic Writing. 3rd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.
Howe, Stephen, and Kristina Henriksson. 2007. PhraseBook for Writing Papers and Research in English. 4th ed. Cambridge, UK: The Whole World Company Press.
Iacovetta, Franca, and Molly Ladd-Taylor, eds. 2010. Becoming a Historian: A Canadian Manual. Rev. ed. Ottawa: The Canadian Historical Association, the Canadian Committee on Women's History, the AHA Committee on Women Historians, and the American Historical Association.
Kearney, Richard. Modern Movements in European Philosophy. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986.
Lester, James D., and James D. Lester Jr. 2015. Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide. 15th ed. Global ed. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education.
Ling, Charles X., and Qiang Yang. 2012. Crafting Your Research Future: A Guide to Successful Master's and Ph.D. Degrees in Science and Engineering. San Rafael, CA: Morgan and Claypool.
Maclean, Dorothy. To Hear the Angels Sing: An Odyssey of Co-Creation with the Devic Kingdom. Herndon, VA: Lindisfarne Books, 1980.
Miller-Cochran, Susan, Roy Stamper, and Stacey Cochran. 2016. An Insider's Guide to Academic Writing: A Brief Rhetoric. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's.
Modern Language Association. 2009. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.
Murnane, Richard J., and John B. Willett. 2011. Methods Matter: Improving Causal Inference in Educational and Social Science Research. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
Rocco, Tonette S., and Tim Hatcher, eds. 2011. The Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Roush, Karen. 2015. A Nurse's Step-by-step Guide to Writing Your Dissertation or Capstone. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau International.
Rozakis, Laurie. 2007. Schaum's Quick Guide to Writing Great Research Papers.. 2nd ed. London: McGraw-Hill.
Troyka, Lynn Q., and Douglas Hesse. 2009. Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Wallace, Mike, and Alison Wray. 2011. Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Wallwork, Adrian. 2011. English for Writing Research Papers. London: Springer.
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