Inquiry Analysis Collision Fact vs Fiction


Status
Not open for further replies.
Jul 14, 2000
741
20
263
It might be helpful if we all go through the testimony of a few key individuals regarding the helm commands and engine commands at the time of the collision. This way we can all get a clear idea of who said what, and what were the circumstances surrounding that individual. Hopefully this will allow us to highlight what testimony was based on fact, and what was more or less fiction.

In order to do this in an organized manner, I suggest we take one person's testimony at a time and go through it line by line together, and then agree on a summary of highlights from that person. We can then assign that person's testimony a level of confidence based on how much of what they said withstands our scrutiny. From there, we can arrange all the key people's testimonies in an order of reliability from most reliable to least reliable. Finally, we should be able to put some kind of most likely scenario together based on the most reliable sources, regarding how the ship was steered and how the engines were run during the collision.

Although I doubt we will be able to put together a complete picture of events, by following this methodology, hopfully we can at least establish a clearer, agreed upon basis of known events. Then of course we can debate the missing pieces to the puzzle.

I suggest we start with the testimony of Quartermaster Alfred Olliver, as his observations are being currently debated on another thread here. Then, as time and interest allow, I suggest we continue with:
2. Lookout Frederick Fleet
3. Lookout Reginald Lee
4. Greaser Frederick Scott
5. Qtmst Hichens
6. 4th Officer Boxhall
7. Qtmst Rowe
8. --open--
9. --open--
10.--open--

Of course any others with key observations can be included in turn, but I must point out that the key to doing this right is to go over each person's testimony one at a time so as not to loose focus of our goal. Which is to analyse, and rate each person's reliability in order. So while we may draw upon isolated parts of other people's testimony, or other known discoveries to corroborate the subject testimony, we must not let ourselves get distracted into debating tangents. We should avoid having more than one person's testimony under scrutiny at a time is what I'm trying to say. Each will get there due time in the spotlight.

This could take some time to do it right, and will require the ongoing input of our more learned members. Therefore, if after some time interest in this endeavor wanes or it becomes clearly mired due to other obstacles, I will suggest we call it off until it can be given due effort. Only that way can we arrive with a final product that all can support as legitimate.

I'll start us off with my next post, and from that we'll begin the analysis.

Yuri
 
Jul 14, 2000
741
20
263
Reliability Score Sheet:

Ex. Subject Name

Factuality Score: >90%, 70-90%, 50-70%, <50%
(meaining how much of what they say is proven to be factually correct based on reliable corroboration or other evidence)

Integrity Score: >90%, 70-90%, 50-70%, <50%
(meaning how much of the collision event is represented in their testimony, or how many gaps of time, or other gaps of key events exist in in their testimony)

Reliability Score: 0 - 100
(subjective, based on consensus of group)

Special Comments:
(qualifying statements, protests, or other important things that need to be taken along with the given scores)


******************** ******************** *********
1. Qtmst Olliver
Factuality:
Integrity:
Reliability:
Special Comments:



2. Lookout Frederick Fleet
Factuality:
Integrity:
Reliability:
Special Comments:




3. Lookout Reginald Lee
Factuality:
Integrity:
Reliability:
Special Comments:




4. Greaser Frederick Scott
Factuality:
Integrity:
Reliability:
Special Comments:




5. Qtmst Hichens
Factuality:
Integrity:
Reliability:
Special Comments:




6. 4th Officer Boxhall
Factuality:
Integrity:
Reliability:
Special Comments:




7. Qtmst Rowe
Factuality:
Integrity:
Reliability:
Special Comments:



8. --open--
Factuality:
Integrity:
Reliability:
Special Comments:

9. --open--
Factuality:
Integrity:
Reliability:
Special Comments:

10.--open--
Factuality:
Integrity:
Reliability:
Special Comments:
 
Jul 14, 2000
741
20
263
Testimony of Alfred Olliver at US Inquiry
Part 1

Senator BURTON. What is your name?
Mr. OLLIVER. Alfred Olliver.

Senator BURTON. How old are you?

Mr. OLLIVER. Twenty-eight next 6th of June.

Senator BURTON. How long have you been a sailor?

Mr. OLLIVER. I have been a sailor ever since I was 16.

Senator BURTON. Navy or merchant marine?

Mr. OLLIVER. Both.

Senator BURTON. How long in the Navy?

Mr. OLLIVER. Seven years.

Senator BURTON. You were first on duty in the Navy?

Mr. OLLIVER. I was in the Navy first, and then I came into the merchant marine afterwards.

Senator BURTON. What was your position on the boat?

Mr. OLLIVER. Quartermaster.

Senator BURTON. Where were you when the collision occurred?

Ok, lets analyze this first introductory part of his testimony.

He's almost 28 years old, having spent 7 years in the British Navy, and afterward about 5 years in the merchant marine service. Now he's a quartermaster with WSL.

Pretty straightforward stuff here, I see no points for contention or factual errors. He is what he is.

This section is now open for comment.



**Does everyone accept the format presented here? I'll present a small section of testimony, and make a brief summary of what I hear being said. Participants can then post thier views on what is being said, and when we are in agreement, we'll move on to the next section. Only when we've received more than three motions to 'move on' will we do so. And once we move on, we can always come back to that section as needed. Finally, I'll post a draft summary of the highlights of this subjects testimony. And we can edit this summary as needed before we go to the next subject. Only after we've received more than three 'Agree's' on the summary will we go on.

Acceptable??

YS
 
Mar 3, 1998
2,745
261
358
Yuri,

I submit that what you propose here is a wasted effort. You include in your equation a subjective value, something based on the consensus of the group. There's a fatal flaw, right there. What will you do with the results? Someone who has a different subjective view will dismiss your rankings (and subsequently, whatever you apply your rankings to) and we'll end up arguing your process rather than the subject at hand. Nice try, but I just don't think it will work in this environment.

Parks
 
Jul 14, 2000
741
20
263
Well, that's dissapointing to hear. Perhaps I'm biting off more than I can chew with this one.
Maybe it would be better if just went through with the exercise on my own, and then posted my own conclusions.

Still, I wish there was a more structure process for studying the relevant testimony. I feel so hindered sometimes when I'm trying to understand the more complex topics, because basic little details keep tripping me up. Like trying to comprehend theoretical physics, without having taken basic Earth science.

Ahh me. This should be a internet tele-course. But then life is never that easy is it. No 'Do It Yourself-Titanic Research Kit', complete with instruction booklet, and batteries included.

So be it. Thanks for your honesty Parks. I'll find another way then.

Yuri
 
Mar 3, 1998
2,745
261
358
Yuri,

I took no pleasure in making my assessment. It has more to do with the way people wage arguments here (as well as on other boards) than with what you were proposing. I just don't see any way of getting everyone to agree to one standard.

But maybe I'm too pessimistic. You should solicit others' opinions and capture a norm.

Parks
 
Sep 12, 2000
1,513
6
313
Yuri, I agree with Parks, I think your concept is great and folks will watch and observe, but in the end, it would produce a subjective side to the results and there's the rub. But I think it has great possibilities!

One other thing to consider is this, you are basing the accuracy on inquiry data that may or may not be what the reports stated originally. The inquiries linked here on the board are great and are as near perfect as possible, but you would do better to read through the text of the actual paper documents line by line to note discrepancies. Please do not get me wrong, these automated versions are wonderful, but they can be transcribed wrong in places.

Is it that people were careless? No, these inquiries were produced, but copies were wired back and forth across the ocean and so there may be versions of the same thing from 1912, but the final official copies would be the ones published by the government.

In the past, I have noted myself that some copies of the inquiries contained places where a foot marker is indicated when it should have been a degrees marker, things like that or a wrong word. But these inquiries we have here are great for checking out things in general, but always check the original source.

Perhaps others have different ideas, but if you wish to do something like this on specific people, I would first research the questions asked of all the crew members. Establish the list of standard questions and note variations. Did varying the question impact the results? Did semantics used possibly impact the resulting answer in some cases? And what questions would "you" have added? And what investigative questions to you need answered for your survey? I would also indicate primary or critical witnesses from White Star and especially the crew members that testified prior to this person's testimony and also note informational impacts to a person's testimony due to what had been published in the press or otherwise made known to the crewman. Also what the crewman's level of knowledge, skills and abilities were.

I would also research and ask what people think that the goals and objectives of the inquiry were and ask if these goals and objectives were accomplished. Then ask to identify key points of testimony, milestones, and key witnesses.

Doing this establishes a constant regarding the questions asked.

Then I would review the standard questions and create natural groupings of the questions and make the listing to be posted.

I would then research the inquiry for other testimony that addressed a question and note it.

Then I would post the crewman's name and "Inquiry Questions- (either UK or US keeping them separate at first) under the crew thread and then post each question put to the crewman under the thread one at a time or in their natural groupings.

A natural grouping of questions could be like the first series of questions posed to the crewmen could be made into a crewman introduction and the purpose of the post, plus what the crewman's position was and what that entailed, years in service, etc. asking if anything additional is known that was not asked of this person and if the answer was consistent with others who answered these questions. Also, ask someone out there to define the position that this person held. What were this crewman's tasks. What shift was this crewman assigned to perform from noon April 14th until the sinking?

The second question should be whether there are any known variations in the text that are known to exist and where are they published. [Note:again I wish to point out, the folks putting the inquiries together are really great about taking advice about their text, but they need to know the source if there is a variance.]

All questions posed to the crewman could be posted one at a time and discussed or like I said in natural groupings. This way it gives people the chance to comment specifically about the question, not a down the road issue.

This way the discussion stays focused on the facts and not whether or not a person was trustworthy. Leave this thread posted for a month and then allow folks to do their own analysis of the critical points made and facts raised. Does this witness provide the first glimpse into something that will be researched through expert testimony later? If so, what is this person's expertise on the topic?

Then I would take the questions and answers, posting results and compare the two inquiries when witnesses testified for each.

When you do the final analysis (and only then), I think it would be interesting to get the rivet counters to post to a seperate thread from the people persons. Even the crew from passenger people should be separated and then see the differences. (hehehehe)

Then publish your results.

I think it is a great idea, hope my thoughts are helpful.

Maureen.
 
Jul 14, 2000
741
20
263
You're right Parks, the method does not fit with this medium. I see the random debate over various topics of testimony going on here daily . I thought I could introduce a little structure to way we discuss things. But then, that's not the point of a message forum is it? This isn't a formal meeting environment with procedures. Its more like a coctail party with mingling guests. Here I was setting up school desks and a chalk board. I got carried away. This forum is not meant to be structured like that.

I intend to go ahead with my idea, but off the board and on my own. Its a big task, as Maureen has pointed out. She is a fountain of knowledge. I take everyone's responses with humility and appreciation. Thanks for your comments Parks, and Maureen.

Yuri
 
Mar 18, 2000
1,384
21
313
Maureen said:

>The inquiries linked here on the board are great and are as near perfect as possible, but you would do better to read through the text of the actual paper documents line by line to note discrepancies. Please do not get me wrong, these automated versions are wonderful, but they can be transcribed wrong in places.

In the past, I have noted myself that some copies of the inquiries contained places where a foot marker is indicated when it should have been a degrees marker, things like that or a wrong word. But these inquiries we have here are great for checking out things in general, but always check the original source.<

Maureen - I and a number of other people have went to great lengths and spent quite a bit of time to correct the online inquiries. And it's an ongoing effort - I know for a fact there are errors that have still not be found. And, we've also found and corrected errors that exist in the original source - so in that sense, we're even better than the original!

Please, if anyone finds errors in the online version - let Rob Ottmers know, thru the e-mail link at the site.
 
Sep 12, 2000
1,513
6
313
Bill,

Honestly, I did not mean any criticism of anyone's work. And I think that this has been brought up before with one of my posts about this. So this will be my last posting on this topic.

My experience with the US Inquiry happened nearly a year ago now and hey maybe all text in that time has been checked and it is now correct. I personally have no way of knowing as I have not even been available to log on here for 8 months of that year's time due to workload.

You and others have gone through a lot of work to do this. My post had nothing to do with the level of quality you or others of your effort you put into this or what is here and available as being anything but great. But Bill, it is an electronic copy of various copies compiled over time and entered, corrections made based on other copies from places. And there are a lot of other copies elsewhere to include paper copies that are not the original. At least this is how the problem was expressed to me. Maybe I got it wrong. But it is as near perfect as anything out there.

Some problems come in when a mere format change makes something a quote and quotation markings are not used. If you do not have an exact photocopy or an original, then how would you know this? And the transcription would not be "wrong" but it would convey the words as a statement and not a quote.

In my opinion, it is only fair that people should be made aware that while yes they can use these resources (any copy) for learning about the inquiries and Titanic because they are great for general knowledge and learning, but if that person is a rivet counter and minces words with folks on threads like the usage of ship versus boat, then that person needs to know actually what was said and not a paraphrase or mutation of a copy of a document.

A while back someone asked me to check some things out, that the ship raised up 15 degrees and not 15 feet. It most liekly has been a year. I also checked some other things as well. But the concern was expressed that if they were going to debate words, then it would be best to work with the most accurate words. I checked the original and the online version contained a mistake.

My only concern is that Yuri is raising the issue of trustworthiness of the words, line by line in what a witness stated. Semantics counts in that level of discussion. Why, because with that may come discussions about what one witness said over another and tehir exact words will come under fire. If they are not using what is considered to be the official transcript then nothing they reach can be taken seriously.

Take notes and discuss, but also recheck the sources, original sources.

How many times on this board have we seen in the distant past where folks relied on others published works totally as a resource only to find that the first book or source was incorrectly quoted or cited?

This has nothing to do with personal criticism of any one's effort, it has to do with Yuri's research and the accuracy that he expects.

That is why I advised him to do the discussion line by line, but have someone with printed copies of the originals in hand to help with any errors. And yes, if they are found, then notify the maintainers of the inquiry online version.

So my post was my attmept at being tactful and advisory at the same time. It was not a criticism of the work these folks did. As I undertand it at the beginning of the project some of the copies of the US inquiry that had been sent overseas were located and used to begin the work.

Basically, while the hearings were being held wired copies were transmitted overseas. Maybe some entity kike our state department was doing this as we were holding British citizens at the time. Maybe this was protocol. I dop not know why it was done, but they were informational only and not official releases of transcripts.

If this is true, there may be errors in copies that folks believe to be exact copies of what was produced when it is not the official copy.

Again, I believe that everyone working on the project has done a great job and I myself am grateful for it being here as my copy of the inquiry is quite difficult to handle and searches are easier, but then I have a photocopy of the original and can check.

My point is that there are many sources for printed 1912 versions of the inquiry and it not be the official printed government printing office version. So no matter if it is the online version or what ever version, it is critical that the official version is used to the degree that Yuri wishes to examine this stuff.

These are as near perfect as possible, but bottomline you can not say that they are exact. Hey maybe there are no more errors. But it is wise to check for accuracy for publsihing anything based on a copy that is not from the original.

And yes, if anyone finds something that they feel is an error they should let the person who maintains it know what they found and I have done this and will continue to do it as I find things. But until the version online is exactly what is in the official release, the group needs to know that they are not accessing a scanned original. It is a composite of many efforts. It is a great resource and I am very grateful.

If my comments are taken the wrong way, I am sorry. All I am saying is, hey, fine use it to note comments but then check that data in the paper copy on file with the government entity charged with its care.

To be honest, if something is "better than the original" then it is not the original.

For casual or informal information gathering that is fine, but raising something 15 degrees may be quite different than 15 feet. And I have seen uses of "boat" versus "ship" and intended meaning discussed semantics is not always important, but at times it is.

I did not mean this in a nasty critical way or to be hurtful to anybody only informative. This will be my last word on it. Rob Ottmers is great for doing this and he has had the help of many to make this product great and his heart is to always work to improve it. I only wish that I had the time to help out with this.
Maureen.
 
Mar 18, 2000
1,384
21
313
Maureen - I'm not taking it *too* hard!

But, having been one of the 'transcribers', I *know* how much work there was. And errors were inevitable. And I know very many have been cleaned up. And I'm absolutely sure there are more to be found.

All I'm suggesting, is if anyone finds even one amall error, send a short note on that error to Rob. Only will take a minute or two of anyone's time.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Mar 16, 2000
5,055
339
433
As one who has found some of the errors in the original transcripts, I think that fixing certain types of mistakes is legitimate. In that sense, the online version can be made better than the original.

The errors I have in mind are those where a whole line of text has obviously been inserted in the wrong place on a page. I know of two cases of this and there is also another point where a line has been left out. That has been corrected from another source. These are purely printing errors.

In some cases the transcript is plainly wrong in the light of modern knowledge. In those cases I think that the error should stand and (sic) should be inserted. A case in point is where somebody twice gives Californian's course as S 89 True. It should be S 89 W True but the transcript should stand, if only to show that navigation was not the court's strong point.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Mar 16, 2000
5,055
339
433
I have been criticised privately (but perfectly nicely) for my comments about making the online enquiry texts of the court transcripts better than the originals. Maybe I didn’t explain myself enough.

The British transcript in particular suffers from errors caused by the use of the Linotype machine. This contraption produced oodles of little metal slugs, each consisting of one line of type. In the case of the British transcript, each line contained about 9 or 10 words. To make a page, dozens of the slugs were locked into a frame that formed a full page. In the process, errors crept in, not surprisingly, given the speed of the job and the length of the text. There were three kinds of errors. I’m sorry that I can’t illustrate all of them, but I didn’t keep records of all the errors found.

1. A line of type left out. An example is somewhere in Groves’s evidence. In the transcript, one of his sentences makes no sense. Luckily, the gap was filled by a press stenographer and the online text is correct.

2. Lines were put into the frame in the wrong order. Here’s an example from the end of the transcript. Sir Rufus Isaacs is quoted as saying:

I may respectfully say so, that the latitude which
you have seen fit to allow during the course of this
It only remains for me to say to your Lordship, if
case, so that questions might be asked which

These lines should have been in this order.

It only remains for me to say to your Lordship, if
I may respectfully say so, that the latitude which
you have seen fit to allow during the course of this
case, so that questions might be asked which (and so on)

3. The most curious cases are those in which a mistake has been spotted in a line back in 1912. They are simple errors, such as leaving out spaces between words. A new line of type has been made and placed in the correct place in the frame. Instead of the incorrect line being put aside for melting down and reuse, the slug has been placed back in the frame in a random place, thus turning a passage of text into gibberish.

In my opinion, correction of these errors is in order, as they would have been fixed in 1912 if they had been spotted and they restore meaning to passages of gibberish.

Other errors that are noticeable only in hindsight should stand. Some, like the S 89 True business, are probably a true record of what was said and may demonstrate some failing in a witness’s account or in a lawyer’s poor preparation for the case. I suggest that it may help the reader if some of the more obvious apparent errors were followed by (sic) to make it plain that this is exactly what is in the transcript, even if it looks silly today.

Certainly, there must be no changing of the words used just because we think that somebody is using the wrong terms. If a witness calls Titanic a boat, the word must stand, whether we like it or not.

I hope that makes things a bit clearer.
 
Mar 18, 2000
1,384
21
313
Having also been involved with the error corrections:

Most of the corrections have been our own errors in transcribing the documents - we've changed our version back to the original.

In a very few cases, we've deviated from the original. Case in point - the testimonies of Hugh Young and William Stewart, which are one after the other. Careful reading of the original has Capt. Young contradicting himself, between the first and last half of his testimonies! And answering the same questions twice. Capt. Stewart was not asked these questions at all. After careful consideration, we decided that the original was in error, and the last testimony listed under Capt. Young was actually the first questions asked Capt. Stewart, and we moved questions 25242 to 25253 from Young's testimony to Stewarts - along with a nice big editorial note saying what we did.

And, yes, other changes we made are noted in the text, as Dave suggests, with (sic) or something similar.
 

Erik Wood

Member
Aug 24, 2000
3,519
15
313
I think that we have to remeber that there was a large difference between the intent of the two inquiries in general. The Americans made a decent effort to uncover what happened, unfortunatly they picked people to run the show who had little or no sea going experience. The British did exactly the oppisite. They had lots of technical experts but where looking to cover up what some might have considered to be a BOT that was behind the times, and also had a very big interest in keeping it's nations ocean going lines up and running.

Other wise I would agree with what Parks and Maureen have said.

Erik
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Mar 16, 2000
5,055
339
433
Bill, that was a drastic change but perfectly in order. I note that the PRO CD has made the same change in its searchable text. (They've left a zillion other errors of their own making)
 
Mar 18, 2000
1,384
21
313
And the unfortunate thing about the PRO CD, or any book, for that matter, is any mistakes are cast in stone! Once it's been printed, or burned, that's it, unless they decide to spring for the costs for a second edition. And, the work necessary to change the master.

The on-line inquiry can be fixed at any moment! A mistake you see today, may not be there tomorrow!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads