Inquiry Transcripts and Period Articles that Support Testimonyhow reliable


How reliable are the transcripts of the inquiries? Are they REALLY considered the Titanic Bible?

I've seen a discussion about the whole Ismay situation. One person looked up Ismay's testimony, Lightoller's testimony and backed up those two testimonies with a few newspaper articles from April/May. The newspaper articles were from non-Hearst papers, which were probably more reliable...given the Hearst/Ismay thing.

The other person countered that none of this is reliable because it's just eyewitness accounts and not cold hard facts.

Is this true? Do you need to take everything with a huge grain of salt?

I mean, I'm really confused. Who do you trust if nothing is correct?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>How reliable are the transcripts of the inquiries? Are they REALLY considered the Titanic Bible?<<

That's not as easy a question to answer as you might think.

The inquiry transcripts are an absolutely essential primary source since you get information right from the source of the testimony, in context, and without somebody else's "spin" or take on what was said, and it has the virtue of the testimony being taken under oath and penalty of purjury while memories were freshest.

That said, just because what you get is straight from the source doesn't mean that some of the witnesses were especially accurate or even very honest. While most were honest, it's a demonsterable fact that some were badly mistaken and some of the witnesses flat out lied.

In sum, they may be the gold standard, but beware of the tarnish.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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>I mean, I'm really confused. Who do you trust if nothing is correct?


It's not that the information is incorrect, but there are a huge number of factors which taint it; the primary ones being the time elapsed between the disaster and the first serious collecting of evidence, and the fact that the key witnesses were not immediately isolated from one another and deposed. There was too much time allowed for mingling, comparing notes, and possible "leaning on" certain figures by certain other figures. Another factor is that for all the bluster on either side of the ocean, both hearings were rather flaccid when it came to pursuing complex answers to questions. A lot of the time when you read the transcripts you find yourself thinking of the next, logical, line of thought which is then not pursued.

> Do you need to take everything with a huge grain of salt?

You must rid your mind of absolutes, while pursuing this disaster, and think in terms of a series of vast, overlapping, gray areas. Putting a pop culture spin on it, think of The First 48 concept. Virtually no physical evidence, in the form of logs, notes kept by the crew, etc was saved from the ship. Depositions began nearly a week later, and those being deposed had free access to one another. So, the best you can ever hope for is an accurate broad picture of what happened... the very detailed, to the minute, word picture, will never happen, because it can't.
 

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