The Friday Funny – interpreting evidence and lack of evidence

In a week of international differences in evaluation approaches, and Australia Day (26 Jan), this week’s Friday Funny comes from Kirsty Fenton, Senior Evaluation Officer with the Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, Australia.

It’s been a busy week for Patricia, traveling from The Evaluators Institute and the seminar on ‘Strengthening the Effectiveness of Evaluation in Washington‘, DC, to the GIZ conference on ‘Systemic approaches in evaluation‘, in Frankfurt, and back to a meeting of the Board of the American Evaluation Association in Anaheim, CA. Stay tuned for some thoughts and useful links about systemic approaches, systems approaches and systematization in evaluation.

This week’s Friday Funny reminds us that conclusions are not only about evidence, but about the interpretation of that evidence, or lack of evidence.

Pic from

After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, British scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Brit’s, in the weeks that followed, an American archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story published in the New York Times: “American archaeologists, finding traces of 250-year-old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50 years earlier than the British”.
One week later, the Dept of Minerals and Energy in Western Australia reported the following:
“After digging as deep as 30 feet in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, Jack Lucknow, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Jack has therefore concluded that 250 years ago, Australia had already gone wireless.”

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