Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Assortment of Grumbines

A couple of coincidences turn thoughts towards the topics of Grumbines. A few weeks I heard from R. Edward Grumbine. Turns out we are indeed related, though perhaps no closer than my 5-great grandfather (Leonhart Krumbein). Also in recent visitation, it seems some people looking for Dr. Francis Grumbine found themselves here. Francis is a medical doctor, I'm a PhD in geoscience, Ed (R. Edward) is a PhD and professor of ecology. One more, if not recent, coincidence: I was an undergraduate at Northwestern University and graduate student at the University of Chicago. While at Northwestern, I worked in the office (what once was) of William Krumbein, another relative, who was a noted geologist. (He's another 3 generations back from me, and I've never talked to Francis though he is in the area here.)

If you look some more, you'll find more Grumbines (also Krumbein, Crumbine, ...) in science and medicine. Rather a surprising number, at least to me.

Ok, a surprise. What should a scientist do with a surprise? Start thinking about how surprising it really is, of course. Keeping it to current Grumbines (throw in a Richard who is also involved in natural science), we've got at least 4 scientific researchers (Francis publishes in the scientific literature, though I've also run in to a patient or two of his so he must double in clinical practice).

Now, Grumbine is a very uncommon name. Among the most uncommon, in fact, in the US. So maybe there's a science gene we Grumbines carry? After all, here we've got 4 of the name doing science and probably almost none of you had ever heard of the name before stopping by here.

How would we test an idea about there being particularly many Grumbines doing science? We really want the same kind of numbers that I looked at in dismissing the bogus petition -- how many people are there, and how many have the characteristic we're interested in? It would not be terribly hard to come up with good numbers on how many Grumbines are publishing in science: Just do a scientific literature search, or even Google Scholar search and start counting. There'll be some fuzziness as apparently different names (R vs. Robert vs. Robert W. vs. R. W., for instance) might, all be me, or maybe not. Same for the others.

But how to get a sense of how many Grumbines there are in the US? That's a problem. The listing I saw of name frequency only gave the rank order, not how many there were. You might be tempted to do a general web search on the name. But then you run in to a very strong selection effect. The ease of finding people on the web depends heavily on what it is they do. Scientists are typically extremely easy to find, so get represented well. On the other hand, carpenters are probably relatively hard to find (aside from Bill Grumbine, who seems extremely well-known in the world of bowl turning; some lovely pictures out there of his work). By this sort of thing you could come up with 4 scientists, 1 bowl-turner, and 1 stand-up comedian (Peter, and another profession likely to be overrepresented). Now, if the majority of Grumbines were scientists, that would clearly be different from the general population.

This is what makes selection effects a problem. With a small sample that is biased to finding the sort of person we're trying to test a hypothesis about, you're in trouble. In the US population as a whole, scientists are something like 1 in 1000. If there were actually about 4000 Grumbines in the US, then the 4 I've named would be about par for the course. If there were 40,000, then the easily found 4 actually show it uncommon for Grumbines to be scientists. But most people* don't leave very much web trace, so the additional 4000, or 40,000, would be much harder to find than the 4. (Well, at least 5 -- there's a David Grumbine in physics.)

So, anyone have clever ways of putting some limits on just how many Grumbines there are? Er, that may not have come out right. Finding ways of estimating with some confidence that there are between X and Y Grumbines?


I'm not proposing any genetic link, nor that if there is one, my family has it+. Rather, the idea is to illustrate an early step or two in doing science. Have some notion, from whatever unlikely source, and then start looking at what kind of data you would need to test the notion. If there can't be data to test the idea, it can be good and interesting, but not science. In this case, there clearly can be such data. We then move on to the next step -- how can I get hold of it? If I can't get hold of what I really want for data (accurate counts of how many Grumbines there are, and how many are publishing in science), can I find something close to it that will let me test the idea anyhow?


*Ok, maybe I should say most people of my generation and older.

+ Unlike for teaching, where, if there can be a genetic disposition to teaching, I'll definitely submit my genealogy in candidacy for illustrating it.

10 comments:

quasarpulse said...

You could try here, although you'd have to go state by state. The People Search produces all of the adult Grumbines whom I personally know, although one is duplicated and one is filed in a slightly-wrong state. It apparently searches public records, which in theory should catch most adults (with some errors). You'd probably want to leave children out anyway, given that they can't be scientists yet, your niece's work notwithstanding.

I wouldn't trust it to be 100% accurate, but I'd think a public records search should give you an adequate order-of-magnitude estimate.

Oakden Wolf said...

Another possibility would be Zabasearch. I actually tried this out on Grumbines, and though I only tried several states (and you have to weed for duplicates), the results had a pretty interesting geographic distribution. Maryland has 191 listings. Pennsylvania has so many that it required me to narrow the search; if you type in a city like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, that provides all of the Pennsylvania listings, which total 344 (lots of duplicates in that, though). New York has 4. California has 82. Minnesota has none, likewise for Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska, while Kansas has 1, Illinois 8, and Indiana 3. Arizona has 17. Georgia has 7, Florida has 35.

Then I tried Google and found this:

http://www.ancestry.com/facts/Grumbine-family-history.ashx

which gives the 1920 census distribution of Grumbine families. Turns out that my cursory Zabasearching was representative (the Quaker state is indeed Grumbine Base Camp), perhaps not catching recent migrations to the Sun Belt.

thedialogues said...

As a California Grumbine whose grandfather, Arthur Grumbine (b. 1924, d. 2005), did quite a bit of geneology research himself (and got in contact with some of the Pennsylvania Grumbines to do it) I'm pretty sure, from what I've read, that we're all descended from Leonard/Leonhart Krumbein. Or to speak properly, that he (my grandfather) discovered no evidence of Grumbines that weren't descended from Leonard. Oakden Wolf's numbers are actually really close to accurate, at least regarding the California Grumbines (my grandfather had 7 sons (and 5 daughters)- the sons alone have about 80 kids/grandkids - at least 50 still bearing the name Grumbine (including Grumbines-by-marriage)). As far as scientists go, one of my uncles (Steven) is a chemist (though not published, as far as I know), and one is a published DPM (Nicholas). About half of those 30+ have at least one degree (with most of those degrees being 4-yr). It seems that medicine and entrepreneurial pursuits are more the tendency for our branch, though. We have a handful of nurses, many successful small business owners (2 of them in medical-related manufacturing), and a seemingly significant proportion of academics (Medieval History, Classic Architecture, Sociology, Philosophy, Theology, etc). I find myself personally attracted to entrepreneurial pursuits, though I love the sciences (I wrote my Thesis on a comparison of the scientific methods of Francis Bacon and Karl Popper, particularly examining Popper's criteria of falsifiability in the demarcation of the sciences).

Hope this has been of some help. Cheers, and good luck!

Penguindreams said...

Thanks for the addition. Maybe a decade ago, I found out about a Grumbine/Crumbine/Krumbein family reunion and went up to it (SE Pennsylvania, naturally). One thing they had was a surprisingly thorough genealogy, including professions. I was expecting a fair number of farmers because, particularly once you're back much, that's what most people were. Instead, as you note, many small business people. That including back to Leonhart Krumbein, who was a leather worker.

Also looks like you and I are related through my great-grandfather, and your great-great grandfather, Eugene Edgar Grumbine. I believe that your Arthur (b. 1924) is the son of Arthur (b. 1905), son of Eugene (b. 1874). I think that's 3rd cousins once removed.

If you have mailable (physical or electronic) info from your grandfather's researches, please do contact me at my email address (bobg at radix dot net).

thedialogues said...

I made a note to myself to get you that genealogy data that he collected - I don't know if we have it in digital format yet, but that's nothing an hour of scanning into PDFs won't fix. I can definitely confirm that you are correct about my great-grandfather being Arthur Grumbine. Pretty cool stuff. BTW, I've started reading your blog, and as Darth Vader would say, "Most impressive".
I especially like its accessibility, which I have found exceedingly difficult in my own discourses with less academically-minded individuals on the subject of more complex/abstract concepts.

Penguindreams said...

Thank you, on both matters.

Anonymous said...

I'm also a Leonhart Krumbien relative. I'm from Pennsyvania. Where is the present Grumbine reunion held?
Brenda Grumbine

Penguindreams said...

I haven't heard anything about the reunion since about 2002. The 3 I did get cards for (and I went one year) were in Lititz (Lititz Falls?). Near Schaefferstown at any rate.

n.b. for the non-Grumbine/Krumbein/Crumbine/... folks: Leonhart landed in the new world in Schaefferstown, PA, 30 September 1754. Hadn't thought about it, but we're now past the 250th anniversary. Should have had a big 'do' 5 years ago :-) Oh well. We're still here.

Christine Gresh said...

Hello to all the Grumbines! I am also a descendent of Leonard and Catharina Krumbein(Grumbine/Krumbein/Krumbine/Crunbine). I live in Pennsylvania and the reunion is held at the LItitz Springs Park every year. I went for many years as a child and also as a young adult. I haven;t been in several years but I have the old reunion books with records in my possession. The records include the old Grumbine Reunion song, the reunion tags everyone wore to identify which branch of the family tree they descended from and fun facts and records. I have the geneaological records from Leornard down to me with many many branches. My aunt is very heavily into the gen. thing,so I have been a fortunate recipient of many many records. What do you want or need to know?

Penguindreams said...

Thanks Christine.

Maybe on the blog you could post the reunion songs, the official biography of Leonhart, and that sort of general information? Fun facts and such?

If you could email to me (bobg AT radix DOT net) more detailed genealogical information (gedcom, scanned info, ...) that'd be great too. I have heard of a book by ?Clinton Krumbein early 1900s that had documented all the descendants of Leonhart to that point. If you have a copy of that, I'd love to borrow it.