Are You My Cousin?

March 20, 2017

Are You My Cousin? Combination of noisy crowd-sourced #ancestry & @23andMe linkages may connect everyone in a tree

“The farther you go back, the more quantum it gets. According to Geni, my 97th great-grandfather is King David from the Bible. So what are the chances that I’m actually a direct descendant of the Goliath slayer? Count me a highly doubting Thomas. But it’s still fun to dive into the research and try to verify it.

In addition to using crowd-sourced trees, I’m trying to build my family list with genetic testing. I recently sent my saliva off to 23andMe (the F.D.A. has suspended the health-related part of 23andMe, but the ancestry service remains open). The result? I found more than a thousand fellow spitters who share enough genetic material that 23andMe says we are probable cousins. One such distant cousin: my wife. This was a tad jarring. Not to mention that it set off an avalanche of bad inbreeding and hillbilly jokes from friends. But the truth is, my wife and I aren’t unusual.