It has been a while since my last post. Well I have graduated, and a new chapter begins. I don’t have any new discoveries—only thoughts.
I notice that many newer people who have gotten into DNA genealogy are only interested in the most uncertain and ever-changing aspect of it, the ethnicity mix. (Heck, I even initially was swept up in it and posted my and my sibling’s results in a post.) These are the same people who refuse to believe the more concrete and never-changing part of the science, the matches. After a certain percentage of centimorgans of DNA shared, the odds of it being a false positive is null.
There are not many African Americans into genealogy, and this is a shame. We could really help each other piece things together. (Genealogists helping fellow genealogists is also a problem that I will bring back up later.) Many African Americans who cross over to DNA genealogy and not part of the people in the above paragraph usually have a one-tracked mind. They see a population that their DNA shows an affinity with and make an assumption that they are part that population. An example is that AncestryDNA shows I have a small percentage of Finno-Russian. I may very well have Finno-Russian. It is also may be Native American. The area that is now made up of the countries of Finland and Russia has been proven by peer reviewed science papers to be an area where some Native American tribes actually came from. (Believe me; I am not chasing that Indian princess relative that so many who take these tests are interested in. I am just looking for the real ancestors that made me.) Basically, I am saying a little knowledge of history should be accompanied when interpreting your results. That was just one example of hitching on to one aspect of one’s results and not investigating further.
Many people, not just African Americans, get hung up on a surname not showing or a place not appearing among their matches. I have said it before and will say it until I lose my ability to speak: DNA trumps oral history and recorded documents. (I have not much more to add to that. You either believe it or you don’t.)
A huge dose of genetic science by all should be attempted to be understood when interpreting your results. This is mainly the companies’ fault though. They advertise in such a way that leads consumers to believe that once you receive your results all your genealogical and ancestral questions will be answered. This is not the case. You have to work very hard to figure out what the DNA is telling you. I always provide my matches with a link to Kelly Wheaton’s Beginners Guide to Genetic Genealogy.
I visit many DNA-genealogy based groups, forums, communities, and message boards, and the snobbery among those who feel like someone else has nothing to offer them (because of lack of family knowledge, small pedigrees, or not coming from the “right” branch) is disheartening. I get that people want to give just as much as they can get, but many people lack family knowledge for legitimate reasons. Simply not being told, being adopted, not having funds to spend on documents, and or not having the luxury to travel to ancestral homes or genealogical databases are all valid reasons. These people are still as much related to those ancestors as the “hoarding” genealogists are. I, myself, do this in hopes that I can freely share what I discover with anyone who will listen.
The last thing that I really think genealogy, specifically genetic genealogy can benefit from is a standard that all companies, geneticists, and casual dabblers should adhere by—an internationally recognized board, if you will. And this is where I may turn those who deem themselves “citizen genetic scientists” off. This board needs to be filled with equal parts citizen genetic scientists and actual degree-holding geneticists. How can you discuss genealogy without a genealogist? On the same hand, how can you discuss genetics without a geneticist? On these aforementioned forums, I see a lot of well-respected folks saying opposite things or with agenda and company loyalty. That is not a standard.
In other news, I bought a better Web site that I was going to migrate to. It is much more complicated than I had anticipated.