this opinion piece by A. J. Jacobs from the New York Times. It's a good read. The focus is the rewards and risks of mega-family trees, like Geni.com, which compiles input from anyone who cares to contribute.
Geni is popular placing fifth among genealogy websites according to the GenealogyInTime top 100 list. It claims over 100 million profiles, unchanged from three years ago.
The NYT article highlights the fun of finding links to famous ancestors using Geni. It turns out the article author's wife’s great-uncle’s wife’s first cousin once removed’s husband’s uncle’s wife’s son’s wife’s first cousin once removed’s husband’s brother’s wife’s nephew is former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Isn't that impressive!
Where I part company with the article is the latter part of the sentence "Traditional genealogists demand rigorous proof of every relationship, but the new, less cautious genealogists argue that we have to work with probabilities."
Working with probabilities does not mean being less cautious. If anything it reflects a considered approach, being more cautious in our claims and acknowledging that in even the most rigourously researched relationship there's a chance of error. That's entirely different from the entertainment approach, throwing caution to the wind, compiling a mega-tree rag bag of careful research, fanciful opinion and unenlightened adoption of other's work where you conclusion is only as strong as the weakest link..
Thanks to Eric Dodman for the tip. The image is a snippet from a larger illustration in the NYT article by Jim Stoten.