21 September 2019

How DNA led Thehistoryinterpreter down the slippery slope

The blog post Online Family Trees and why I have Succumbed by one of my favourite English family historians, Janet Few, thehistoryinterpreter, starts with "I have never been a fan of online family trees."
Janet explains how taking an AncestryDNA test led to taking out an Ancestry subscription, then to adding an online tree so that more DNA matches could be identified.
Having stated that the online tree will never be her primary one Janet shows her open-mindedness by adding "maybe my opinion will change again."
Along the way, Janet laments unsourced and inaccurate trees. Perhaps that's another place where her opinion will change. An unsourced tree may be quite accurate, but from a researcher who finds arcane citations boring, or just too busy to add them.
Inaccurate tree information may just be the result of someone repeating information copied from another researcher, or sanitized information. Even well-researched information documented from a variety of sources may prove inaccurate given new DNA evidence. Is it possible that knowing the identity of the person posting the inaccurate information could be a helpful lead?
That's why I prefer to think in probabilistic terms, recognizing, in the words of Helen Leary, that “Science and the law are in agreement: there is only one way to prove kinships beyond reasonable doubt — DNA testing.”

1 comment:

Bob H said...

I have posted online trees and have had my DNA done all on Ancestry. Through DNA I have found dozens of "cousins". i have found that a minority have posted incorrect information. In a number of cases I have contacted them with correct information and most have appreciated it. RRH1985