Jim Stolen, New York Times

Who’s your daddy? According to recent DNA studies of genealogy, you may or may not know. But if your ancestry is western European, you are descended from Charlemagne (740s-814 CE). I can prove it.

Or, at least, somebody else has already proven it. It is a simple matter of math. Since ancestors increase exponentially…you have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc…if you go back enough generations your ancestors exceed the population of the earth.

So you are also descended from Queen Nefertiti (c 137-ca 1330 BCE). It’s not a trick…it’s for real…guaranteed.

Of course, proving it in each individual case is another matter. Just ask anyone who has jumped through the hoops to become a member of the DAR…building a provable chain back just three centuries is hard work. If you want to join the DAC (Daughters of Charlemagne), you’re going to have to do some serious spade work.

Last week, A. J. Jacobs published a piece in the New York Times headlined “Are You My Cousin?” It is about the fairly new websites such as WeRelate, WikiTree and Geni that allow you to connect your humble family tree to others at the appropriate twig to discover thousands, if not millions, of new cousins. You can read it here:

Are You My Cousin?

Some of the aspects of this new trend in genealogy are controversial, revolving around issues of privacy, ownership of data and accuracy. I’m in agreement with one of these, the ownership part…that needs looking after. But since the advent of Google and the NSA spy network, the idea of privacy has become a joke. And anyone who has worked with numbers of genealogies posted online is already aware of  the vast number of inaccuracies caused by sloppy research or the desire to find a President or a queen in the family tree. As with the Charlemagne business, once the tree grows into a forest, it is up to the individual to test for accuracy.

Jacobs makes a comparison to the debate about Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica. Several studies have shown Wikipedia to be more accurate than the Encyclopedia, not because Wikipedia is so accurate, but because Britannica is riddled with errors.

Thanks to John Snow for the heads up on this article