Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Genetic Genealogy segment on CBS 60 Minutes

I missed the Genetic Genealogy segment on CBS 60 Minutes show on Sunday (putting two little boys to bath and bed really limits one's genealogy activity!), but several genealogy bloggers didn't miss it and wrote comments about it.

Megan Smolenyak's post "60 Minutes on DNA: Deja Vu All Over Again" observed that she had made many of the points in her previous posts and articles over the past few years.

Blaine Bettinger's post "Genetic Genealogy on 60 Minutes" provides links to a number of blogs and lists that discussed the show. He also provided a link to the CBS summary of the show here.

John D. Reid's post "TV Genealogy" provides a nice summary of the show's main points and conclusions.

I read these three posts before I read the CBS article, and I can understand the concern that the show hyped the "controversy" that different DNA analysis companies don't tell the customer everything.

However, the underlying story of Vy Higgensen (an African-American woman in New York City) and Marion West (a European-American from Missouri) is a grabber - they turn out to be cousins through the Y-DNA analysis (they had a common male progenitor in their paternal lines). From there, CBS goes into what Vy was told by the different DNA analysis companies about her African ancestry (in her mother's line) - there were several locations in western Africa found by different companies. Interestingly, they didn't explore the paternal line to find the most recent common patrilineal ancestor (it was probably a slaveholder somewhere in the South, I'd guess, or perhaps colonial RI or NY) shared by Vy and Marion.

I'm sorry that I missed the show - read the CBS story "Reconstructing the Family Tree" for all the details.

Thanks to Megan, Blaine and John for the analysis and the links - it was a fun read tonight. Even though I don't understand the technical aspects of DNA testing and analysis, I do try to understand the results and the consequences.

To me, any TV show that does a fair job of explaining the methodologies used and the results obtained from genealogy and family history research is a plus - it will interest more people in our addiction, er, vocation or avocation, and that's all good.

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