Thursday, February 9, 2012

Genealogical Theories: I am collecting them

It does not take long to examine the genealogical literature for genealogical theories. There just really aren't any. So I have been putting some universals together.

The first one that comes up is the Law of Inbreeding.

Everyone alive descends from an person who married their cousin, which thankfully (or not, if  you have ever printed all of your pedigree charts and found that 63 of them were the same set of ancestors) explains why the population of the world is not much larger than it is. If we were not the descendants of inbreeders our population would not be 6 billion, but more than likely in excess of 6 trillion (if one couple in 725 had two who had four who had eight, etc.). But that is not how it works. For years inbreeding has gotten a bad rap, but truly without it the world would be rather cramped, even in places where it takes 60 acres to support a mother cow and her calf (I sat next to a cattle vet from Idaho on the trip back from SLC).

So the deal is to find out to what degree you are inbreed.  I haven't figured that out yet, but there has to be math somewhere that can define it.

I mentioned John Woodson before, in five generations I descend from him five different ways, once through John "Tub" Woodson and four times through Robert "Potato-Bin" Woodson. Two first cousin marriages in a row on Robert's side into the Parsons increased the numbers.

How many of us have calculated how many times removed we are from our spouses. My parents are twenty-fifth cousins (not a provable connection) twice removed. I gave up trying to explain it to them. That probably means that there is also the Limited Law of Removed which might be that no one except a genealogist understands the concept of cousin relationships, but I have to work on that one someday.

It is hard for me to be serious today. A root canal yesterday and I threw my back out moving a bookcase right after that. Fortunately, tomorrow is another day.

1 comment:

  1. Craig, I love the Law of Inbreeding - sounds so much more interesting than pedigree collapse. When I discovered my ex and I were fifth cousins, I couldn't wait to tell my son. He laughs about it now, but it took him a while to get used to the idea!