Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Plague of Copying: Genealogy Family Trees in a Nutshell

Rules for Creating Your Own Family Tree:

1. Find a relative with a huge, online family tree.
2. Copy everything, just as the relative has entered it.
3. Post everything to your own family tree on any one of the dozens of online programs.

Genealogy is fun and easy.

Of course, you know I am serious. >:\  (For those of you who are not up on your emoticons, see Wikipedia: List of emoticons. By the way, the text versions, such as the one I used, are emoticons. The image type, such as this one, are called emojis.

I just did a search in an online family tree program and found several identical and innacurately copied entries about one of my ancestors. But who am I to stand up to genuine scientific evidence. On a website called, I found an article entitled, "The art of copying: Scientists tell us that even copying mistakes can be good." The article explains as follows:
New research suggests that accidentally copying the mistakes of others can lead to some of man's greatest innovations. The international project, led by the University of St Andrews, found that mimicking the mistakes of others can ultimately aid the human ability to adapt. 
The study, published today, also alludes to the 'secret ingredient' of what researchers call 'the super-effectiveness of human copying'. 
The EU-funded project set out to ask key questions about the art of copying, such as who do we copy and why? It was led by Professor Kevin Laland and Dr Luke Rendell of the School of Biology at the University of St Andrews, and involved a team of leading researchers across the world, from UCLA, Stanford, Stockholm and Bologna Universities. 
Professor Laland explained, "Human culture is widely thought to underlie the extraordinary demographic and ecological success of our species and one of the foundations of culture is copying.
Maybe I should stop writing about my frustrations with bogus entries in family trees and just go with the flow of a foundation of our culture. Perhaps all of these copied family trees are really the foundation of a new genealogy. A genealogy based on the wishes and aspirations of mankind rather than the cold hard facts of historical research. The article goes on to quote Dr. Laland:
"Copying pays off because the individuals we copy typically perform the most effective behaviour in their repertoire. In doing so, they inadvertently filter behaviour, making adaptive information available for others. 
"Even if an individual copies at random, they still do better than someone learning through trial and error because the behaviour available to copy is amongst the best around. This study helped us to understand why copying is so widespread in nature.
 If this is all true, then my three rules above are all that you need to know about doing genealogical research. Good Luck.

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