Nature or Nurture?

I have in the last month attended two online “bootcamps” hosted by Thomas MacEntee of Hide-Definition Genealogy and his guest speaker Mary Eberle who is a genetic genealogist and DNA expert. The first was Getting Started with DNA and Genealogy and the second Additional Tools and Concepts (regarding DNA testing). The courses are fairly intense and absolutely full of information if you are thinking of using DNA testing as an adjunct to your genealogy research.  The price is more than fair for what you get which is the online talk as well as handouts. You will also get a copy of the webinar and handouts for one year afterward.  So, though these are past, they are still available at the links above.

The whole DNA testing phenomena I am sure,  has people curious and frightened at the same time. We are very excited by the leaps and bounds of technology but there is also an aura of the unknown about it which smacks of our worst science fiction movies.  “Security breach” used to be a term only the government had to worry about. Now it is an everyday part of our lives. Mary Eberle addresses some of these issues in her first lecture. She also talks about the various testing companies and how they work. Only one does the medical tests and that is 123 and Me.

All this brings once again to the fore the old concept of whether it is nature, for example our DNA or nurture, the way we are raised which makes us who we are. That question would certainly rise when dealing with criminals. I think we have all seen the two sides, the incorrigible child  of two gentle parents or the scholar who comes from a very disadvantaged background.  I wonder what DNA will tell us.

To me so far, it is leading to a lot of confusion and we are finding out the obvious; that a family is composed of many different genes which shows up in sibling differentiation. If you want to know how that happens, than you can study genetics. We can verify family stories or perhaps unverify them. Also, we can find out what path of emigration our ancient ancestors took out of Africa and where they ended up.  I myself am just getting used to the fact that we all originated from Africa to begin with!  I would definitely recommend getting some previous training and information before you embark on this journey, just to make it all worth the effort.