[ExI] 23andme again

spike spike at rainier66.com
Tue Jun 25 23:09:13 UTC 2013


Zowwie, 23andMe has put me into a hell of an ethical dilemma, or perhaps
more accurately, I have put myself in an ethical dilemma.  Advice or comment
from ethical hipsters most welcome.


Background:  inside of two weeks, I have discovered a second illegitimacy in
my own ancestry.  We knew from family tradition that one of our great great
grandfathers was an illegitimate born in about 1855, so that branch of the
tree came to an end, and has been a dead end for over a century: no one knew
who his bio father was.  I compared notes with a 23andMe cousin, and between
us we figured out the likely candidate.  Hey, it was 1855, in a town three
hours from anything, with a total population of 200 people.  In those kinds
of places, after dark there is nothing to do.  I was delighted to know this
of course, and to be the first in the family to discover it.


Yesterday, a young lady contacted me because I was on her list of 3rd or 4th
cousins from 23andMe.  She didn't know how to use any of the software tools
in that, but suggested we share genomes, which I did.  She revealed that she
was an illegitimate child raised by a stepfather She commented that she
wanted to find her bio-father but didn't know where or how to do those kinds
of searches and couldn't afford a professional, and that the only thing she
knew about her bio father was all her mother would tell: first name, middle
initial and last name, which isn't much.  But it is an unusual last name,
and it matched one of the oddball names in my 23andMe list.


This young lady is clearly unsophisticated, as is easy to tell from her
post.  Less than an hour of searching through Facebook pages, genealogy
sites and Spokeo, I figured out who is the likely father, and that he lives
not all that far from this third cousin.


Ethical dilemma: do I tell her?  


My ethics intuition suggests that I refrain from mentioning even that I have
that info.  Unless someone comes up with an argument to the contrary, good
chance I will stifle it.  Principle: don't reveal information against
someone else's will.  


But what if it contradicts the will of a third party who may be morally
entitled to that information?


Is it clear now that 23andMe will lead to tall piles of these kinds of moral
dilemmas, and people's reaction to them will be all over the map.  I don't
feel very comfortable with either of my choices in this case.


Gina Nanogirl Miller, comments please?  Max and the ethics hipsters,
comments please?  What would Anders do?



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