[ExI] yet another ethical dilemma

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu Sep 5 16:46:34 UTC 2013

-----Original Message-----
From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org
[mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of PJ Manney

>... Tell your cousin...

Ja, that is what I did.  Read on please.

>...  You won't be telling her anything unusual from a genealogical

There is that, but this kind of information does tend to put one into an
emotional tailspin.  If one is not ready for what you might find, genealogy
can be a rough sport.  I saw that ~1/64 subSaharan African DNA and had
imagined some open-minded sporty lass from generations past having a go at
the local football hero back in the early 1800s or perhaps some other
cheerfully libertine explanation, so naturally this was all a big
disappointment.  Furthermore, the man who stepped up and married this
shattered refugee in 1867 and adopted her baby was a fine man from an
excellent family.  Now I learn that he and all his line are not genetically
related, so it is like losing a G^3grandfather and all his forefathers,

Likewise, my half fourth cousin just had a branch of her tree lopped off.
She had imagined whoever sired these cousins from North Carolina was her
ancestor.  Now she has learned to the contrary, their ancestors before 1865
are not genetically related to her, even though she and they show up as
distant cousins now, since we all descended from the Union soldier.  We are
brothers from another mother.  Sigh.

Regarding the reason why I decided to tell, this is one of the cases where
the golden rule might contradict the notion of being faithful to history.
Seldom seen is this: contradicting values.  It happens.

I didn't go into the gory details, but my half fourth cousin is a smart
lady, she will figure it out if she really wants to know.  But to do so, she
will need to take some action herself: I gave her what she needs to know,
but didn't put it in her face.  As in the case a few weeks ago when I was
contacted by the illegitimate daughter of a second cousin, I showed her the
grave site but did not dig up the corpse.

The moral guidance for this comes from 23andMe: they have a ton of
information in there, but you must take deliberate action to get to it.
They do not have a pop-up screen which tells if you have the markers for
Alzheimers for instance.  You must go take deliberate action to get to that.
Finding that info will require a few verbs on her part.  I rather prefer
inquiring minds do not want to know, but neither will I stand by and let her
continue to search in vain for information I hold.  So I told.

Even though it is too late to untell what I told, if anyone has moral
guidance to offer, do feel free, thanks.  I suspect this will not be the
last time I face this kind of question.  I thought of closing out my 23andMe
account but decided to not do that. 

>...None of this was unusual at the time.  Just like rape is horrifyingly
"normal" in times of war.  Which is, again, why I'm so surprised at Spike's
response... PJ

Hmmm, ja, but I am still choking on that.  General Lee did not allow his men
to behave in this shameful way.  When they were caught raping the locals in
their campaigns in the north, there was bloody hell to pay.  General
Sherman's orders, on the other hand, offered no guidelines to prevent this
sort of thing on his murderous rampage to the sea in 1864.  I curse his
goddam memory while simultaneously acknowledging my existence was the
result.  Ja, it is a weird mixture of emotions.


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list