[ExI] yet another ethical dilemma

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.pl
Fri Sep 13 20:55:05 UTC 2013

On Wed, 4 Sep 2013, spike wrote:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: spike [mailto:spike66 at att.net] 
> >...Since I have your ethical engines warming up, I have been presented with
> another moral dilemma by 23andMe, this one much more complicated than the
> one I posed a few weeks ago...Now I have a bigger problem, which will need
> to wait until this afternoon, gotta run...  spike
> Ethical dilemma posed by 23andMe
> A few weeks ago a distant cousin contacted me trying to determine our most
> recent common ancestor, something which is not at all remarkable except that
> this relative is black.  She viewed Alex Haley's Roots miniseries as a
> teenager in the 1970s, and became interested in genealogy, started doing her
> So now, my ethics hipster friends, what do I do now? 
> Do I tell my black cousin?
> Or do I go to my grave with that information?
> Or do I give the name of my G^3grandmother and let her discover this
> shameful history on her own?      
> spike

I arrive late to the party, with all consequences, heh (my advice is going 
to miss your actions, most probably). I subscribe to too many lists, maybe 
I should trim it a little, later.

Anyway, what a story. Some real meat from real life. I didn't enjoyed it 
but I appreciate it a lot. One missing piece of it are dates of death of 
victim family/neighbours - perhaps could be retrieved from local parish? 
This would tell more about the circumstances of ancestor's beginning. I 
mean, date comparison. Because right now you have some pieces and 
realistic expectation for matching picture is what you described above. 
However, I'd still try to find some more pieces if possible. Maybe there 
is more to the story? And if not, then there would be more evidence for 
realistic one.

As of telling her - short version is "probably, yes". But it should be 
told in personal talk, I guess.

Long version - it's probably not a secret I am not the biggest humanity 
fan on the planet. We have some great moments, which are dissolved and 
averaged in a sea of self delusions, ordinary lies and hypocrisy (and 
statistics). Notice how I use the word "we" - just in case someone thinks 
I am some kind of wannabe politician [1]. So the truth is much welcomed 
and rarely given (oh, but this is even longer story about how bipedals are 
brought up and programmed and taught to like the sweeteners - and I don't 
think I will be ready to give anything meaningful anytime soon about 
this). The truth is not supposed to be nice, it is only supposed to refer 
facts as they have been found. And people should be able to face the 
facts, which is optimistic version.

If the sums of pros and cons feel about the same, tell her. Do not tell 
her if you think the cons weight much more. Despite what I think about 
truth, I accept idea of no strict binary rules and so there are situations 
when truth is better buried down for ever. The truth is good but it is not 
the whole and only good. This is up to you. Write pros and cons on a sheet 
of paper, carry it with you for some days, then when you decide, tear the 
sheet *and* burn it. You could also try some kind of non-decision, like 
writing the story and sending her a sealed envelope with "only for the 
brave and curious" or something on it. Well, this third choice is not my 
ideal at all.

[1] There are days, when I am quite happy we are not going to spread among 
the stars and bring our lies with us. Talk about darkening! The mass of 
printed BS would do the job excellently. So not darkening of the stars is 
extremely positive finding for me. Way to go, species, whoever you are. So 
if I ever became a politician, I'd do my best to unpromote space 
exploration beyound Solar System. Observation yes, flights no, 
signaling... rather not. Well, what could we show to aliens - pyramids? 
How many people paid for building them? How many profited? Yet we build 
them all the time. Yes, I know, offtopic. And besides, politicians lie so 
I would find a reason to not keep the promise. And then rationalize it in 
my memoirs.

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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