Ho hum, here we go again. The news services are filling up with “sensational stories” that various political figures are related to each other or to Hollywood celebrities. The latest round of stories quote researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society who found family connections for the three presidential candidates — Democratic rivals Obama and Clinton, and Republican John McCain.
Clinton, who is of French-Canadian descent on her mother's side, is also a distant cousin of singers Madonna, Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette. Obama, the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, can call six U.S. presidents, including George W. Bush, his cousins. McCain is a sixth cousin of first lady Laura Bush.
OK folks, let’s do the math: you have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great-grandparents and so on back in a mathematical progression. If you go back 300 years, you have about 8,190 ancestors. If you go back 400 years, you have roughly 131,000 ancestors!
Note: Of course, those numbers assume no duplication of ancestors but everyone has duplicates in the family tree.
OK, so if I have 130,000 ancestors and you have 130,000 ancestors, what’s the odds that we share a few of them? Rather good odds, I suspect. The same is true for Brad Pitt, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the local mailman.
Let’s face it: we are all related to most everyone else.
It would be a much more impressive news story if researchers could positively prove that any two public figures are NOT related to each other but I guess we will never see that story.
If you want to read the latest drivel, look at the Associated Press story at http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i8pk8HGlTrOdiqrYNQ5IaY5I2P8QD8VKN73G0.