The way genetic genealogy is sold causes large misgivings. Take one simple fact. Going back 12 generations, between three and four centuries, each of us has several thousand ancestors, even allowing for all those cousin marriages we don’t like to think about.

Genealogical DNA testing can tell us about precisely two of them. Perhaps one shared the surname you bear, or is part of a clearly identifiable historic group. Big deal. Remember: two out of thousands.

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