Several friends have recently taken the 23 & Me DNA test to find out what their true bloodlines are. Many have been blown away by the results.
We’re taught who we are — who we think we are — by our parents. Their parents did the same thing. Very few of us are 100% any one nationality. Hybrid bloodlines comprise nearly all of us. It makes sense. However, what we’re discovering with these new age DNA tests is our bloodlines are not what we thought they were. This is scary to some, for if I was wrong about what I thought I was all this time, what else might I be wrong on? Where else am I going astray? What else about me is worth questioning? Our self truths turned out to be untrue.
What if you thought for years you were Irish and the 23 & Me test results say you’re Scottish? What if you thought you were Christian and the 23 & Me test results say you’re actually Jewish? What if you thought you had Italian in your bloodlines but it turns out you’re Spanish? These tests are wrecking what we thought were our proud heritages! It turns out, these are not our proud heritages at all. We’re more similar than we thought because what we thought isn’t so.
Makes you wonder: Have we been lied to all this time or did our parents and grandparents really not know, for they were merely told by their parents and grandparents? Though, one would think that they would get it right. But what methods of investigation did they have aside from performing their own DNA tests or hiring an ethnographer to trace back their family bloodlines? Historically, we’ve only had what we’ve been told and what we’ve been shown.
Most of us do not like it when such a strongly held belief — who we are — gets upended by scientific evidence. In fact, we dislike it so much that we turn away from it and seek out only evidence that supports our belief. This is confirmation bias. It is human nature. It applies to politics, to religion, to our culture, to our beliefs of who we think we are. If one irrationally passionate Republican and one irrationally passionate Democrat duke it out in an emotionally charged debate, do you think that one side will successfully convert the other? (Have you ever even heard of one side successfully converting the other in an emotionally charged debate?) No. Doesn’t happen. The reason it doesn’t happen is confirmation bias. We’re too emotionally engaged in our view, in our perspective. Even with damning, 10o% convincing evidence to the contrary of our viewpoint, we will turn a blind eye to it or otherwise ignore it due to our strongly held beliefs. This is the power of confirmation bias.
Have you ever watched a college football game with several passionate people and then discussed the same game afterward only to have different opinions about what happened and when? Wait, didn’t you watch the same game at the same time in the same room as everyone else? How can you differ on what you just witnessed? You were each seeing the game through your own biases and perspectives. If you’re an irrationally passionate LSU fan, you’re watching a different game than the irrationally passionate Iowa fan who was drunk at 10 AM on a glorious Saturday morning. See, you see things differently, and it isn’t just due to the Herculean alcohol consumption. If LSU and Iowa played each other, afterward, the LSU fans and the Iowa fans would have different stories as to what they just witnessed. Where the game is played would also be a factor (Home stadium advantage). It isn’t that one side is “right” and the other side is “wrong,” it is more the fact that we don’t agree on what we just saw. Turns out the college football experience is a subjective human experience; each of us has different views about what happened the last 4 hours. Worse, on Sunday, some of us won’t even remember those 4 hours very well, but will think we had a great time! Memory, too, is a subjective — if not hazy — experience.