Why I Don’t Use Photos for Family Comparisons

A common occurrence in many Facebook genealogy groups is the posting of two photographs with a request to decide if the person in picture A is the same person in picture B. The photos were often taken at different angles and different distances and were often taken years or decades apart. The typical responses fall into one of three categories – definite yes, definite no, and maybe. Oftentimes, the supposed likeness is heavily influenced by the question and people jump to a likeness decision because they think there is one. If the person had seen the two photos without being asked if there was a likeness, they may not have noticed one.

In some cases, the photos include a “family trait” – widow’s peak, hitchhiker’s thumb, cleft chin, dimples, etc. While some of the various physical characteristics have genetic components and others are relatively rare (pun intended), these aren’t guarantees it’s the same person or an indication the people are closely related. With over 7 billion people on the planet, something as rare as one in a million has, in theory, 7,000 examples running around.

In my life, people tell me that I look similar or exactly like someone else they know. My most recent encounter of this phenomenon was on the Fourth of July at Breakthrough. About ten years ago, a guy walked up to me, shook me, and started talking to me. He thought I was a friend of his who worked in a local mall. I have never worked at this mall and didn’t know the guy. Yet, I looked enough like this other person, the man thought we were the same person.

I came across this article about shocking similarities on the Mind Unleashed today. The article talks about François Brunelle’s twelve-year journey to find and document examples of unrelated people who look very similar. You can read more about the project on his website, www.francoisbrunelle.com/index.php?id=3&lang=En.

Do you have a twin or doppelgänger out there? Has anyone mentioned seeing a copy of you at a place you have never been to?

This entry was posted in Breakthrough Club, Facebook, Genealogy. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s