It’s Not Your Job to Keep Other People’s Secrets and Lies*

Standard Legal and Medical Disclaimers:

I am not a medical health professional and any comments I post are not intended, nor should they be construed, as medical advice. If you believe you are experiencing a medical emergency, dial 911 (where applicable) or contact proper emergency service personnel.

I am not an attorney and any comments I post are not intended, nor should they be construed, as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult a legal expert who is familiar with the area of legal expertise you need.

*While there are cases where medical professionals, attorneys, certain clergy, and spouses may fall under specific cases where they fall under legal or other restrictions where they are allowed to keep secrets and lies, I am not referring to those individuals. Likewise, there are times when those individuals would not be covered by those restrictions and would be required to report what they learned.

A common enough response in social media posts is something along the lines of it’s not your job to reveal secrets and lies of family members. I am not one to go out of my way to share family secrets and lies, but I am also not going to go out of my way in keeping those lies and secrets buried. People need to realize that family secrets and lies will come out. With the advent of over 15 million people who have DNA tested at AncestryDNA alone, those secrets are coming out on a regular basis. This isn’t only about secrets and lies that can be revealed by DNA as there are many others that will come to light from other sources.

One of the most common explanations for keeping secrets and lies is so you don’t hurt the person the secret or lie is being kept from. You are doing them no favors by keeping it. The truth has a great way of revealing itself. At that point, the person who didn’t know may blame, rightfully so, the people who kept the secret or lie from them. In many cases, those who kept it find themselves no longer trusted by the individual who may feel betrayed or hurt.

One of the dirty little secrets of DNA testing is the belief that not testing will keep any family secrets and lies hidden because the person doesn’t DNA test. From several sources, it’s estimated that at least 60% of Americans can be traced through DNA testing at companies like AncestryDNA, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA), etc. even if the person hasn’t DNA tested. I don’t know if it’s true estimate, but I have seen plenty of posts by those who were able to trace unknown birth parents who haven’t DNA tested through unknown siblings, half-siblings, and cousins (cousins often as distant as 3rd or 4th cousins).

If there are any unknown dirty secrets or lies that my DNA testing can reveal,  the cat’s out of the bag. That applies if it takes years or decades for the secret or lie to come to light once the right person DNA tests. It could happen before I finish typing this post or before it goes live in a couple of hours. How ironic that would be.

The thing to be cautious about with DNA testing is comparing results from different DNA companies that use significantly different SNPs. It’s important because you may find what you think are secrets or lies based on a limited comparison of SNPs between most of the companies.

For example, this comparison SNP What’s a SNP? chart on ISOGG Who or what is ISOGG? shows wide differences in how many or few SNPs you may share between companies. For example if you and a match tested with 23andMe, but one of the tests used the v2 chip and the other used the v5 chip, only 99,894 SNPs are common to both tests out of the 537,428 (v2 chip) or 630,132 (v5 chip) SNPs tested. With the SNPs differences in cases like this example, you could easily get what appears to be a false relationship or a missed relationship.

I know somebody who lied about getting married before he actually got married, then made the mistake of getting married later where the local newspaper publishes marriage license applications.


About ICT Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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