I hope it won’t be plagiarism, if I repeat what I read in today’s Courier Journal. It is an article written by Alan Zarembo. It addresses DNA testing, and how it can reveal lies and family secrets. Oh, Lord have mercy, I thought, as I continued to read his column. Listen to this: In a search for their ancestors, more than 140 people with variations of the last name Kincaid have taken DNA tests and shared their results on the Internet. All kinds of stuff was unearthed that should have lay buried, in my opinion. After all, once you are in the grave, you don’t have a chance to defend yourself. If, given the chance, I think all of them would have clutched their collective chests and fallen over. Although it is true that they found war heroes, they also stumbled upon liars and two-timers.
In one case, two brothers were surprised to discover they had different fathers. They confronted their elderly mother, who denied the most obvious possibilities. “It has been traumatic for some to discover their true lineage through the DNA tests,” said Don Kincaid, who oversees the Kincaid surname project and witnessed the brothers’ ordeal.
As genetic testing becomes more widespread for medical information, forensics and ancestral research, more people are accidentally uncovering family secrets. The direct-to-customer DNA industry sometimes warns customers of the possibility of unintended consequences.
The industry has ballooned to more than three dozen companies from its inception about nine years ago. There is a wide range, from those that offer basic ancestry testing to a few that scan several hundred thousand genes looking for susceptibility to certain diseases.
Scans, which require a cheek swab or a vial of spit cost from $100 to $1,000.
Now, here is my question: Do you really want to know? Sometimes I look upon myself as the keeper of family secrets. Stuff I will take to my grave. However, if ancestry testing became the common thing, why would you need a family-secret keeper like I am?
I have had the opportunity on bored occasion to watch Jerry Springer or Maury Povich. I can’t remember which one does the testing of “who’s the daddy?” but I do remember thinking …who in their right mind would go on a program like that, risk losing their marriage and upsetting the applecart just to get that information? Besides those people could get the info privately and then keep it to themselves. I have decided some people are just nuts. However, after reading Zambero’s article, I see that these idiots who go on talk shows are the minority. Maybe they get plane fare and meals or some such benefit. It seems to me that the large majority of people who suspect that an “oopsie” occurred just kept their mouths shut and, until now, their secret was safe. Now we have these nosey pokers who want to expose long held secrets only to their doom. The two brothers mentioned refused to be interviewed and it certainly had to put a kink in the relationship they had with their mother. I hope nobody in my family does such searching. I have the secrets, and I’m keeping the secrets. I have a pretty good idea that most people reading this column are secret-keepers, also. The older you get the more things you have to keep quiet about. Or should keep quiet about.
Dr. Eric Topol, chief of genomic medicine at Scripps Research Institute in LaJolla, California, predicts that more and more people are going to want to know their history. There’s an old saying, ”Katie, bar the door!” Perhaps we should be satisfied with what we “think” and forget about what we could “know.” That’s my opinion.
Spring will arrive someday!