Recently, Ancestry.com announced that President Barack Hussein Obama II is related to Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and President George W. Bush. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101013/ap_on_re_us/us_obama_and_palin
What’s interesting is the firmness with which they state their findings:
A genealogist at the Utah-based Ancestry.com, Anastasia Tyler, said Obama and Palin are 10th cousins through a common ancestor named John Smith, a pastor and early settler in 17th-century Massachusetts. Obama is related to Smith through his mother, as is Palin, Tyler said. . . . As for Limbaugh, he’s also a 10th cousin of the president — one time removed — through a common ancestor named Richmond Terrell, who Tyler said was a large landowner in Virginia, also in the 17th century. ‘His history is a little more nebulous,’ Tyler said.
How do the genealogists come up with this stuff? Tyler said they start by picking the people they’re interested in, then examine their family trees, going back further and further into history, looking for common surnames and locations. . . . But former President George W. Bush? He’s related to both Obama and Palin, the site found. Obama and Bush are 11th cousins through common ancestor Samuel Hinckley, and Bush and Palin are 10th cousins one time removed, also through Hinckley.
Notice that Ms. Tyler qualifies her findings by warning that Richmond Terrell’s “history is a little more nebulous.” One would assume that Terrell is the antecedent of her statement, but perhaps she was actually referring to the POTUS. As we all know, his history is more than a little “nebulous.”
Anybody who’s even dabbled in genealogy knows how important it is to start at the beginning and work your way up a family tree, carefully documenting sources. Here’s a link to basic rules about starting a family tree: http://genealogy.about.com/od/basics/a/verifying.htm
Here is some of their advice, with pertinent phrases emphasized and a few smart-ass wisecracks interspersed in brackets:
Family information that is freely published in many Internet databases and Web sites is often unsubstantiated and of questionable validity. While useful as a clue or a starting point for further research, the family tree data is sometimes more fiction than fact. [Sometimes readily admitted by the “author” of the fictional biography.] Yet, people often treat the information they find as the gospel truth. . . . Whether its [sic] a personal Web page or a subscription genealogy database [Ancestry.com anyone?] all online data should include a list of sources. The key word here is should. You will find many resources that don’t. . . . Email the contributor of the data, whether it be the compiler of a database or the author of a personal family tree, and politely ask for their source information.”
This website also wisely advises researchers to carefully evaluate information: “Does the data come from a primary source? These sources, created at or close to the time of the event by someone with personal knowledge of the event (i.e. a birth date provided by the family doctor for the birth certificate), are the most likely to be accurate. Secondary sources, by contrast, are records created a significant amount of time after an event occurred or by a person who was not present at the event (i.e. a birth date listed on a death certificate by the daughter of the deceased). Primary evidence usually carries more weight than secondary evidence. [Apparently not with the lamestream media, Congress, and the courts, so far] . . . How many steps is the data from the original source? A database on Ancestry.com that is derived from a published book, which itself was compiled from original records means that the database on Ancestry is two steps away from the original source. Each additional step increases the likelihood of errors. . . . Did any time elapse between the event and the creation of the record that relates its details? [most likely] . . . A delayed birth record may have been issued dozens of years [or even decades] after the actual birth. . . . Does the document appear altered in any way? [You betcha!] Different handwriting may mean that information was added after the fact. Digital photos may have been edited. [Double-dog you betcha!] It’s not a normal occurence, but it does happen. [Oh, indeed it do.] . . . What do others say about the source? [Eligibility questioners: anything to add here?] If it is a published book or database rather than an original record, use an Internet search engine to see if anyone else has used or commented on that particular source. [Only us chickens] . . . One last tip – just because a source is published online by a reputable [?] organization or corporation doesn’t mean that the source itself has been vetted and verified. [No sireee, Bob, it doesn’t. In fact, in some situations, “researchers” run the other way to avoid vetting and verifying.]
I swear that I did not make any of this up. Read the link for yourself. Can you believe the number of points they make that are pertinent to our more-than-two-year search for the answer to the question I asked before,
Who is this man?
You tell me how a “reputable organization” that specializes in family tree research, that produces a television program demonstrating the importance of going to the source, can build and stand behind a family tree that begins upon the most flimsy, undocumented, unsourced, unprovenanced, unverified of “facts”. Those being:
who are the biological parents of Barack Hussein Obama II?
Without documentary evidence, PRIMARY SOURCE EVIDENCE, that Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Hussein Obama ARE the biological parents of this POTUS, any family tree that anyone builds is a waste of time and trouble.
Ancestry.com cannot say with any certainty that Obama is related to Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, or Rush Limbaugh. Not until the primary sources are revealed.
If it is so important to see primary sources in order to be sure to create an accurate family tree for your own family, how much more important should it be to our country that the POTUS present primary sources to We the People in order to prove his eligibility to serve us?