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POLL: Most are open to DNA-based family discoveries, even awkward ones

Given the potential for trauma and unearthing of long-buried family skeletons, are discoveries based on DNA more of a good thing than a bad thing? Most of you say yes
DNA, genetics

In the early 2000s, user-friendly cheap DNA tests came on the market — and many people who took them got far more than they bargained for. 

People have found out that the person they knew as their biological father actually isn't, that the person they knew as their biological mother actually isn't, that a parent has a long-lost sibling they didn't know about, that they themselves have a long-lost sibling that they didn't know about, and so forth. 

Inevitably, the process has revealed many recent or long-ago affairs. A Google search for dna bombshell family gets 3.4 million results.

The question arises: given the potential for trauma, and the unearthing of long-buried family skeletons, are these discoveries more of a good thing than a bad thing?

By a strong margin in an online poll recently, you said they were: 

Women are more open to disclosure than men:

Interestingly, there is far less difference by age than I expected. (The 50-59 result, I think, is an outlier.)

There was no very dramatic difference by party affiliation: PC voters tended more toward reticence, but not by much:

There was no strong north-south difference. I won't embed the graph, but you can see it here.

A consistent correlation, though, was between readers who thought that on the whole it was better to preserve certain fictions, and with them the family peace, and those who held a cluster of traditionalist views on other subjects.

Readers who oppose disclosure are also more likely to: 

Say they would vote to keep the monarchy in a referendum.

Say they plan to never get tattoos.

Say that legalizing cannabis was a mistake.

Say they would vote to keep the separate school system in a referendum (this one is less strong).

One surprise, though, was that our other poll question that touched on issues of family reticence — how the obituaries of truly awful people should be written — showed no relationship at all to responses to this question:

And it would seem that attendance at religious services makes no difference whatsoever. (I double-checked, and yes, the spreadsheet is correct on the back end.)

Patrick Cain

About the Author: Patrick Cain

Patrick is an online writer and editor in Toronto, focused mostly on data, FOI, maps and visualizations. He has won some awards, been a beat reporter covering digital privacy and cannabis, and started an FOI case that ended in the Supreme Court
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