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Warren Buffett, Jimmy Buffett, and 23andMe Continued

Earlier today I wrote about how 23andMe used genetic genealogy to confirm that Warren Buffett and Jimmy Buffett are not recently related via their Y chromosome. I also mentioned that this was a great way to introduce the company (as well as genetic genealogy) to the masses.

This evening I saw a story posted at The Motley Fool entitled “Warren Buffett is No Parrothead.” Similar to the story that I linked to this morning, it appears that the author is not familiar with genetic genealogy:

However, solving the Buffett mystery illustrates how a stake in 23andMe is a good fit in Google’s portfolio. The one thing that blows me away here is that a simple spit test was enough to uproot a family tree deep enough to find an ancestral link before surnames were even around.

“I’m not naive enough to think that 23andMe’s elaborate tests can ever be cheap enough to create a deep genealogical database loaded with data of anyone within spitting distance. However, it would certainly be cool if this was the start of a genealogical social networking hub — a Zillow for the family tree scrapbooking set.

The author probably doesn’t know that lots of other companies have offered these elaborate tests (see Sidebar), and thousands of customers have entered their results into large databases (Ysearch, mitosearch, etc…). With the amount I’ve spend on genetic genealogy, a $1000 genomic sequencing doesn’t really seem very high. That isn’t the current price of course, but numerous scientists have made it their goal (see my recent series entitled “You and the $1000 Genome”).

So, it appears that 23andMe has successfully introduced yet another person to the wonderful world of genetic genealogy! By the way, I emailed this post to the author of the article in case he might be interested in joining the conversation here at the Genetic Genealogist.

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007