Who’s your great great granddaddy? A King.

July 1, 2006 | By | 2 Replies More

We are all descended from kings, according to a recent MSNBC article about experts who have combined computer science and genealogy. 

Even without a documented connection to a notable forebear, experts say the odds are virtually 100 percent that every person on Earth is descended from one royal personage or another.

“Millions of people have provable descents from medieval monarchs,” said Mark Humphrys, a genealogy enthusiast and professor of computer science at Dublin City University in Ireland. “The number of people with unprovable descents must be massive.”

By the same token, for every king in a person’s family tree there are thousands and thousands of nobodies whose births, deaths and lives went completely unrecorded by history. We’ll never know about them, because until recently vital records were a rarity for all but the noble classes.

So just maybe . . . we should all start trying to treat everyone else like descendants of kings and queens.  If nothing else works, perhaps this is something else for our legislators to think about when they cut off medicaid for the working poor.  They should consider that they are cutting off medicaid to the descendants of royalty.

Islam probably runs in the family, too.

Humphrys estimates that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, appears on the family tree of every person in the Western world.

Let this be a word of caution for Christian fundamentalists who slam Islam in knee jerk fashion.


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Category: American Culture, Science, Statistics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    The picture become even more intriguing when we consider that many kings throughout history were military conquerers of one sort or another and, as a consequence, often fathered very large numbers of children by many different women. Likewise, if we also consider that other ape species are generally not monogamous, but instead have one dominant male who fathers most of the children, then going back farther into our human past (i.e., to our prosimian roots) is likely to reveal similar results: most children being descended from the same father. Accordingly, the idea of all humans having a common, royal ancestry is very compelling.

    Nevertheless, there also appear to be obvious departures; for example, the people who are descended from the native peoples of the Americas, Australia, the island nations of Polynesia, etc. Of course, they, too, are likely to be the descendants of kings (for the same reasons I mentioned above), but to find common roots with residents of the major continents probably requires going back much farther in time.

    However, whether or not these details should hold sway over Fundamentalists seems very unlikely, for at least a couple of reasons. First, they already believe that all humans are descended from Adam & Eve — i.e., God's own children — yet this does not seem to deter Fundies from treating believers of other religions as sub-human. I don't, for example, hear any of them mourning the deaths of the 50,000+ innocent Iraqi civilians who have died as a result of Bush's unjustified invasion. Second, and this is closely tied to the first, Fundies believe that all humans are "fallen" anyway, so even if all of today's people are descended from (earthly) kings, we are still all going to burn in hell unless we acknowledge their spiritual godhead (the "king of kings").

    In sum, I doubt the recent scientific findings will have much, if any, impact on Fundie behavior. Indeed, Fundies, almost by definition, appear to be utterly rigid in their thinking, with an unlimited capacity to ignore any information (scientific or otherwise) that might contradict their radical beliefs.

  2. Erika Price says:

    I find the science of it pretty astounding, but it would surprise me if the breakthrough changes anyone's outlook. Fundies will neglect this revelation for the reasons grumpypilgrim just listed, as well as a general refusal to ever consider scientific findings seriously. And I HOPE the more practical and free-thinking of us won't feel very differently about the human race after this, either. Most kings, despite thier so-called nobility, had track records of violence, tyranny, greed, and a slew of other unfortunate traits. Some kings also made generally beneficial changes to their areas of reign. But that makes the entity of "king" in general nuetral. Hopefully no one would suddenly adopt a fondness for mankind by simply realizing that everyone comes from kingly roots.

    But the general prospect of the finding does blow me away. To consider the commoness of all men with one another ought to result in a pretty humbling experience. To think that we all have connections to all kinds of other people, "good" and "bad", succesful and mediocre, tears away any basis for hate, prejudice, or smug superiority. We share a common link of harmful and helpful deeds, justices and injustices, and we cannot shirk the responsibility we all have as equal members of humanity.

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