02 September 2013

Another WDYTYA? Rant

Cindy Crawford on Who Do You Think You Are?:
"That's really incredible to go back that far
on my first day really, doing this."
"I think this sets the bar really high for a first day.
I've already gone back to 1633..."
Bless her heart. Sweetie, you didn't do anything. A group of professional genealogists worked for 1000 hours so you could get that far in a day. This was an episode to make clickophiles feel good about themselves. I can hear it now, "Well if Cindy Crawford could get to Charlemagne in an hour why don't you believe I got there during my 14-day free trial?"

There was no mention of any of the important sources used to make that huge jump to Charlemagne and no explanation of the "unestablished" notations on the behemoth scroll she was given.

Screen caps after the jump.

ⓑⓐⓡⓚⓘⓝⓖ  ⓤⓟ  ⓣⓗⓔ  ⓦⓡⓞⓝⓖ  ⓣⓡⓔⓔ

Unestablished: not established
Established: shown to be valid or true; proven
So unestablished would mean not proven.

Note that for Pepin no spouse is listed so "unestablished" does not refer to the spouse. My assumption would be that links between the generations have not been proven. If they haven't been proven then how can it be definitively stated that Cindy Crawford is related to Charlemagne? I dare someone to say, "These relationships are generally accepted." Go ahead. Please? I have a whole flat earth argument for that ;-)

So where's the proof? Is there a preponderance of evidence but not enough to meet the Genealogical Proof Standard? Or are these leaps of faith? If "unestablished" means something other than "unproven" when applied to genealogy please let me know in the comments.

Genealogists are critical thinkers and we demand proof. Even at the beginning of her journey there were questions from fellow family historians. "How does she know that is the correct census?" There was no thought put into which census year she would look for first. It looked as if she just chose the first one that popped up. For questions about the opening scenes the case study from ProGenealogists is helpful. Unfortunately it doesn't mention anything about the Charlemagne portion of the show.

It seems the U.S. version of WDYTYA? is determined to be a CSI: Miami show when genealogists are Law & Order people. We find it laughable when the characters are still in the same clothes after the entire crime scene, including DNA, has been processed. We follow the "kunk, kunk" date/time updates and like that it shows a realistic time frame for an investigation. We appreciate evidence being analyzed, as it should be, by people who do not know the facts of the case. We love seeing realistic clues and listening to the interviews so we feel like we're participating in the hunt.

Of course there are constantly people on the WDYTYA? Facebook page who wish they could have their tree handed to them like the celebrities do. Where's the fun in that? The excitement is in the search. Those of us who do genealogy know that, though an occasional hint is never unwelcome. We want to see more of the details that might give us those hints for our own research.

I did not know about the ProGenealogists case studies before last week's episode but I will be reading through all of them. Of course I'll probably be wishing they had more information. I would love to see a tree with sources posted for each episode. Something like...
Here's what we were able to find on Ancestry.com. Here's a list of brick and mortar research sites that were used for this episode or better yet, a list of all sources used, at least for the line(s) included in the show.

Hey, a girl can dream.

A pet peeve about the show that applies to all episodes...

Am I the only one that thinks "three times great-grandmother" or "ten times great-grandfather" sounds odd? Why does no one say "third great-grandmother" or "tenth great-grandfather"? It was one thing when it was just the featured celebrity saying it but now that Mocean Melvin is saying it I want to throw things at the television.

RELATED POST: From The Lineal Arboretum - Stanley Sudeikis Was Not a Bigamist
NEXT POST: Aunt Generation


  1. I share your sentiments. This episode was rather disturbing.

  2. I'm with you on the whole "Here's a list of sources!" thing. Holy cow would that be amazing. Not because I might share a common ancestor with a celeb, (other than Charlemagne. According to all the trees I copied info from, he was totally my 76 times great grandfather.) but because there might be places I haven't tried looking on ancestry.com to break those brick walls.

    1. It killed my sarcasm tags. :( please read the stuff in parenthesis with your tongue in your cheek. whoops.

  3. Completely agree with all written. There should be some way that ancestry.com answers these concerns in all of their social forums; the better for the 'click-o-philes' to see. Although it is wishful on my part that they'd not only read, but comprehend.

  4. Completely agree....thank you for sharing this link in my original post on the WDYTYA facebook page...and thank you for agreeing with me. I found it incredible that so many are willing to take at face value the fact that she is linked to Charlemagne after a 45 minute episode. I personally think this particular episode was pre-scripted....I am glad you have the screen shots that show the 'unestablished'. It should be a good lesson for anyone who thinks its possible to link their genealogy so far back in such a short period of time. For cryin' out loud I have been working on mine for nearly 40 years and I've only gotten to 1742. And I am thrilled I've gotten that far back. Click-o-philes is a perfect description....although I was accused of a 'snob factor'....snort... I will be following this blog and will recommend to some of my genealogy friends.

  5. Her episode bothered me more than any other I have seen except for Brook Shields. Hers bothered me too, not sure which one was the worst to get to a Famous Person.
    Sue Ellen Ash