DNA information as direct or indirect evidence

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jarnspiger's picture
DNA information as direct or indirect evidence

I am trying to determine if a recently discovered YDNA match would be considered direct or indirect evidence.  I have read the QuickLesson 24 re DNA.  However, the four examples do not seem to address my situation which is as follows.

My question would be (generically) Is individual A of hometown USA a grandson of individual B of Faraway, USA?

The tester's (my sibling) YDNA information is a match to an individual who is a great great grandson to individual B, through a known son of individual B. 

So is this DNA evidence considered direct or indirect evidence as applied to my question?

Thank you for your insight.


EE's picture

Jo, with DNA evidence we apply the same criteria we apply with any other type of evidence. In this case, does your DNA result directly, explicitly state that A is a grandson of B? Or are there other ways that the test result could be read?  Do you have to combine that test result with other evidence to build a case for your conclusion?

The Editor

jarnspiger's picture

In my opinion I have to combine other evidence to make my case. Ths evidence supports my hypothesis but does not explicity answer the question.  Appreciate your response.


yhoitink's picture

I come at this from a a slightly different angle. Whether something is direct or indirect evidence to me is about whether it relates directly to the research question, but it doesn't have to be a complete answer. 

For example, if my research question is "when was John born?" and I have a census record that says he was 20 years old in 1850, I would call that direct evidence even though it doesn't give me the exact birth date. But if I had John providing a witness statement that did not give his age, I would consider that as indirect evidence since it would tell me he was born before a certain date because he had would have reached the age of majority to provide the statement. 

I prefer my research questions to be open-ended rather than yes/no. So I would formulate the research question as "Who was the paternal grandfather of individual A of Hometown USA?" I would then consider the Y-match direct evidence, giving the non-specific answer "Somebody from the paternal line of individual B of Faraway, USA." It would require combination with other evidence to come to a conclusion, but that is true for any piece of evidence since one piee by itself never proves anything. 

With the yes/no question, there's little room for non-specific answers so perhaps it would be indirect then. Interesting question! 

Yvette Hoitink, CGSM, the Netherlands
Dutch Genealogy Services