Icelanders Avoid Inbreeding Through Online Incest Database

Ingólfr ArnarsonSo says Samantha Grossman in TIME:

Nowadays, some light Internet stalking is as common a pre-date ritual as showering or putting on a clean shirt. But for Icelanders, that online screening process can include running a date’s name through an incest database.

Sound ridiculous? Consider this: when you live in an isolated nation with a population roughly the size of Pittsburgh, accidentally lusting after a cousin is an all-too-real possibility. But a search engine called Íslendingabók (the Book of Icelanders) allows users to plug in their own name alongside that of a prospective mate, determining any familial overlap. The site claims to track 1,200 years of genealogical information about the island’s inhabitants. Anyone with an Icelandic ID number — that is, citizens and legal residents — is accounted for, the New York Daily News reports.

Not only can the site rule out courtships that might be a bit too close for comfort, but also it helps users determine if they share family ties with any famous Icelanders. One man learned he was related to the singer Björk seven generations back, as well as Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Global Post reports. He also discovered that his ex-wife was his seventh cousin …

Read More in TIME

12 Comments on "Icelanders Avoid Inbreeding Through Online Incest Database"

  1. Wow.

    They could *really* use one of these databases in the southeast US.  Especially NW Florida.  There are some towns where literally most of the population is related.  You can just look at some people and understand that there is significant genetic damage.  Bad scene.

  2. They have admitted the problem and taken steps to solve it. If only all nations were as proactive as Iceland.

    • Hadrian999 | Feb 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm |

      i guess thats what you have when a government doesn’t see it’s role as enforcing philosophical views on it’s subjects but would rather mitigate or solve problems

  3. I think it is outrageous and obscene to publicly expose peoples genealogical trees. Icelandic people are takeing freedom of expression too far.

  4. This is NOT an incest database nor is it used in such a way!
    This is a genetic database where you can go back to like me the early 1500s and find who your great x ? grandfather was, where he lived and what he did.
    I even found out I had relatives in canada thanks to this.
    This is like me saying that your family tree is full of incest!
    It is an OUTRAGE that the is lying and you all are buying it without question! You are NO journalists!

    • Indeed, it is a Genetic database, and not meant to imply incest. It was a poor wording on the part of the poster of this story to title it as such.

    • Hadrian999 | Feb 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm |

      the writer doesn’t say that’s what it is for, she says it can be used for that. it is not saying that Iceland is full of incest.

  5. I demand a public appology for trying to destroy icelands reputation!

  6. Anyone beyond a first cousin causes no inbreeding problem.  Most people know or are aware of their first cousins.  If not, well things happen.  The marriage of first cousins used to be common in the U.S. and no one thought the worse of it.  The only harm came from passing on genetic defects such as a genetic disease to your offspring.  As a genealogist, it would be great if we had such a database in the U.S. – the world for that matter.  however, I am the first to admit that there is always the danger that authorities or corporations would use it for nefarious purposes.  

  7. Gregory Wyrdmaven | Feb 13, 2012 at 10:50 am |

    Yes, it’s supposed to be an anti-incest database, poor choice of article heading.  But then Uhmurkans are sexually incompetent and we still act like we’re in Fifth Grade when sex is the topic of discussion.

    I’m from Tennessee and while marrying your sister has not been practiced since…oh, the 1980s…that’s one of the problems we have in the Southeast…people marrying basically an opposite-gender version of themselves and not getting any genetic diversity.  The Inuits have this “putting out the lamp” thing where different groups come together, the adults get in a tent, turn out the lights and have an orgy basically.  This spreads the genetic material around and since no one can really be sure which uglies they were bumping, coupled (pun intended) with child-raising being done by the community, then this assures less in-breeding.

    Which is why I propose we ship all the Tennesseans who think Obama was born in Kenya to San Francisco for a lovefest.  Of course “The City” will suffer an IQ drop in a few years but maybe when some of these new Tenniscans get to be teenagers they might have some new ideas like…”no, I won’t own a pick-up truck if I don’t need one” or “why are you saying Jesus turned water into grape juice if the host of the wedding feast was praised for saving the best “juice” for last?  Because it is when the folks have become inebriated that you can use the cheapest wine, right?” or “hmm, Nascar is really boring” or “I don’t like our National Anthem, it’s a Military Hymn” or “damn, the birth certificate is valid.”

    Fiat lux

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