If you have taken a MyHeritage DNA test or transferred there, quick, check your results because you may have new Theories of Family Relativity! I do.
Theories of Family Relativity, sometimes abbreviated as TOFR, first looks at your DNA matches, then their trees, and provides you with theories as to how you share a common ancestor.
These are called theories for a reason. They utilize your tree and other people’s as well. Sometimes multiple trees have to be used to connect the dots if you or your matches tree isn’t extended far enough back in time.
My normal cautions about trees apply here. One of the great things about theories, though, is that if there are different “paths” suggested by trees, TOFR shows those multiple paths and allows you to evaluate for yourself.
Evaluation is crucial – which is why they are called theories.
Multiple DataBases Contribute to Increased Theories
MyHeritage utilizes trees and other information from multiple databases and then ranks their probability of being accurate. Databases include:
- The total number of Theories has increased from 6 to 14 million
- More than 46% of their users have at least one Theory (no tree, no Theory)
- A new notification system is being rolled out, so you’ll receive an e-mail when you receive new Theories
- For now, the TOFR database will be updated periodically, but eventually it will be automated so that TOFRs will be reported as they occur
In February, I had 51 Theories. This week, MyHeritage refreshed TOFR again and now I have 26 more for a total of 77.
Of these new 26, 24 are accurate. One connects me to the wrong son of my ancestor, and one is inaccurate – but I know why both are wrong.
The second inaccurate theory is because most trees include the wrong mother for my ancestor Phoebe Crumley. Her mother was Lydia Brown, not Elizabeth Johnson. I performed extensive research, including mitochondrial DNA testing, and proved that Phoebe’s mother was Lydia, not Elizabeth. However, wrong trees are plentiful and have been propagating like weeds for years now in many databases with no documentation.
This is why evaluation is critical.
I particularly like that theories aren’t just provided blindly, expecting you to just have faith, but each “link” is evaluated and given a confidence ranking.
He’s an example of how to use theories. You can find them by clicking on the purple View Theories banner or under DNA matches by utilizing the Tree Details filter.
If you have a new Theory, it will be labeled as such so you don’t waste time looking at Theories you’ve already processed. I write a note for every match I’ve reviewed in the notes box in the upper right hand corner.
Theories are important, but don’t overlook the information in the green box. If the theory turns out to be not exactly correct – the additional information may still be the link you need.
View the theory by clicking on either the View Theory link or the Review DNA Match button. Your theory is the first thing you’ll see below the match itself.
The theory is presented with the detail available when you click on View full theory.
In this example, my first cousin tested and entered at least a partial tree. TOFR created 5 different “paths” based on combinations of trees as to how we are related.
I’m displaying Path 3 where the link has a 93% confidence ranking. To view that comparison, click on the green intersection button and additional information between the two trees used to create the theory will display. In this case, it’s me with no additional information, but Path 1, below, shows the link between two trees at our common grandfather level.
Now if I click on the green intersection button, I see a lot more information, based on the information in both trees, shown side by side comparatively. The more information in the trees, the more information MyHeritage has to use when constructing these Theories.
I love this tool!
Even my Theories that aren’t completely correct provide me with hints and other people’s information to evaluate. I can almost always figure the rest out by myself.
Better yet, given that I paint my matches with known ancestors at DNAPainter, I now have 26 more matches to paint, AND, if I look at my shared matches with these people, I’m sure I’ll have even more. I may never surface for air!
Many people are very likely to discover new ancestors, especially people who are newer to genealogy!
Beware though, and verify, because these connections are hints and theories, not gospel.
How Do You Get Theories?
Maybe you don’t have Theories and want some. How can you encourage the system to generate Theories?
- You must test at or transfer your DNA results to MyHeritage.
- Theory of Family Relativity is a premium feature that is included for free if you test at MyHeritage using either the Ancestry only kit or the Ancestry plus Health kit.
- If you transfer and upload your DNA file, to access Theories you must either purchase a subscription or pay a one time $29 unlock fee to access the premium features. You can try the subscription for free, here.
- Make sure your DNA test is assigned to your person card. Check your tree. If a DNA kit is attached to you, you’ll see the little DNA icon. Clicking through to your profile card shows you the details under the DNA tab. Be sure the right kit is attached to the right person.
- If your DNA is not attached to your person card, connect it by clicking on the DNA tab at the top of any page, then on Manage DNA Kits.
- Under Manage DNA Kits, you’ll see 3 dots to the right side. Click there to assign a DNA kit to a person.
- You must have a tree, even if it’s a small tree. The more robust your tree, the more Theories you are likely to have because MyHeritage can make those connections. For example, if your tree has only you plus your parents, other trees much have you or your parents in their trees too in order for MyHeritage to be able to connect the dots. Enter as many ancestors as you can into your tree. You can build your tree at MyHeritage or you can upload a GEDCOM file.
- When MyHeritage offers Smart Matches between a person in your tree and a person in another user’s tree, confirm the Smart Match if it’s accurate. Smart Matching is one of the tools that MyHeritage can utilize to confirm that two people in different trees are actually the same person. You can do three things with Smart Matches.
- Confirm the match without doing anything else which does not import any information from the other person’s tree.
- Confirm, at which time you will be given the option to import field by field, if you so choose.
- Under the Confirm box, click the dropdown and select “Save to Tree” which imports everything from the other person’s tree for that match into your tree. I do NOT recommend this option, certainly not without reviewing what they have in their tree and their sources.
- Prepare and Wait – After testing or uploading your DNA, work with your matches and Smart Matches to extend your tree so that you’ll be in a prime position to receive Theories of Family Relativity as soon as it’s run again. Soon, it will be automated and running continuously.
If you want to play, you have to test or transfer. Here’s how:
- To transfer a DNA kit to MyHeritage from Ancestry, Family Tree DNA or 23andMe, click here. Instructions for how to transfer are found here.
- To order a MyHeritage DNA test with ancestry only (no health,) click here.
- To order a MyHeritage plus Health, click here.
- To order a MyHeritage subscription by beginning with a free trial, click here. I have one and I love it!
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DNA Purchases and Free Transfers
- Family Tree DNA
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