The world's largest family reunion ... we're all invited! | A.J. Jacobs | Summary and Q&A

YouTube video player
The world's largest family reunion ... we're all invited! | A.J. Jacobs


In this talk, the speaker shares his experience of discovering a massive and interconnected family tree through genealogy and discusses the scientific, historical, and social significance of this discovery.

Install to Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Transcripts

Key Insights

  • 🌍 The field of genealogy is going through a revolution thanks to DNA testing and internet collaboration, leading to massive, interconnected family trees with millions of people.
  • 📜 The world family tree on Geni has 75 million people connected by blood or marriage, including famous figures like Gwyneth Paltrow, Barack Obama, and Kevin Bacon.
  • ⚛️ Genealogy has scientific value, providing valuable data on disease inheritance and migration patterns, as well as bringing history alive by connecting individuals to famous ancestors.
  • 🧬 We all come from the same ancestors, Y chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve, making us all biological cousins, and our interconnectedness means treating others with kindness and acceptance.
  • 🌍 The family tree has a democratizing effect, challenging elitist ideas about lineage and expanding the idea of family to be more inclusive and diverse.
  • 🎉 The speaker plans to host the biggest and best family reunion in history, inviting all his newfound cousins to come together and celebrate their shared connection.
  • 👥 The event will feature exhibits, food, music, and speakers, including Cass Sunstein, George H.W. Bush, Nick Kroll, and Dr. Oz, to explore the complexities of family and tribe.
  • 💡 The speaker acknowledges that he doesn't have all the answers, but believes that by coming together as a global family, we can find solutions to big problems and build a better world.


Six months ago, I got an email from a man in Israel who had read one of my books, and the email said, "You don't know me, but I'm your 12th cousin." And it said, "I have a family tree with 80,000 people on it, including you, Karl Marx, and several European aristocrats." Now I did not know what to make of this. Part of me was like, okay, when's he g... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What inspired the speaker to dive into genealogy?

The speaker received an email from a man in Israel claiming to be his 12th cousin, which sparked his interest in exploring genealogy.

Q: How do websites like Geni create massive family trees?

Websites like Geni use collaboration and crowdsourcing methods to combine family trees. They search for matching individuals in different family trees and merge them together, resulting in massive family trees with thousands or even millions of people.

Q: What is the significance of having a world family tree with millions of people?

The world family tree provides valuable scientific data about the history of the human race, including disease inheritance and migration patterns. It also brings history alive and creates a sense of interconnectedness among all individuals, highlighting the fact that we are all biological cousins.

Q: How does having a large family tree contribute to a kinder world?

The speaker believes that a large family tree makes it difficult for people to hold biases or prejudices against particular ethnic groups. It reminds individuals that they are cousins with thousands of people from different backgrounds and encourages a more inclusive and compassionate view of family and humanity as a whole.

Q: What is the purpose of the speaker's upcoming family reunion?

The speaker is hosting a family reunion that aims to be the biggest and best in history. It will take place at the New York Hall of Science and will feature exhibits, food, music, and speakers, including famous cousins. The purpose is to celebrate the notion of family and tribe while exploring important issues related to family and finding solutions together.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker received an email from a distant cousin, prompting him to explore genealogy. He discovered that he is connected to millions of people around the world through massive, collaborative family trees found on genealogy websites.

  • The study of genealogy has scientific value, providing insights into how diseases are inherited and how people migrate. It also brings history alive, making famous figures more relatable and engaging.

  • Genealogy highlights our interconnectedness and shows that we are all biological cousins. This can promote a kinder world by challenging bigotry and creating a more inclusive society. Additionally, genealogy has a democratizing effect, as everyone is related and family lineage is becoming more diverse and inclusive.

Share This Summary 📚

Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Video Transcripts with 1-Click

Download browser extensions on:

Explore More Summaries from TED 📚

Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Video Transcripts with 1-Click

Download browser extensions on: