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In Iceland, Tap Cellphones To Avoid Incest 296

Posted by timothy
from the please-don't-repurpose-this-app dept.
Kozar_The_Malignant writes "Students at the University of Iceland have written an Android app that helps you avoid dating your cousins. The app accesses the Icelandic national genealogical database that contains information on all living citizens and their ancestors going back 1,100 years. Tapping two phones together will bring up an alert if you share a common grandparent." Just one of the consequences of having a population small enough (and well documented enough) to have a well-known genetic makeup.
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In Iceland, Tap Cellphones To Avoid Incest

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:33PM (#43483779)

    Do you really need an app to tell you who's family?

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:46PM (#43483943) Journal

      In high school one of the hottest girls who half the guys (including myself) had a boner for turned out to be a very distant relative of mine...only found out years later from my dad's family tree research hobby. Makes me feel a little better about not tapping that :-\

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:53PM (#43484025)

        Not tapping that?

        Or not even registering in her consciousness as existing?

        • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:01PM (#43484109) Journal

          Nah we were reasonably friendly. I was taking the slow "get laid or friend-zoned trying" approach while other guys were going for the "assault with pickup lines and see what sticks" strategy.

      • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:01PM (#43484103) Journal

        Not to be creepy or anything, but from a genetic standpoint, a distant relative would probably have been fine to date.

        But I know what you mean. A Playmate from the late sixties is a distant relative of mine, and I was always a little creeped out by that centerfold.

        • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:16PM (#43484271) Journal

          Actually, it depends on the genetic diversity in the population. In some island cultures it became acceptable to for brothers to marry sisters. If everyone already pretty much has the same genes, that's fine, because serious receive genetic disorders have already been breeded out. In Iceland, it's likely less of a problem to marry a cousin than it would be in most of the USA.

          • But at the same time, incest increases the chances of the remaining recessive genetic defects showing up in children and causing problems.

      • by hobarrera (2008506) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @03:30PM (#43486019) Homepage

        Honestly, why?
        If you reproduce with a close relative, there's a higher chance of some genetic flaws showing up. But just having [protected] sex with a distant cousin won't result in anything nasty. Heck, not even your sister would be an issue (unless you get here pregnant).
        This used to be shuned upon because sex = kids. This isn't true anymore nowadays, since we have pills, condoms, etc. It's just inhereted taboo.

    • by Aguazul2 (2591049) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:48PM (#43483971)

      In Iceland AFAIK people are called "Bob son of George" or "Mary daughter of John", so there aren't any surnames to make it obvious. It makes me wonder how the database can uniquely identify you, though. (I wonder at what stage in the dating/relationship procedure the phone tapping takes place -- you don't want to leave it too late, nor be in a rush and tap too early...)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:51PM (#43484001)

      Iceland is one of the few places that still use the Ancient Germanic Naming (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_names). This is based upon your father's (or rarely mother's) first name.

      Thus, if siblings lose contact with another, it is very possible their decedents would not know their cousins by name.

    • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:05PM (#43484159) Journal

      Do you really need an app to tell you who's family?

      Funny you mention that. Not to put too fine a point on it, but much of my family belong to a religion that promotes large families and careful genealogical records, and I found out one day entirely by accident that one of my co-workers, a thousand miles from my home town, was a first cousin. It can happen even in the US; I imagine it's a fairly common occurrence in a tiny country like Iceland.

      • Yup, here in New Mexico, just about any of the old family names are relatives, to one degree or another. Is one of th reasons my Mom and several of her sisters went out of state to find husbands. Our family photos now have us ranging from pale redheads through blond blue eys to dark brown with black hair. Kinda cool having a rainbow family. Doesn't make sense to look down on anyone due to how they look. Now, if they don't like chile...

    • by TWX (665546)
      My paternal grandparents had close to 20 children over 25 years, of which my father was the last, and many of his older siblings also had huge families. There are three rural counties in the midwest that I had basically considered nonviable from a dating perspective.

      Fortunately my parents moved several states away before I was born so it was not an issue.
  • by denzacar (181829) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:34PM (#43483789) Journal

    "Tapping" anything seems to me like a very poor choice of words when talking about incest.

    • Re:"Tap" phones? (Score:4, Informative)

      by coldsalmon (946941) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:50PM (#43483985)

      Also, a very poor choice of words when talking about phones. "Tapping" a phone doesn't usually mean bumping two phones together.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:50PM (#43483991)
      Also seems like it could be super awkward from start to finish.

      Scenario one: You think you're hitting it off. You suggest tapping phones. You find out you weren't hitting it off.

      Scenario two: You are actually hitting it off. You think tapping phones would be good so you don't spend too much time wooing someone who may turn out to be a closer relative than you'd like. The other party was having a good time, but now it's a little more obvious that you want to mash genitals together, and there's increased sexual tension, making it more stressful for them or for you, and you ruin it.

      Scenario three: You are hitting it off, have successfully navigated increasing sexual tension, not too fast and not too slow. You are about to start making out, but then you decide to check. This kills the mood.

      Scenario four: you hit it off, you don't rush things, you don't kill the pre-makeout mood, you're already swapping saliva. You check right before putting on the condom. Network lag, it takes a few minutes before you get the results back, the guy becomes nervous in the meantime, and can't perform.

      Scenario five: you hit it off, you don't rush things, you don't kill the pre-makeout mood, you check while putting on the condom... and it's positive, you two are second cousins twice removed or something. I think it's second cousins who can, statistically speaking, reproduce and their chances of having recessive alleles show up is not any more likely than someone who is not related, so it's not inbreeding genetically. But it's still... weird. Do you go ahead and screw? Do you look up on wiki examples of other couples who were related in the same way?

      Scenario six: you're already married, and your wife is going into labor with your first born. It takes quite a while, and you're bored, so you test this on a lark and... oops... you're twins separated at birth. Awkward.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:16PM (#43484275)

      Besides, this whole app idea is impractical.

      Better to just outsource all potentially sexual dating in Iceland to yours truly, I'm not Icelandic.
      %100 percent incest protection. Because I care.

    • Oh, AVOID incest. I got confused too.

    • by OakDragon (885217)

      Can I tap that? That app will tell you if that should be tapped.

    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      Not really

      Be safe tap phones not cousins.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:36PM (#43484527)

      Marketing slogan: Tap the glass before you tap the a$$

    • by TWX (665546) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @02:30PM (#43485245)
      Our school district preggo school was called "TAPP". Apparently it stood for "TeenAge Pregnancy Program"...

      I'm curious as to which overpaid PhD thought of that one...
  • The Test (Score:5, Funny)

    by revoemag4 (2657941) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:34PM (#43483791)
    Tap that before you tap that.
  • Nightmare (Score:5, Funny)

    by jomama717 (779243) <jomama717@gmail.com> on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:38PM (#43483833) Journal
    "I awoke in a daze - sticky, smelling of stale alcohol, only imagining that her head would hurt as badly as mine when she finally awoke.  Vague memories of drinks, friends, laughter, and sex.  Lots of sex.  As I picked my pants up off the floor, my cell phone fell from the pocket and by some cruel twist of fate tapped her cell phone lying nearby..."
  • No incest (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:41PM (#43483885)

    Having sex with your cousin is not incest. Incest is defined to be with direct 1st degree relatives of the same bloodline. You can even marry your cousin - perfectly legal. At least in Germany.

    • by femtobyte (710429)

      As your "At least in Germany" caveat notes, this is highly dependent on jurisdiction (for the legal definition) and cultural norms (for the "eww-that's-gross" definition). In the US, for example, definitions vary at the state level, and first cousins are forbidden to marry in some states. Also variable is how laws cover adopted/step-parent (no biological bloodline) family members.

      • Re:No incest (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:00PM (#43484095)

        Even more amusing is that states regularly slagged for being full of "inbred racist rednecks" - such as: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and others... ban marriage of first cousins.

        The list of states that allow first cousin marriage include "forward thinking" places like California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington DC, and Oregon. Can't wait to hear the inbreeding jokes about those states!

        Q: How do you tell if someone is from California?
        A: The hemophilia, mostly.

        • Re:No incest (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:05PM (#43484163)

          Things often get banned in response to being pervasive and problematic, and permitted where they're too infrequent to cause widespread public concern. I'm totally unsurprised that the "redneck" states found the need for lots of restrictive inbreeding laws.

        • by istartedi (132515)

          Looking at a map [wikipedia.org] is interesting. You're wrong about Oregon. The social divides on this issue aren't as clear-cut as they would be on other issues..

          • I blame the Internet for raising me from a young age to not be surprsed that a such thing as a 'Cousin-dating-law-colored-map-of-Oregon' even exists, let alone that you were able to Google it in 30 seconds.

            Internet, what have you done?
        • Even more amusing is that states regularly slagged for being full of "inbred racist rednecks" - such as: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and others... ban marriage of first cousins.

          Now if only you cared enough to explain us what has inbreeding ever had to do with marriage...?

      • by bickerdyke (670000) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:01PM (#43484111)

        Or differ between Springfield and Shelbyville.

  • ... "I'd tap that".

    I'm not sure if that's coincidental, or intended.

  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:01PM (#43484107)

    Guy 1: "Is it illegal to shag your cousin in France?"
    Guy 2: "Only if she's ugly."

    Interestingly different attitudes to cousin love...some places it's encouraged, others, illegal incest.
    10% of marriages worldwide, apparantly...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cousin_marriage [wikipedia.org]

  • cool app (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:11PM (#43484219)
    Without reading TFA, this actually seems like a cool app (if you're Icelandic, that is). It would be interesting to be able to press a button and see how closely related you are to your friends -- "Hey our great-great-great grandmothers were half-sisters!" Things like that. It would be mostly meaningless, but who doesn't want to know who's in the (very) extended family?
    • It would be mostly meaningless, but who doesn't want to know who's in the (very) extended family?

      It would only be meaningless if you think that feeling connected to someone is meaningless. I wouldn't!

    • Re:cool app (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @03:12PM (#43485785)

      It would be interesting to be able to press a button and see how closely related you are to your friends

      It would be interesting to be able to press a button and see how closely related you are to your parents.

      This app is based on written records. Maybe some folks were a little shy with the truth when it came to saying who was the father of the child . . . ?

      My family tree has routing loops . . .

  • Had a similar situation happen to me in college... had first met this girl at a restaurant where she was a waitress. Later on we ended up in the same class, so one day we got together for study time (and to get to know each other better), and I found out her full name at that time. Turns out her last name was the same as my mom's maiden name.

    Long story short: After a very short conversation about relatives we found out that my mom and her dad were 1st cousins. Doh! I have never been so disappointed as

    • Long story short: After a very short conversation about relatives we found out that my mom and her dad were 1st cousins. Doh! I have never been so disappointed as I was then... :P

      Second cousins, then. Biologically, that makes you basically complete strangers....

      • Long story short: After a very short conversation about relatives we found out that my mom and her dad were 1st cousins. Doh! I have never been so disappointed as I was then... :P

        Second cousins, then. Biologically, that makes you basically complete strangers....

        We actually were complete strangers at first. Finding out that we were 2nd cousins put full reverse on any budding relationship. Damn shame too, she was cute, smart, and a personality that meshed well with mine. Oh well...

    • by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:49PM (#43484717)

      from a genetic standpoint you were safe
      sibling share on average what 23 chromosomes :. offspring have and average of 12 dupes
      1st cousins share 12 :. 6 dupes
      2nd cosines share 6 :. 3 dupes
      add in mutation rate in humans of 175 nucleotides per generation per chromosome, and you safe as long as you don't have a family doing it for multiple generations.
      socially however you would be frowned upon.

      • from a genetic standpoint you were safe
        sibling share on average what 23 chromosomes :. offspring have and average of 12 dupes
        1st cousins share 12 :. 6 dupes
        2nd cosines share 6 :. 3 dupes
        add in mutation rate in humans of 175 nucleotides per generation per chromosome, and you safe as long as you don't have a family doing it for multiple generations.
        socially however you would be frowned upon.

        True, however once the two of us realized the truth it was an instant turn-off for both of us.

    • After a very short conversation about relatives we found out that my mom and her dad were 1st cousins. Doh! I have never been so disappointed as I was then... :P

      Must be cultural. If you had half a brain, you'd seize the opportunity.

      • Must be cultural. If you had half a brain, you'd seize the opportunity.

        True. Fortunately I have a whole brain.

  • by Rob Riggs (6418) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:13PM (#43484237) Homepage Journal
    New, from Mabeline.
  • If you go back far enough, you'll find that you are related to Charlemagne, or Ghandi. The higher you go up your family tree, the more parents, and parents' parents appear, in an (almost) exponential spread. Well, unless you're part of the royal family, or in the deep south of the US, where family trees tend to be a lot... slimmer...
    • If you go back far enough, you'll find that you are related to Charlemagne, or Ghandi.
      .
      .
      Well, unless you're part of the royal family, or in the deep south of the US, where family trees tend to be a lot... slimmer...

      And oddly enough, I am both descended from Charlemagne (according to a great-aunt who did some genealogy research several decades ago), and from the Deep South (though I only lived there for one year before I was an adult - career military brat).

    • by Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @02:00PM (#43484871)

      unless you're part of the royal family, or in the deep south of the US, where family trees tend to be a lot... slimmer...

      The classic example of this is, of course, poor mentally and physically disabled Carlos II of Spain [wikipedia.org] of the cousin-bonking Hapsburgs. His father was his mother's uncle, and the family tree [wikipedia.org] just gets worse from there. To quote Wikipedia, "Joanna [of Castile] was two of Charles' 16 great-great-great-grandmothers, six of his 32 great-great-great-great-grandmothers, and six of his 64 great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers." Oh, and Joanna went insane early in her life, so she wasn't exactly a genetic marvel herself. No wonder poor Chuck turned into something only a couple of steps above a wet sack of blubbering goo.

  • by dorpus (636554) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:30PM (#43484449)

    When I went to grad school to get my PhD in biostatistics, they taught us in genetic epidemiology class that 1st cousin marriages do not have a significantly higher risk of genetic problems in offspring than marriages by unrelated people.

    Some parts of the world where 1st cousin marriages have taken place for many generations do have higher concentrations of some forms of thalassemia. But for a typical American who does not come from such a lineage, the medical risks of first cousin marriages are minimal.

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:42PM (#43484625)

    73 comments so far and no one's linked the obligatory xkcd [xkcd.com]?

  • by gtbritishskull (1435843) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:48PM (#43484701)
    Incidentally, in Alabama the same app is used to find dates.
  • by wcrowe (94389) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @02:06PM (#43484953)

    At first I thought, "How could you not know?" But then I remembered that in Iceland, patronyms are common, and (so I've been told) there are not as many social stigmas surrounding unwed motherhood. So I suppose, when you meet someone, it really is possible that you could be related and not know it.

  • Why don't you know who your cousins are?

    We don't have a particularly close extended family, and my cousins are scattered around the US (and even some overseas). I still know who they all are.

    I can see the occasional family feud causing issues, but is not knowing your cousins a really common thing in Iceland? Are we talking second and third cousins or something?

    - Necron69

  • New Icelandic pickup line:
    Nice gen, langar aà skrÃfa?

    (Nice genes, wanna screw?)

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @03:14PM (#43485823)

    Is this really common enough to require an app? Average household size is only 2.5 people, so large estranged families have to be pretty rare.

    It seems far more likely to have an issue due to your mother not admitting (or not knowing) who your actual genetic father is, or in the case of an adoptee perhaps not knowing who either parent is. I have a good friend who found he had a half-brother and a whole exteded half-family he didn't know about after taking a genetic test ("Um, mom...we gotta talk..."). As a half adoptee, I suppose that would be useful to me too (but I'm not "on the market".)

    Getting some kind of mutual genetic relation percentage would be useful both for solving the *real* issue this app is trying to solve, and to give the two people in question something of mutual interest to talk about, no matter what the result. A "are you my cousin or can be bump uglies" app just would be awkward.

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