More Alike than I Thought: It’s all in the Genome Sequence

23andme_logoTake a guess as to how statistically similar you are to any other random person in the world.

8% maybe? 20% 33%?

The true number, according to the 23andMe geneticists, is anywhere from 63-69%.  If the random person happens to be your same race, that number jumps to  between 73% and 74.%  And that’s just the part (or SNP’s – look it up!) that they look at.  Overall, the similarity number is closer to 98%.


I know, I know.  We all have 23 sets of chromosomes (hence 23andMe – don’t worry, I didn’t figure that out for a while either.) We all (mostly) have two arms, two eyes, two kidneys, one heart. (well, everyone but my sixth grade English teacher.  Only someone without a heart could make kids diagram sentences for hours on end.)

It kinda makes you think, doesn’t it? So many of our society’s ills are based around our (perceived) differences: racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia. Certainly the latest You Tube phenomenon, Susan Boyle, has brought up the ever-present “look-ism” we as a culture all engage in.

Those opposed to Gay marriage see gay people as “other.”  Guess what?  They’re MORE THAN 50% genetical identical to you.  How about those who have problems with those of a different race?  Can I hear another “more than 50%? Those people you don’t like because of their religion? Ditto.

I know, we’re all different from each other.  Each of us is unique. And I know, too, that we are not our biology. A large part of who we are is how we think, what we feel, how we behave.  But still.  Differences tend to define us.  But we are way more similar than we are different.  And maybe, just maybe, if more thought about things that way – well – it may be a cliche.  But maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better place.

Full Disclosure: this post was sponsored (but not influenced) by 23andMe.


  1. Joseph Oppenheim says

    Hi Nancy….

    If you recall, several months ago, I commented to you that I was waiting for my 23andMe results, and did get them and am very pleased with both how detailed the results are and also the site.

    By the way, I’m originally a New Yorker.


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