KNOWLES / KNOLES / NOLES
Knowles Surname DNA Project
SURNAME DNA PROJECT PARTICIPANTS:
(based on Facts & Genes article, Volume 2, Issue 7)
Recruiting of participants for the Knowles Surname DNA Project has mostly been an effort conducted by the Surname Project Manager, Robert B. Noles. The Surname Project Manager will continue to be a major recruiter of participants for this Project. However, as the project acquires more and more participants, the participants themselves will become recruiters as well. This is because, every line needs at least two participants (more in some cases) that have an exact (or nearly an exact match) for their Y-DNA profile to prove the modal haplotype for their specific Knowles line. In addition, some of the participants in the Knowles Surname Project may want to start-up their own Surname Project for another family surname; e.g., their wife's paternal line. Therefore, this article concerning for overcoming fear for potential participants has been added to the series of DNA articles posted for the Knowles Project to assist the recruiting efforts that current participants may want to do for their own Knowles line or some other surname line.
The word DNA scares some people. The reason for this fear varies from person to person. They could be afraid that the test will uncover some genetic defect, either known or unknown. They could be afraid that the test will invite some sort of intrusion to their privacy, or uncover some unknown information. They could be afraid that the government will get a copy of their results, or their insurance company, who would deny them health coverage. Perhaps they are afraid of needles (which aren't used) or perhaps they could simply be afraid of the word, since they don't understand what it means.
Lack of knowledge is typically the driving force behind fear, and most fears are a function of fear of the unknown. Those of us who have had a genetic genealogy DNA test realize that these DNA tests are harmless genealogical tests. However, for a potential participant, a DNA test could be considered a quite frightening experience.
It is important to realize that most potential participants will "not" verbalize their fear. Most likely, they will present other objections, when the real issue is fear. Realizing that the objections may be smoke screens, when the true issue is fear, will help you over come the objection. In addition, if you realize that fear is usually an issue for most participants, you can begin addressing the objection with your first communication. Each communication with potential participants for a DNA test should have an element that addresses the fear factor.
Fear is addressed by providing information, not by addressing the fear directly. Telling a potential participant that there is nothing to be afraid of wouldn't work. Educating them, providing relevant information, and portraying the test as a harmless genealogical test will be more effective.
Consider the following two approaches:
Extract from an email
A Knowles (or substitute another surname here if you are wanting to start up a different surname project) Surname DNA Project has been established in hopes of finding relationships among Knowles families. Since you have documented your genealogy back to Francis Knowles (b 1715), you could be a tremendous help to others who are trying to find their Knowles ancestors. We need DNA participants from the 'reference' Knowles lines, like yours.
Samples from the reference lines can be compared to samples from lines that cannot get further back than about 1750-1800, and to lines that originate in Europe much earlier. For example, my line stops at James Knowles (b abt 1786 in North Carolina). I might be descended from your Francis Knowles of Duxbury, but my DNA test will only tell me that if there is a sample from a known descendent of Francis Knowles to compare my sample to.
Participants in this project must be living males with the Knowles surname. The sample consists of gently swabbing the inside of the cheek. We are using the Family Tree DNA company to perform these tests. FTDNA has a Web site at:
I hope that you will consider helping us in this endeavor and take a DNA test. If you have any questions please contact me or someone else that you trust in this area.
Extract from a letter
The XYZ Surname Project was established to utilize new scientific discoveries and methodologies to assist us in our Genealogy Research. This new field of utilizing testing for genealogy research is called genetic genealogy.
Scientists have discovered that a small portion of the Y-chromosome, which is found only in men, is passed from father to son, virtually unchanged. This section of the Y- chromosome does "not" have information that defines a person, it simply has some markers which are passed from father to son unchanged, except for a random mutation or two about ever 500 generations [Mutation does not signify any thing negative. It is simply a scientific term for a change]. The test result is a string of 12, 25 or 37 numbers, like the results shown for our Project in the chart below (or web site address). These numbers have value when compared to the results from another male. By comparing the results, you can tell if the two men had a common ancestor, and approximately when the common ancestor occurred.
Our project utilizes this latest technology to determine which lines of our surname are related. By determining which lines are related, we will scientifically prove:
We might also be able to identify the location of the origin of the surnames, or at least establish some valuable clues. We have tested 39 people so far in our project, and we are now expanding the project to the United Kingdom. A brief description of the project is enclosed with this letter (or viewed at a specific Web site). By testing a small section of DNA, you can determine if two people are related. The result is a string of numbers. A test kit is mailed to you by U.S. Mail and it is returned to the lab the same way. Complete, simple instructions come with the test kit. The gathering of a sample is via a swab of the inside of your mouth (no needles or blood required).
If you pretend for a moment that you know nothing about DNA testing, and read the above two examples, which approach develops trust and confidence, and removes some of the fear of the unknown?
Approach A might be best used when corresponding with someone you know and perhaps have collaborated together on some genealogical research.
Approach B is more suited for a letter mailed to people out of a phonebook, as the first contact. Both approaches keep the presentation simple, instead of technical. The presentation is easy for anyone to understand, and is not threatening or scary. The focus is both educating the prospective participant and explaining the benefits.
Every correspondence with a potential participant should be written with the understanding that fear will be an issue for many of them. By anticipating fear, and addressing this possible objection consistently in all correspondence, you can overcome the objection. For example, even specifying how many people have participated in the project helps overcome fear. When you have a large number of participants, use the figure. The potential participant will think: If others are doing it, then, it must be OK. If you only have a small number of participants, don't mention the count.
Since potential participants will not usually verbalize fear, a price objection is typically the objection they will present instead of the true objection of fear. Determining whether price is a true objection, or a smoke screen, will take some additional correspondence. A price objection could also be based on the benefits not being clear, or the benefits presented are not important to the potential participants.
One approach to determine if a price objection is masking the true objection of fear, is to ask the potential participant:
If I found some sponsors for a portion of the test fee, would you participate?
If fear is an issue, they would either come up with other objections, or not respond at all. If price is the true objection, then you should get a positive response. If you get a positive response confirming a true price objection, you could look for sponsors, or contribute a small amount yourself. If the potential participant is an older person on a fixed income, a small contribution may be significant to them. Those trying to live on $700 per month Social Security may not want to eat cat food in order to participate in a DNA project.
Fear is an issue that you will encounter. Plan for fear, by recognizing the existence of fear, and writing all correspondence to anticipate this issue. Address fear by providing knowledge, and minimizing technical terms. Recognize that other objections will be presented by the potential participant, instead of the him/her acknowledging fear. Analyze the objections to determine if fear is an underlying issue. Ask questions, until all the objections are identified. Only then, can you begin to address the real concerns of the potential participant.
When the objections are presented to you in a very direct way, such as insurance related questions or other family related issues, Family Tree DNA has a page that can help you with the answers. The page is called:
"Testing my DNA? are you nuts?!?!" and can be found here:
Date of last edit:
Monday, February 07, 2005