Iceland and Incest

An island of roughly 300,000 souls has a unique problem beyond the embarrassment of having Bjork as their most famous export. In Iceland, as with closed or contained societies throughout history, the potential for incest is much higher. Add in a grotesquely libertine sexual ethos, and you have an island where the potential to have casual sex with a close relative is quite high.

That’s what a unique website called Islendignabok is trying to prevent. The name means “Book of Iceland,” and it’s a basic genealogical database that allows you to make sure your casual hook-up isn’t your cousin.

All a couple sur le point de faire l’amour has to do is punch their names into the database and it will generate their family trees, highlighting any common branches:

Virtually every Icelander since the 18th century is in the database, according to the website. Any Icelander living now can sign up for a username and password and gain free access to some of the data, such as names and birth dates, and view full information on everyone who shares a great-grandparent with them. One can also find out if they have common ancestry with any given Icelander and uncover their exact lines of descent.

All this is useful, I guess, but once you get to the point of needing a database to keep you from having casual sex with your relatives, it might be time to rethink your entire sexual ethos, no?

h/t Global Post

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • http://decentfilms.com SDG

    What I want to know is why are they so conventional and bourgeois about casual hookups with cousins? What’s the big deal, anyway?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chasrmartin Charlie Martin

    Imagine how wonderful it might be if you actually read what you’re sneering at, which is a geneology database. Here’s the english summary:

    The database Íslendingabók contains genealogical information about the inhabitants of Iceland, dating more than 1,200 years back. Íslendingabók is a collaboration project between deCODE genetics, a research company in the field of medical genetics, and Friðrik Skúlason, an anti-virus software entrepreneur. The project’s goal is to trace all known family connections between Icelanders from the time of the settlement of Iceland to present times and register the genealogical information in a database.

    In the creation of the Íslendingabók database we have used various sources and both unpublished and published documents. Most of the genealogical information comes from sources such as church records, national censuses, inhabitants registers and other public documents, but in addition to these sources there are chronicles, books of convictions, various publications on genealogy, books about individuals within specific occupations, lists of descendants and ancestral records as well as memorial articles to name but a few.

    The database is in Icelandic and is unfortunately not available in other languages.

    Access to the genealogical database Íslendingabók is currently limited to Icelandic citizens and legal residents of Iceland who have been issued an Icelandic ID number (kennitala).

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Obviously, I “read what I’m sneering at.” You emphasize that it’s a “genealogy database,” which may just be why I called it, in the piece you’re sneering at, a “basic genologicalical database.” I’m writing about the way it’s being used. So I guess I could say in re: “reading what you’re sneering at”: right back atcha, pal.

  • KMC

    Back in the day, marrying your cousin (up to and including your first cousin) was a fairly common occurance. Until the 19th century and rail travel, small cities and towns were isolated and there often wasn’t much too choose from outside of a small gene pool, so what choice did you have other than to marry whoever was available. And if the family had money…they would often prefer that marriage remained…reasonably…within the family…so the money would stay there too. And let’s not even get into royalty.

  • Noe’

    “No?”
    No; God let Icelanders move to Iceland for a reason, their probable inability to question such decisions. Let them keep their elves and their happiness (though I think America could do with some elves).
    http://www.economist.com/node/10529960

  • Dale Price

    I’m at a loss as to what has Mr. Martin’s boxers in high dudgeon, to coin a phrase. The initial link makes it clear that the database is used to prevent cousin hookups.

    But it gave him the chance to be windily pendantic and pat himself on the back, which has to be a shot in the arm on a gloomy Tuesday.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I’m happy I’m here to give him a chance to vent.


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