" I gave me a list of possible fourth cousins. Does this mean these people are related to me FOR SURE or that they just come from the same general area my ancestors came from?"
Here is what I see that ancestry has stated:
"Predicted Relationship Info:4-6th Cousins
Our analysis of your DNA predicts that this person you match with is probably your fourth cousin.
The exact relationship however could vary. It could be a third cousin once removed, or perhaps a fifth or sixth cousin.
For relationships this distant from you there is greater statistical variation in our prediction. It's most likely to be a fourth cousin type of relationship (which are separated by 10 degrees or ten people), but there is a real possibility that the relationship could range from six to twelve degrees of separation.
It's interesting to note that (at this degree of separations)we are accurately able to predict only about 85% of the possible relatives that are out there-in other words there is a 15% chance that our DNA analysis does NOT recognize an actual relative of yours. One way to be more certain that the DNA testing captures as many relatives as possible is to have multiple members of your immediate family tested.
It is also interesting to note that at this degree of separation we are sometimes wrong in our prediction of a real relationship. We've found that for this relationship about 15%of the time we predict a relationship that cannot be found in any family tree."
And there is this under Distant Cousins:
"Distant cousin' matches(5thcousins or greater) have a lower degree of certainty compared to 3rd and 4th cousins. Even though there is a 50%(or less)chance that you are related, these matches are still good leads."
Is ancestry saying that we are indeed related to every match as has been suggested by some? Even I thought that but that is not how I read this. If I am misunderstanding this please explain.
Notice: "We've found that for this relationship about 15%of the time we predict a relationship that cannot be found in any family tree." Notice they say in -any- family tree.
"Also, notice "Even though there is a 50%(or less)chance that you are related, these matches are still good leads."
They have a big enough task. We need to be careful we don't claim more than they do but if I am mistaken and they are claiming every proposed match is indeed related than please direct me to that information.