Hearing from a Hardie lookalike


Chris Hardie

Chris Hardie, Journalist

There are quite a few Chris Hardie’s in the world – or at least a few others that share the same name.

Years ago when social media was new, I sought a few out and we exchanged some messages.

But other than sharing a name, we were miles or even countries apart and had little in common.

But I have yet to meet anyone who says they look like me. Having the same name is one thing, but I pity the poor fella that has a mug similar to mine.

There are some who believe everyone has a doppelgänger (which in German means double goer). The belief is that there is an exact but usually invisible replica of every person or animal.

Enter Rodger Urbanek of De Pere, WI.

Rodger read my column “Turn thankfulness into gratitude” that was published Dec. 21 in the Wrightstown Area Spirit. That column included my remembrance of Thanksgivings as a child and memories of my grandmother’s fondness for visiting.

A Spanish study found 32 lookalikes from around the world. Here are some of them. Photo is from the study. 

He sent me a note saying: “I agree with you about ‘visiting seems to be a dying vocation.’ Electronic diversions have taken over.  Just go to the barber shop, no one talks anymore.  They just look at their electronic devices.”

I had written that column after Thanksgiving and included a photo of me holding a buck I had shot on the farm the opening weekend of gun deer season.

The photo is what caught Rodger’s attention.

“What I really wanted to talk about is the picture of you and that beautiful whitetail buck. It seems that we are doubles. Everyone I show your picture to thinks it is me. Thought you might want to know.”

I replied to Rodger, thanking him for the note. Of course I was intrigued, so I also asked him to send a photo.

Rodger did that and more, actually attempting to replicate the hunting photo of me. “I think we really do look alike,” he wrote.

How much we look alike is for you to decide, as I’ve taken the photos and put them side-by-side.

I am certainly not an expert in genetics and heredity, although I did get a C in college biology where we studied the subject. I remember the work of Gregor Mendel, a Czech who was the first to lay the ground for the science of genetics in the 1800s. And many of the men in my family have what my father called the “Roseland bump,” a nob on our ear that he says came from his great-grandmother’s side of the family.

According to a study from the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, there are people who look alike but have no family connection.

Researcher Manel Esteller recruited 32 people with look-alikes and asked the pairs to do a DNA test, fill out questionnaires and had their photos put through facial recognition programs. Half of the pairs had similar scores to identical twins identified using the same software. Those also had more genes in common than the 16 other pairs.

Turns out that it was just random chance that the genetic variants of the faces matched up. With about 20,000 chromosomes and 8 billion people, odds are that the combination is bound to happen.

I have not come across any Urbaneks in the Hardie family tree, so maybe we share some genetic variant. Some would say my genes are mutations.

Rodger, you have my deepest sympathies.

Link to study

Chris Hardie spent more than 30 years as a reporter, editor and publisher. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won dozens of state and national journalism awards. He is a former president of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Contact him at [email protected].