How accurate is 23andMe?

| December 10, 2012 |

My initial inclination in this post was to discuss a recent ordering snafu which resulted in many of my friends being quite peeved at 23andMe. But browsing through their new ‘ancestry composition’ feature I thought I had to discuss it first, because of some nerd-level intrigue. Though I agree with many of Dienekes concerns about this new feature, I have to admit that at least this method doesn’t give out positively misleading results. For example, I had complained earlier that ‘ancestry painting’ gave literally crazy results when they weren’t trivial. For example, it said I was ~60 percent European, which makes some coherent sense in their non-optimal reference population set, but then stated that my daughter was >90 percent European. Since 23andMe did confirm she was 50% identical by descent with me these results didn’t make sense; some readers suggested that there was a strong bias in their algorithms to assign ambiguous genomic segments to ‘European’ heritage (this was a problem for East Africans too).

View the original article here: Is Daniel MacArthur ‘desi’?

  • Lloyd Barnhill

    Curious…… I had the 23andme test as well as i was curious about the total make up of native American in my ancestry, seeing very strong native American features in my immediate family as well as a family history on the paternal side that indicates a large majority of either cherokee or Apache (stories are confusing). Imagine my surprise at a result that indicates 0.0% native American! given our family history and clear physical features, I cannot help but wonder of the accuracy of these tests.

    • sunshine

      Same. I have Ojibwe heritage (my dad was raised on the reservation) and the results came back 0.0% Native American.

      • Lloyd Barnhill

        Just fraudulent the way this is advertised. Clearly they don’t have enough data yet for the type of comparisons they are claiming (and charging $99 for)

      • ksyushenka

        I don’t think mine was accurate either. My mother has jet black hair, dark skin, she’s AK native but she gets mistaken for being Pinoy all the time. I came back with a huge section listed as ‘unknown’, It’s probably a good service for those of mostly European descent but it was kind of a letdown for me. My father was adopted so I still know very little.

    • Cheshire_Waltz

      Okay I was interested in seeing if there was any Asian or Native American in me and it came back as very little. When looking at some of my grandparents it makes me wonder how accurate it is, and looking at some of the comments online makes me wonder even more.

    • Lea Chaney Hunter

      same thing happened to me. My grandfather was half Creek Indian. My grandmother was Cherokee and Sioux Indian and yet I got 0 % native american results in my 23andme profile it has to be inaccurate

  • Lloyd Barnhill

    Simply fraudulent what they are charging people $99 bucks for at

  • Lloyd Barnhill

    Just heard on the news that the FDA has ordered 23andMe to cease selling or marketing this service altogether. Results regarding health risks are wildly inaccurate

    • Jon Entine

      Lloyd, the FDA did not find that the results regarding health are “wildly inaccurate”. They found that the results could be misinterpreted–but that’s true for many screening tests. The GLP will be addressing the nuances of the FDA’s decision in two articles over the next two days.

  • KR

    I’ve heard that this is the problem with genetic testing in general, not just with 23andme. I’m guessing this is because they have more data from certain countries and ethnicities than others.