‘Inherently imperfect’: Why ancestry tests are often misunderstood

| | February 14, 2018

It’s right there in the fine print of any consumer DNA test, if you bother to read it: DNA testing can come with identity-disrupting surprises, be it an unexpected relative, genetic condition, or, in our case, heritage. But something about [the genetic test results] didn’t feel quite right.

I suspected the error might lay not in my family narrative, but in the DNA test itself. So I decided to conduct an experiment. I mailed my own spit samples to AncestryDNA, as well as to 23andMe and National Geographic. For each test I got back, the story of my genetic heritage was different—in some cases, wildly so.

Four tests, four very different answers about where my DNA comes from—including some results that contradicted family history I felt confident was fact. What gives?

A big problem is that many of us have a basic misunderstanding of what exactly we’re reading when Ancestry or 23andMe or National Geographic sends us colorful infographics about how British or Irish or Scandinavian we are. It’s not that the science is bad. It’s that it’s inherently imperfect, an estimation based on how much our DNA matches up with people in other places around the world, in a world where people have been mixing and matching and getting it on since the beginning of human history.

Read full, original post: How DNA Testing Botched My Family’s Heritage, and Probably Yours, Too

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.

2 thoughts on “‘Inherently imperfect’: Why ancestry tests are often misunderstood”

  1. I would not be surprised if there are mistakes made. However, I had my DNA tested by 23andMe and Ancestry and found that they match up quite well including with the information that I have from family history. There may be smaller amounts of ancestry around 0.5% that may or may not be accurate, but they go back to the 17th century or early 18 century. Also, my son, grandson, daughter-in-law, a first cousin and second cousins are correctly identified since I know their ancestry. I also have an extensive family tree on Ancestry to back up these DNA results.

  2. The problem is that people think that the dna is somekind of driver or controller. Actually the dna is a huge library, a digital platform for cellular mechanisms and it needs other types of information layers for cellular differentiation to be done and traits to be regulated. Alterations in the dna are just markers or leftovers of ecological adaptation. There are also a huge load of disease-causing genetic mutations (220,270) in the human dna at population level. Annual increase was more than 20,000!! It’s clear that evolution is not happening. Don’t be deceived.

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