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This journalist lost a bet, and now he has to put his DNA results on the internet

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Antonio Regalado. Image credit: MIT Technology Review
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

It all started after the arrest of the alleged Golden State Killer in April. Police had uploaded crime-scene DNA to an open-access genealogy website, GEDmatch, and located some of his relatives. Eventually, they found him.

But one question emerged paramount (even for those innocent of anything): what’s the chance they could find you?

Specifically, I was willing to bet that more than 95 percent of people could find at least one second cousin match in, the largest of these relative-finding databases.

And the stakes? The loser would have to submit a spit sample, allowing millions of strangers to compare the DNA results with their own. Now, thanks to a couple of academics with a free Friday afternoon, we have an answer of sorts, and it appears I am the loser.

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According to their estimates, the chance of having a second cousin in that database is 94 percent, just shy of my 95 percent guess.

The reason I’ve decided to do the Ancestry test, which costs $99, isn’t only that I am a good loser. It’s that the choice has already been made for me. According to Coop’s estimates, I may have 200 more third cousins and 1,000 fourth cousins who’ve already gotten tested.

My DNA, like yours, is already out there.

Read full, original post: I lost a bet, and now I am going to let millions of strangers check whether we’re related

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