Scientific American on DNA ‘accuracy’

This is an excellent summary of the value of DNA testing as it pertains to health reporting, family history research and ‘ethnicity’.

How Accurate Are Online DNA Tests?

I agree with all that Adam Rutherford has to say in this article, in particular his assessment of the value of ‘ethnicity’ predictions:

But to say that you are 20 percent Irish, 4 percent Native American or 12 percent Scandinavian is fun, trivial and has very little scientific meaning. We all have thousands of ancestors, and our family trees become matted webs as we go back in time, which means that before long, our ancestors become everyone’s ancestors.

However, I disagree with his final comment that “DNA will tell you little about your culture, history and identity”. I have helped many people who have questions about their identity based on their search for their family connections, particularly those who do not know who were their biological parents. Also for Aboriginal Australians whose recent ancestors were removed from their Country as very young children and never knew where they came from, identifying ancestors and locating Country is tremendously important for creating as sense of kinship and identity. So knowing where you come from, which can be helped through DNA testing, is very key to self-identity.

One thought on “Scientific American on DNA ‘accuracy’

  1. Adam Rutherford is one of many with a medical/genetic/scientific background who give themselves the right to make broad statements about genetic genealogy in general, when they are really talking about one specific area. And the other they know nothing about.
    Scientific American is a popular science journal, but usually tries to be authoritative. Sad.

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