XPost: alt.genealogy, soc.genealogy.misc
From DNA evidence in crime cases to population-wide studies of genetic
disease, immensely-powerful DNA technology is transforming our world. Understandably, members of the public tend to respect and trust
scientific professionals who can wield these powerful new tools.
It is also inevitable that some will seek to abuse this trust, often
with a commercial motive but sometimes the motive seems to be
promotion of a world view or political philosophy. In these pages we
will focus on "genetic ancestry" testing: the use of your DNA to make statements about your "deep ancestry", such as where your ancestors
lived hundreds or even thousands of years ago, and perhaps their
cultural identities (such as Celts, Vikings, Mongols etc). This type
of testing is distinct from genetic genealogy which uses DNA in
combination with genealogical and historical records, and which is
therefore mainly focused on recent centuries.
Genetic technology can tell us about the DNA of people alive today in
different parts of the world. Recently, exciting progress has been
made in recovering DNA from ancient burial sites, but it remains
broadly true that making inferences into the past from DNA requires
assumptions and mathematical models, and input from other fields such
as history, archaeology and studies of historic geography and climate.
New DNA genotyping and sequencing technology, and improved statistical
models, have accelerated progress, but inferences still need to be
accompanied by caveats about the assumptions and approximations made,
and by assessments of uncertainty.
We all love stories about our past, and for many it's too tempting to
cut corners, draw inferences based on only superficial analysis of the
data, and ignore the uncertainty. A public unaware of the
distinctions may be misled into thinking that DNA-based inferences
about the past are as reliable as a DNA profile match. Usually they
We have created these web pages to help interested non-scientists to
be skeptical consumers of genetic ancestry information, and to try to distinguish genetic ancestry from genetic astrology. We highlight
some of the doubtful claims that have been brought to our attention: scientific-sounding claims that we think are flawed, exaggerated or
not well supported by the evidence, and that appear to be driven by a commercial motive or some agenda other than the advancement of
knowledge. We also aim to help readers find some of the best
available scientific evidence, and provide an overview of what can and
can't be said about genetic ancestry.
Ignore the following - it's spammers for spambot fodder.
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