• Debunking genetic astrology

    From Steve Hayes@21:1/5 to All on Thu Oct 18 04:11:03 2018
    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
    are not.

    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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