DNA tests are certainly popular these days and more than likely, you have seen advertisements for one or more of the companies that produce those tests. Typically, they involve sending some spit off to the company so it can be analyzed.
The commercials are designed to pull you in and make you feel as if something wonderful is taking place behind the scenes. People are learning so much about themselves, including where their ancestors may have lived in the world. It builds up our curiosity and makes us pull out our credit card.
When you see the information on those commercials and websites, it looks so scientific and it appears as if it is 100% accurate. When you send off your spit tube, you expect nothing less than to learn everything about your family.
Before you pull out your wallet, it’s important for you to understand the truth about what you will receive with the results.
In order to test the results of 5 popular DNA test kits, identical twin sisters sent in the required DNA samples. The tests that were included were: Ancestry DNA, 23andMe, Living DNA, MyHeritage DNA, and FamilyTree DNA.
When you think about the fact that it was identical twins who were taking part in this test, one would assume that the results would be identical. In addition, there shouldn’t be a big difference from one company to another as far as the results were concerned.
When the results came back, the twins were shocked to learn that they received five different results from five different companies. In addition, when they compared the results side-by-side, these identical twins even had different results from each other! This left them more confused about their ancestry than before they took the test.
In order to learn more about why the results were so varied, they decided to dig a little deeper.
Simon Gravelle Ph.D., a Population Geneticist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, was someone who had input into the situation. He said that the results were not always as accurate as they should be. In fact, he referred to it as: “a statistical guess.”
Another reliable source weighed in on the situation. This information came from a health policy professor at the University of Alberta, Timothy Caulfield: “Don’t take it too seriously, but know that you’re just getting some information that’s an approximation of how your DNA compares to other people. It’s not tracing back your heritage.”
The commercials make it look so scientific and infallible but the results tell a different tale. In reality, they compare a small portion of your DNA to the DNA of other people. They then try to put things together to give an accurate guess as to your ancestors. As the company’s update their personal databases, the results can even change.
It really doesn’t sound all that accurate when you strip away the marketing hype. Coalfield feels that they are giving a ‘misleading’ message to their consumers. He adds, “I think they’re selling something that isn’t really supported by the science.”
If you are surprised by the results of the DNA test you take, don’t feel as if you need to change your personal perception about your world. More than likely, you are just dealing with something that is less than accurate.