Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, one of the founders of Roots Television and the author of Megan’s Roots World recently released a screencast of her husband’s deCODEme results at “A First Look at deCODEme DNA Results.” Megan is the Chief Family Historian of Ancestry.com and is co-author of Trace Your Roots With DNA, and thus is both extremely interested in genetic genealogy and aware of the limitations of this type of DNA analysis. The 17-minute review includes a brief look into the different aspects of deCODEme’s analysis, including health and ancestral information.
As 2007 comes to a close, I thought I would take a moment to reflect upon the past year of blogging and set some goals for the coming year.
The Genetic Genealogist was created just 10 months ago.My first post on February 12, 2007 was â€œNew estimates for the arrival of the earliest Native Americans.â€Interestingly, this research was just named one of the Top 100 Science Stories of 2007 according to Discover Magazine.
Since the debut, I have written a total of 211 posts.There have been over 32,000 visitors and almost 100,000 page views since February.My eBook, “10 DNA Myths Busted, and Other Favorite Posts”, has been downloaded almost 150 times.My top 10 most viewed posts are the following, which represent a wide array of topics:
The footnote Maven created an ‘angelic’ collage of genealogy bloggers at “A Choice of GeneaAngels.” I was graciously included in the collage. Can you find me without looking at the list? Sure would be fun to hear us all sing together, wouldn’t it?
On a related note, the footnote Maven also started a Blog Caroling meme where we post the lyrics from our favorite Christmas carol. Since my favorite song was already taken, I thought I’d go with my second favorite. In high school my French teacher would have us sing Christmas carols in French and one of my favorites was the following:
Bring A Torch, Jeannette, Isabella:English Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella! Bring a torch, to Bethlehem come! Christ is born. Tell the folk of the village Mary has laid him in a manger. Ah!* Ah! beautiful is the Mother! Ah! Ah! beautiful is her child! It is wrong when the Baby is sleeping, It is wrong to speak so loud. Silence, now as you gather around, Lest your noise should waken Jesus. Hush! Hush! see how the Baby slumbers; Hush! Hush! see how the Baby sleeps! Softly now unto the stable, Softly for a moment come! Look and see how charming is Jesus, Look at him there, His cheeks are rosy! Hush! Hush! see how the Child is sleeping; Hush! Hush! see how he smiles in dreams! French Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle — Un flambeau! Courons au berceau! C’est JÃ©sus, bons gens du hameau. Le Christ est nÃ©; Marie appelle! Ah! Ah! Ah! Que la MÃ¨re est belle, Ah! Ah! Ah! Que l’Enfant est beau! C’est un tort, quand l’Enfant sommeille, C’est un tort de crier si fort. Taisez-vous, l’un et l’autre, d’abord! Au moindre bruit, JÃ©sus s’Ã©veille. Chut! chut! chut! Il dort Ã merveille, Chut! chut! chut! Voyez comme il dort! Doucement, dans l’Ã©table close, Doucement, venez un moment! Approchez! Que JÃ©sus est charmant! Comme il est blanc! Comme il est rose!
According to Wikipedia, the song was first published in 1553 in France and is unique among Christmas carols in that it is in 3/8 time (the fast pace is one reason I enjoy the song so much).
Genealogists spend many of their days (and much of their money!) tracking the history of their ancestors. They hunt through ancient records to elucidate even the smallest clue as to some facet of their ancestors’ lives. Since the majority of genetic genealogists started their journey as traditional genealogists, it is only natural that they enjoy record-keeping and tracking as well.
The DNA Genealogy Timeline is a free public resource maintained by Georgia K. Bopp and hosted by rootsweb.com. The timeline attempts to track the significant developments associated with genetic genealogy. It begins with “Before 1980” and was updated most recently as of October 2007.
What immediately stands out is that genetic genealogy has been around much longer than people realize, especially given the recent media attention. I began my exploration of genetic genealogy in 2003, but by 2000 there were already as many as 4 surname projects begun by hobbyists! As of September 2007, one company (Family Tree DNA) had over 4,200 surname projects that contained more than 66,000 surnames. There are even more surname projects hosted by other companies, including Heritage DNA.
VortexDNA today announced the launch of myDNAchoice, a website and Firefox extension aimed at mapping the DNA of “human intention” to help users map their interactions with the internet. Nick Gerritsen, a director of VortexDNA, believes that “this includes better search results, meeting people like you, letting people find you on your favourite sites, and much more–without ever compromising your privacy.”
Although it is a bit confusing, myDNAchoice is a browser tool to help users organize the web based on their interactions with the internet, both previous (reflected in the short survey taken at installation) and future (new surveys taken through time). This browser tool, the company asserts, may result in as much as a 14% increase in search relevancy as compared to Google Search.A user begins by installing the mywebDNA Firefox extension in Firefox:
Genetic genealogy is everywhere right now – Science, CBC, Reuters, and LiveScience, just to name a few. This week two articles came out that gave readers both the ups and downs of genetic genealogy, gathering and presenting information and quotes from both sides.
The first article, â€œDNA testing for genealogy grows in popularity, but some urge restraintâ€ appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal on the 9th. The second article is entitled â€œAncestral DNA testing is not exact scienceâ€ and although the assertion in the title wasn’t developed in the short article, the author went to authorities with opposite viewpoints and presented both in the article.
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, who was quoted in the second article, blogged about some of her thoughts on the topic yesterday.
Three weeks ago, 23andMe launched their personal genome service. In the meantime, the launch has prompted a great deal of discussion. Additionally, a few of the earliest customers have already received their results. Here are links to some of the most interesting posts regarding 23andMe’s service.
To Be or Not to Be: 23andMe
LaunchSquad received their 23andMe kit in the mail, causing them to ponder the benefits, considerations, and services involved in genetic testing.After introspection, they decide to spit and mail.
Know Your Genes, Know Your Future
GeneratedMadness decides that the benefits of 23andMeâ€™s service outweighs the potential negatives.
I Like The Way You Stink
Mark Brooks at Online Personals Watch has already received the results of his analysis.
If you’re thinking about jumping into the field of genetic testing (whether for genetic genealogy or any other form of genetic test), you should be sure to do some research first. The results of any genetic test are incredibly personal, and can potentially have a huge impact. As a result, the decision to undergo testing should only be made after doing some vital research.
Luckily, a fellow DNA Network blogger has written a post that will help you do this important pre-testing research. Hsien at Eye on DNA has written “How to Prepare Yourself for a Genetic Test.” Hsien provides the following advice:
“Although you canâ€™t change your DNA, it is possible to prep yourself for a DNA test just as itâ€™s possible to prep yourself for a driving test. It is critically important that anyone undergoing DNA testing learn as much as they can about the results they can expect to receive, the interpretation of these results, and the impact results may have on their life choices.”
This weekend I wrote about an article that appeared in LifeScience entitled â€œDNA Kits: Secrets of Your Past or Scientific Scam?â€ The article made some strong negative statements about genetic genealogy, and I took the opportunity to discuss the issues it raised.
Soon after, my concerns were echoed at Anthropology.net in “Anthropologist Meredith Small says DNA testing is a scam.” The author had many of the same concerns, and also attempted to explain the science behind the tests.
If you’re interested in learning more about the science, or furthering the discussion we’ve started, please feel free to leave a comment here or at Anthropology.net.
Dr. Moran at Sandwalk brought to my attention a recent segment about genetic genealogy on Marketplace called â€œWhoâ€™s Your Grand Daddy?â€Marketplace is a Canadian television program.In his post, Dr. Moran states:
â€œI’m disturbed by the fact that we have a number of prominent bloggers pushing DNA testing. You’d think they would be all over this story. You’d think that they would be in the front lines in the attack on unscrupulous private companies who are overselling the idea of tracing your ancestors through your DNA.If you thought that you’d be wrong. Some of these bloggers are even denying there’s a problem.â€
During the Marketplace segment, Johnna – a woman they interview who is interested in learning more about her ancestry – discovers that she belongs to Haplogroup H.Unfortunately, Johnna had expected to learn more about her ancestry, such as the names of ancestors.It would appear that Johnna did not do any research about genetic genealogy.