The Guardian, a newspaper based in
The journalist quotes Chris Pomery, author of the up-coming book â€œFamily History in the Genes: Trace Your DNA and Grow Your Family Tree.â€
“In specific cases, genetics is a very useful tool, but it is not a panacea,” he says. “We’re not even close to the situation where, if you’re starting to research your family history, you should begin with a DNA test. At Â£100 or so a throw it’s a lot of money, and you can progress your research a long way first for free.”
However, as is often the case in these types of stories, there were a number of errors in the story.
â€œWhat does it mean, for example, for Oprah Winfrey to announce â€œI am a Zuluâ€ after having a mitochondrial test?
“It’s nonsense,” says Mark Jobling, a geneticist at
Oprah Winfrey thought she was Zulu BEFORE the mtDNA test. The test conclusively told her that her mtDNA was NOT related to the mtDNA found among the Zulu people! [Correction: See the comment section for an update regarding Oprah’s first mtDNA test, which reportedly DID tell her that her mtDNA was related to the Zulu].
I agree with the author that the results of genetic testing should always be interpreted wisely, and I try to reinforce that point as often as I can. No current genetic test can tell you who you are! Genetic tests can only give you a description your DNA, and based on that you can estimate relationships with others (temporally and geographically).
One of the problems facing the field of genetic genealogy, however, is the number of inaccuracies perpetuated by the media. These articles are often written by non-scientists who donâ€™t completely understand the topic and are making conclusions that arenâ€™t backed up with science.
I recently blogged about some questions that a genetic genealogy newbie had asked about genetic testing. If you have any questions about genetic genealogy, please ask and I will do everything I can to help you discover an answer (that is supported by science)!