11 March 2013

DNA Will Solve Everything - Part 3

Ancestry.com's Facebook posts about their new DNA test have changed from "what do you hope to find" to "tell us about your DNA experience." The comments are no less annoying than when I wrote parts 1 and 2. I'm sure it's no surprise that the most vocal are those who are unhappy with the test and/or with their results. Most of those are people who had unrealistic expectations to begin with. One example:
I did the Ancestry DNA test. The results came back giving me all the info I already knew and "coordinating" it with my ancestry tree. But where I was hoping to find the dead ends, it gave me 7% unknown. So basically it looked like they took the info from my tree and said this is what you are. I was hoping it would pinpoint an area in Norway, or a Indian Tribe, or where is Germany. But nothing like that.
When I read those types of comments this is what goes through my head:
I read nothing about this test but I assumed it would tell me what street my great-grandfather lived on in Ireland, which Native American tribe the wife of my 4th cousin 2x removed belonged to and the names of all my ancestors back to Adam and Eve. DNA is labeled with names isn't it? And you're digging up Charlemagne and every royal and every famous person ever and putting their DNA in the database right? I didn't get answers to any of my completely unrealistic assumptions so this test sucks.
On most of the DNA threads there are always a few people who are pretty knowledgeable about the AncestryDNA test and about DNA in general. They try to answer as many questions as they can. It's usually easy to find them since they comment multiple times on a single thread. Then there's those who think they know something about DNA. Sigh.
The AncestryDNA test will not help you find family. It does not look at your mtDNA if you are a female or the Y-DNA lines if you are male. THAT"S where you will find your lines. I'm 72% Scandinavian, and Ancestry is matching me with others who have a lot of Scandinavian. How many millions of Scandinavian people are there in the world? Your basic, deep ethnicity is very random, depending on what you inherited from each parent, and what they inherited from each of their parents, and so on. I would love to see the results for two NON-identical twin sisters (who will match each other identically in their mtDNA) to take this AncestryDNA test and then get the results. I bet they will not be identical. I NEVER see Ancestry acknowledging any of this, or answering questions about how they are matching people other than some similarities in trees or the percentage of a certain ethnicity.
[same person, different thread]
Sorry- the ethnicity test is really worthless in finding family. It will only tell you what your ethnicity is. I'm 70% scandinavian, that doesn't help me find my maternal or paternal lines. You will ONLY find family through taking a mtDNA (women) or a Y-DNA (male).
Ancestry, you need to do a better job in explaining what the AncestryDNA test (the autosomal one) really is, that it determines ethnicity and is not a real tool for determining shared family like the mtDNA and Y-DNA tests do. Too many people are led to believe this test will "find family". Two sisters who share identical mtDNA (through their maternal line) can STILL be different in their ETHNICITY based on what combination or mix each inherited from the same mother and father.
"Ancestry, you need to do a better job in explaining what the AncestryDNA test..." I think this person needs to do a better job at reading comprehension. Relationship matches are not based solely on a match in ethnicity. If I were matched with everyone I share an ethnicity with - Scandinavian, Native North American, British Isles, Native South American and Persian/Turkish/Caucasus - I'd probably have a few thousand pages of matches instead of just 43 pages. My parents have plenty of matches that don't share a single ethnicity with them.
If you're looking at your tree in a pedigree or fan view Y-DNA analyses only the uppermost line: your father, his father, his father, etc.. mtDNA looks at the bottom most line: your mother, her mother, her mother, etc.. Even if you do both of those tests all the lines in between are ignored. Autosomal looks at your entire genetic make-up.
Click here and scroll down a little to see a chart. The filled in blue and filled in gray show the lines that Y-DNA (blue) and mtDNA (gray) tests analyze. The open blue and gray show the lines that are ignored. Autosomal includes any and all lines that you inherited DNA from, though it doesn't tell you which lines those are. I didn't plan on going into this but the above comments just grated on my nerves! Hopefully no one will take her word as fact.
Back to the topic. I've compiled some of the most um,...interesting comments from the DNA threads for this post. The craziness was too much for one post so it will overflow into Wednesday's post as well. As always the comments are cut and pasted. My comments are in red and most should be read with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

WARNING: Comments after the jump may drive you to drink. Do not drink while reading. BUWT is not responsible for any damage done to your computer if you do not take this advice.

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✿ This is the second time that this question has been asked. If you are indeed interested in our responses, you would have replied. So I will state again that I was extremely disappointed in my results.
✿ Actually it's about the 20th time this question has been asked but thanks for responding with such a detailed comment. Such a point by point complaint will really help Ancestry improve their product. [Did I mention there might be some sarcasm?]

✿ I have traced part of my tree back to a DOB about 600 AD and I have his parent names. I have several special people for helping me get back that far. The records of other have blessed me!
✿ Don't kid yourself sweetie, records were not involved.

✿ I traced our ancestry back to 400 BC with one root listing over 25,000 ancestors, so far. In my words that exercise is success. Thank You.
✿ Don't pat yourself on the back for that "success" quite yet.

✿ females can do it but it is not the same result.
✿ The same result as who? Two brothers can take this test and chances are they won't have the same result. The autosomal DNA test can be taken by both men and women.

✿ I sure do wish they would come out with a maternal dna test..nope looks like only the guys are lucky
✿ What a novel idea! [Ancestry.com has had a maternal test available for years.]

✿ Even better than I first thought! My closest match so far is a 3rd cousin, we share a 3rd gg, a 4th gg & a 6th gg in 3 different lines!
✿ I'm hearing dueling banjos. [Actually this is not that uncommon but I couldn't pass up the easy joke.]

✿ Is there a kit?
✿ Pick your snark:
    No, you just call them and talk to the Ancestry.com psychic.

    No, just make sure you lick the envelope when you send in your check.
    No, they just analyze your tree since every tree is completely accurate.

✿ Does the test keep you updated as to who is a match months after you receive your results?
✿ No. You only get matched with people whose test arrived the same day yours did and only with those that spit within an hour of when you did.

✿ Dissappointed. I especially don't think the '3rd, 4th, 5th cousin' is accurate at all just a gimmick to get me thinking that there were more connections than there really were. And the name matching - so you have a Smith in your 3rd generation and it lists a Smith in someone else's 7th generation? no match - ridiculously flawed.
✿ I wish you would stop matching with people who clearly arent related. I have 1800 people in my tree and if we only have "Harris" in common as a last name odds are good were not related. 
✿ Matches are by name only...and with so many common names, they all come back as "matches".
✿ May I suggest reading the "Pedigree and Surnames" section here because obviously none of you understand the purpose of the surname list.

✿ I have it, but the thought of spitting that much in a cup is making me ill. Someday I'll get over it.
✿ It's a teeny, tiny vial not a cup. So spit is disgusting? How do you get through the day knowing that at all times you have it in your mouth?  

✿ Disappointed. I thought the results would give a little more information than a general geographical region. What countries? What ancestors? I get matches to people who have no apparent connection. When is it going to improve?? I wish I would have saved that money and put it towards the Family Tree DNA.
✿ "What ancestors?" Do you think DNA has names written on it? "When is it going to improve??" When you do some research.

✿ They say I am almost 1/2 Scandinavian when in fact I am -0- Scandinavian.
✿ If you already knew where your ancestors were from since the beginning of time then why did you take the test?

✿ Not what I would have expected :0/ Very vague, and only based on the selection of other ancestry members who have submitted their DNA. Not very accurate if you ask me.
✿ What I read: Why can't they tell me if I match people who haven't taken the test?!!?

✿ They have matched me to my tree and not blood lines. My tree states that I have a stepfather and a biological father. They have me being DNA matched to relatives of my stepfather. How accurate is that? I have yet to find any connections.
✿ Surprise! You may be related to your stepfather. There are two other possibilities: 1. You are both related to the same people but not related to each other. 2. You need to have a sit down with your mother.

✿ My husband took the test. He's 85% Jewish European. Ancestry matches him with anyone having a high % of Jewish European DNA. What's the point? They know they're Jewish.
✿ You expected them to match him with people with 100% Asian or 100% Native American ancestry? Matches are not made just because they have an ethnicity in common.

✿ I have more than 2000 matches yet can only find four verifiable ones. There is a huge problem Ancestry needs to address.
✿ Address how? Should they hold people hostage and force them to work on their trees? If you can't find the connection it's because you and/or your matches haven't worked back far enough in your tree or because one or both of you have errors in your trees.

✿ 1. I paid $149 for the kit - way too expensive. 2. It was stated it would take 6-8 weeks and I get the results back in two weeks (This was the middle of December 2012). That seems SUSPECT. 3. The results pulled everything from my family tree - really? Do you realize that on my family tree the father of my dad is NOT his real father but you don't have an option for unknown parent just only one known? How can I be a majority eastern European if my dad's dad is NOT REALLY his father and my father looks Native American? The test to me is a scam and from my findings related to me, you are going to be making a lot of money off people for this test.
✿ "SUSPECT"? I'd say the assumption that your father couldn't be Eastern European because he "looks Native American" is suspect.

✿ I would love to see my haplogroup (sp). An explaination of why no relativies appear in Germany since many of my last names are Germanic.
✿ Autosomal DNA results do not include a haplogroup. This test is only available in the U.S. right now so I'm not sure how you think your relatives in Germany are supposed to take the test. 

✿ I would like to have my DNA tested, but was advised it requires blood from a male. All of the close males in my family are deceased.
✿ What I read: I can't be bothered to find out for myself so I'll believe anything someone tells me.

✿ My sister and I had our dad do one but I didn't understand how it worked so I never went forward with it.
✿ What I read: We have money to blow on something we know nothing about but unless you spoon feed us we have no desire to learn anything.

A couple of serious questions and answers...

✿ Just got my results back Saturday. According to Ancestry DNA I am 98% Central Europe. 2% unknown. However, not real sure on how they match up others of shared DNA. Some of the "matches" do not match. Please explain why?
✿ DNA is passed down randomly. It's entirely possible, maybe not probable but possible, to not match a single ethnicity with a sibling. Say your mother has ethnicity #1 and #2. Your father has ethnicity #3 and #4. You could inherit #1 and #4 while your sibling only inherits #2 and #3. 

✿ It's confusing to me that I might have a match with what Ancestry calls very low probability, yet we actually have common ancestors in our family tree! So, why would it be considered low probability?
✿ Relationship and probability are based on the amount of DNA you share, not on your tree. With a 4th cousin you share about 0.195% of autosomal DNA, 0.000763% with 8th cousins. [source

✿ Can Ancestry DNA help you determine whether or not an ancestor is in your direct line? For example: I'm trying to find proof of who my great grandmother's mother was. Would an Ancestry DNA test help to prove if her mom is in fact my great great grandmother?
✿ You may find other descendants of the same great-grandmother and maybe one of them has broken through your brick wall. The only way for DNA to confirm who your great-great-grandmother is is to do the research, find out where she's buried, dig her up and test you both. Of course that's not a test Ancestry.com would do and it's much more expensive.

✿ I haven't [taken the test] because I don't understand how it works.
✿ Finally, someone who knows what they don't know!

One last, incredibly random, comment...

✿ what is incubation on cold virus?

On Wednesday you'll see comments about Native American ancestry, private trees, other DNA tests (from people who think they took the AncestryDNA test) and some success stories.

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NEXT POST: DNA Will Solve Everything - Part 4

RELATED POSTS:  DNA Will Solve Everything, DNA Will Solve Everything - Part 2


  1. So funny, thank you for the laughs! Its amazing how many people will spend money on something and never take the time to do the research. My favorite response to an inquiry I had regarding a private tree. "I do not have your surname on my tree. We do not match." Oh, the frustrations, however it made me work so much harder to prove them wrong and it was succesfull!

    1. "...it made me work so much harder to prove them wrong and it was succesfull!"

      LOVE it!!! Thanks for reading Tami :-)

  2. Amazing! I haven't read them all yet, but certainly enough. For a long time I have mused about the irony of people trying to engage in genealogical research without any grounding in history, or any training in how to think critically. But now, by giving those same folks access to the DNA tool, we have upped the ante exponentially!! (As you rightly point out, it's a great advertisement for the 'success' of our educational system.) What I can't decide is whether, on balance, it's more funny or depressing.

    1. "What I can't decide is whether, on balance, it's more funny or depressing."

      That thought goes through my head constantly. Sometimes writing posts involves a lot of drinking :-P Thanks for reading!

    2. I'd say depressing...it's now 4:51 EST, and I'm reaching for the wine bottle o:))