This week’s blog will feature a discussion about some of the perceived inaccuracies of Ethnic DNA Testing. There are multiple videos on YouTube, and global television networks
which assert that Ethnic DNA tests do not reveal truths. Sometimes, it has even been implied that these tests are known scams. One of the most common methods individuals use in an attempt to “debunk” ancestral tests is comparison of company X to company Y. Essentially, this refers to sending saliva samples to multiple companies, and scoping out potential similarities/differences noticed amongst the tests. Often times, if a person sends their test to two companies, they will not receive identical results—that is a fact. Multiple tests may differ in their percentage breakdowns, for example: company A estimates a customer to be 12% Welsh while company B gives an estimate of 14%. Another area of difference may be found within their populations. For example: company A may group British and Irish together, while company B separates them. These differences generally come down to a) populations studied/researched and b) differences in overall algorithm. Now, to seriously consider the skeptic side of this: differences in these tests prove that testing and determining an individual’s ethnic makeup is not perfect. If it were, there would be no distinctions present. However, testing ancestry is still a relatively new concept, and it improves as time proceeds. It is also clear that these tests are not made up out of thin air: the vast majority of people who take these tests encounter results that are generally what they expected. Comparing two or three top DNA testing companies yields very similar results. The percentages may show slight differences, and company A may refer to an individual as primarily “Balkan” while company B labels them as “Eastern European”. Once again, these differences come down to the label a company decides to give an ethnic group, and the populations tested. Therefore, the science and general framework is on the right track and can determine the general location of one’s ancestors. Miniscule differences showcased by the general public are not strong enough to conclude that the tests a) are not accurate and b) incorrect.