DNA Testing Complaints – What to Know Before You Test

If you're considering DNA testing for genealogy or have already tested, you've probably heard complaints or had some yourself.     Today, I'll focus on the biggest DNA testing complaint: Ethnicity Estimates. And I'm addressing autosomal DNA testing (atDNA), the most common test taken today, versus Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing.  

You can't sit through a DNA class or webinar and not hear someone pretty angry about their ethnicity estimate.

These complaints come from people with well-researched genealogical records as well as those with strong oral traditions of their ancestry.

Half the audience writes off five minutes of their life because they've "been there, done that" and the other half is sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to hear how the company justifies its results.

I've been on both sides of t…

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DNA Testing for Genealogy – Is It Worth It?

 DNA Testing for Genealogy - Is It Worth It? Twenty years ago, I wasn't sure. Today, it's a definitive "Yes." 1990s In the 1990s, BYU Professor Scott Woodward was in Egypt speaking about using DNA to study mummies when an Israeli researcher asked him about using DNA to test fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls had been written on animal hides before they were torn. Could DNA testing identify which pieces came from the same animal hide and belonged to the same scroll? I saw the Dead Sea Scrolls on exhibit in Israel in 1995. The work of piecing together tiny fragments looked impossible and being able to match them by their DNA was an exciting breakthrough. Animal hides and document fragments was a finite enough collection that I could grasp the payoff. DNA testing made sense.   2000 In 2000, Professor Scott Woodward had a microbiology lab at BYU and was paying $10 to anyone who would donate a DNA sample.  My youngest brother was a poor, graduating college…
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RootsTech Day 3 – What’s the Best DNA Test for Me?

So, something's been waking up inside of me at RootsTech and today I decided to feed the beast and learn more. On Day 3 of RootsTech, I attended two more DNA classes, both a bit more remedial, to get a solid DNA foundation.   I haven't studied Genetics since 9th-grade Biology, and that was a long time ago. What I've noticed from talking to other attendees as we discuss DNA is it would be easy to either make someone glossy-eyed with technical jargon overload or oversimplify the science to the point of saying "you spit in a tube and then a miracle occurs and you have people matches and ethnicity reports."   All the lectures I've attended have been amazing--some more technical than others--but I've walked away from each lecture with a better understanding of the science and the opportunities. And that's no small feat for a technical topic. So bravo speakers!       Two Terrific DNA Classes (grab the handouts)  First, I attended We Are Famil…
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