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TOPIC: How reliable are DNA Tests

How reliable are DNA Tests 25 Feb 2017 01:53 #1550

This video shows some rather disturbing test results

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How reliable are DNA Tests 25 Feb 2017 02:58 #1551

  • Cate Pearce
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Thanks, Tony, for this link.

There are two aspects to a DNA test: one is ethnicity and the other, far more importantly, is DNA analysis. The ethnicity results are limited in their reliability, but the DNA analysis is most assuredly accurate and reliable.

Yes, this video certainly does show that "ethnicity" results from any of the three major DNA testing companies are still being refined and can not at this time give you an accurate localised geographic location for your DNA. If those identical triplets had been tested at the other companies, they would also have shown considerable differences in the results between companies. In my own tests with each of those companies, my results are quite different. These ethnicity results can only be accurate for large geographic regions such as "European" and anything more regional than that is going to be a best guestimate, based on where your DNA matches other living populations that each of the companies have used as their comparison database.

I think that the advertising is misleading because it gives the impression that you'll get an 'accurate' picture of where your ancestors once lived. But if you are European, then just think of the massive amount of human migration throughout Europe that has occurred in the last thousand years - so much traffic between countries and mixing DNA along the way. That is why if you have a family tree that is just English, it is highly likely that you will show a significant percentage of Scandinavian and/or Western European DNA which is a reflection of Viking and Anglo-Saxon DNA inheritance.

Therefore, the ethnicity aspect should be regarded as simply an interesting dinner conversation.

However, the most important aspects of DNA testing for genealogy are for working with other genetic cousins on solving brick walls, collaborating on extending family trees, sharing information and artefacts and for creating community. With regard to the analysis of your actual DNA and comparing the results with other people with whom you share a common ancestor, the DNA tests are most assuredly accurate and reliable.
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