On CBC tonight: DNA Ancestry Tests: Can you trust the results?

+9 votes

The publicly funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is airing their Market Place program on DNA Testing tonight .

From the website

"DNA Ancestry Tests: Can you trust the results?

Marketplace investigates the science and marketing behind popular DNA Ancestry kits. Just how accurate are they? Charlsie Agro tests 5 top brands... and we’re sending in the saliva of her identical twin sister, Carly Agro, too."

in The Tree House by Peter Geary G2G6 Mach 4 (46.2k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
Thanks for sharing, that was very interesting! I was never a big proponent of AU testing because I recognized the need for databases to grow. I do think that is happening as more people test. But to be able to depend on results is not a stated given.

I am very happy to be able to do triangulations that do show shared and overlapping chromosomes for one surname and to know exactly which they are and where they lie. This is a step forward.
I've had excellent results with auDNA but my line is 85% English so the statistical results are more reliable than, say, for my nephew who's also 1/2 Russian Jewish descent.

I was also interested in the ancient DNA results because it reveals the patterns of heavy influence which, for my line, are the Russian and Hungarian Steps, Celts, Norwegians and, interestingly Siberian/Montana North American Indian (15kya).  :)  Whereas my mtDNA is only one very specific line albiet more revealing further back in time than the auDNA.

3 Answers

+7 votes
I think that it is important that people should do a bit of investigation on any product before spending hard earned money. There are many ands, if's and but's that come hand in hand with DNA testing.
by George Churchill G2G6 Mach 8 (87.2k points)
I agree. The reporting was very...uneducated despite all the experts. They were talking about ethnicity results only and didn't discuss any of the advantages of matching and analysis of the actual data. Pretty disappointing from the CBC

+7 votes
For cousin-finding, yes.  I've had some major breakthroughs.  For ethnicity estimates, etc., not so much.  It'll be interesting to see how they address the issue.
by K. Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (129k points)
No it won't, actually. They deal exclusively with the ethnicity estimates, and completely ignore the cousin-finding. It's a hit piece.

Ironically, when they compare the results of the twins, they actually come out fairly close, for the most part - it's not that bad - and all the results from the various companies show them coming from the same basic places (which are apparently correct). AncestryDNA even pegs that they have roots from Sicily.

So their results - even for the relatively hokey ethnicity percentages - are fairly decent, as these things go. But they obsess about how the twins results aren't EXACTLY the same for the twins (even though they admit that their measured DNA isn't EXACTLY the same - probably due to imperfections in the measurement process), and like I said, they ignore the real genealogical value altogether.

There's no objectivity at all.
+4 votes
This looks like it might be a bit older that the other thread talking about this, but that one already has an extensive discussion on this.


Basically, the piece is anti-corporation, anti-genealogy propaganda. It focuses on the "snake oil" - the ethnicity marketing - aspect of the tests, and ignores what you get from the tests that has real genealogical value. It doesn't even do as good a job at criticizing the ethnicity percentages as it could.
by Frank Stanley G2G6 Mach 7 (70.9k points)

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