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  • What to Say

    Hello

    I have had a few conversations with people who are curious about DNA testing for Genealogy and the same questions come up, "How do you know the results are real?" Then they usually say something like they heard somewhere that DNA testing for Genealogy is not accurate.

    I usually go over my story and the past I have uncovered from my results but I was wondering if there were any links of personal stories and scientific studies on the reliability of what DNA testing for Genealogy uncovers?

    Thanks in advance

    Todd

  • #2
    Todd: Slightly off point, but there is the scientific aspect of dna, and there seems to be an intellectual and emotional aspect that goes along with it, for those of us who are hobbyists. Some people are not as open to new ideas and innovations and simply need to be educated.

    "We are, who we were", and some of us have a stronger, perhaps even primeval, need to know more about our ancestral past.

    A disappointment to me is that I cannot discuss this with family or friends because they have absolutely no interest.

    But, in time.......
    Last edited by Biblioteque; 16 April 2014, 04:11 PM.

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    • #3
      When I first got involved with DNA testing in 2001, I was a skeptic; likely scam I thought.

      But I was curious & got results for myself & then my father. When I saw that, absent of any good clue about the kinship between my father & I, the testing company hit the nail on the head. Same thing happened at Family Tree DNA. As I brought more relatives into the mix, they kept hitting the nail on the head...

      The best thing to tell a "non-believer" is to take one of the less expensive tests & then have a known relative who should match do the same. As we know, the results will vindicate the process. But this would give a skeptic a chance to actually see the results & confirm their validity.

      Timothy Peterman

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      • #4
        Originally posted by T E Peterman View Post
        they kept hitting the nail on the head...

        The best thing to tell a "non-believer" is to take one of the less expensive tests & then have a known relative who should match do the same. As we know, the results will vindicate the process. But this would give a skeptic a chance to actually see the results & confirm their validity.

        Timothy Peterman
        And if they have two relatives test on Family Finder, they are on the way to look at matches in common and really learn some things ... I have answered questions my grandfather posed over 100 years ago, trying to figure out where he came from, a boy raised by his grandmother and step grandfather.

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        • #5
          You might also be running into a marketing problem with people who have been watching simplistic commercials about how easy it is to build your tree, and then have talked with people who have done the testing and found out that testing isn't going to hand out a complete family tree, or even easily matched members on a family tree.

          The basic DNA science is accurate to a degree, but it needs to be explained clearly as to what results are possible from each of the different tests. In reading different forums the "sour grapes" type of comments seem to be based on a lack of understanding of the results, or what the results can realistically show as opposed to what the individual thought or wanted the results to show.

          Ethnicity tests are a great one for "my results are wrong" type of feelings since the DNA for a "German or English or Swedish" grandparent might not be showing up. And if someone feels the results aren't right then all testing is suspect.

          Good luck on trying to re-educate some obviously closed minds.

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          • #6
            People that have only did the family finder don't know about the accuracy of dna but when you are mixed with Native American African American and European and only get European results you start to wonder if the dna is mixed up with someone else's, ftdna should put a disclaimer saying that the population finder is no were accurate of someone's ancestry, and that the population finder has nothing to do with the accuracy of the autosomal dna test called family finder, ftdna should also be up front with customers, that the family finder goes up to 20 generations back not the 5 generations they have posted on the order forms.


            Originally posted by keigh View Post
            You might also be running into a marketing problem with people who have been watching simplistic commercials about how easy it is to build your tree, and then have talked with people who have done the testing and found out that testing isn't going to hand out a complete family tree, or even easily matched members on a family tree.

            The basic DNA science is accurate to a degree, but it needs to be explained clearly as to what results are possible from each of the different tests. In reading different forums the "sour grapes" type of comments seem to be based on a lack of understanding of the results, or what the results can realistically show as opposed to what the individual thought or wanted the results to show.

            Ethnicity tests are a great one for "my results are wrong" type of feelings since the DNA for a "German or English or Swedish" grandparent might not be showing up. And if someone feels the results aren't right then all testing is suspect.

            Good luck on trying to re-educate some obviously closed minds.

            Comment


            • #7
              It's a Part of the Solution.

              The reason why I came to DNA testing back in 2006, was because I innately knew something did not add up on both sides genealogically speaking.

              When I took my first test (Y-12), I immediately joined the surname project for my ancestry. Lo and behold, there were already three or four participants in the project who claimed the same MDKA as I. The problem was, I was a [email protected] markers with them. Throughout the years I took over the project and was able to grow it out to 16 members with the same MDKA. I extended my testing to 67 markers, and convinced one other to do the same. He and I wound up with two separate snps and a gd=24. The bells sounded off. I was able to recruit a woman into the project who was mining trees for the family. The entire group was a gd=1 or 2 with each other and I stood out. The MDKA was born in 1550.

              Through meticulous work, I was able to mathematically declare myself as the holder of an NPE- I would have never been able to discern that from the paperwork. This calls our existence as we know it into question. That's what genetic genealogy does best. If you are looking for scientific confirmation of your existence, you will get it, guaranteed. There is nothing fallible with the science, only in the interpretation.

              My mother was a foster child, and it had been reputed that her father was African American and her mother was of European ancestry. I had found her birth certificate and other vital papers that were applicable to her family, and sure enough, the rumours, at least superficially, were true. But, back in the early 1800's-early 1900's the terminology used did not necessarily aptly reflect appropriate ethnicity- something that remains important to me. "Colored" could mean a lot of things, as could"negro"- it was up to the interpretation of the census taker.

              So, I tracked down my only known male maternal cousin for a swab. He returned an haplogroup of E1b1a- this gave me scientific confirmation that at least my mother's paternal line was indeed African American. But that wasn't enough for me.

              So, I took the Family Finder test to see what would show up in my admixture on the PF. I was shocked to see "Finnish/Orcadian(which I wasn't shocked to see)" and happy to see my African component. After researching methodology for this test, I turned to Gedmatch for higher resolution. I kept on returning high percentages in the Finland area, (sometimes masked behind terms such as Mixed Germanic, Volga Uralic, Fennoscandian, Lithuanian,Baltic, North East European, North Sea)- and when you use Gedmatch, you really have to do a lot of footwork to understand how or what these populations are actually reflecting. Beyond that, I was also reflecting on my x chromosome, some really strange populations, such as Luhya, chuvash, Lembah, Tswana Southeast Africa) none of which made sense to me. So, I went to finally testing my Mt DNA.

              This week, those results came in. I returned a haplogroup of L0a. L0a is the direct descendant of genetic "Eve" and was raised out of South East Africa. This explained some of those crazy results on the X. It seems that my maternal grandmother was African American as well, and I sense that she did not know this.

              Also this week, I returned my first and only match beyond 12 markers in 8 years...a 67 marker match with a GD=0, with a man from.........FINLAND.

              So, if anyone says that dna testing is a scam, or is not accurate, please refer them to this entry and others like it. It does take a lot of work and understanding of technical concepts. Only when one is able to understand methodologies as well as those concepts, can you then make sense of your admixture.

              I'll admit that my new match adds a whole subset of complications to my research efforts. I have absolutely no idea how we connect, but I guess we are all masochists if we have lasted this long....

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              • #8
                The average working stiff out there wouldn't normally be expected to know much about DNA. In my case, I was exposed to DNA studies in Biology classes. But it was not my strong point. In our (yours and my) case, the object is to reinforce or disprove our family trees, eh?

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                • #9
                  Zaru: Thanks for taking the time to share, and for pointing out how we can expand our interpretation of a Finland result in the admixture.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by marietta View Post
                    Zaru: Thanks for taking the time to share, and for pointing out how we can expand our interpretation of a Finland result in the admixture.
                    Marietta,

                    It all depends on the calculator type as well as the version of the calculator. Some use "Zombie" populations which are synthetic mock-ups based on reference populations used in academic studies- this is what FTDNA has done in certain instances. For example, when PF was designed, they lacked reference population samples for the British Isles, the closest one they had was "Orcadian"- Orkney was populated primarily by people from the northlands (Nordic nations). So in order to center the populations toward the British Isles, they had to use a diametric that was further south, hence, the "middle East" percentage that most people from the British Isles are receiving.

                    As it was explained by Dr. McDonald (whose expertise led to the design of the initial PF) if your percentage of Middle East was <15% and your only other component was "Orcadian", you then most likely were 100% British Isles mix- the diametric was pushing Orcadian a bit south.

                    So, this also happens with some of the calculators on Gedmatch. But you really have to do your due diligence to see what the methodologies are in each separate version of each calculator. I have read that Volga Uralic/Siberian/Fennoscandian may be trying to flesh out Saami, which in turn might be fleshing out Native American (as they share similar snps), the same goes for "Beringian".

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tab1968 View Post
                      Hello

                      I have had a few conversations with people who are curious about DNA testing for Genealogy and the same questions come up, "How do you know the results are real?" Then they usually say something like they heard somewhere that DNA testing for Genealogy is not accurate.

                      By "genealogy" do you mean family history, or are you more interested in what some people call "ethnicity".

                      As can be seen in this thread, questions like this get off on "ancestry" meaning "ethnicity". Both terms are poorly defined.

                      Family history, genealogy proper, is pretty straightforward as far as genetics. The challenges exist in interpreting the DNA relationship in light of the cultural (documentary) evidence used to construct pedigrees.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by S9 H9 View Post
                        By "genealogy" do you mean family history, or are you more interested in what some people call "ethnicity".

                        As can be seen in this thread, questions like this get off on "ancestry" meaning "ethnicity". Both terms are poorly defined.
                        They coalesce and make sense for people like myself who had adoptions on both sides of the tree.

                        When you return the results that I have that I previously explained, then you see how they work together, yet are mutually exclusive terms.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Zaru View Post
                          The reason why I came to DNA testing back in 2006, was because I innately knew something did not add up on both sides genealogically speaking.
                          Thank you, I really enjoyed reading your post. I am about as "white" as you can get, L21+, M222+, of Northwestern Irish, BUT far upstream of that distinction I also have an African Aborigine SNP marker. And so maybe you and I could be related, after all.

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                          • #14
                            Thank you

                            Thanks everyone for all the replies.

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