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  • New Origins Ethnicity is Incorrect

    The old Origins Ethnicity had me at 100% Western European/British Isles, which is exactly what my research has shown. The revised Origins Ethnicity says I am now 0% Western European. This is wrong. I have documentation (passports, censuses, Sippenbuchs (family books), baptismal and marriage records etc. that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that my mother's ancestors all came from Germany. I wrote to FamilyTree DNA and the answer they gave me was essentially "we're right, you're not." I now have serious doubts about the validity of their entire process. has anyone else experienced this?

    Bob W

  • #2
    Yes

    Facebook groups are FULL of complaints, as are the 23andMe forums.

    My cousin is European apart from one Chinese great-grandfather (that's 12.5% on paper). He old My Origins gave her an almost perfect 13% Asian (well within the range for a great-grandparent) but now she gets no Asian at all.

    My direct ancestry is all British and Irish. No ethnicity test for me, my brother or my sister has ever cast any doubt on this. We get varying very small amounts of Scandinavian which is totally normal for our background, given the Viking influence. Now I've suddenly leapt to 22% Scandinavian. Lots of people with no Scandinavian ancestry in recent centuries are reporting the same huge increase. On the other hand, people with known Scandinavian ancestry in the last couple of generations are reporting that it has totally disappeared from the new My Origins.

    I've also ended up with a massive 29% Iberian. That's almost a third! I've never had anything even vaguely South European anywhere else, and my brother and sister don't have any Iberian component.

    My sister (with her purely British and Irish ancestry, the same as mine) has dropped to just 20% Isles. She has a massive 71% West/Central Europe (which is zero per cent for me).

    Our nephew, who has a German great-great-grandfather, gets more "Britain and Ireland" than my sister and I put together, but he has no West/Central Europe.

    FTDNA response to the outcry on their own FB page has been to send the same stock response to everyone to say "please send me a private message". When asked what the point is, there's no reply.

    From various reports, the FTDNA response to queries via Customer Services is along the lines of what you got: a totally arrogant denial that My Origins v2 is an utter failure.

    Comment


    • #3
      Here's what Roberta Estes wrote:

      Ethnicity estimates are more of a beginning than an end. I hope that no one is taking any ethnicity estimate as hard and fast fact. They aren’t. Ethnicity estimates are one of the many tools available to genetic genealogists today. They really aren’t a shortcut to, or in place of, traditional genealogy. I hope what they are, for many people, is the enticement that encourages them to jump into the genealogy pool and go for a swim.

      For people seeking to know “who they are” utilizing ethnicity testing, they need to understand that while ethnicity results are fun, they aren’t an answer. Ethnicity results are more of a hint or a road sign, pointing the way to potential answers that may be reaped from traditional genealogical research.
      If you think of your results as "fun" and you don't take them seriously, you won't be disappointed. If you believe them as being "science" you are only fooling yourself. This is the marketable part of GG websites, the part that is mostly of entertainment - not of hard fact.

      It's a teaser, and it's meant to be an attraction or entertaining feature to their business. It works. That's why the GG sites are all suddenly rushing their versions of similar features into the marketplace.

      Comment


      • #4
        Since the ethnicity results are a relatively new "science" I look at all of the changes as a growth process, not an exact determination of what current political countries that my ancestors came from. It makes for interesting conversation with family, but we realize that for most European backgrounds there just isn't a clear and precise pool of living people to really draw enough samples from to establish tight geographical borders for ethnic estimates.

        The autosomal DNA test is great for leading a person to genetic matches to a certain point in history, but the ethnic estimates for the most part go back so far in time that trying to use them for genealogy is mostly useless.

        The very fact that the word estimate is used to describe the results tell you how to regard them. Estimate is defined as "an approximate calculation or judgment of the value, number, quantity, or extent of something."

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by DaveInGreece View Post
          My cousin is European apart from one Chinese great-grandfather (that's 12.5% on paper). He old My Origins gave her an almost perfect 13% Asian (well within the range for a great-grandparent) but now she gets no Asian at all.
          I don't believe him. MyOrigins 2.0 can't have THAT problem. East Asians and Southeast Asians are distinctive from other populations. What IS your cousin claiming to show in lieu of East and Southeast Asian?

          Other people are still showing their genuine non-European DNA just fine, and even with accuracy improvements, such as double-digit Amerindian amounts where they exist.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by khazaria View Post
            Other people are still showing their genuine non-European DNA just fine, .
            I've just checked back to take a screenshot, but her results have changed. She's now showing 10% SE Asia. Not as good as before, but within a reasonable range (and a great improvement on the zero she had for the first days after the update!).

            Comment


            • #7
              MyOrigins Goofs

              I've noticed too that the recent changes to MyOrigins are incorrect. It now showns 100% European. Gone is My Greek ancestry (my father's line is from Greece). Gone is my Ashkenazi ancestry (my mother's family is Russian Ashkenazi who resettled in Germany). There was even some Turkic which has vanished. It's almost as bad as 23&Me, which had everything thing wrong---from ancestry and appearence to medical and health.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by PaulHosse View Post
                I've noticed too that the recent changes to MyOrigins are incorrect. It now showns 100% European. Gone is My Greek ancestry (my father's line is from Greece). Gone is my Ashkenazi ancestry (my mother's family is Russian Ashkenazi who resettled in Germany). There was even some Turkic which has vanished. It's almost as bad as 23&Me, which had everything thing wrong---from ancestry and appearence to medical and health.
                Yes I have had the same problem, mine now says 99% south eastern European.
                Even though I have ancestry from Spain, I show no Iberian anymore. I also had
                34% Asia minor and its gone as well now just says Italy and Greece. I have no known ancestry from Greece that I know of? I do have Italian and some with
                A history if being jewish in Italy, My mtdna line only has Sephardic matches
                But now I have no middle eastern at all and no Sephardic in MO, I had 36% ME before the MO change?

                Comment


                • #9
                  22% Iberian?

                  I too am slightly bemused by my Origins results- particularly the apparent Iberian ancestry; Although I have no other results to compare it to, like other people my paper research does not bear it out.

                  However, it occured to me, how long ago are we referring too? Because if the Origins results point to a time, say 500-1,000 years ago, well the paper trail wouldn't go back that far would it?

                  This could all be perfectly correct.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Fiona D View Post
                    However, it occured to me, how long ago are we referring too? Because if the Origins results point to a time, say 500-1,000 years ago, well the paper trail wouldn't go back that far would it?
                    Create a free account at Gedmatch.com and upload your raw data. They have lots of different "admixture calculators" so you will get an idea if any other algorithms also estimate you to have a large amount of southern European DNA. All of the calculators have limited accuracy (it's new, experimental science with small "reference populations") so what's called "Iberian" here might be estimated as "Italian" or "Greek" or "Broadly South European" elsewhere, but if there's any truth at all in your new FTDNA estimate of 22% Iberian then the other calculators should come up with large amounts of various southern European/Mediterranean Basin categories.

                    As for the paper trail not extending back as far as the My Origins estimate... In a way, that is correct. You need to interpret your results based on your knowledge of your paper-trail ancestry and an understanding of the history of the places your ancestors came from.

                    In my case, my ancestry is British and Irish. Ignoring the crazy results I now get from FTDNA, the results my family and I get are entirely normal for our background: lots of "British and Irish", quite a lot of "West European" (which is from the Angles, Saxons and Normans who invaded Britain), and a small amount of "Scandinavian" (from the Viking invasions). My paper trail doesn't show anything other than British and Irish but it does show lots of "English" and I know that, historically, that must mean I have a lot of distant ancestry from NW mainland Europe.

                    However, there's no history of any group from the Iberian Peninsular having influenced the population of the British Isles/Ireland (ignoring speculation about very ancient origins) and "Iberian" is not a DNA influence in the general population. The 29% Iberian which suddenly appeared for my after the update-fiasco can't be explained historically so, if real, it would have to come from fairly recent ancestry specific to my family. I have 3 unknown 3xgreat-grandparents who, if entirely Iberian in ancestry, could contribute 9% of my DNA. That still leaves 20% which would require an awful lot of my other ancestors to be part Iberian.

                    That would leave the question: If I have 3 third-great-grandparents who were fully Iberian and lots of other Iberian ancestry on other lines, why do my full brother and sister display ZERO Iberian ancestry? Siblings are not identical so it's entirely plausible that the influence of one 3rd-great-grandparent would be much greater in one sibling and undetectable in another. However, the siblings all have to get DNA from somewhere. It's not at all plausible that my brother and sister (and every cousin in an extensively-tested family) could have escaped all of the "Iberian" ancestry I apparently have.

                    As for your own case, Fiona, you need to think about where your own paper-trail leads. You don't need anything in your tree to say "Spain" or "Portugal". If you have ancestry from another part of southern Europe then the "Iberian" could just be a misassignment of that DNA. If your ancestors lived in (or near) a place which had a Spanish or Portuguese influence 500 years ago, you might have small amounts of "Iberian" ancestry on lots and lots of your ancestral lines. You will have to decide whether, based on your background, it's at all plausible. But, at 22%, I think it's highly unlikely that you wouldn't already be aware of the strong potential for "Iberian" ancestry.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Fiona D View Post
                      I too am slightly bemused by my Origins results- particularly the apparent Iberian ancestry; Although I have no other results to compare it to, like other people my paper research does not bear it out.

                      However, it occured to me, how long ago are we referring too? Because if the Origins results point to a time, say 500-1,000 years ago, well the paper trail wouldn't go back that far would it?

                      This could all be perfectly correct.
                      Yes that could be whats going on, although what confuses me is shouldn't the
                      four Grand parents lines affect the outcome of the MO at least somewhat.
                      My lines fathers Y no Italian or Greek matches on ancestral origins or matches.
                      even though they did come from Italy. Mothers father Y no Italian no Greek, looks
                      like Malta matches but thats not included in the southeastern group that I can tell.
                      Mother Mtdna only Sephardic matches of significance on ancestral origins.
                      So I guess my question is if I have no matches or it shows no origins for Italy
                      and Greece, where does the almost 100% come from? and why is there no Iberian even though
                      I have direct ancestry from two Great Grand parents from there going back at least 8 generations. I sent Family tree an email asking these questions, But they didn't return my email, Very frustrating. (I don't doubt most of the results) but what about
                      the missing and odd results. Before it was 63% southern Europe 34% Asia minor
                      2% north African, to me added up to make more sense as to what I know of my ancestry, Southern Europe included Spain and Portugal at that time and I had
                      large marker there? Now none?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PaulHosse View Post
                        I've noticed too that the recent changes to MyOrigins are incorrect. It now showns 100% European. Gone is My Greek ancestry (my father's line is from Greece). Gone is my Ashkenazi ancestry (my mother's family is Russian Ashkenazi who resettled in Germany). There was even some Turkic which has vanished. It's almost as bad as 23&Me, which had everything thing wrong---from ancestry [...]
                        How do you know your ancestry is what you thought it was?

                        Are you saying your father was fully Greek? But you score 0% "Southeast Europe" in MyOrigins 2.0?
                        Are you saying your mother was fully Ashkenazic? But you score 0% "Ashkenazi Jewish" in MyOrigins 2.0?
                        Neither scenario is plausible, if your parents were truly typical representatives of those two communities.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The situation calls for another question, how do you know that the reference groups are representative of whatever the real populations are or were? If results don't match expectations, it is not necessarily the expectations are in error, rather than the process.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by khazaria View Post
                            How do you know your ancestry is what you thought it was?

                            Are you saying your father was fully Greek? But you score 0% "Southeast Europe" in MyOrigins 2.0?
                            Are you saying your mother was fully Ashkenazic? But you score 0% "Ashkenazi Jewish" in MyOrigins 2.0?
                            Neither scenario is plausible, if your parents were truly typical representatives of those two communities.
                            This is a problem when someone takes their first DNA test and hasn't checked with Gedmatch or other estimators. Either the person's family history is incorrect, or the results are taken too literally and equated directly to modern political boundaries.

                            However, that's not the case for most of the people commenting here. We saw the old My Origins and got plausible results in line with what we'd expect. We've tested at other companies or used Gedmatch and got broadly similar results. But the new My Origins is giving very different results which don't reflect the known ancestry and contradict all other ancestry estimators. And by "contradict" I don't mean a difference of a couple of per cent, or a slight shift from one specific category to another one in the same general group (e.g. a change from Greek to Italian), I mean sweeping changes. People with recent Swedish ancestry suddenly losing all "Scandinavian", while people with no Scandinavian suddenly end up with 22%. Me, with zero Southern European of any sort in any other estimator, suddenly being assigned 29% Iberian.

                            That's nothing to do with my parents not being representative of their communities. If that were the case, you'd expect other estimators to have shown similar results and you'd expect my brother and sister to be showing the same sort of origins (probably in different percentages, but the same mix of origins at least).

                            Believe me, if results for me and my siblings all showed relatively high components of something southern European, and this was replicated by other estimators, then I'd thoroughly re-examine my family tree. But it's only me, only on My Origins v2, and it's a massive 29% rather than some trace amount which could be ignored (or be too distant to trace).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This is interesting, because I seem to be in the minority in feeling my ethnicity breakdown improved in accuracy under the new scheme.

                              I am white British, with one Ashkenazi grandparent.

                              Previously, my ethnicity as calculated by FTDNA showed me as 19% Scandinavian - a high proportion.

                              Whilst I don't dispute that anyone white and British almost certainly has some Scandinavian ancestry, it was misleading, to the extent that matches have asked about my "Scandinavian" relatives.

                              There is NO documented history of anyone in recent generations (four or five, at least), being Scandinavian, or even having a vaguely Scandinavian name, or anything like that.

                              My belief is that I'm no more "Scandinavian" than any random British person - i.e. quite a lot, probably, in my deep ancestry, but certainly not enough to start looking for evidence of "recent" Scandinavian contribution to my family tree.

                              Under the new scheme, the 19% Scandinavian has disappeared altogether, and I'm now showing as 67% British Isles. This is much more in keeping with recent recorded history, and I don't have to explain that no, I don't have anyone from Scandinavia in my tree, and don't realistically expect to find any.

                              I'm confident the former 19% was simply reflective of my "typical" British heritage (with the exception of the Ashkenazi part), and did not mean I should be researching who arrived on a boat from Scandinavia.

                              Comment

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