Friday, 26 July 2013

Private Eye on Prince William's "Indian" DNA

I wrote last month about the hyped-up media coverage surrounding the story of Prince William's supposed Indian DNA and my astonishment at the gullibility of the press who lapped up the news unquestioningly without making any checks on the scientific evidence behind the story. The research behind these claims has never been published anywhere other than in a press release from BritainsDNA, a commercial genetic ancestry testing company. The sole voice of criticism in the UK now comes from the satirical magazine Private Eye, who have highlighted the problems in this week's issue in their column Street of Shame, describing how "Fleet Street's finest have swallowed another piece of scientific hokum from self-styled 'genetics expert' Alistair Moffat, rector of  St Andrew's University".1

The reporter comments that "There have been calls from the scientific community for DNA genetic ancestry companies to spell out the limitations to the information they sell. At the very least, newspapers should outline the uncertainties." Quite how we achieve these laudable goals remains to be seen.

Reference
1. Street of Shame. Private Eye, issue no. 1345, 26 July - 8 August, 2012, page 7.

Further reading
For the background on the story of Prince William's "Indian" DNA see my blog post dated 19th June entitled BritainsDNA, The Times and Prince William - the perils of publication by press release.

© 2013 Debbie Kennett

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