Friday, 15 March 2013

Sense About Genealogical DNA Testing

I wrote last week about the new report from Sense About Science on the subject of Sense About Genetic Ancestry Testing. While I welcomed the publication of this report I was concerned at some of the inaccurate media coverage it generated which gave the false impression that all genetic ancestry testing is "meaningless". The report made it quite clear that DNA testing can be legitimately used for genealogical purposes, but this aspect was overlooked in some of the newspaper articles who quoted from the report out of context. I was very pleased, therefore, that Sense About Science invited me to write a guest blog post for them to help set the record straight. The post, entitled Sense About Genealogical DNA testing, is now live on the Sense About Science website. I am very grateful to all  the geneticists and genetic genealogists who provided useful feedback which resulted in a much better article than I would ever have written on my own.


George said...

Evolutionary Geneticists & Population Geneticists in Academia and Research are looking at wider "population groups" ... Citizen Scientists such as Genetic Genealogists are looking at narrower "family groups".

A London based Evolutionary Geneticist (an "Elitist" Scientist in Academia) at the center of all this controversy said at one time, in a phone call, don't even mention the term Haplogroup to me.

He was chided and asked if he would like some of us to coin a new term such as Popogroup for Population Geneticists & Evolutionary Geneticists and Genetic Genealogists would stick with Haplogroup & Haplotypes.

We haven't heard back from him or his colleagues yet ... maybe they are working on a new paper and want Genetic Astrologists to use Famogroups or Astrogroups.

Last week, some of us in the USA wrote a letter to the Sense About Science Board of Directors criticizing their organization about the lack of Accuracy - Peer Review - Journalistic Balance - No Comment Section on their new Guide about DTC DNA Testing for Ancestry purposes.

Their Guide was primarily authored under the pen of the Elitist Evolutionary Geneticist who is famed for trying to place Genetic Genealogy as a Pseudoscience with the use of his pejorative terms: "Genetic Astrology" - "Genetic Astrologist" - "Genetic Horoscope" (for a DTC DNA Test for Recent Ancestry OR "Deep" Ancient Ancestry)

Now on 3-15-13, we see the Sense About Science Board of Directors did allow a rebuttal piece (not a 4 Page Guide with a PR Release with it ...but a 1/2 Page Blog Posting with no PR Release and Again NO Public Comment Section)

This was done by an "individual" in the UK who publishes books about Genetic Genealogy and who obviously has some books and consulting services to sell.

Where was our Genetic Genealogy "organization" (ISOGG) on all this?

Were they just merely AWOL or not organized properly to promote offensively our avocation AND organized properly and skilled in media relations and PR to defend our organization.

This wasn't the first attack against the Genetic Genealogy Community and it won't be the last.

ISOGG with their non-effectual leadership and overly centralized organizational skills (it's still almost a 1 lady operation at the top) has to retool or disappear and be replaced by a better organization OR organizations.

Also, Debbie should not have given up the ship for Genetic Genealogists to be involved in "Deep" Ancient Ancestry DNA Testing and Analysis. She failed to mention the benefits of the National Geographic Geno 2.0 Test to determine ones Y-DNA HG (or close to it) - their mt-DNA Hg (or close to it) - their Autosomal DNA analysis which indeed also look into "Deep" ancestry. All these results can easily be transferred into FTDNA and more detailed Y-DNA 37 or 67 Marker STR tests fone there.

MikeW said...

George, I agree with some of what you write, but I don't with your perspective on ISOGG, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy.

In my opinion, ISOGG is the greatest thing since sliced bread. They are an all volunteer organization. They are us! If there is something we genetic genealogists think needs to be done, we need to roll up our sleeves and get in there with our resources and help improve it.

ISOGG has done a fantastic job of staying on type of the Y haplogroup tree and all of the new SNPs. I'm amazed at the amount time that some of these citizen-scientists put in. We are blessed that so many have such strong capabilities in their own professions to go along with their passion for genetic genealogy.

Mike W

Debbie Kennett said...


You have clearly misunderstood the Sense About Science Report. It was not an attack on genetic genealogy, and was fully supportive of our work.

I was invited to write the article by Sense About Science, and about a dozen or so ISOGG members had the opportunity to review the article prior to publication. I did not receive any money for the article. I do not offer a consulting service. Writing books is a labour of love and not a way to make money. There was no room to mention the complexities of deep ancestry testing in a short article. Sense About Science are promoting the article to the press in the usual way, but it is up to the newspapers what they want to write so we will have to see if the story gets any coverage.

ISOGG is an organisation of dedicated volunteers. If you think something needs doing you need to offer your services.