Saturday 7 March 2015

More on the S4C DNA Cymru controversy and my review of "Who are the Welsh?"

I wrote last week of my concerns over the programme Who are the Welsh which was broadcast last Sunday evening on the Welsh language TV station S4C. It is the first chapter in a series of programmes on Welsh DNA (DNA Cymru) with the remaining programmes scheduled to be broadcast in the autumn. I had intended to watch the programme live but unfortunately while BT were in the process of trying to fix our phone line we lost our internet connection. Our internet was finally restored on Thursday and I've only now had a chance to catch up on the programme, and to investigate in more detail the issues involved.

DNA Cymru is billed on the S4C website as being part of a "groundbreaking project" undertaken in partnership with the "successful Scottish research company responsible for ScotlandsDNA". ScotlandsDNA is one of the trading names of the various websites operated by the Moffat Partnership. The other websites include CymruDNAWales, BritainsDNA, IrelandsDNA, YorkshiresDNA and IzzardsDNA. However, the Moffat Partnership is not a "research company" but a for-profit company. There is no evidence of any research activities from the company. There have been similar "projects" before, particularly in Scotland, which have generated a lot of media coverage over the last few years but these "projects" appear to be nothing more than marketing exercises. There has so far not been a single paper published in a scientific journal and no results have ever been presented at a scientific conference. Many of the exaggerated claims emanating from BritainsDNA and ScotlandsDNA would in any case be unlikely to stand up to scientific scrutiny.

S4C is a Welsh-language public service broadcaster funded by taxpayers' money and it has a statutory duty to ensure impartiality and fairness. The S4C programme guidelines state: 
S4C’s ability to ensure due impartiality and fairness in its services is essential in order to retain its credibility as a public service broadcaster. The viewing public must be able to have faith in the integrity and objectivity of S4C’s programmes and services at all times. It is vital to S4C’s credibility and reputation that its viewers can be sure that any outside activities or interests of Faces and Editorial Persons (as defined in section 3 below) will not in any way undermine S4C’s impartiality or integrity and that editorial decisions are not influenced by any conflict of interests. These guidelines aim to ensure that S4C’s impartiality and integrity are not compromised or perceived to be compromised. At the same time, S4C wishes to avoid imposing unnecessary or disproportionate restrictions on its Faces or Editorial Persons and will apply these guidelines in a way which ensures this.
S4C introduced new product placement guidelines in February 2011, and product placement and commercial references are now permitted in some programmes. However, the guidelines make it clear that such arrangements should not influence editorial decisions:
S4C’s principal concern as a public services broadcaster is protecting and maintaining the editorial independence and integrity of its programmes. The viewing public must be able to have faith in the objectivity of S4C’s programmes and services at all times. It is vital to S4C’s credibility and reputation that its viewers can be sure that any product placement is not unduly prominent or promotional so as to undermine S4C’s impartiality or integrity and that editorial decisions are not influenced by any conflict of interests.
It is therefore a matter of some concern that S4C has been used as a vehicle to promote a non-scientific project which is designed purely to generate sales of DNA kits for the Moffat Partnership. The entire programme seemed to be nothing more than an extended advertorial. Viewers were told that the DNA tests are "available to everyone regardless of family background or how recently you've come to Wales". However, to participate in the "project" viewers were encouraged to pay for a very expensive DNA test from CymruDNAWales, one of the websites run by the Moffat Partnership. The screenshot below is taken from the S4C DNA Cymru website which has been set up to promote the programme.

Clicking on the red link takes you straight through to the Moffat Partnership's CymruDNAWales website where you can read their terms and conditions and go on to explore the website and order a DNA test. There are currently only two main tests advertised on the website - the Chromo 2 Complete test for males which costs £250 and the Chromo 2 Complete mtDNA test for females which costs £220.1

The Moffat Partnership are of course not the only company offering genetic ancestry tests. For details of alternative testing companies and comparison charts for the currently available tests see the list of DNA testing companies in the ISOGG Wiki. Nearly all of these companies offer equivalent or more advanced tests and often at much lower prices. However, the programme failed to mention any of these alternative testing options. It would be interesting to know if any of the other companies had been approached to tender for the DNA Cymru "project".

The programme also failed to mention any of the legitimate ongoing scientific research that might be of interest to the people of Wales. For example, the People of the British Isles Project (POBI), based at the University of Oxford, is a real groundbreaking scientific research project which is due to publish a major paper in the next month or so. The POBI researchers have been able to detect genetic differences between the people of North and South Wales and also possible signals of "Little England" in Pembrokeshire. The Impact of the Diasporas is a major five-year research project at the University of Leicester focusing on the "cultural, linguistic, and genetic interactions between peoples known to history as ‘Celts’, ‘Britons’, ‘Anglo-Saxons’, and ‘Vikings’". There is also a project at Oxford University led by Dr Ceiridwen Edwards which is using ancient DNA to investigate "mass migration and apartheid in Anglo-Saxon Britain".

So what did the programme itself actually cover? The first half of the programme provided a very dumbed down and and at times inaccurate version of the human story. There was a lot of loud music that might have been more appropriate in an advertisement for after shave, and brooding shots of bearded men and long-haired women dressed up in cloaks and furs, and often riding on horses.

There were some rather nice graphics which were used to explain some of the basic DNA concepts such as haplogroups (populations groups which share a common genetic line of descent). However, the programme's researchers seemed to be completely unaware of all the recent advances in ancient DNA testing which is now helping to transform our knowledge of the past. It was mistakenly claimed that "by identifying where haplogroups are common today we can estimate where they came from in the past" yet we know from ancient DNA testing that the distribution of haplogroups even a few thousand years ago is very different from the present-day distribution.2

The whole premise of the "project" is deeply flawed because the researchers are only using Y-chromosome DNA and mitochondrial DNA which, as was stated on the programme, comprise only 2% of our total DNA. While Y-DNA and mtDNA tests can be very useful for genealogical purposes because of the lack of recombination, they become increasingly less meaningful as you go further back in time and can only ever represent a small fraction of the total ancestry of the human population, and consequently can tell us very little about our ancient origins.

The second half of the programme featured Welsh celebrities receiving their DNA results from CymruDNAWales. They were regaled with the usual fanciful and unscientific haplogroup stories that will be familiar to anyone who has been following the BritainsDNA saga. The stories given to the celebrities looked as though they were identical to the reports that are given to ScotlandsDNA/BritainsDNA customers. 

The weather forecaster Sian Lloyd told viewers that she desperately wanted to be Welsh. She was found to belong to haplogroup T2a1a (the "foragers!") and was told that she was related to Tsar Nicholas II and four British kings. It was not explained to her that the test she took only represented her matrilineal line (the line of her mother, her mother's mother, her mother's mother's mother...), which represents only a tiny proportion of her total ancestry. There is in any case no DNA test which can determine your nationality and there never will be because we are all such a complex mix. The testing that was done on the remains of Tsar Nicholas II was a very low resolution test which was only able to determine that the base haplogroup was T2. The shared mtDNA ancestry is likely to go back many thousands of years and is therefore quite insignificant.

Dafydd Iwan, the former president of Plaid Cymru, was informed that he had a newly discovered marker (SNP) known as S300 which had been been labelled as "Ancient Welsh" and which the programme's "experts" believe denotes a "quintessentially Welsh haplogroup". We were told that S300 is supposedly found in only about 3% of Welsh people and a few people in England. ScotlandsDNA/BritainsDNA use a proprietary naming system for most of their markers and they precede many of their marker names with the letter S. Many of these markers are more commonly known by alternative names. S300 is not a newly discovered marker. S300 is more commonly known as L371 and was added to the ISOGG SNP tree back in March 2011.

Gareth Edwards, the rugby player, was told that his Y-DNA haplogroup is I-M253 Tiwtonaidd (Teutonic) and that his motherline was H2a2a1 and shared a genealogy with the "pioneers". Bryn Terfel, the opera singer, was informed that his Y-DNA haplogroup was I-S2606 which was given the nickname Rhinelander and is supposedly most common in Scandinavia.

The silly nicknames given to the haplogroups in the programme are a particular feature of the reports provided with the Chromo 2 test. However, there is no scientific justification for the use of these nicknames, and the implied association with historical groups is highly misleading. A full list of the haplogroup names used for the Chromo 2 test can be found here.

I was unable to translate the Welsh job titles in the list of credits at the end of the programme but, not surprisingly, I did not spot the names of any geneticists or historians. Dr Jim Wilson, the Chief Scientific Officer of ScotlandsDNA/BritainsDNA, was notable by his absence despite the fact that Llion Iwan, the Commissioner of Factual Content for S4C, had previously stated that Dr Jim Wilson was the chief scientist of the DNA Cymru project. Perhaps Jim Wilson is wisely trying to distance himself from his association with the company. He has already had his name removed from a book that he was previously scheduled to write with his business partner Alistair Moffat. The book The British: A Genetic Journey was published at the end of 2013 with Alistair Moffat listed as the sole author.

I cannot understand how such a programme ever got the go ahead. The embarrassing lack of science and the blatant promotion of a commercial company reflect very badly on the credibility of S4C as a public service broadcaster. The controversy has been highlighted in an article in the current issue of Private Eye Magazine (No. 1387, 6 March - 19 March 2015) which investigates the latest "hokum science" from "self-styled 'genetics expert' Alistair Moffat". Private Eye asks "How does the former journalist and TV executive get away with another commercial undertaking dressed as proper collaborative science?" They go on to speculate "Looks like he has again used his old boys' network, just as he did at the BBC. Ian Jones, chief executive of S4C, happens to be a mate."

The BBC have also clearly not learnt any lessons because they promoted DNA Cymru on two occasions last weekend though for once it was not Alistair Moffat who was being interviewed. Conveniently, Jason Mohammed, one of the presenters of the DNA Cymru series, hosts his own show on BBC Radio Wales, and he promoted DNA Cymru in his show on Friday 27th February. Jason interviewed John Geraint, the series producer, and Gareth Edwards, one of the celebrities who appeared on the programme. John Geraint inaccurately stated that there was "a lot of science" in the programme. He did acknowledge that a commercial company was being used but mistakenly claimed that the company could identify "where that individual's ancestral DNA comes from". The Jason Mohammed show is available on the BBC iPlayer. The relevant segment starts at around 38 minutes.

On Sunday 1st March Anwen Jones, another of the DNA Cymru presenters, was invited onto the Roy Noble show on BBC Radio Wales. Anwen Jones gave Roy Noble his DNA results on air and regaled him with some silly stories about his haplogroups. His Y-DNA haplogroup was G-Z759 which he was told was "Ancient Caucasian" (this is another one of the BritainsDNA haplogroup nicknames). His subhaplogroup is G2a which we were told represents the first people to bring farming to Europe though it is ludicrous to speculate that all the first farmers belonged to a single haplogroup. Roy Noble was then told that his mtDNA is haplogroup H1 which is given the nickname "Western refuges". He was told that H1 is from the Pyrenees and was possibly spread around Europe by Beaker folk. However, it is not possible to determine the origins of haplogroups in such a simplistic way and to associate their spread with specific cultures. The Roy Noble programme is also available on the BBC iPlayerThe relevant segment starts at around 1 hour 4 minutes.

It is very disappointing to see public service broadcasters being used to promote an individual's commercial venture, and even more so when that venture is disguised as a scientific research project. The almost total lack of credible science and the silly romanticised haplogroup stories serve to mislead the public about what genetics can and can't tell us about our ancestry. Such programmes undermine the work of serious scientists working in the field and also the efforts of genetic genealogists who are using DNA testing for legitimate purposes in combination with traditional genealogical sources. S4C should be ashamed of themselves.

Update 9th March 2015
Two more critical articles have been published about the DNA Cymru programme since I wrote this post.

- My colleague at UCL Professor Mark Thomas was interviewed by BBC Radio Wales and described the programme as an "embarrassment to science":

- A blogger by the name of Jack o' the North independently came to the same conclusions as me about the commercial nature of the programme:

Update 10th March 2015
- The controversy over the DNA Cymru programme was discussed on S4C news (in Welsh) on 9th March. The segment starts at 5 minutes 39 seconds:

- There was also a lengthy discussion (in Welsh) on the current affairs show ‘Dan yr Wyneb’ on Radio Cymru on 9th March:

Update 13th March 2015
The Raw Y-DNA test has now been restored to the product menu.

Related blog posts
- The saga continues - CymruDNAWales, S4C, the Tudor surname and "Who are the Welsh?"
My review of DNA Cymru Part 2 - the controversy continues
- My thoughts on DNA Cymru Part 3 and the significance (or lack thereof) of large genetic clusters

1. The Moffat Partnership previously used to offer a standalone Chromo 2 Y-DNA test for £189 and a Raw Y-DNA test for £129 which provided the raw data without the interpretative reports. A genetic genealogist friend advises me that he has been told that the Raw Y-DNA test is still available but you currently have to e-mail the company to place an order. He was told that they have recently updated their website and the Raw Y-DNA product will eventually be put back on the website.

2. For a good summary of the potential of ancient DNA testing and the limitations of Y-DNA and mtDNA testing for deep ancestry, see the paper by Joseph Pickrell and David Reich "Towards a new history and geography of human genes informed by ancient DNA".

© 2015 Debbie Kennett


Anonymous said...

"Beti George claimed that H1 is from the Pyrenees and was possibly spread around Europe by Beaker folk. However, it is not possible to determine the origins of haplogroups in such a simplistic way and to associate their spread with specific cultures."

What about through ancient DNA? - e.g.

Debbie Kennett said...

Ancient DNA helps with the timeframe but it still doesn't tell us where a haplogroup originated. The link made by Brotherton et al with the Beaker culture is speculative and the hypothesis has not been tested. There could be many other explanations for the spread of haplogroup H in Europe. However, they at least produced a useful, albeit highly biased, dataset of ancient DNA.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean 'at least'?

Debbie Kennett said...

I mean that the new dataset of ancient DNA is probably the most useful thing to come out of the paper. Also you cannot rely on the findings of one paper. These haplogroup papers all tend to come up with different hypotheses. It's very easy to generate hypotheses about haplogroups but much more difficult to test them scientifically.

This article provides a good overview of the limitations of phylogeography and the statistical methods that can be used:

Sher Leetooze said...

Hello Debbie:
This programme sounds just like the one that Ancestry is doing on American tv - Ancestry look-ups disguised as "real" genealogical research! I saw right through the process during their first show - called The Genealogy Road Show.
It too is shown on viewer supported tv - in the States known as Public Broadcast Stations - PBS. I doubt these tv broadcasters will ever learn to tell a silk purse from a sow's ear!!
Sher Leetooze
Ontario, Canada

John Geraint said...

Hello, Debbie.
I won’t be entering into a debate here about the substance of your review.
One particular correction, though, would be appreciated – I’m afraid that you’ve mistaken the identity of the person who gave Roy Noble his DNA results.
With thanks,
John Geraint, Series Producer, DNA Cymru

Debbie Kennett said...


Sorry about that. I've just listened to the segment again and I see that it was in fact Anwen Jones who read out the results rather than Beti George. I've now corrected the article. Thanks for pointing out my error.

Best wishes


Debbie Kennett said...

Hi Sher

I've not seen the Genealogy Road Show over here but it does seem to be the case that the commercial links on TV in the US are more prominent. However, we've had a couple of series of programmes over here sponsored by Findmypast but they're on a commercial channel:

Anonymous said...

Similar criticisms could be made of Spencer Wells and the Genographic Project or (in his time) Bryan Sykes and Oxford Ancestors.

Yet I've never seen you attack the Genographic Project for spreading stories about Paleolithic Western European R1b or speculating about Phoenician ancestry for Thomas Jefferson or some of the other questionable science they've pushed. For a more current example, Geno 2.0 results give scientifically baseless estimates of 1-2% "Denisovan" ancestry to people from populations that have no Denisovan ancestry whatsoever. There's no excuse for that, and they're misleading hundreds of thousands of people. But at the end of the day I'm not that worried about it because the Genographic project is on net getting more people interested in and excited about genetic genealogy.

Some degree of sensationalism is to be expected in these sorts of enterprises. You seem to have an ax to grind against Moffat in particular, which one suspects is not unconnected to the acknowledgment you've received from your "colleagues". Granted, the letter from his lawyers to your subsequent "colleagues" was probably uncalled for. But how long ago was that? I think it's time to let it drop it.

Debbie Kennett said...

Dear anonymous

It would be helpful in the interests of transparency if you could reveal your name and let people know what your connections are to BritainsDNA.

I have the same concerns about the claims made by Oxford Ancestors but I only became involved in DNA testing in 2007 and by that stage hardly anyone was testing with Oxford Ancestors as they only offered low resolution tests at very high prices. They also haven't been flooding the press with silly stories since I've been actively writing about DNA.

The Genographic Project are certainly guilty of some misleading marketing. However, they are a non-profit organisation and they have at least published papers in peer-reviewed journals, even if some of those papers have been of somewhat dubious quality. The Genographic Project has also helped to encourage people to participate in genetic genealogy. With the first Geno test people could transfer their 12-marker Y-DNA test results or mtDNA HVR1 results to FTDNA. A lot of genetic genealogists started out this way, and the Geno test brought in lots of international participants to the FTDNA database from all over the world who might not have considered testing otherwise.

I'm not a fan of the Geno 2.0 test. I think they got the pricing wrong so the uptake has not been so high and there's no benefit from transferring your results to FTDNA. The admixture part of the test doesn't provide any meaningful information and I agree that the Denisovan percentages are misleading. I've pointed that out on various lists. The Genographic Project have already realised that it's a problem and have indicated that they might drop the Denisovan percentages:

However, the Genographic Project have not been actively marketing their test over here, and I can't remember the last time I saw any UK press coverage for the project so there are no misleading claims to counter.

I have no particular axe to grind against Alistair Moffat but he has been the source of nearly all the misleading claims and silly stories that have appeared in the last few years so it's only natural that he's been the main focus of attention. It is disappointing that he has failed to respond to criticisms and that he resorted to issuing legal threats to silence his critics. He also failed to engage in debate when he spoke at WYDYTA Live, and even refused to take questions from the audience. Blogs are therefore the only medium where we can discuss these matters. The fact that he tried to suppress criticism has probably made me more determined to speak out.

I had hoped that BritainsDNA would have responded to all the criticisms that they've received by now and market their tests in a more responsible way so that I wouldn't have to write about them any more. Unfortunately very little has changed since the now infamous Today programme. Let's hope that the latest criticisms will finally have some impact, and that they will now behave more responsibly. Unfortunately the bad publicity they've generated gives genetic genealogy a bad name.

Anonymous said...

I have no connection whatsoever to Britain's DNA. I am, like you, a genetic genealogy consumer, and my impression from the beginning of this affair has been that your "colleagues" are at least as far off in the direction of denying the utility of genetic testing for learning about ancestry as Moffat is in the direction of overselling his product and spinning sometimes outlandish stories. That you chose to join with them in their hysterical attacks, rather than staying objective, I think is unfortunate. Overall I think your attacks are doing more to damage genetic genealogy than they are to set the record straight.

You make much of the fact that Britain's DNA is for profit and the Genographic Project is non-profit. But Spencer Wells and National Geographic executives are getting paid just the same, for what seems to be a fairly minimal workload in the case of Spencer Wells. And, given the level of funding, the number and quality of papers we've seen from the Genographic Project is appallingly low.

You say: "The fact that he tried to suppress criticism has probably made me more determined to speak out."

Going back and reading the original emails, there's no question Thomas and Balding were out of line. This does not mean the legal threats were warranted, and they certainly were idiotic from a PR standpoint. But calling speculation fraud, nitpicking mentions of genetic "Adam and Eve", and threatening the careers of Wilson and Cavalleri is not my idea of sensible criticism.

Debbie Kennett said...

I think we will have to agree to disagree. If you're not connected with BritainsDNA why will you not reveal your name? I don't see any point in continuing this debate without knowing who I'm talking to.

Anonymous said...

The order page is listing the raw Y-DNA product, did you even look at it?

Please amend your article.

Debbie Kennett said...

Dear Anonymous

Many thanks for letting me know. I've now updated my footnote. The £189 Y-DNA test doesn't appear to have been restored. Do you know if that's going to be made available again?

I did check the prices on all the Moffat Partnership websites before posting and I did in fact ask about the other Y-DNA products in the ISOGG Facebook group, hence the wording I used in my footnote, which was based on the e-mail I received.

Unknown said...

Debbie thanks for taking your time again to address pseudoscience. It must get tedious and tiring, but our genetic genealogy community needs consistently strong, clear and concise voices to point out the biggest flaws amidst the noise and good work being done. Most genetic genealogists -- not to mention DNA project participants who look to our community for guidance -- are coming across many oversimplifications. We often don't have the science background, let alone connections with population geneticists, needed to interpret statements made either casually online or in the media. It's especially problematic when untested speculations by people asserting they are scientists are delivered as conclusive and are thus, at best, deceptive. We depend on contributions like yours to help orient us so we can give the best possible advice and feedback to our DNA project participants when they bring their questions to us. It’s not unusual that someone will post a link on my facebook page to some pseudoscience and I’m in a better position to address it because of your posts. Reading critiques such as yours, and other debates in the field, is now part of the learning curve involved with being an educated DNA project administrator who can help participants sort the wheat from the chaff. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Thoughts on this? Can we persuade them to change their mind?

Unfortunately, the authors have decided not to make their data publicly available. This is very unfortunate, and will keep this research out of the hands of many people who would be interested in it and who would be interested in analyzing this data. I can already guess the disappointment of people of British ancestry from around the world who have a genealogical interest in tracing their British ancestors to particular areas of the UK. Apparently, the data is deposited in the EGA archive, access requires red tape, and is apparently limited to institutional researchers. Thus, this data, perhaps the richest genetic survey of any country to date, will not be fully utilized to further science.

George said...

Debbie said in her blogging authoritative style some facts she cannot support: "S300 (aka R1b-L371) is supposedly found in only about 3% of Welsh people and a few people in England."

Where did Debbie conjure up this misleading 3%? Did she pull it of thin air as I suspect or did she get our mouthpiece Mark Thomas to gibe her that percentage.

I am a R1b-L371 male and lead the Wales Discovery Group with over 10 L371 men which have been Y-DNA NGS tested. If anybody in the world is a subject expert on R1b-L371 it is me ... not Blogger Debbie who claims to be a researcher for Mark Thomas.

Here's what the facts are about R1b-L371 frequencies after reviewing more than 300,000 FTDNA Y-DNA tests:
.08% (1 in 1,190) of Y-DNA FTDNA tested men Worldwide are R-L371. Ancestral homelands in Wales are expected to have "R-L371 frequency hotspot percentages" which are likely to be 3 to 6 times higher ... .3% to .6%.

Debbie, that's 3/10th of ONE PERCENT ... NOT THREE PERCENT.

The recent PoBI study they came out in Nature on 3/19/15 shows that the Autosomal GREEN SQUARES in North Wales (where R1b-L371 men originated) are the most "Ancient Britons". That study agrees with ours in the 3500BC origins.

So, Debbie ... Man up and retract your earlier 3% gibberish.

Debbie Kennett said...

I suspect that the authors have to abide by a contractual agreement with Nature. It is a shame that such an important paper is not open access. I'm fortunate that I have institutional access through my UCL account but not everyone is quite so lucky. However, if you are in the UK and live near a university then I understand you should be able to visit the university library and download papers there.

In the meantime I've written to Peter Donnelly to ask if there's any possibility of a preprint version of the paper being made available so that the research can have a wider audience.

The Wellcome Trust normally make it a condition of funding that the research is open access. However, you can understand that the authors would have wanted the prestige of a Nature publication which is probably only a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Debbie Kennett said...

George, The 3% figure was cited in the S4C programme. I presume that is the percentage in the BritainsDNA database. The FTDNA database is highly biased and about 70% of customers are in the US.

Anonymous said...

Debbie, it's not the paywall on the paper that concerns me, but the restricted access to the genotype data. This prevents people from comparing themselves to the the PoBI samples, and prevents companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA from using the samples to improve their ethnicity predictions. This is what I hope you'll take up with Peter Donnelly.

The PoBI volunteer agreement read:

Data, including complete genome sequences, will be made available to researchers via open access (public) databases available on the internet. There is a possibility that the data in the databases will be used to study questions related not only to health and disease but also of various non-medical traits, and that both individual and group comparisons will be made.

And people have received emails from the PoBI team that confirmed this was the plan. Now they don't seem to be following through.

Debbie Kennett said...

Some of the data has been uploaded to the 1000 Genomes Project. When I asked Bruce Winney about the availability of the data back in 2012 I was told it would be accessible through the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium:

Perhaps the original plans have changed. AncestryDNA have already expressed an interest in the data and we understood from Daniel Crouch when he spoke in Ireland that Ancestry were hoping to collaborate with POBI on further analysis. Bennett Greenspan from Family Tree DNA went to Bruce Winney's talk at WDYTYA Live last year and he is also interested in having access to the data for the FTDNA Family Finder test. I'm sure 23andMe will also be making enquiries.

In any case I suspect it won't yet be possible to release all the data because the research is still ongoing. We're waiting for the Y-DNA analysis from Professor Mark Jobling. Daniel Crouch is doing the analysis of the markers associated with facial features.

If people are interested in making the data more publicly accessible then it's probably easiest if they contact Peter Donnelly direct, especially if they've taken part in the project.

George Jones said...


1. As a 'Researcher' for Mark Thomas at UCL you are doing a poor job.

2. There NEVER was a 3% Frequency mentioned in the S4C program for the R1b-L371 / R1b-S300 Hg. So here again, you are making that up as part of your foggy research opinions and foggy blog postings.

3. I know almost all the R1b-L371 / R1b-S300 men which are + / Positive for that Y-SNP and have done tests at BritainsDNA. 90% of them are from the USA and also have been tested at FTDNA ... which is the powerhouse for Y-DNA testing. So, I don't count duplicate testees .... but you as a Foggy Researcher do. You want to critique Moffatt ... how about critiquing yourself.

4. I will stand by my earlier posting: "Here's what the facts are about R1b-L371 / R1b-S300 frequencies after reviewing more than 300,000 FTDNA Y-DNA tests:
.08% (1 in 1,190) of Y-DNA FTDNA tested men Worldwide are R-L371. Ancestral homelands in Wales are expected to have "R-L371 frequency hotspot percentages" which are likely to be 3 to 6 times higher ... .3% to .6%."

5. In addition, I have reviewed academic papers which have R1b Hgs in them .... and there is NO 3% frequency in them for R1b-L371. So, where do you 'conjure' up your flaky Y-DNA research?

6. I still see you are lax on your research methods / writings and fail to retract your erroneous and slanted 'research' about R1b-L371 'Ancient Britons'


PS: For your blog readers, here's a FREE COPY of the PoBI paper in Nature Look at the atDNA Green Squares in NW Wales ... that's where R1b-L371 Y-DNA Hg men originated circa 3500BC to 3100BC before coming in from the SW Coast of France. Too bad the PoBI researchers failed in this Nature paper to correlate their atDNA Cluster ages with uniparental Y-DNA or mtDNA agings such as I have done via NGS analysis with R1b-L371.

Debbie Kennett said...


Here is a screenshot from the programme showing the 3% figure:

I suggest you write to BritainsDNA or S4C if you think the figure they cited was inaccurate. I'm only reporting what was said in the programme.

George said...

I have asked Jim Wilson and BritainsDNA to clarify the data. But I can tell you 3% is not accurate and one has to sort out all the duplicate testees from FTDNA and BritainsDNA. If you are a 'Honarary Researcher' for Mark Thomas at UCL why did not you annotate the source of your data .... and then vett / verify / gut check it? I thought that's what researchers at UCL or other academic institutions would do.

Debbie Kennett said...

Thanks George. I thought the source was obvious from the context because I was reviewing the programme but I've now revised the text to say that "We were told that S300 is supposedly..." which I hope makes it clearer.

George said...

About .1% (1 in 1000) USA Y-DNA tested men at FTDNA are R1b-L371.

Per Dr. Jim Wilson, in Wales R1b-L371 has a 3.5% frequency (35 in 1000). This is 35 times more frequent in Wales than in the USA.

Specific Welsh surnames, such as Jones in specific parts of NW Wales, could skew higher. Perhaps with a 5% or higher frequency. Additional Population Genetics academic level testing and Genetic Genealogy individual level testing in Wales for Jones surnamed men is needed to more accurately determine Y-DNA Hg frequencies / distributions / clines / Hg ages etc. in NW Wales.

The R1b-L371 Hg could date to about 3100BC as determined by NGS tests and YFULL analysis

Here is a link on some new analysis of the Green Square atDNA Population Cluster in NW Wales. This Population Cluster also dates back close to 3100BC.

So Debbie, with this little exercise, I have shown you and your readers that Moffatt and Wilson do get the vast majority of things right.

I again request that you and Mark Thomas end this vendetta toward Moffatt that could hurt the Genetic Genealogy community.

If Moffatt's Genetic and Historical interpretations are not your cup of British tea ... then ignore them and have a can of American Coke.

joeflood said...

Good grief, what a lot of excitement over some tiny group with a recent mutation of L21 (one of hundreds). Why do they have their own project anyway?