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DNA For Hipsters

November 20, 2016 7 Comments

brother's estimate

brother’s estimate

my estimate

my estimate

The subject of DNA testing has become more and more popular since directed some television programming at discovering the ethnicity of celebrities.  Many folks are surprised to learn their DNA reveals a different or much more complex ethnic background than they had assumed.  It is particularly poignant for black people to trace their ancestors back to slavery and find out how much non-African DNA they have.  The show and the advertising have increased the number of people sending samples to the database at This has the effect of defining all of us in the database with more precision.  I think that this is one way to eradicate racism. Our connections are much more complicated than any of us have been thinking.

The more DNA they have to compare, the more specific they can be. When I first took the test the program was new and not well known.  My profile initially told me I was 98% from the British Isles, and trace elements.  I was not very impressed.  As the database grew my profile showed more specificity including western Europe.  Recently my brother sent in his saliva in order to help a man find his birth father.  He has distant DNA links to our family and asked us for some help with his own research.  Male DNA reveals more than female, so my brother complied with his request.  I had heard this before, but when I studied my brother’s DNA results I was surprised to see he had more detail than I did.  We had the same parents for sure.  My partner said it is because my brother is a later model, but this makes no sense. I think it is because he is a male.  I will get to the bottom of this.  In the meantime I have started to investigate some of the 550 DNA matches that Ancestry has compiled for me over the years while I basically ignored this feature.  It is really interesting and fun.  They send me new connections all the time with charts about the lineage.  I am into it, and have made progress on my tree.  I have confirmed some sketchy connections in my research, and found many new ones.  DNA is where it is happening for my investigations right now.  It is yielding progress.  I paid my annual subscription fees this month, but feel really good about all the value I get from  The more DNA they collect the better it is for me, so send your spit to my database, please.

DNA testing for the public is a huge growth market.  It is also the talk of the town.  When I ran into my friend who is a doctor and knows she has Swedish ancestry did the test at 123 and Me recently.  She did it because it is possible to test for genetic predisposition to disease as well as for contraindicated medications.  She wanted to know which meds are going to harm her. I did not know that was part of the information being shared, but that does sound incredibly useful.  I need to check back with her to see what she learned beyond what she knows from that old family bible in Swedish that tells part of her story.  Everyone finds surprises.  Have you done any DNA tests yet, gentle reader? What have you discovered?  What made you decide to do it?

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