What DNA ancestry tests can — and can’t — tell you

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  • Published: 16 April 2019
  • I took a DNA ancestry test. It didn’t tell me where my ancestors came from…

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    At-home DNA ancestry tests have become hugely popular in recent years. More than 26 million have taken one of these tests. If their marketing is to be believed, they can help you learn where your DNA comes from, and even where your ancestors lived.

    But the information that can be inferred from your DNA is actually much more limited than testing companies are letting on. And that has lead consumers to misinterpret their results — which is having negative consequences.

    Further reading:

    The limits of ancestry DNA tests, explained
    vox.com/science-and-health/2019/1/28/18194560/ancestry-dna-23-me-myheritage-science-explainer

    Was I part British, part Dutch, a little bit Jewish? The oddness of DNA tests.
    washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/was-i-part-british-part-dutch-a-little-bit-jewish-the-oddness-of-dna-tests/2018/11/02/ed51b4c0-d090-11e8-83d6-291fcead2ab1_story.html?utm_term=.6a4541a06fed

    White nationalists are flocking to genetic ancestry tests — with surprising results
    scientificamerican.com/article/white-nationalists-are-flocking-to-genetic-ancestry-tests-with-surprising-results/

    Direct-to-consumer racial admixture tests and beliefs about essential racial differences
    journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0190272514529439

    The human genome diversity panel browser
    hgdp.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/gbrowse/HGDP/?name=SLC24A5

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Comments • 1 841

  • Vox
    Vox   5 months back

    We did our first collaboration with our friends at Verge Science to explore how at-home DNA tests are putting everyone at risk. Check out their video here: https://youtu.be/7q8Oa97a04g

    • never mind
      never mind  4 days back

      India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are some of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. If I were them I would not be satisfied putting that ENTIRE population under a broad “South Asian” term. It’s 1/8 of the world’s population. It deserves more thorough regional study

      • chris
        chris  5 days back

        why are you asking a sociologist about DNA. That’s like asking english teacher about physics

        • Renee carter-irby
          Renee carter-irby  7 days back

          So really... I should just pick whatever race I feel close to anyways

          • Jaylocs 205
            Jaylocs 205  1 weeks back

            In other words dont waste your money and live your life.

            • Cory Piette
              Cory Piette  2 weeks back

              Told me that momma def had an affair

              • Jessica Fruitbasket
                Jessica Fruitbasket  2 weeks back

                I took a DNA Test on my channel too. Pretty interesting

                • Adrian Haro
                  Adrian Haro  2 weeks back

                  Its not a guess its more like a hypothesis because its actually backed up with evidence that leads the company to believe into the conclusion they chose.

                  • Emakay_YT roblox
                    Emakay_YT roblox  3 weeks back

                    If u didnt know DNA stands for deroxy ibone new aclayic acid

                    • Paul Moore
                      Paul Moore  4 weeks back

                      I'm doing DNA ancestry for I don't become a socialist LOL

                      • Eoin Doyle
                        Eoin Doyle  1 months back

                        Lol a majority of everyone's dna is the same as every other organism's dna. I should've been telling everyone I'm 70% palm tree.

                        • JB 28
                          JB 28  1 months back

                          The bell curve is real. Races differ in ability. FACT. We are fundamentally different people. Everything else is just sophistry.

                          • Karl Appolis
                            Karl Appolis  1 months back

                            Okay so how did pple come to the conclusion that all humans come the San khoi?

                            • Cory Burns
                              Cory Burns  1 months back

                              So... when is it ok to wear a kilt then vox?

                              • ba kheg
                                ba kheg  1 months back

                                Has UK Queen Elizabeth DNA tested ?

                                • Yvenel Cheriscar
                                  Yvenel Cheriscar  1 months back

                                  More like a couple months later 😐

                                  • Uncle Tone
                                    Uncle Tone  1 months back

                                    Wpw u made it a huge negative deal because your 1% African...

                                    • Ndea Monk
                                      Ndea Monk  1 months back

                                      I don't think I'll ever take one. I know my ancestors are from Africa. I'd like to know exactly where, but I don't think I will ever find out

                                      • Praise The Masculine Flames

                                        Equality is a social construct.

                                      • Praise The Masculine Flames

                                        SNPs can also explain intelligence, which is almost entirely a matter of inheritance.

                                        • 0dooman
                                          0dooman  2 months back

                                          Be proud of who you are

                                          • Michael Devaney
                                            Michael Devaney  2 months back

                                            I dunno I just don't feel comfortable sending my DNA into the internet! Like I assume they keep a record of all of it and that freaks me out

                                            • jhxlla k
                                              jhxlla k  2 months back

                                              If my grandma is of uyghur descent, does that mean that I’m part Turkic?

                                            • Bellisima Butterfly
                                              Bellisima Butterfly  2 months back

                                              Me jamming to BTS' DNA while listening to this video bc I can💜

                                              • Darshit Sheth
                                                Darshit Sheth  2 months back

                                                Ubc

                                                • Pikaia Gracilens
                                                  Pikaia Gracilens  2 months back

                                                  Genetic test: “You’re 0.4% Ashkenazi Jewish.”
                                                  Literally any white non-religious person: “Oy vey! Baruch ata Adonai! Dreidels!”

                                                  • Brandon Stennett
                                                    Brandon Stennett  2 months back

                                                    Hey ,favor could you guys explain the NO BAIL SWEDEN SITUATION ? would help us ASAP.

                                                    • Angela V
                                                      Angela V  2 months back

                                                      Vox is too lefty

                                                      • Angela V
                                                        Angela V  2 months back

                                                        He should have interviewed a scientist.

                                                        • Der Fuchs
                                                          Der Fuchs  2 months back

                                                          If I'm 2% black, can I say the n word?

                                                          • Super Saiyan Tengoku
                                                            Super Saiyan Tengoku  2 months back

                                                            But a Japanese guy traveled to south America and became a teacher of karate

                                                            • Lukeland
                                                              Lukeland  3 months back

                                                              3:13 "First, Even Trying To Classify Humans Into Groups In The First Place Is-"
                                                              Me: *RACIST*
                                                              "Tricky"
                                                              Me: No.. It Can't Be..

                                                              • Ahnaf Khan
                                                                Ahnaf Khan  3 months back

                                                                Me: *is racially ambiguous*
                                                                Some rando: Where are you from?
                                                                Me: My mother's uterus

                                                                • Aspect Science
                                                                  Aspect Science  3 months back

                                                                  That is the best response I've read. Nicely done Ahnaf! haha

                                                              • Kieran Garland
                                                                Kieran Garland  3 months back

                                                                Is there scope for them realistically to become more accurate in the near future? Sequencing a whole genome, for instance, might be easier to do in the coming years and, perhaps couple with richer database, may offer us a chance at a greater, more bespoke understanding of our own ancestry. Great video, thank you.

                                                                • elijahthesamurai
                                                                  elijahthesamurai  3 months back

                                                                  Apparently my DNA has no knowm matches. There were traces of silicates, chlorophyll, and ice cream.

                                                                  That was one wild Saturday night.

                                                                  • Sassa M
                                                                    Sassa M  2 months back

                                                                    elijahthesamurai lmao

                                                                • danar j
                                                                  danar j  3 months back

                                                                  Google Facebook Microsoft Apple .... aren't enough for the US spy agency know they want have our DNA also.

                                                                  • tbyjb
                                                                    tbyjb  3 months back

                                                                    Do not ever give up your DNA.

                                                                  • Seanna Gee
                                                                    Seanna Gee  3 months back

                                                                    Why not do all the major tests and show the differences and a specialist talking about the top 3-5 simultaneously, instead of just 23 and me?

                                                                    • Angie Lawson
                                                                      Angie Lawson  3 months back

                                                                      Who in there right mind would do this! This test could get you in so much trouble! Your insurance company could use this against you! You could be framed! If you have killers in your family! You never let anyone have your DNA

                                                                      • Sassa M
                                                                        Sassa M  2 months back

                                                                        Angie Lawson I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works...

                                                                    • supernovasuper Plays
                                                                      supernovasuper Plays  3 months back

                                                                      Is that why when I was 10 years old I was 150 tall is that what DNA does

                                                                      • Sassa M
                                                                        Sassa M  2 months back

                                                                        supernovasuper Plays Centimeters or inches? Either way it doesn’t make sense.

                                                                    • Aurtisan Miner
                                                                      Aurtisan Miner  3 months back

                                                                      I could really not care less what my roots are.

                                                                      • Owen Tuleja
                                                                        Owen Tuleja  3 months back

                                                                        Wants to know what a DNA test "can and can't" tell him... interviews a sociologist.

                                                                        • Sam antha
                                                                          Sam antha  3 days back

                                                                          Arcaryon JFG is a biologist who’s debunked this video

                                                                        • Arcaryon
                                                                          Arcaryon  1 weeks back

                                                                          That part I did not get even though the video is otherwise quite informative.

                                                                        • eyeluv2dance
                                                                          eyeluv2dance  3 months back

                                                                          Yeah...why not a geneticist?

                                                                      • Dora Wang
                                                                        Dora Wang  3 months back

                                                                        that's why I had 2% Native American show up on my result. It didn't make any sense to me.

                                                                      • Cornelius Dines
                                                                        Cornelius Dines  3 months back

                                                                        That kilt part made me lol

                                                                        • Ambrose-adventure
                                                                          Ambrose-adventure  3 months back

                                                                          Interesting. Its DNA... You know like the rest of the human population....

                                                                          • Kratos1609
                                                                            Kratos1609  3 months back

                                                                            I took the test and it came back N/A because I'm native American and my peoples were nearly wiped out lol jk

                                                                            • Sere15
                                                                              Sere15  3 months back

                                                                              Listen let's all take the test so it's actually accurate

                                                                            • H.R. Pufnstuf
                                                                              H.R. Pufnstuf  3 months back

                                                                              Yall should know they sell your dna data to the government.

                                                                              • Kevin Luo
                                                                                Kevin Luo  1 months back

                                                                                You can choose for your samples to be trashed and dumped as biohazard waste.

                                                                              • legobarbarian
                                                                                legobarbarian  3 months back

                                                                                @H.R. Pufnstuf
                                                                                I heard about that, thanks for the reminder.

                                                                              • H.R. Pufnstuf
                                                                                H.R. Pufnstuf  3 months back

                                                                                @legobarbarian A murder that was like 80 something was traced through one of his family members dna that used the ancestry service. I assumed it went to a government data base.

                                                                              • legobarbarian
                                                                                legobarbarian  3 months back

                                                                                They sell it to the highest bidder. Corporations are worse than the government.