Ancestry tests are all the rage these days and, honestly, we can understand why. There’s something oddly thrilling about finding out you’re one-tenth Ashkenazi or that your racist uncle’s totally lying when he says he bleeds “red, white, and blue.” But, according to a new episode of CBC’s Marketplace, the accuracy of these kinds of tests is being misrepresented. Host Charlsie Agro and her identical twin sister sent DNA samples to five of the top ancestry testing companies expecting—or at least hoping—to get the same results. What they got was something very different.
The results were wildly different from company to company, so the pair sought an explanation for these discrepancies from various geneticists and biologists, all of whom told her the same thing: DNA tests are basically bullshit.
It turns out that any information beyond what continent your ancestors were from is basically guesswork. The problem is that these companies don’t make that clear in their advertisements, which posit themselves as scientifically accurate. It’s best, the clip’s sources say, to view this as “recreational science,” a lark that offers some broad, hazy insight into your heritage.
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