DNA Tests Cannot Pinpoint Your True Ethnicity

DNA testing services like Ancestry, 23 and I can compare pieces of your DNA to that of people around the world, but that’s not exactly the same as identifying your ethnicity.

At the end of the day, ethnicity is a concept based on things like where countries draw their borders or what our skin color looks like – ideas that don’t fit our DNA. And when your ancestors from different groups met each other, the water became even more turbid. Alva Noe explains at NPR:

Shakespeare’s child probably had 50 percent DNA; his baby takes turns, on average, a quarter, and so on. Over the course of 10 generations, Shakespeare’s DNA has spread and recombined so many times that it makes no sense to even talk about a coincidence. On the other hand, we each have so many ancestors that we have no choice but to share them with each other … In truth, you have your own story, and your genes have theirs.

And this is before considering the accuracy of testing services: they each rely on their own DNA databases, which means you can get different results from different companies. So feel free to take the test if you’re curious, but don’t expect it to tell an authoritative story about who you are.

Can you identify your ethnicity from your DNA? | NPR


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