Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Contrasting Views on Finding Meaning in Genetic Genealogy

Family roots: newer DNA tests uncover hidden Jewish Bloodlines is from the Jewish Daily Forward, from which the image is also taken.

The article attributes to 23andMe geneticist Mike Macpherson the statement that about 2% of the 40,000 people of non-Ashkenazi European descent who have used the company’s platform show some reliable signature of Ashkenazi heritage in their DNA.

More surprising to me was the statement attributed to Bennett Greenspan, president and CEO of Family Tree DNA, that many people who learn of Semitic ancestry through DNA often end up converting to Judaism. Seemingly for them their DNA test has a profound impact.

Contrast that with the views expressed in The meaning(lessness) of genetic genealogy posted on the Daddy, Papa and me blog that genetic (or any for that matter) genealogy is not all that particularly meaningful. "Focusing on my genetic genealogy will give me part of the picture of who I am ... but I can get a broader, deeper and more meaningful understanding of who I am by studying history."

It seems to me this latter article is rehashing the nature versus nurture, genetics versus environment, debate. Why not let's just accept that both are important.

The more interesting question to me is alignment. What are the relative merits of having someone with a particular genetic makeup raised in an environment in which the associated culture is dominant. Are such people likely to be better adjusted? Or will they be at a disadvantage living in an evermore globalizing Society?

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