29 May 2018

WDYTYA and DNA testing

Each of the three episodes of the new series of the US version of Who Do You Think You Are?  running on specialty channel TLC has started with the subject's DNA test results. It's a not so subtle message from Ancestry, the sponsor, that it's a good place to start your investigation of your family history.
I agree. A surprise finding may set you off in an entirely unanticipated direction and save following false leads. And the more people test the more links will likely be found—true even if there's no family tree attached.
So far this season the DNA results are dismissed after the first couple of minutes with mention of the admixture results. Let's hope at least one episode will take it further showing how the test can reveal connections to previously unsuspected relatives and break through barriers to understanding ancestry unresolved by traditional paper-based genealogy.


Toni said...

Ancestry does not advertise to the serious genealogist. Ancestry advertises to the people who want to know if they need a kilt or lederhosen. Their DNA advertising will not get into finding family. It's too complicated and boring for their targeted audience. Ancestry would like everyone to think it's easy to build a family tree back to Adam and Eve.

Anonymous said...

If WDYTYA is suggesting that a DNA ethnicity estimate (especially a particular brand name one) is the appropriate starting point for a person.’s genealogical research, that seems like nothing more than a blatant commercial designed to make money for the sponsors, rather than to enlighten the viewers The databases are full of frustrated would-be genealogists who have already been sold on that idea by all those TV commercials, and now don’t know what to do with the important part of their results — the match list that links them with other members of their own personal family tree. And to the extent that some of these are so disappointed by their inability to make sense of it all that they are giving up on the quest before they even get started, fostering that idea is a form of false advertising.

Sophronia said...

I totally disagree and I think Roberta Estes would as well. DNA testing is useless unless you already have the genealogy. Every day I am contacted by people who think their ancestors come from some oddball place because of their DNA results. Many of them have UK heritage and fail to take into account that the Danes and Vikings ruled Britain for years and left their DNA behind. Same with all those Roman soldiers who were in Britain for about 400 years. IMHO thousands of people are wasting their money on DNA tests to prove things they already know. There are uses for DNA tests but not at the beginning of your family search.