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Ignorance, False Promises and Pseudoscience: Is This Profit Promotion of DNA Fiction by Senior Genealogists?

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May 30, 2016, 12:14:28 AM5/30/16
Ignorance, False Promises and Pseudoscience: Is This
Profit Promotion of DNA Fiction by Senior Genealogists?

In 2013, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suggested "New Technology Makes Family History Easier, Even Fun", noting "An interesting development in family history research is the use of DNA testing to discover one’s ethnicity."

Is this a serious public relations mistake, for an organization, noted for being the source of all truth, to promote hope in fictional data sets? Today, this is now updated in FamilySearch, the genealogy arm of the LDS Church, in subset "Hiring a DNA Testing Company", listed under Hiring a Professional Researcher.

Evaluate one such company and its claims, that: "Once you've taken your test, we'll search our network of AncestryDNA members and identify your cousins—the people who share your DNA." And, AncestryDNA promotes itself as "The World's Largest Consumer DNA Database." Their site includes A Comprehensive Map of AncestryDNA Ethnicity Regions; currently listing 26 areas.

Well, from a Biblical standpoint, this is indeed true. We are all related as descending posterity of the prophet Noah, whose cousin relatives and ancestry, consisting of all mankind living prior to the flood, were then DNA hourglass squeezed into the one small family unit that survived. [" . . . Even if we use rates appropriate for the present world (x = 1 and C = 1.5), over 3 billion people could easily have been on the earth at the time of Noah."]. Ignorance: Any laundry list of people used on the earth, contains names and surnames, that are all related to each other, as a "cousin-hood"; this is not established genealogical proof.

Furthermore, "Genealogical Discontinuities among Etruscan, Medieval, and Contemporary Tuscans", accepted June 10, 2009, concludes by stating what is not "a safe general assumption": "Only a handful of populations of preclassical Europe have been studied genetically, all of them only for mtDNA, and hence generalizations on their relationships with their current counterparts appear premature. Therefore, it is not clear yet whether these data may eventually force us to reconsider the results of studies inferring demographic history under the assumption that genetic diversity in current populations is a good proxy for the (unknown) diversity in past populations of the same region. At this stage, one can only emphasize that cases of both genetic continuity and discontinuity have been observed. Therefore, the notion that the modern inhabitants of a region are descended from its ancient residents does not seem a robust general assumption, but rather a hypothesis that whenever possible should be tested empirically using ancient DNA."

"This study shows that genealogical links can be detected between people who inhabited Tuscany at different time periods, but so far not between the Bronze Age and more recent inhabitants of the region." Additionally, "Analyses of mtDNA diversity in the British Isles (Töpf et al. 2007), and Iceland (Helgason et al. 2009), also showed sharp differences between historical and current populations. In addition, a large fraction (up to 80%, depending on the region considered) of the Dutch surnames were displaced from the areas in which their frequency was highest three centuries ago (Manni et al. 2005)."

(1) DNA testing cannot be used currently to discover one’s ethnicity.
(2) Ethnicity Regions are only at present, pseudoscience conjecture.
(3) Effective family history research requires primary document data.

DNA Testing: A Plus (+) or Minus (-) For Genealogy?
Mathematics Indicates That It Just Does Not Add Up.

"It is well known that horoscopes use vague statements which recipients think are more tailored than they really are (referred to as the ‘Forer effect’). Genetic ancestry tests do a similar thing, and many exaggerate far beyond the available evidence about human origins. You cannot look at DNA and read it like a book or a map of a journey. For the most part these tests cannot tell you the things they claim to – they are little more than genetic astrology."
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