06 November 2018

Autosomal Survey

New Survey: The Social Construct of Race and Ethnicity -  
One's Self-identity after a DNA Test

There is a new survey available asking for your perception of your “Ethnic Percentages” after taking an autosomal DNA test. It focuses on the chart or map that shows your percentages of various populations. This is the first of its kind and is run by Western Michigan University at Kalamazoo. Such surveys may be the start of gathering data on testers’ perceptions of DNA testing. I greatly welcome more in other aspects of DNA testing.

The autosomal test is offered by the five major DNA companies: Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage and Living DNA. (At Family Tree DNA, the test is called Family Finder.) Each of these companies has some sort of map and/or pie chart listing the various population groups related to your DNA results. This is often called “Ethnicity Percentages” by the lay person. However, many testers view this information as belonging to a race or ethnic group.

I urge all of you who have tested to take this first-ever survey on the topic so there is a better understanding of the public’s insight of their DNA results in the area of “Ethnicity Percentages”. The questionnaire is a group of simple questions asking how you felt before and after taking the test. You are anonymous.

But first, some background as often these terms are confused and neither of them correctly apply to what you receive as a comparison in your autosomal testing.  Sadly, the word “race” and “ethnicity” are incorrectly used by most of the testers and the companies misuse the term “ethnicity”.  Perhaps, a better view of this can help those with questions/concerns and the actual value of this portion of your test.

Race is considered a group of people of a common ancestry, often distinguished from others by physical characteristics such as skin, hair type, bone structure, stature, etc. But what if a person has a black parent and a white parent. What race are they then? What if a person has three white grandparents and one black one? They are more white than black, but society doesn’t view it as biological as it is. Another reason to consider the biological view of race is that people are all 99.9 percent alike in their DNA, making persons with different racial backgrounds more alike than different. The old 1800 adage of a drop of “black blood” makes you black, continues today, but only in the United States. Given this, race is often the result of a person’s social beliefs and biases.

Race places a large role in countries that exercise genocide.  For example, the Rwandan genocide was based on the width of noses.1,2

Geneticists tell us that the human population began in sub-Saharan Africa where more melanin produced darker skin so there is protection against the sun, etc. As people migrated away from the equator, they evolved in order to adapt to the climate; therefore, less melanin was produced so skin was lighter. Obviously, it took thousands of years and selective breeding for the genes to alter.

Ethnicity is defined as not a physical construct but shared social, cultural and historical experiences.  An ethnic group shares common beliefs, values, and behaviors. Ethnicity can then include people who may have different physical appearances, but who share common believes and cultural or national experiences, including religious or linguistic traits.

Ask yourself:  What makes my ancestor Irish or French or any other group of people? If a person lives in a country for “x” number of years does that make them a particular ethnic group? Then ask yourself does the British descendants living in South Africa make them African when we tend to think an African has dark skin?

Understand that DNA, even your DNA, existed before political boundaries were drawn and that people traveled much more than we may expect. For example, the Tarim Basic mummies which were dated from 1800 BCE to the first centuries BCE were found on the Silk Road in China in the 1900s. DNA testing showed those mummies continually inhabited the Tarim Basin from 2000 BCE to 300 BCE and came from Europe, Mesopotamia, Indus Valley and other populations with several haplogroups.3,4

As millions of people have taken a DNA test to determine their “Ethnicity Percentages”, which is really termed bio-geographical comparisons or regional percentages, some people are shocked by the result; some are not. Some do not have ancestors from a particular population group, so they feel the results is in error.  Know that we all have missing lines in our pedigree chart and some of these comparisons to population in certain regions do go back way beyond what we can find in man-made records. For example, my mother’s all-female line from a branch of Scandinavians, but I have no one in my pedigree chart who is from there as I am stuck in 1788 in Kentucky. I may never find someone from that area. It could be many hundreds of years ago.

The old adage you can’t judge a book by its cover appears to apply to people as well.

The Changes in your “Ethnic Percentages”
What many testers do not realize is that each DNA genealogical testing company selects their own group of populations or a particular region with whom to compare you. Over time those groups will change as more is learned about our DNA make-up and information is refined. The percentages within a group may also change. It is important to note that this part of your DNA test is not as scientific as calculating your shared segments on each chromosome.

This bio-geographical or regional comparison (often called “Ethnic Percentages”) can be very beneficial to those who have family stories of being Asian, African, Native American, Jewish, etc. if they test several family members as every child inherits differently and some in a family may have received enough of the sequence for that population or region than others. It also helps adoptees or those with recent dead-ends on their pedigree chart understand their heritage.

The Survey
The web link for entering this survey, "The Social Construct of Race and Ethnicity: One's Self-identity after a DNA Test," which is being conducted in association with Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, is here: Your Self-Identity After a DNA Test Survey.

The University HSIRB letter is on the first page of the survey as required, and the questions begin on the second page. 

I urge all of you to complete the survey so the geneticists and genetic genealogist can have a better understanding of your view.  I also urge you to write to your testing company and ask them to remove the word “ethnicity” and call the comparison what it really is…bio-geographical or, even better, regional comparisons!

Best to all of you,

1. ‘An Ordinary Man’ Navigates Rwanda’s Genocide
2. Remember Rwanda?  How Big Is Your Nose?  The Intervention in Libya! https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2011/3/30/958631/-

3. DNA Reveals These Red-Haired Chinese Mummies Come From Europe And Asia

4. Tarim mummies

05 August 2018

Family Tree DNA's Summer Sale is on!!!

Family Tree DNA started their summer sale August 1st, but my computer was in the repair, so I’m just now getting to my blog.

The sale will last until August 31st.

FTDNA tells us:
“Please note that it is not necessary to add an upgrade to Y-111 with the Big Y-500. Adding the Big Y-500 will automatically include the upgrade from whatever STR level you have tested even though you won't see it as a separate product in the shopping cart.”

AND, if you tested a Y-37 test and you wish to do the Big Y 500, you will automatically receive the Y-67 and Y-111 upgrade!  These prices are cheaper than what the original Big Y was.

The following are the standard and sale prices.

Single Products & Bundles
Standard Price
Discount Amount
Sale Price
$ 169
$ 40
$ 129
Family Finder
$ 79
$ 20
FMS (mtFull Seq)
FF + Y37 + FMS
$ 546
$ 119
$ 328
Big Y 500
$ 649
$ 150
$ 499
Standard Price
Discount Amount
Sale Price
$ 109
$ 40
$ 69
$ 59
$ 24
$ 35
$ 109
$ 40
$ 69
$ 228
$ 128
$ 129
$ 40
$ 89
MT (MT + - FMS)
Upgrades to Big Y-500
Standard Price
Discount Amount
Sale Price
Y12 - Big Y 500
$ 629
$ 130
$ 499
Y25 - Big Y 500
$ 599
$ 100
$ 499
Y37- Big Y 500
$ 569
$ 110
$ 459
Y67- Big Y 500
$ 499
$ 100
$ 399
Y111- Big Y 500
$ 449
$ 100
$ 349

Of course, I would love to see everyone test...you are all my cousins!  (We just need to figure out the path! LOL)

Best wishes,

04 June 2018

DNA Father's Day Sales

Father's Day is Sunday, June 17th and the sales have begun!

Many men (and women) have taken the autosomal DNA test at various companies, but only Family Tree DNA can offer men a DNA test for their Y-chromosome.  (Women do not have a Y-chromosome, so they should have a brother test, an uncle, nephew, etc. on their all-male line.)  See the all-red line (on the top) below.

                              Chart courtesy Richard Hill, DNA Testing Adviser

Testing the all-male line (your father's father's father, etc.; no females involved) can provide the surname for adoptees as well as confirm that the suspected surname is correct.  Remember DNA testing helps prove our lineage.

Even if you are certain of a male surname in your family, you never know if 200 years ago or so, someone decided to change the name for a large variety of reasons.  None of which would reflect on the tester.  Some people changed their surname or its spelling for descendants to be able to distinguish them as the ancestor; some were escaping a cruel situation, some were adopted, some never knew their biological father.  Understand that before surnames were ever used, area families took in those who lost their parent(s).

You can test and then join a family project with your surname.  The administrator can further help you understand the results.  Even before testing, you can go to the Family Tree DNA home page to see if there is already a surname project for your name.

Once tested, I encourage everyone to join their Haplogroup Project.  A tester's haplogroup is their twig on the world family tree.

For more information on understanding a Y-DNA test, see: Who's Your Daddy?

For the sale:

Family Tree DNA's autosomal test is called Family Finder and is on sale for $59.  This is a test comparable to AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and MyHeritage which provides matches anywhere in the pedigree chart back about 5-8 generations, depending.  However, testing in multiple companies provides you with different cousin matches as each company has a different database.


18 May 2018

Southern California Genealogy Society's Jamboree 2018 - Open for Live Streaming!!!

LIVE Streaming for Genetic Genealogy and Jamboree NOW OPEN!
For the first time ever, the Jamboree Committee is opening registration for live streaming for two conferences at the same time.  
Ø The 6th Annual Genetic Genealogy conference is offering six classes on Thursday, May 31.  

Ø The 49th Annual Genealogy Jamboree is offering six classes on Friday, June 1 AND six classes on Saturday, June 2.

Genetic Genealogy Live Steam
·      Six presentations to choose from
·      Register for one for $20
·      Register for the series of six for $99
·      Watch live or anytime through 11:59 PM on July 31, 2018
·      Handouts available to registrants for download and printing 

                                      Register HERE

Genealogy Jamboree Live Stream

·      Twelve presentations
·      Register for the series and watch as many or as few as you want
·      $10 for SCGS members
·      $55 for non-members (Or join SCGS first, register for live streaming as a member and save $5!)
·      Watch live or anytime through 11:59 PM on July 31, 2018
·      Handouts available to registrants for download and printing.

                                      Register HERE

What happened to free live streaming at Jamboree?
The SCGS is very appreciative of Ancestry’s support of our conferences. Unfortunately, ever increasing costs have caught up to us and prevent us from offering this event at no charge. The Jamboree Committee has kept fees as low as possible. For members, the fee of $10 for 12 classes is just 83 cents per class.  For non-members, the fee of $55 for the 12 classes is just $4.58 per class. Compared to other conference live stream offerings, SCGS remains a bargain!