What DNA ancestry tests can — and can’t — tell you

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  • Published on:  Tuesday, April 16, 2019
  • I took a DNA ancestry test. It didn’t tell me where my ancestors came from…Subscribe to our channel! http://bit.ly/video-labAt-home DNA ancestry tests have become hugely popular in recent years. More than 26 million have taken one of these tests. If their marketing is to be believed, they can help you learn where your DNA comes from, and even where your ancestors lived. But the information that can be inferred from your DNA is actually much more limited than testing companies are letting on. And that has lead consumers to misinterpret their results — which is having negative consequences.Further reading:The limits of ancestry DNA tests, explainedhttps://www.vox.com/science-and-healt...Was I part British, part Dutch, a little bit Jewish? The oddness of DNA tests.https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation...White nationalists are flocking to genetic ancestry tests — with surprising resultshttps://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...Direct-to-consumer racial admixture tests and beliefs about essential racial differenceshttps://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/...The human genome diversity panel browserhttp://hgdp.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/gbro...Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com.Watch our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyEFollow Vox on Facebook: http://goo.gl/U2g06oOr Twitter: http://goo.gl/XFrZ5H
  • Source: https://youtu.be/IIWlatQt4KE


  • Vox


     4 months ago +401

    We did our first collaboration with our friends at Verge Science to explore how at-home DNA tests are putting everyone at risk. Check out their video here: https://www.thclips.net/video/7q8Oa97a04g/video.html

  • Kevin Luo

    Kevin Luo

     4 months ago +2048

    My DNA test results just came out and I'm proud to say that I'm from the surface of the Earth.

  • Isaac L

    Isaac L

     4 months ago +1182

    Are you trying to tell me woah wicky isn’t black 😤

  • Mad man

    Mad man

     4 months ago +422

    Hey! It might be meaningless and imprecise, but at least they cost a lot and they sell your genetic data later!



     4 months ago +177

    I found out 50% of my dna came from my mother. They couldn’t pin down the other 50%, but I’ve got a pretty good idea.

  • overquoted


     4 months ago +1186

    I mean, if white nationalists are using DNA ancestry tests, chances are they end up getting some rude surprises. I consider this a win.

  • GMBigKev


     4 months ago +556

    Another issue not mentioned is if the reference population is fairly low, the results might not show up in that population. I know my great-grandmother was Native American (Pamunkey tribe), but my ancestry test shows me as having 1% in the Native American population - which is far lower than it should be (should be around 12%.) There just aren't enough Native Americans providing samples for the site to be able to give a good percentage.
    Edit: Thank you folks for the responses. You're right that proportional DNA might have something to do with it. It's just weird that I have less than 1% Native American match but almost 3% Sub-Saharan African when we have basically no evidence of any African ancestry (slight possibility given the Pamunkey tribe stole black slaves and co-mingled with them every so often, but there's no evidence this happened.)
    Edit Also: And yes, we're sure my great-grandmother is actually Native American and not a "Native American" cause she was born and raised on the Pamunkey reservation by Native American parents.

  • Owen Tuleja

    Owen Tuleja

     2 months ago +66

    Wants to know what a DNA test "can and can't" tell him... interviews a sociologist.

  • BUSHy


     4 months ago +348

    Im :
    90%depressed and

  • Erzats Erz

    Erzats Erz

     4 months ago +269

    Think about it, you're giving away your genetic code to a profitable industry.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  • Mert


     3 months ago +79

    Asking a sociologist instead of a geneticist about DNA testing... Classic Vox focusing mostly on presentation rather than good journalism

  • spicyboi


     4 months ago +795

    the absolute state of race-obsessed americans

  • Gen0 Sc0tT

    Gen0 Sc0tT

     4 months ago +154

    Rumor has it that Elizabeth Holmes college roommate is running these ancestry tests...

  • Tyrannosaurus Rex

    Tyrannosaurus Rex

     4 months ago +324

    I would've preferred you got a geneticist rather than a sociologist.

  • areamusicale


     4 months ago +167

    What surprise the most is how North Americans are surprised to find out their ancestors are British. I'm like: what did you expected?
    Also, good job at giving your DNA away without knowing what other purposes it will be used for.

  • Gray Glider Girl

    Gray Glider Girl

     4 months ago +152

    I genuinely don’t understand the concept of being “proud” of an ancestry. Why should I be proud of something I have no control over, especially something I was born into? I think ancestry is interesting but I truly don’t think it should have any bearing over my life (can’t be helped when it’s obvious physical features like having Asian features or red hair for example, can’t help that people know your ancestry based off physical features). I’m Hispanic and my sister took an ancestry test that told her she was 60% Native American and 40% Spanish (yeah big surprise lol) and my family has always told us stories that our great great great relatives were from Native tribes, but we’ve never once seen proof, we don’t know anything about these cultures, we shouldn’t claim to be a part of these communities that we don’t even know with certainty that we are a part of.

  • Dylan B

    Dylan B

     4 months ago +52

    How is a professor of sociology qualified to be the voice on genetics? Just wondering

  • Thomas Sulivan Monteiro Duque

    Thomas Sulivan Monteiro Duque

     4 months ago +85

    About my Legos ? What can it tell about em' ?

  • Paul Moore

    Paul Moore


    I'm doing DNA ancestry for I don't become a socialist LOL

  • Shepha372


     4 months ago +100

    I see these tests as a positive rather than a negative effect on our understanding of race. I see it as how related we all are rather than how much we are separated from each other. Those white nationalists or any racist would see this test as a way to prove their "racial" purity (even though race is just a construct because we are all of the human race).