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



I took a DNA ancestry test. It didn’t tell me where my ancestors came from…

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At-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, explained

Was I part British, part Dutch, a little bit Jewish? The oddness of DNA tests.

White nationalists are flocking to genetic ancestry tests — with surprising results

Direct-to-consumer racial admixture tests and beliefs about essential racial differences

The human genome diversity panel browser

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Comments

  • 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://youtu.be/7q8Oa97a04g

    Vox July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • So…..I still won’t know if I’m royalty?

    Lord Rick July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • This food be sounding like mordo from regular show lol legit video btw

    Phantom Realm Gaming {PRG} July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • You're physical skeletal remains can show your race

    The Muckler July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • Why do these tests always say your part minority? Is there a secret reason?

    Jordan Fire Star July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • This was very helpful for myself .thank you

    Lori Frazier July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • This is just not true. Most companies like 23and me show you what the testing population amount is. Plus you obviously don’t know how to use the website.

    AZ Shark July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • Why would a sociologist think she is an expert in genetics? She is a joke. I’m a sociologist and would not comment on genetics. Bye

    AZ Shark July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • I just took a DNA test turns out im 100% that___________

    19EHF July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • hey guys i'm 100% adopted

    Zang Gaming July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • One way too look at these DNA kits, considering the small price consider it more of a novelty this test won't have any claimant merits meaning that if a test came back all England it's not a guarantee a place in line for the throne.😄

    bryant whitis July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • Interesting, I'm 75%, and 25.1% not good at maths.

    fruji July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • A couple of weeks? It says 6 – 8 weeks on most of them

    Dale Wilson July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • I just want to know if there's a genetic reason for why I love mini coopers and have a strong distrust of the French

    The Trammell July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • Look at the map labels: East Asia, West Africa, and Europe. The specific East and West labels shows how limited this is as well.

    Nena A. July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • Most of us although would never claim it are mixed with something. Back then everyone hooked up with one another. Sometimes although a person skin color will show one way ,something about their features such as their eye colors, body frame or hair texture will say another. It many not be 100% accurate but it does show some accuracy.

    Jasper DiLincoln July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • Wow, racist, jaded and paranoid 🙄

    LB Abstract Art July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • Waiting on my 23&Me results. Thanks for keeping me enlightened 😁

    Brother Bear July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • We're all from Africa?

    maymakvm July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • If you made it through slavery your DNA is better prepared to survive a hard reset. Just because I like science doesn't make me a racist.

    Justin Moore July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • Which one is real

    Jaylene July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • I am Chilean. But a DNA test may tell me I am Chinese based on something related to folic acid? 😱

    Daniela Lobos Pérez July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • Ayo my brother went to the University of British Columbia

    Peepsil GamePlayer July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • Babies Are Not Blank Slates
    All babies are born with inherited immunity in their DNA.
    All human immunity is passed on by mothers, via Vaginal Birth & Breast Milk.
    All babies Belong on earth and have at least 9 birthrights, the right to live for Free.
    Mother Nature provides for free, she doesn't charge the plant kingdom or the animal kingdom, while they are alive, once dead we pay with our corpses, humanure is great feeding for fruit trees.

    Mister Physics July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • In a few years……… we will feel – about DNA "science" – the way we feel today about the accuracy of Lie Detector Tests, unreliable.

    Mister Physics July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • “I just took a DNA test turns out I’m 100% that B****”

    C G July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • What's Europe? or what is Middle east ?

    Shutter Eff3ct July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • No one gonna talk about what do they do with ur spit after words 😔

    Salt _ July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • My mom took a DNA test. Turns out she's a 100% human.

    Shaun M July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • 1:38

    Moodie B July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • i still think im adopted nobody can change what i still think

    Amaxrathine July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply
  • is ancestry test an autosomal test or y_dna ? cause if it's an autosomal so it doesn't give us the origin …

    sara krok July 1, 2020 1:37 am Reply

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