Do DNA Tests Really Say Who You Are? | WBEZ
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Worldview

Do DNA Tests Really Say Who You Are?

A new field has exploded in recent years known as “consumer genetics.” 

Companies like 23andMe claim they can give people a new sense of ethnic identity by tracing their DNA to other regions of the world. 

As part of a public relations campaign, Ancestry.com shared the story of man who grew up culturally German but, after his DNA test, “traded his lederhosen for a kilt.” Ancestry.com boasts 3 million DNA records in their database, which they collect by selling $99 home testing kits. 

But some sociologists and geneticists are dubious. 

Worldview spoke with two guests about ethnicity and DNA testing. Geneticist Joseph Graves has said DNA tests are scientifically inaccurate at best and, at worst, give people misguided sense of who their ancestors were. Sociologist Eviatar Zerubavel, the author of Ancestors and Relatives: Genealogy, Identity, and Community, has said ethnicity is a social construct, and a DNA test isn’t going to teach a person how to live the lifestyle of an ethnicity they weren’t raised in.

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