Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Avoid These Major GeneticGenealogy Misconceptions

Tyler Moss, on line editor at Family Tree University, recently published a post entitled, "Avoid These Major Genetic Genealogy Misconceptions".  Family Tree University is offering a course entitled Genetic Genealogy 101, which might be of interest to some of you.  If it is, you can find more information by clicking here.  The price is $99.

Below, I quote Tyler's list of genetic genealogy misconceptions:

1. A DNA test can fill in my family tree.
Although DNA testing is powerful, it is merely one of many tools in the genealogist's toolbox. DNA test results alone cannot fill in your family tree or break through your brick walls. For example, although a test can determine the genetic relatedness of two or more individuals, it usually cannot reveal the exact genealogical relationship between those individuals.

2. I'd like to take a DNA test, but I'm terrified of needles.
Good news! Although DNA used to be obtained by taking blood, getting a DNA sample now is as simple as spitting in a tube or swabbing the inside of your cheek!

3. I'd like to test my great-grandfather's DNA, but he died years ago.
You don't need to exhume your ancestor to get useful information from a genetic genealogy test! Genetic genealogists use their own DNA to learn about their ancestors. For example, a man's Y-DNA was given to him by his father, who received it from his father, and so on back through time. And every one of us has autosomal DNA that we inherited from our grandparents, great-grandparents and beyond.

4. Since I'm a woman, I can't learn about my deceased father's Y-DNA.
Although as a woman you did not inherit your father's Y chromosome, there is a very good chance that there is another living source of that Y-DNA. For instance, do you have a brother who would have inherited Y-DNA from your father? Or does your father have a living brother? There are usually several different sources for the DNA you're looking for; to identify those sources you'll need to understand how Y-DNA is passed from one generation to the next.

5. DNA testing will reveal medical information about me.
With the exception of companies that intentionally test for medical data, most genetic genealogy testing does not uncover or share any important health information about the test-taker. However, test-takers should understand that some limited medical information can inadvertently be revealed by a genetic genealogy test, especially as new scientific discoveries uncover previously unknown connections between health and DNA.

The Dean of Family History University says,
Employing genetic genealogy in your family history has almost become a necessity.

Not because it can solve all of your brick wall problems-it can't. Not because it acts as a quick substitute for traditional research-it doesn't. But because it is an incredible tool when used in conjunction with your regular family research. DNA testing can connect you with living cousins, steer your research away from dead ends and lead your ancestral investigations in promising new directions. It can provide strong evidence of an ancestral connection, and even suggest when-and where-the most recent common ancestor might've lived.
If this is an area of your research you are currently exploring, or thinking of exploring, please check out the resources available at Family Tree University.  In addition to information on DNA genetic testing, the university offers tons of paid classes and other useful links and information.

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

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