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Thread: Can you really take a test to find your ethnic roots?

  1. #1 Can you really take a test to find your ethnic roots? 
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    I read something many years ago. That you could take a simple test to discover your ethnic roots and where in the world your forefathers came from and such.

    To what degree is this true, and how/where can you take such tests? Are they open to the public?

    For example: Bob knows little of where he came from. The test shows he has Nordic, italian and a small degree of thai.

    I dont know much about biology, can tests really find such subtle differences and pinpoint your heritage the last centuries?

    A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it. - David Stevens
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  3. #2  
    Moderator Moderator
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    Nov 2011
    city of wine and roses
    Well, there are tests that pick up certain known DNA characteristics. I have no idea whether these are the ones that are offered.

    There are 2 problems with this.
    1. Researchers have identified some markers that tell them some things. These are used for research projects. For the time being, and maybe for a very long time, we have no way of knowing whether there are other markers which may or may not affect some people. Researchers simply look for stuff they can test for - and that may not be anything that particularly interests you about your own history, because researchers are usually interested in populations rather than individuals (as they might be if they were examining genetic markers for diseases).

    2. I don't know of any way you could identify whether such a commercial test can tell you what you might want to know. Just because there are 10, or 100 or 687 markers for some things, you have no way of knowing that one (or half a dozen) important feature/s of your own personal history is/are too expensive or time consuming to test for so that isn't included in the standard test offered. If you wanted to find/exclude every possible option, it would be way too expensive to conduct the tests.

    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  4. #3  
    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
    Yukon, Canada
    A female co-worker of mine ordered a DNA kit several years ago because she was interested in knowing the roots of her family origins. There was a cost involved, around $140.00, and she moved away before the results came back so I cannot comment on the level of detail that was provided for this price.

    A search term of 'Find your ancestry, DNA testing' returns a lot of results offering this service. Here is a link to a sample of their costs:

    DNA tests -

    This link to an article that provides some perspective on what these tests can reveal.

    Tracing Your Ancestry | MIT Technology Review
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  5. #4  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    Roots and ethnicity is a concept that makes more sense in the previous pre-transoceanic-flight centuries, and it will be getting more quaint as we advance in this century towards the next one (to the point of eventual relative irrelevance except in isolated insular regions where it might take another century to become meaningless).
    Last edited by icewendigo; December 18th, 2012 at 02:06 PM.
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