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

  • Published: 16 April 2019
  • 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

    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 vox.com.

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Comments • 1 895

  • Vox
    Vox   7 months back

    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

    • Fredrik Zachrisson
      Fredrik Zachrisson  7 hours back

      Race is real.

      • Virgn Thermostat
        Virgn Thermostat  14 hours back

        You contradicted yourself at the beginning vs the end of the video.

        • Just here Chillin
          Just here Chillin  2 days back

          It’s still 99.8% right most of the time. So it’s pretty correct.

          • m8s4lif
            m8s4lif  3 days back

            It's very important for people to realize that inherited DNA and heritage are not the same thing. Take 6 siblings with the same Mother, and Father, they will have the exact same heritage, but they can have very different inherited DNA. If someone claims to have a certain amount of a certain ancestry, but their DNA shows something different, it doesn't prove them wrong. { Please understand that I am not a political supporter of a certain politician that has had to deal with this problem } We need to stay opened minded about DNA results.

            • POLM PHOTO
              POLM PHOTO  4 days back

              I guess it's how we all interpreter them. I have always looked at the year to show just how connected we are and what makes us different is the culture we grew up in.

              • Diego Cabrera
                Diego Cabrera  1 weeks back

                So remember: just because some shady and inaccurate ancestry test told you that you are 0.1% black even if you are as white as it gets, you're still not allowed to say the n-word.

                • Lil, Charmander
                  Lil, Charmander  1 weeks back

                  That's some very brown looking spit you got there

                  • Hillary Clinton
                    Hillary Clinton  1 weeks back

                    Surprised no one hasn't made the truth hurts meme to this

                    • c u t i e
                      c u t i e  2 weeks back

                      im so mixed that i barely know what countries im from all i know is im mostly nepali

                      • La Quetta
                        La Quetta  2 weeks back

                        Those DNA test agencies are real covert black operations held by the USA government to gather up different types of specimens for their use...ie, cloning, hybridization, testing, tracking, mind control lol... And whatever else you can think!!

                        • Lovedeep Brar
                          Lovedeep Brar  2 weeks back

                          My DNA test came I’m 13.4% lamborgini and 86.6% honda civic

                          • ARiHotep
                            ARiHotep  4 days back

                            Lovedeep Brar 😂😂😂😂🤣

                        • ellie
                          ellie  2 weeks back

                          Rule of thumb, we should ignore small percentages, right?

                          • PentaErythritolTetraNitrate

                            Why do you always need to make videos about race at the end? You love dividing people, don’t you? Can’t I just watch a vox video without its politics getting crammed down my throat?

                            • Lucas Martinez
                              Lucas Martinez  2 weeks back

                              YOU cant have a g where an a is because A matches with t and vice versa

                              • Nationalist of Some country

                                One thing they do for sure is sell your information.

                                • opnwndo
                                  opnwndo  3 weeks back

                                  They are General at best.

                                  • Liz Morales
                                    Liz Morales  3 weeks back

                                    THANK YOU!!! Race is not biological.

                                    • TheBlueRage
                                      TheBlueRage  3 weeks back

                                      6:18 how many White Nationalist had their membership revoked. It appears that my White Americans cousins are more multiracial than my Cousins in Norway.

                                      • Marc Foster
                                        Marc Foster  3 weeks back

                                        "Du får kosa deg åleina du då!" LOL!

                                        • el_chino_778
                                          el_chino_778  3 weeks back

                                          My results keep changing every year what gives

                                          • Ana Francisca Z
                                            Ana Francisca Z  1 weeks back

                                            el_chino_778 supposedly they keep adding regions and more samples from people all over the world . The more people take it the more data they have to compare dna from different regions .

                                        • Rachel K
                                          Rachel K  3 weeks back

                                          I am 50% craving for chocolate right now and 50% I don't have any lol.

                                          • Haskel45
                                            Haskel45  4 weeks back

                                            It's actually .1 percent of about 2% of the total dna since only about 2% of our genome produces proteins. DNA really can't tell you anything about ancestry especially antiquitous ancestry.

                                            • John PALMER JR
                                              John PALMER JR  4 weeks back

                                              More lies.

                                              • Haskel45
                                                Haskel45  4 weeks back

                                                List the lies for me please, in wuthering detail.

                                            • Fancy Bread
                                              Fancy Bread  4 weeks back

                                              Thank you

                                              • Warrior Cat Fan #1
                                                Warrior Cat Fan #1  4 weeks back

                                                Wait if these test tell you who your cousin is and is their DNA then what do they do with yours?

                                                • anonymous opinions
                                                  anonymous opinions  4 weeks back

                                                  Haha even in this, an otherwise sound video, Vox makes a forced political point.

                                                  Maybe if their on the topic, they should mention the reactions of Middle Eastern / North African Youtubers have when they see Jewish on their results.

                                                  • unapologetically me
                                                    unapologetically me  1 months back

                                                    I cannot believe how many people dont understand how this works it's not rocket science... 100% of my relatives came from England lol I had one colour one spot on the map our path came right to Canada and weve been here since how boring lol ♡ I was hoping to have the map light up like a Christmas tree

                                                    • Liam Foley
                                                      Liam Foley  1 months back

                                                      A sociologist? Why would you employ someone in a made up discipline to explain something scientific?

                                                      • suntouch3r
                                                        suntouch3r  1 months back

                                                        6:13 our socially constructed racial categories like `white` or `black`...

                                                        Oh, thanks Vox. What would I do without you.

                                                        • Luis Montalvo
                                                          Luis Montalvo  1 months back

                                                          Sociologists really!

                                                          • Matthew Costello
                                                            Matthew Costello  2 months back

                                                            they also only go back really 300 yrs or so, although mine was quite accurate as far as that goes from my research

                                                            • Yskde Heudnd
                                                              Yskde Heudnd  2 months back

                                                              Did anybody else get an Ancestry ad before watching? Lol

                                                              • Fulci&Chill
                                                                Fulci&Chill  2 months back

                                                                Hmm. Mine is definitely accurate based on family records and more. So...it's different for some.

                                                                • Deirdre Morris
                                                                  Deirdre Morris  2 months back

                                                                  HOW can one match their DNA to that of another who has passed away???? (Dont you need their DNA to match yours)???

                                                                  • Anne Of The Land
                                                                    Anne Of The Land  2 months back

                                                                    My question is are the ppl explaining this experts on this are is it just simply their opinion.

                                                                    • Qamaro Chev
                                                                      Qamaro Chev  2 months back

                                                                      If it would be possible to separate human down to their country/ethnic , biological weapons would already exist to wipe them out by choice in wars etc. So far no biological weapon can to this, I don't think this tests are accurate as the video already tells.

                                                                      • never mind
                                                                        never mind  2 months back

                                                                        India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are some of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. If I were them I would not be satisfied putting that ENTIRE population under a broad “South Asian” term. It’s 1/8 of the world’s population. It deserves more thorough regional study

                                                                        • chris
                                                                          chris  2 months back

                                                                          why are you asking a sociologist about DNA. That’s like asking english teacher about physics

                                                                          • Renee carter-irby
                                                                            Renee carter-irby  2 months back

                                                                            So really... I should just pick whatever race I feel close to anyways

                                                                            • Jaylocs 205
                                                                              Jaylocs 205  2 months back

                                                                              In other words dont waste your money and live your life.

                                                                              • Cory Piette
                                                                                Cory Piette  2 months back

                                                                                Told me that momma def had an affair

                                                                                • Tropical Fruitslushie
                                                                                  Tropical Fruitslushie  2 months back

                                                                                  I took a DNA Test on my channel too. Pretty interesting

                                                                                  • Adrian Haro
                                                                                    Adrian Haro  2 months back

                                                                                    Its not a guess its more like a hypothesis because its actually backed up with evidence that leads the company to believe into the conclusion they chose.

                                                                                    • Emakay_YT roblox
                                                                                      Emakay_YT roblox  3 months back

                                                                                      If u didnt know DNA stands for deroxy ibone new aclayic acid

                                                                                      • Paul Moore
                                                                                        Paul Moore  3 months back

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

                                                                                        • Eoin Doyle
                                                                                          Eoin Doyle  3 months back

                                                                                          Lol a majority of everyone's dna is the same as every other organism's dna. I should've been telling everyone I'm 70% palm tree.

                                                                                          • JB 28
                                                                                            JB 28  3 months back

                                                                                            The bell curve is real. Races differ in ability. FACT. We are fundamentally different people. Everything else is just sophistry.