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Author Topic: The Importance of Y-DNA Testing (It's NOT Like Astrology!)  (Read 1869 times)
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« on: March 02, 2013, 02:14:32 PM »

Read the Guardian article at the link posted below, but here are my comments on it. Mark Thomas is technically correct but, overall, and in very important ways, he is wrong. He is especially wrong to compare the deep ancestry aspect of genetic genealogy to astrology. By far most of us understand what y-dna and mtDNA testing represent: gaining information on just two of the many ancestral lines that have gone into making us who we are genetically. Yes, all those things Thomas wrote about our ancestry in the aggregate are correct. We have many ancestors, and all of us humans share ancestors. But that does not diminish the importance of our y-dna and mtDNA lines, which give us bread crumb trails that we can follow into the past. Amidst the welter of genetic confusion, of combination and recombination, of cell division and mutation, at least we have two paths we can follow that offer us some clarity. At least we are able to say something about our ancestors beyond statistical probabilities at the population level. And not only that: y-dna and mtDNA are our keys to be able to say something definite about some of our other lines, as well. Each of our ancestors, whether they were in our direct y-dna or mtDNA lines or not, had y-dna and mtDNA lines of their own. When we can find relatives on those collateral lines who stand in the y-dna or mtDNA lines of those ancestors, they can be tested to reveal information about them and thus give us more bread crumb trails we can follow into the past.

For example, although I am a Stevens and am R-DF41 on my y-dna line, I know through distant cousins who have also had y-dna testing that one of my 3rd great grandfathers, Abner Standish Washburn, belonged to y haplogroup I1 (I-M253). I also know, through another set of distant cousins, that one of my 2nd great grandfathers, John Holmes, was E1b1b (E-M215). So, now I know of not one but three y-dna bread crumb trails into the past that I can explore. I got my father's dna sample into Family Tree DNA's system via a 12-marker y-dna test that was on sale a few months ago (he matches me exactly, of course). As soon as I can get his sample tested for mtDNA, I will have yet another genetic bread crumb trail to follow.

My Family Tree DNA Family Finder test results, while themselves autosomal, are also revealing more and more y-dna and mtDNA bread crumb trails as they connect me with relatives who stand in the same y-dna and mtDNA lines as some of my ancestors. For example, one of my 2nd great grandmothers was a Stewart. I have several Family Finder matches with Stewarts and persons with Stewart in their list of surnames. It certainly looks like my 2nd great grandmother's Stewart line is the source of those matches. These Stewarts happen to be some of those in the "Royal House of Stewart" line, the same one that produced a number of famous kings and queens of Scotland and England. That Stewart y-dna line is DF41+, like my own y-dna line, and L745+, as well. There is yet another y-dna trail to follow into the past.

So, with all due respect, Mark Thomas is wrong.

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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2013, 06:55:34 PM »

Plenty of too-cool-for-school cynics in the Comments, who think they're "agreeing" with Prof Thomas.
Although your fellow-commenter "imipak" (who if it is who I suspect it is, is no lightweight) also puts up a good defence against what on the surface (due to it's being couched in somewhat oblique terms) sounds like a wholesale ex cathedra condemnation of amateur, "extracurricular" genetic testing.

 'Leave it to the grown-ups, we'll tell you what's what' is very much the tone from Thomas.

Quote from: imipak
So not very useful for most people? No, although those records ARE useful to scientists, et al. So if you want to buy a DNA test and don't understand what it means, you are really buying it for science. Which is fine, it isn't like the government is buying anything for science any more

Quote from: MGTHomas
There is a major difference - one side of this debate isn't trying to sell you anything.

Mark Thomas
I respectfully yet insolently wish to disagree on that. "One side of this debate" wants the other to STFU, as they're both likely feeling the pecuniary pinch in these Hard Times, and the "amateurs" have been kicking seven shades out of the tenured tribe on the research front since I don't know when. Maybe the Deans and Vice-Chancellors have noticed, and wondering if they could save a few bob?

And until the "proper" scientists get their history, archaeology and even paleontology up to snuff, their attempts to link their findings to past events are condemned to remain absolutely toe-curlingly embarrassing and next-to-worthless as explanatory mechanisms of the human past. They just don't seem able to understand the concepts of time or place, sequences or consequences. Full of lacunae and anachronisms.
And then there's Oppenheimer's stuff. Ye gods. Yet he was taken seriously by "proper scientists".

Thanks mate, I'm bloody fuming now :D
Off round to the shed to bash things and have a guinness till I calm down lol.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2013, 07:04:18 PM by glentane » Logged
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