Another major obstacle to my use of DNA testing was the fact that I have little or no contact with the members of the particular families that might confirm or deny the relationship. In addition, there seems to be some long-standing animosity in the family concerning that particular issue. In other words, I might be stepping off into a family feud.
As far as just obtaining a DNA test on a fishing expedition, I am still not convinced that finding out what percentage of my ancestry comes from what part of Europe on a percentage basis is supposed to help me at all, since I have researched, documented, confirmed lines to England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Denmark. Lately, I have been thinking about another issue. That is my Jewish heritage. My Great-great-grandfather came from England and when he migrated to the Southwestern part of the United States he married my Great-great-grandmother and took her name. His original name was De Friez and when he married he took the name Jarvis. He later had his name changed officially in the Arizona Court. The De Friez surname is commonly found on lists of Jewish surnames in England.
See for example, “Sourcebook for Jewish Genealogies and Family Histories.” Accessed April 13, 2016. http://www.avotaynu.com/books/sourcebook.htm.
Currently, on the FamilySearch Family Tree, the De Friez line is shown to extend back from England to the Netherlands where it clearly becomes involved with Jewish families. Lately, I have been considering a DNA test to either give me an incentive to begin confirming this supposed connection or not.
Let me emphasize, I am not starting out on this investigation as a beginner. As I have mentioned before in posts, DNA testing issues have been around for a long time in the legal profession. As a trial attorney, I was always aware of the arguments pro and con to DNA testing and the limits of its use in a trial situation, although as a commercial litigator, I had little use for that type of evidence. See “Paternity FAQ | Arizona Department of Economic Security.” Accessed April 13, 2016. https://des.az.gov/arizona-child-support-paternity-faq. Here is a sample list of articles concerning the validity of DNA testing in courts. You might note that many of these articles are quite dated. The use of DNA testing in many instances is no longer a major issue.
- George Bundy Smith and Janet A. Gordon, The Admission of DNA Evidence in State and Federal Courts, 65 Fordham L. Rev. 2465 (1997). Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/flr/vol65/iss6/4
- “Court Admissible DNA Testing in Scottsdale - ARCpoint Labs.” Accessed April 13, 2016. http://scottsdale-az-north.arcpointlabs.com/dna-testing/court-admissible-testing/.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Research Council (US) Committee on DNA Technology in Forensic. “Use of DNA Information in the Legal System,” 1992. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234535/.
- “Novel Scientific Expert Evidence in Arizona State Courts.” Accessed April 13, 2016. https://www.myazbar.org/AZAttorney/Archives/June98/6-98a2.htm.
- Gaspar, Diane. “Establishing Paternity in Arizona.” DivorceNet.com. Accessed April 13, 2016. http://www.divorcenet.com/resources/paternity-arizona.html.
The real issue with DNA testing per se, is the serious issue of unintended consequences. Confirming or denying close family relationships can have serious emotional and other consequences. Likewise, although the DNA type testing done for genealogical purposes does not usually end up with medical issues, genetic testing for gene deficiencies can also have serious and long-lasting family consequences. These aspects of gene testing and certainly downplayed by the proponents of DNA testing for genealogical purposes.
My own observation is that without a specific, researched and documented objective, DNA testing may be motivating or thought provoking but mostly just interesting. Even is this context, finding out that your family line has a significant component of a particular racial or ethnic composition may also have some undesirable consequences.
Considering my own family lines, I am still not certain that DNA testing would give me any solid, useful information that would not still have to be obtained and confirmed through careful, documented research. My method of approaching these issues has always been to read and study everything written on the subject until the additional information I find becomes repetitious.
What I certainly do not need is another biologically related, detailed explanation of X and Y chromosomes. What is more helpful to me is the standard court analysis of this type of information. Here is a quote from the National Center for Biotechnology Information cited above,
Among the issues raised is the validity of the assumptions that (1) except for identical twins, each person's DNA is unique, (2) the technique used allows one to determine whether two DNA samples show the same patterns at particular loci, and (3) the statistical methods used and the available population databanks allow one to assess the probability that two DNA samples from different persons would by chance have the same patterns at the loci studied. Even if those assumptions are accepted, there is the important question of whether (4) the laboratory's procedures and analyses in the case in question were performed in accordance with accepted standards and provide reliable estimates of the probability of a match.I suspect that very, very few genealogists who send off for a mail-order DNA test, have considered these issues with regard to the testing procedure. How do you know that your DNA sample has not been contaminated? I am not challenging the professionalism of the DNA testing companies, I am merely pointing out valid and very important concerns that I would have before I spent my money and subsequent research time based on a DNA test.
Stay tuned, I will probably have more to say on this subject.