Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

When does DNA stop helping me with my Genealogy?

I recently received an email notice from that said the following:

I clicked on the link to the blog post and got the following:
All this seemed pretty innocuous so I signed into to see what was new. Here was what caught my eye from the blog post.
We encourage you to view your DNA story again, as you may notice a new community waiting to be explored and shared with your family and other loved ones. 
With 15 million people tested, AncestryDNA has the largest consumer DNA network in the world. As new people continue to join our AncestryDNA network and science and technology continue to evolve, we expect that the number and granularity of communities offered will continue to increase. This latest update is just one of many that you can expect on your journey of personal discovery. 
When I logged into, I got an invitation to answer a survey. I decided, why not, I can find out what Ancestry is interested in. It turns out that the survey was quite disturbing. None of the questions dealt with genealogy or my interest in discovering my family history. The entire survey asked me about my feelings and attitudes. It was a survey I would expect from a sociologist or psychiatrist. When I finished the survey, here is what I got linked to:

There is nothing here about my family or genealogy or anything remotely related to my research. As I thought more about this, I began to wonder if this wasn't some sort of made over eugenics or the science of improving a population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.

The rest of the advertisement only increased my concern. Here is another screenshot.

And there is another screenshot of the same advertisement:

Are we now in the business, as genealogists, in identifying racial traits? Here is another screenshot.

To add further to my concern, when I clicked on the "Personal Discoveries Project" link on, I got the following statement:

Apparently, wanted to make sure they got the first "survey" before they asked for my consent. Maybe all this concern comes from being a trial attorney for 39 years but I do not see how giving essentially an open license to use my DNA test helps me with my genealogical research. I think they have moved well beyond that focus. I suppose those of you out there that think this is all really good idea, but I for one, do not. When DNA testing gets into areas such as the ones evidenced from the ads, I think it stops being a genealogical tool and becomes something else.


  1. Ah, but they think there is a business opportunity here - that millions of testers will want to see their traits for just $20 more. The reality is that, out of the 15 million AncestryDNA kits, only a few tens of thousands want anything more than their ethnicity, which is only an estimate that changes every 3-5 years.

    Will AncestryDNA or AncestryHealth ever get hacked? The latter will have all of your answers to the pseudo-innocuous feeling questions, won't it? Not from me!

    1. Yes, you are right. But I am quite sure my answers will not be helpful to Ancestry or anyone else.

    2. Putting the survey you filled out first, before the second step, to me that raises a red flag. I am aware about anything about me is already out there. but even so..And then there is the Ancestry DNA test my daughter did. Initially she was mostly Scandinavian and British. Yep- fits with what we have documented for many generations back. Then came a "correction" letter stating she is mostly Italian with a bit of Spanish. She did contact Ancestry but got no response.