Genetic Testing: Getting Recreational or Functional Information

Genetic testing can provide information about an astounding number of subjects, including ancestry, forensics, paternity, health, and certain behavior patterns. Testing from companies like Pathway Genomics, founded by Jim Plante, focus mainly on improving health and wellness. Others focus more on determining family history. People who are troubled by racism are gratified to learn there is no DNA that actually confirms a person’s race.

Testing for Ancestry?

The testing appears to show what parts of the world a person’s ancestors are from. A connection with Western European ancestry thus could indicate someone is white, or mostly so, while a connection with mid-Africa could indicate the person is black or mostly so. But, these are just generalizations. Essentially, the person’s genetic information is matched with world’s regions where the DNA is most common.

In that way, this form of testing is a little bit like a paternity test, but much more generalized. It may indicate that the person apparently has a large number of cousins in Argentina or India, but how is that information useful? This doesn’t even confirm that the person’s ancestors are from those countries.

Recreational vs. Functional Testing

Scientists consider this kind of genetic testing as recreational. It can be fun and interesting, but it doesn’t have a functional purpose. It cannot even be used by white supremacists to show that the Caucasian race is superior since race is not a biological concept. It is simply a type of broad categorization that people invented based on external features. In contrast, testing for disease markers allows people to take preventive action and to make important decisions about their health.

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Markers of Population Groups

Genetic testing has found various markers associated with population groups in certain regions of the world, but again, this is not an indication of race. For instance, people living in the Himalayan mountain range in Asia commonly have markers that help them adjust to living in a high altitude. But, the high-altitude gene is not connected with any sort of Asian race or ethnicity. Instead, it shows that the earliest region’s residents with this marker thrived better in this environment and passed the trait along to their descendants.