Maybe DNA Can’t Answer All Our Questions About Heredity

Megan Molteni has published an interesting article in the Wired web site that looks at DNA, describing some of things it can do as well as some of the things it cannot do. For instance:

“Heredity is a powerful concept. It’s the thing that ties families together—that gives shape to their shared history of stories, of homes, of personalities. And more and more, it’s the way we understand families’ shared genetic inheritance. But that more modern biological notion of heredity comes with some new, technical baggage: It’s easier to talk about the high blood pressure that runs in your family than it is to discern the alleles that define it, all the meiotic divisions that had to occur before that trait was passed down to you. And misunderstanding the role DNA does or doesn’t play in determining one’s fate can have dangerous consequences.”

Another quote:

“Look, the reason there’s demand for consumer genetics right now isn’t just because the costs are crashing. It’s also because humans have all these long standing traditions about heredity. On the one hand it’s important to find a connection with our pasts. Especially for people whose families have been severed by things like slavery and genocide. Because, we have to remember that for centuries heredity has been used as a weapon to dehumanize and erase some groups of people. For those people genetic testing can be one the most profound experience of their lives. But consumer genetics can only give you really rough estimates right now. It’s going to get a lot more powerful very quickly, it’s just not there yet.”

You can read the full article at:


It just occurred to me, since it’s Memorial Day, that the possibility of figuring out who some of the Unknown Soldiers are could be done through DNA.


    One was identified, the soldier from the Viet Nam conflict was and later removed and his remains were then transferred home to the mid-west.


    The soldier from the Viet Nam era that was buried there was identified by DNA, afterwards his remains were removed and returned to the family here in the mid-west.


I have a 67 loci DNA Certificate dated 19 Jan 2007. I understood the providing company would contact me if anyone else was close. I must be a DNA orphan


you are not alone


When we get more men Y tested it will help. I have worked with several men who like you have very low results on their Y testing.


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