General Question

Yellowdog's avatar

In these times of condemning nationalism and tabooing racism, why are DNA tests so popular?

Asked by Yellowdog (8515points) 2 weeks ago

I will admit to being affected to the core when I see images or places of Anglo-Saxon past, which I don’t get when I see or experience something from Scandinavia, Russia, or the Mediterranean.

I suspect a LOT of people feel, and want to know, “where they are from.”

But there are two other strains that should be factored in. It is acceptable to be whoever you want to be. If you are a Native American Indian Chief that would rather be a Scottish clan chief or chieftain, you can be Scottish. You can take up a kilt and pipes, and be thoroughly enamored with, and live in the culture of Scotland.

Or anyone with the right “spirit” may resonate more with Native American culture. Or combine elements of Celtic, Angolian, and Native American in one’s personal persona. Even I emulate both Irish and Andian/Peruvian elements and Native American culture.

So, if you can be anyone you want, why is DNA so important?

Secondly, isn’t one’s enamoration with one’s lineage and heritage what some people consider racism? I agree that one can love their own heritage without disparenging others, but there is a lot of condemnation as racism if one cherishes their own Anglo-Saxon culture.

So, if racism and nationalism are bad, and we can choose to be whomever we identify with, why do we need these DNA tests showing our lineage?

I am NOT in any way condemning anyone who has had any of these tests. I just want to know why people pursue DNA and national ancestories.

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32 Answers

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
flutherother's avatar

It’s the difference between where we have come from and where we are going.

Zaku's avatar

“In these times of condemning nationalism and tabooing racism…”
”...I will admit to being affected to the core when I see images or places of Anglo-Saxon past, which I don’t get when I see or experience something from Scandinavia, Russia, or the Mediterranean.”
– Racism and excessive nationalism are problems for reasons that have nothing to do with affection or resonance with cultural or ethnic or genetic/ancestral groups.

The condemnation and taboos are about hostility, violence, and other mistreatment towards others, and about abusing patriotism, racism and xenophobia to justify abuse of national power (e.g. Trump administration extreme abusive policies towards Mulsim and South American travelers and immigrants).

Which has nothing to do with connecting with anyone’s ancestry and heritage and embracing cultures.

So, if you can be anyone you want, ...”
– Who is the you that is wanting?
– You are who you are, and that’s not a simple thing. You are the sum of all your ancestors (both in your DNA and in other ways), your experiences, your upbringing, and are interconnected with everything at some level.
– You do get to choose, but the person choosing comes from all those things.
– There are also many people who have experienced connections of other kinds to cultures not in their body’s history, but again, the resonance and attraction come from who they are, from wherever that comes from.
– Some people also feel past-life spiritual connections that don’t match their biological history at all.

”... why is DNA so important?”
– Watch out for binary reasoning. It’s not an “either/or” situation; it’s a “both”.
– DNA is important because it’s part of what makes us who we are, in some aspects. It’s a ridiculously complex cause & effect situation that can’t be reduced to simplistic thinking without loosing a lot of accuracy. It’s intertwined with who the people who parented us are (except for those of us who were raised by others). One example might be that DNA impacts what environment and diet we’re adapted to. Another is in our appearance – we tend to look more like people we share ancestry with, due to DNA. Etc.

_“Secondly, isn’t one’s enamoration with one’s lineage and heritage what some people consider racism?”)
– One again, emphatically NO!!!
– Many racists may tend to fixate on an ethnic and/or cultural and/or national identity, and try to hide or confuse that with their racism (which seems to have succeeded in confusing you on this point, given these questions), but no, they’re quite different things.
– There are many people who deeply love and identify with their own (or others’) culture, background, and ancestry, who are not racists at all.

”... there is a lot of condemnation as racism if one cherishes their own Anglo-Saxon culture.”
– Not accurately, there isn’t. There may be some people who mistakenly conflate racism with Anglo-Saxon identity and condemn things in ways that don’t make sense, and so on, but that would be a mistake.

So, if racism and nationalism are bad, and we can choose to be whomever we identify with, why do we need these DNA tests showing our lineage?”
– Racism and nationalism are not the same thing as DNA and lineage.
– No one “needs” a DNA test.

“I am NOT in any way condemning anyone who has had any of these tests. I just want to know why people pursue DNA and national ancestories.”
– People are naturally interested in their heritage for all sorts of reasons, most of which have zero to do with racism or nationalism.
– e.g. Curiosity, medical reasons, research, desire to understand their own ancestors, etc.

Inspired_2write's avatar

To remember our Ancestors and how we came about.

From our Ancestors sufferings, struggles and sacrifices we are able to forge forward in a new Country.

We owe it to our Ancestors to honor them in remembrance and that starts with acknowledging there existence and not to forget them.

In our family we never met relatives as my parents moved away and had no contact since then.
When we were born we never had Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles, nor Cousins around to talk with etc

So it became even more important to research even my parents past which turned up some pretty interesting stories.

It showed to us that yes my parents had a life before we were born, and its nice to see what they looked like when they were younger too.

I found it very important and this probably is why one sees this on TV a lot lately is because one day this information will disappear, so get it now before all is lost.

It’s our history and it matters.

seawulf575's avatar

@Inspired_2write “We owe it to our Ancestors to honor them in remembrance and that starts with acknowledging there existence and not to forget them.”
That must be the driving force behind condemning anything southern from the Civil War. But I actually do agree with you. Good and bad, our history has made us who we are today. I get sad when people forget that.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

DNA tests unravel history and alert us to potential medical issues.

kritiper's avatar

Because everybody wants to know where they are from originally, definitely. No guessing, no assuming.

gondwanalon's avatar

I thought that racism is where someone hates another person because of race. Oh well.

I had my DNA tested because I want to know facts of who I am. I don’t want to wish to be something I’m not.

My last name is Irish yet I’m 10% Indigenous American (El Salvador), 4% Asian and 86% German.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it’s just curiosity, and for some they want to find relatives.

Many African Americans don’t know what parts of Africa they are from. A woman I used to work with said white oriole get to have traditions from where they are from, but black people don’t. I told her not all white people have traditions tied to their national origin, for some it’s their religion, and for some it’s traditions they developed in America. She was surprised. I think she would likely be curious to get the test done.

A man I know never knew his father. He did the test and found out he’s 50% Jewish. He had no idea.

The parents of a girlfriend of mine did the testing. Her mom was going through the names of relatives. She found out she was related to one of her best friends since grade school. She also found out she was related to her husband! 4th cousins.

I wonder if WS people are inclined to do the DNA tests? I bet not.

I met a woman at a party once who was interested in tracing back her family and her husbands. She told she asked her FIL where his family was from (they were living in TN at the time) his reply was, the family is from North Carolina. She clarified, “no, I mean what country is the family from?” He became annoyed and adamant that the family was from America and Americans. I don’t think this guy was a WS, but he didn’t want to consider that his family was from another part of the world. I doubt he is doing DNA testing.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
KNOWITALL's avatar

Really I have no idea, other than health concerns, why anyone would. Great way to get voluntary dna, and people pay for it. A lot of the info seems inaccurate from some sites, too. I see no value in it myself.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@KNOWITALL They can answer some nagging questions people may have. Questions like…who are my real parents… what chance will my child have a genetic disease. These tests that give raw data can be used for quite a lot. Often a single genetic test at the doc can cost hundreds. I have had two done and they’re pretty damn accurate at identifying your genes. What is not accurate is the speculative part like hair and eye color, neanderthal ancestry, nation of origin etc. Both tests did a pretty good job though with ancestry. I know I’m about half German and the rest from the British isles. Both tests pretty well said that, one said ~70 & 30% and the other ~40 & 60% so close enough. The more people participate the more accurate the science becomes. I don’t think we’ll see some GATTACA type world where this is a discrimination tool.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Are You I can see parents wanting to help their kids, good point.

seawulf575's avatar

I don’t want to do any DNA testing not because I’m afraid of what I might find, but because I really don’t care.I know family history and health issues back about 4 generations. I know I am a human and that my family has been in this country at least those 4 generations. After that, I don’t really care. If I came down with some weird genetic disease, doing a test ahead of time would not tell me if it would happen, just that it could. Can’t do anything until it does. And if it does, then they can do the DNA test then as part of the diagnosis so my kids will know it is in the genes.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@seawulf575 I’m going to go ahead and disagree with you there. One example is it was found I have the factor V leiden gene which is strongly associated with blood clots, strokes DVT etc.. Armed with that knowledge I take a baby aspirin every other day or so and I keep my aerobic exercise level high. At an increased risk for something as bad as that knowing ahead of time to take precautions could be a life saver.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
seawulf575's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me that is fine too. But the thought I have is that taking baby aspirin every other day and exercising are probably good things for anyone, regardless of their genetic make up. Coronary Artery Disease is very common in this country and is, in fact, the biggest killer of both men and women. Aspirin and exercise are great preventive medicine for that. So having a gene that shows you have some potential propensity doesn’t, in my mind, add that much more to the importance of that preventive medicine.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@seawulf575 Here is another silent killer that is completely preventable with knowledge: hereditary hemochromatosis. Often this causes so much damage before it is found that a persons life expectancy is greatly reduced. A simple genetic test will discover it and something as simple as regular blood donation can treat it.

There are many others and since this tech is in its infancy we can expect a lot more to come.

seawulf575's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me That may be, but I am a bit fatalistic. We all die in the end. I don’t want to worry about things that might happen or have a chance of happening. When I die, I die. I intend to enjoy life until then. That, combined with my really not caring where my great, great, great, great, great grandparents came from is why I don’t care about DNA testing.

SEKA's avatar

My uncle feared dying of a stroke so he took his baby aspirin as instructed by his doctor. He died from a bleeding ulcer that as brought on by the baby aspirin. Once he started bleeding they never got it under control. Even stopping the baby aspirin didn’t slow it down as the damage was already done

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@SEKA Yes aspirin is not for those with a risk of bleeding.

SEKA's avatar

Does a DNA test tell you that you are at risk

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 Some diseases definitely show if you are positive for them, but it’s true that others are just a propensity, or risk, and they may not ever happen. I think Huntington’s Disease is one of the ones if you have the gene you get it without fail. I vaguely remember an ethical debate in school whether someone would abort knowing a fetus might develop Huntington’s as an adult. Most people know it runs in their family if it does, but not always.

The Q was more about where we are from than medical though.

If you found out you were from some part of the world you would have never imagined would it bother you at all? Like the stories your family told were incorrect or missing something.

I haven’t done the testing. I’m a little nervous about the “Big Brother” possibilities, and I feel fairly sure I know what the results will be, but I do admit to being curious to see if it comes out as expected. My sister did it and it was just what I would expect. My husband’s sister did it and it was exactly what we would expect. Neither did the medical one.

@ARE_you_kidding_me I did some genetic testing for blood clotting and other stuff many years ago and it was $1,000! I think I paid $200 of it. I wonder if the 23 and me covers the same testing. I’m heterozygous for some clotting thing too. They say it’s only a big concern if it’s homozygous, but my dad had a DVT and heart disease since his 40’s and basically I feel I’m lucky my blood even moves through my circulatory system. I am curious to get the test done though. I don’t think Ancestry does it, just 23 and Me. The testing I had done in that panel didn’t test for diseases like Tay Sachs and Huntington’s, but I had some of that testing done too at the time.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@JLeslie Yup, that’s the big secret. You can do one of these $100 tests and get the same results as multiple $1000 tests. You just have to do the leg work and download your raw data and then cross reference it with one of the databases. Some genetic issues they will tell you about right off the bat, others you’ll have to dig a little.

JLeslie's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Is that with 23 and Me? I’d be shocked to get a surprise, but it would be interesting to do. You never know.

flo's avatar

Maybe people want to see if they are related to royalty, or a famous person, (actor etc.) or Einstein,....

MrGrimm888's avatar

I think it’s part of human nature, to want to know where you cane from, and who you might be related to.

But I agree, that that has little to do with who a person wants to be.

I have actually done some research on the subject. Apparently, some DNA testing labs, may give you different results. It has to do, with each companies stockpile, of DNA.

DNA, like most medical science, isn’t exact. It simply gives you a probability of whom you are descended to.

The bottom line is that we all originated, from a small mammal. So. All we could learn, is where our ansestory went from there… From my research, we all share a genetic trait, from a single female human, from Africa.

In other words, we are ALL related, if you trace the DNA back far enough.

I personally have no need, to know much more. Go far enough back, and we all came from basic elements, and single celled organisms. We are ALL linked, to the things, that formed life, in the first place, on Earth…

That’s our origin. The rest, is just random, and really unimportant. Many of us, are probably the product of rape, or incest, at some point, or another. I think I remember reading once, that 11% of all of us, were related to Ghengis Khan. Because he raped so many Asians.

To me. It doesn’t matter how we got to this point. It matters, what we do from here.

I’ve been told by many people, that I appear to have Viking heritage. I’m not sure what to think about that. They were interesting, but overall terrible people. That doesn’t mean that I have to be like them. I know that my great grandmother, was Cherokee Indian. I feel closer to that race, than what was probably the majority of other Europeans.

Your DNA makes you look a certain way, and accounts for multiple phsical traits. Otherwise, we are WHO WE CHOOSE TO BE.

As far as racism, I think, it’s a waste of thought. We are ALL human. We are ALL related, somehow. We are ALL brothers and sisters, and all are mortal. We all bleed red. We all dream. We all have feelings. I don’t understand why that isn’t enough, to accept each other, as equals….

KNOWITALL's avatar

@MrGrimm Yes, ga!

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Sagacious's avatar

Because advertising works on the masses. It has nothing to do with nationalism or racism.

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