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The Racial Fallacies of Personal DNA Testing Services


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At the Baffler website, Jacob Silverman excoriates the racial and cultural fallacies promoted by personal DNA testing services like 23andMe and Ancestry DNA, which promise to connect you to your ethnic roots by revealing what parts of the world your genetic ancestors came from. As Silverman writes, these companies have even expanded into travel services, which will whisk you away to the regions identified in your DNA profile. But equating blood with identity is a dangerous fiction that plays into the hands of fascists and white supremacists, suggests Silverman. Read an excerpt from his piece below, or the full text here.

23andMe’s opportunistic ad campaigns clearly aim to reflect a tolerance that is anathema to Vincent Law and the alt-right. But there is less daylight than there might seem between both sides’ relentless focus on one’s genetic roots. Outside of a medical context, a person’s DNA is mere trivia. It tells us a little bit about where we came from and nothing about who we are. Those who would take it seriously are flirting with regressive notions of race and identity, mistaking genetic markers for heritage and haplogroups for shared cultures. The execrable Law is right about one thing: there is no deep personal truth to be found in the bottom of a spit-cup.