Genealogy Test Accuracy

September 15, 2017

Apart from providing our readers with the most relevant and up-to-date information regarding genetic testing and genealogical exploration, we’re also highly dedicated to answering all your questions, clarifying certain aspects of genetic science and testing procedures, and familiarizing you with the amazing phenomenon that is DNA sequencing.

One of the most frequent questions we’ve received so far concerns the overall accuracy of genealogical testing. So, if you want to know a bit more about genealogy and the process of exploring your ancestry and history through genealogical sources, keep on reading and learn why accuracy isn’t really a factor when it comes to genealogy.

Genealogy Test Accuracy

Genealogical “Testing”

Our final sentence in the last paragraph probably caught you by surprise. How can accuracy be irrelevant for any sort of testing?

Well, that’s because there is no such thing as a genealogy test. No one can sequence your genealogical sample in a lab and generate a final report that will hold some kind of information regarding your history and genetic relatives. In order to shine some light on the matter, we’ll have to see just how genealogy answers your questions and what sources it uses in order to do so.

When it comes to DNA testing, things are pretty clear. Your DNA profile or signature is generated from a provided biological sample (saliva, buccal cells, blood…). Genealogy, on the other hand, is not as clear-cut as that. Conducting genealogical research is very similar to piecing a puzzle together and some pieces will inevitably be missing. Genealogical research is, therefore, much more limited in its range than research based on your genetic material.

Genealogy Testing

Genealogical sources include things like old documents, written accounts, scanned photos, journals, military records, ship passenger lists, naturalization and land records, and many others. Bottom line, you are following a paper trail for as long as it exists and can provide you with relevant data about your family tree. Once the paper trail ends, and it usually ends pretty quickly, you are left without further clues to pursue and your ancestry research comes to an end. Don’t get us wrong, genealogical exploration can sometimes go several generations in the past, but it can’t be compared with DNA analysis that can take you to the first ever carrier of your particular genetic strain.

Bottom Line

We’re hoping that this introductory explanation was enough to explain why genealogical tests cannot exist and why genealogical research doesn’t care for accuracy per se; the records are just there or they are not. Genealogy basically comes down to browsing billions of historical records, searching for connections, and following clues that can lead you to your relatives and shine some light on their life stories. Genealogy can put faces on your past generations, which is something DNA analyses can never do. Therefore, the best result is achieved once these two disciplines are combined and allowed to complement each other. Genetic science has a longer reach into the past and genealogy can personalize your results as long as it has a paper trail to follow.

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