Next Article in Journal
The Shields that Guard the Realms of Men: Heraldry in Game of Thrones
Previous Article in Journal
Sankofa, or “Go Back and Fetch It”: Merging Genealogy and Africana Studies—An Introduction
Previous Article in Special Issue
Constructing Masculinity through Genetic Legacies: Family Histories, Y-Chromosomes, and “Viking Identities”
Open AccessArticle

The Rise and Fall of BritainsDNA: A Tale of Misleading Claims, Media Manipulation and Threats to Academic Freedom

1
Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
2
Melbourne Integrative Genomics, School of BioSciences and School of Mathematics & Statistics, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia
3
UCL Genetics Institute, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Genealogy 2018, 2(4), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy2040047
Received: 17 July 2018 / Accepted: 22 September 2018 / Published: 2 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Genealogy)
Direct-to-consumer genetic ancestry testing is a new and growing industry that has gained widespread media coverage and public interest. Its scientific base is in the fields of population and evolutionary genetics and it has benefitted considerably from recent advances in rapid and cost-effective DNA typing technologies. There is a considerable body of scientific literature on the use of genetic data to make inferences about human population history, although publications on inferring the ancestry of specific individuals are rarer. Population geneticists have questioned the scientific validity of some population history inference approaches, particularly those of a more interpretative nature. These controversies have spilled over into commercial genetic ancestry testing, with some companies making sensational claims about their products. One such company—BritainsDNA—made a number of dubious claims both directly to its customers and in the media. Here we outline our scientific concerns, document the exchanges between us, BritainsDNA and the BBC, and discuss the issues raised about media promotion of commercial enterprises, academic freedom of expression, science and pseudoscience and the genetic ancestry testing industry. We provide a detailed account of this case as a resource for historians and sociologists of science, and to shape public understanding, media reporting and scientific scrutiny of the commercial use of population and evolutionary genetics. View Full-Text
Keywords: BBC; BritainsDNA: genetic genealogy; pseudoscience; genetic ancestry testing; academic freedom; science journalism; media studies BBC; BritainsDNA: genetic genealogy; pseudoscience; genetic ancestry testing; academic freedom; science journalism; media studies
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Kennett, D.A.; Timpson, A.; Balding, D.J.; Thomas, M.G. The Rise and Fall of BritainsDNA: A Tale of Misleading Claims, Media Manipulation and Threats to Academic Freedom. Genealogy 2018, 2, 47.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop