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The Most Accurate Dna Test – What concerns me is that I am a Jew. That’s not the only thing about me. I’m also 5ft 11in tall, wear glasses and love cycling. But most people who know me probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most of my ancestors lived in places in Eastern Europe.

So it wasn’t too surprising when I sent nine DNA samples to three different DNA companies under different fake names and the results showed I was a super-duper Ashkenazi Jew. (Ashkenazim Jews are descended from a Yiddish-speaking population living in the area between France and Russia.)

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But here’s a bit of a surprise: None of the companies — AncestryDNA, 23andMe and National Geographic, which works with the testing company Helix — could agree on what kind of Ashkenazi I am. [How do DNA ancestry tests really work?]

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AncestryDNA looked at the first DNA sample sent to me by Live Science and reported that I was 93 percent “European Jewish.” The rest of my ancestry, as suggested, is as follows: 2 percent goes to the Iberian Peninsula (that’s Spain and Portugal); 1 percent returns to the “European South”; 1 percent returns to the Middle East; the rest comes from somewhere else.

Another sample produced similar—though, interestingly, not the same—results. He reports that this part of the Rafi-spit in the pipe was only 92 percent Ashkenazi, but a full 3 percent Iberian. The rest of the DNA, according to Ancestry, may have originated in the Middle East and Southern Europe or other regions. But according to the site, each of these sources accounted for less than 1 percent of my DNA at most.

(Live Science sent a third sample of my DNA to Ancestry under a third name, but an error is preventing us from accessing the results.)

Like AncestryDNA, 23andMe concluded from the first DNA sample that my Ashkenazi is somewhere in the low 90s, with little variation between the individual samples it received. Unlike AncestryDNA, it had a not-so-Old-World interpretation of where my ancestors might have come from—suggesting that maybe only 1 percent of my ancestry was Native American. (From what I know of my family history, this is almost certainly not true.)

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While I was reporting this story, 23andMe updated its DNA sample interpretation system and re-evaluated all the DNA already in its system. Now when I log into 23andMe (opens in a new tab) with the three different names I gave, the reports for two of those names say I have 100% Ashkenazi ancestry. [Best DNA Testing Kits 2018]

(A third sample sent to 23andMe yielded no results. Live Science assigned a woman’s name to one of the samples it sent to each company and identified her gender as female. AncestryDNA handled its “female” sample well, reporting nothing unexpected, but also 23andMe and Nat Geo asked for more personal information before proceeding because it was from a person with unexpected chromosomes.)

Finally, there’s Nat Geo, which uses a service called Helix for DNA testing. Helix deals with raw DNA processing, Nat Geo with interpretation.

According to Nat Geo, I am much less than 100% Ashkenazi. The genetics service reported that my first sample was 88 percent of “Jewish diaspora” (in this context a term more or less Ashkenazi) ancestry and 10 percent “Italian and Southern European”.

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Nat Geo also reported the largest difference between the two successful samples, stating that the second sample it received was 3 percent less “Jewish diasporic” than the first – only 85 percent. The rest this time represented 13 percent of “Italy and Southern Europe.”

So, after nine DNA tests, I learned the following about myself: I am mostly Ashkenazi Jewish. Like, mostly. Or completely. My other ancestors in recent memory probably also lived in Europe — though who knows where. And maybe there was some Middle Eastern or Native American somewhere in my family tree. But probably (almost certainly) not.

Scientists who specialize in this type of research told Live Science that none of this is all that surprising, though they noted that it’s a bit strange that companies can’t even produce consistent results from samples taken from the same person.

“Ancestry itself is a funny thing, because humans have never been such a separate group of people,” said Alexander Platt, an expert in population genetics at Temple University in Philadelphia. “So you can’t say someone is 92.6 percent descended from that group of people if that’s not the case.”

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Log on to a site like Nat Geo and the world is broken into different parts. Some of your ancestors came from here, it says, and were Central Asian. Others came from that place and were in the Middle East. However, human history does not look like this. Populations merge. People move, collect and separate. A person who is called an Italian today may have been called a Gaul a few thousand years ago and went to war against the Romans.

To divide people into groups, Platt told Live Science, researchers make decisions: For example, they’ll say that all members of this group of people have lived in Morocco for at least several generations, so we’ll add a reference library for Moroccans to their DNA. And people who had one grandparent with that DNA will hear that they are 25% Moroccan. But that boundary, Platt said, is basically “imaginary.”

“History has structure,” he said. “Certain peoples are more closely related to each other than to other peoples. And [commercial DNA companies] try to create borders within these clusters. But those borders never really existed and are not real things.”

In some places it is easier. The non-Jewish population in Europe tends not to mix with others as much as people in other parts of the world, he said, so companies can easily make finer distinctions between them.

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But at the end of the day, being 35% Irish or 76% Finnish means nothing. So when 23andMe thought about my parenting, the 100% answer couldn’t be truer. It was just another way of interpreting the data.

(In this case, Platt said, the company probably decided it made sense to call those genes Ashkenazi, too, since almost all Ashkenazi Jews share some genes with admixture from other European populations.)

“It’s not so much a science as a description,” he said. “There’s really no right or wrong answer here, because there’s no official label for what it means genetically to be Ashkenazi Jewish.”

“He’s not surprised that there’s a 15 percent Jewish gap between my Nat Geo and 23andMe results,” he said.

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“To be perfectly honest, they wouldn’t have to tell you that you’re 47% Italian, but that you’re 47 plus or minus some error … based on their ability to distinguish that ancestry from other sources of error, go to the assessment,” Stoneking said. for Live Science.

And clearly there are sources of error, he said. Neither Stoneking nor Platt were sure why AncestryDNA had a 1 percent difference between results for different samples, or Nat Geo had a 3 percent difference, or 23andMe had wiggle room that disappeared with the update. But they agreed that it probably had something to do with their methods of converting a vial of sputum into data that a computer could interpret. (Live Science asked all three companies to explain the problem, but none provided a concrete answer.) [Genetics: the study of heredity]

Each of these companies, Stoneking said, breaks down the DNA in a sputum sample into alleles — the genetic markers they use as raw data. But that process is imperfect and clearly doesn’t work the same way every time companies run the rest, he said — even if the mistakes aren’t very significant.

The real science of population genetics, he explained, is used to determine how large groups of people have moved and mixed over time. And for that purpose it is good. But determining whether 3 to 13 percent of my ancestry is from the Iberian Peninsula or Italy is not part of this project.

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Platt said he tested it commercially, and while he didn’t find anything surprising, it’s always possible for someone to learn something new and interesting — especially if he’s not of Jewish European descent and isn’t clear on the details. A white gentile could learn something special and interesting about his ancestry because his ancestors probably came from very isolated reference populations about which companies have a lot of data. But people from other places have less chance, simply because the data from other places is more limited, vague and difficult to interpret.

When I contacted the companies and asked them to comment on this story and answer the question why my results might have been different – even if the test passed

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