Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Test Tells Us Nothing
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has taken flak for her claims to Native American ancestry, just released the results of a genetic test that definitively proves… well, nothing. She might be 1/32nd Native American. Or 1/1,024th. Nobody really knows.
The Boston Globe story, which is very well reported, explains some of the major caveats with genetic ancestry testing. For example, a person’s genome sequence must be compared to someone else’s, and accuracy requires a sufficiently large database. However, as the Boston Globe states, there is very little genetic data on Native Americans, and Sen. Warren’s DNA had to be compared to that from Mexicans, Peruvians, and Colombians.
Using this data, the original analysis, which was prepared by a respected geneticist, determined that five segments of Sen. Warren’s DNA — totaling about 12.3 million bases (“letters”) — are of Native American ancestry. That might sound like a lot, but the human genome contains more than 3.2 billion bases, which means that only about 0.4% of Sen. Warren’s DNA sequence can be attributed to Native American ancestry.
So… the science is settled?