How to Use $90? Buy a Gene Ring, or Burn for Warmth?
Posted by Doug Pet on December 8th, 2011
What exactly is it that makes us compatible with the people we hold dear to our hearts as loved ones? Maybe the spark lies in our common interests, or our magically and sometimes quirkily matched character traits, or it could be the overlapping histories and experiences we’ve shared. Perhaps we are connected through something more timeless ̶ the mysterious human bonds that poets, playwrights, and love-songsters have spent the larger part of human history trying to describe.
For those tired of such subjective touchy-feely and nonscientific answers, ConnectMyDNA has come out with a stocking-stuffer that’s not to be missed: the Gene Ring. Here’s the pitch:
What if our friendships were built on something even greater than our interests? What if we actually connect with people because our DNA is similar?
For only $89.95, ConnectMyDNA offers a personalized “Gene Ring” that allows you to compare how similar or different your genes are from those of your closest friends (who of course need to purchase their own Gene Rings).
Think of it as your own personal fingerprint, where the green markers and where they’re positioned on each ring represent the unique values found in your DNA…You can compare Gene Rings, side by side; to see how closely your values match. You might discover you’re more alike than you thought.
Gene Ring buyers are not limited to comparing their genes only to people whom they know. ConnectMyDNA also matches customers to a specific country where the local “population group” is the closest genetic match.
But what are people really buying when they shell out their 90 bucks for the magical Gene Ring? A different explanatory video (which is buried on ConnectMYDNA’s YouTube page rather than the front page of their website) starts to fill in the unsurprisingly nonsensical picture:
This type of DNA test doesn’t tell you anything about your hair, your eye color, or any kind of personal information. We only look at that the 13 CODIS loci, the standard for human identification used on a global basis.
In fact, the 13 CODIS loci are currently regarded to be “junk DNA” sites, home to non-coding genetic materials, which currently are good for nothing but identifying an individual. While some speculate that advances in genetic technology may someday allow us to gain specific information from these loci, it seems more than apparent that ConnectMyDNA deals on the cutting edge of spin marketing, not the cutting edge of genetic science.
So let’s get this straight. Prospective buyers are led to believe that the Gene Ring will reveal which of their loved ones they are most “genetically compatible” with as well as what countries they are most closely “genetically tied” to. Meanwhile the company openly admits that the genetic markers that they test for have absolutely no significance in terms of observable traits, lineage, ancestry, or anything of the sort.
ConnectMyDNA delivers its clients nothing more significant than their own fingerprint or stool sample. From there, they let people’s assumptions and misconceptions about genetics take over.
Scams that try to cash in by mixing genetic determinism with personal genomics hype are a dime a dozen, and usually do surge around the holidays. But frankly, this is ridiculous.
As an employee of the company that provides the ConnectMyDNA™ test result, I would like to comment on the post about ConnectMyDNA™. The ConnectMyDNA™ test is designed to provide the alleles (alternate forms of a gene) present at the loci used for human identification. The scientific community has developed methods to examine locations in the DNA (loci) that are highly polymorphic in the human population. A total of 13 unlinked loci have been adopted by the forensic community to provide sufficient information to uniquely identify an individual (CODIS). The ConnectMyDNA™ test analyzes the 13 loci and determines the alleles at each locus. Testing is conducted in a DNA testing laboratory utilizing appropriate testing protocols including positive and negative controls. This DNA Profile is depicted by the “Gene Ring™”, a graphic representation of the alleles detected at the 13 loci tested. Since the Gene Ring™ is based on the specific alleles detected at the CODIS core loci, each Gene Ring will be different just like each DNA Profile is different (except for identical twins).
There is no scientific information about whether alleles in a person’s DNA profile are important in any human social relationship. The DNA Profile can be used to identify forensic samples or biological relationships.
The range of alleles detected at each locus is the same in all populations groups that have data available, but the frequency of individual alleles can vary significantly among world populations. Most laboratories utilize databases for the major ethnic groups when making calculations.
Human are a relatively recent species and as a result share DNA to a much higher extent than older species. There are no ethnic specific alleles, and the amount of genetic diversity is small within and between ethnic groups.
The comparison to the world populations often shows associations that are surprising. Since the DNA Profile does not contain sufficient information about ancestry, ConnectMyDNA™ is not intended as an ancestry test. What it does show is the extent that we as human beings are genetically related which hopefully people that take the ConnectMyDNA™ test can appreciate.
Most genetic testing involves complicated personal issues regarding biological relationships or genetic disease. The ConnectMyDNA™ test is a way to participate in DNA testing in a way that is hopefully fun and educational.