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Save your money for a real DNA test

Don't bother
catching this ring

Sundays are DNA days around The Legal Genealogist. Today, it’ll be short and sweet: if you’ve been tempted to stick your toes into the water of DNA testing with a new service called ConnectMyDNA (, offering something called Gene Circles, save your money.

Yes, it is very inexpensive. The full price of this service is $89 but there are special offers and coupons all over the web for as little as $19 or $29 or $39. And yes, the end result of the service is a very attractive set of concentric circles that are reportedly a graphic representation of the results that are unique to you and you alone.

And, the service says, you’ll get a list of the countries where people live whose results in the particular areas examined are closest to yours.

So why am I — a self-confessed DNA junkie — not rushing off to get this test and not urging everyone I know (and those I don’t) to get this test done?

Because, from the standpoint of genealogy, this service is about as handy as a handle on a duck’s rear end.

First off, the service frankly concedes, and I quote, “NO, ConnectMyDNA™ is not an ancestry test.”1 What it does is look at 13 specific places in your DNA and produce what it calls a DNA profile. And those specific locations, according to the Center for Genetics and Society, “are currently regarded to be “junk DNA” sites, home to non-coding genetic materials, which currently are good for nothing but identifying an individual.”2

As the company says on its Facebook page:

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.3

What the company does after it develops your Profile, it says, is compare it to the profiles of “population groups.”
It will

perform a calculation to determine which population group contains the most similarities with your profile. The population groups are then reported to you. Since this test is not an ancestry test, the population groups with the most similarity to your DNA Profile merely represent an interesting correlation, not an indication of your heritage. We hope this information is of interest to you and that you might be inclined to explore the population groups in terms of areas you find interesting.4

The value of this comparison — which population groups are included, how many samples there are and how significant they are — is hinted at more than specified. The company says: “There are a scientifically significant number of data points in the databases used for ConnectMyDNA™. If more data points were added to a country’s database, it may change the ranking of the country, but not necessarily.”5

In plain English, I read that to mean “we’re not going to tell you how we came up with these country lists and we’re not guaranteeing they’re accurate.” The service goes so far as to concede, on its Facebook page, “ConnectMyDNA will always pick the top 5-10 matches, even if the most appropriate database is not included in the mix.6

So why does the company say this test is worth anything at all? Because, it says on Facebook, “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.”7

Getting the picture here? This test isn’t useful for genealogy. It isn’t useful for health issues. But hey… it’s FUN, and besides it’s CHEAP, and after all you don’t really want to, well, you know, learn anything about genetic genealogy, right?

The Latin phrase is caveat emptor. It means “let the buyer beware.” If what you want is a pretty graphic to print on a t-shirt (which I’m sure the service will be happy to sell you), go right ahead. If what you’re interested in is information that might someday be of any use to you whatsoever in your genealogical research, save your money.


  1. Frequently Asked Questions,” ConnectMyDNA ( : accessed 31 Mar 2012.
  2. Doug Pet, “How to Use $90? Buy a Gene Ring, or Burn for Warmth?,” Biopolitical Times, posted 8 Dec 2011 ( : accessed 31 Mar 2012).
  3. ConnectMyDNA Facebook page ( : accessed 31 Mar 2012).
  4. Frequently Asked Questions,” ConnectMyDNA ( : accessed 31 Mar 2012. (emphasis added).
  5. Ibid.
  6. ConnectMyDNA Facebook page ( : accessed 31 Mar 2012).
  7. Ibid.
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