CBC News has a show on television called Marketplace. It often covers scams and commercial frauds that Canadians need to be wary of. Last week they ran a segment on home DNA testing kits and the claims of those who sell them to the general public. You can watch the entire segment on their website [Who's Your Grand Daddy?].
I don't think there's any doubt that some of these companies are making exaggerated claims. That counts as a scam in my book. You'll have to watch the show to see how the private companies avoid being interviewed by Wendy Mesley. It's a hoot watching Wendy run her own scam on the streets.
I'm disturbed by the fact that we have a number of prominent bloggers pushing DNA testing. You'd think they would be all over this story. You'd think that they would be in the front lines in the attack on unscrupulous private companies who are overselling the idea of tracing your ancestors through your DNA.
If you thought that you'd be wrong. Some of these bloggers are even denying there's a problem. Fore example, here's what Blaine Bettinger on The Genetic Genealogist says about accusations of scam [Another Questionable Article About Genetic Genealogy].
First - a scam artist is by definition a person who engages in a “fraudulent business scheme.” Although genetic genealogy can be controversial, I’ve never heard a single customer accuse a company of running a scam. To the best of my knowledge, these testing companies are using the best science available to test DNA and compare results to their databases. Are physicians running a scam if they use open-heart surgery to fix a heart, rather than a simple pill that will be invented in 5 years? All technology is based on the best developed science right now. A company might have a limited database or only test a limited number of markers, but this does not qualify them as running a “scam.”I think Blaine is letting his enthusiasm for DNA testing get the better of him. I suggest he look at the CBC show and tell us where they are going wrong if he thinks that all of the private companies are totally honest.
I don't think Hsien-Hsien Lei at Eye on DNA has made any comment either about the scams. Why?
UPDATE: The Genetic Genealogist responds to the CBC segment. His answer? Caveat emptor. Consumers should learn more about genetic genealogy before buying.