I, like I’m sure many users of AncestryDNA, today received an email saying that they found me a new ancestor. Oh boy! That sounded promising. Or exciting. Could they really do that?
Yes, they could if they knew which segments on which chromosomes are inherited from which ancestor, and if they matched that from my matches to my DNA data. And, technically, their database could be big enough to figure that out if they did some really good triangulation. If it were possible to know via DNA things that can only be found through genealogical research, then yes, they could do that.
But, I was doubtful.
The email looks like this.
Okay, cool. So Obadiah Pierce (1774-1836) is my “new ancestor.” I clicked on “Show Me,” and got this.
The four “DNA Circles” on the bottom already existed. I have no idea who Peter Hamblin and Susan Tye are, which I suppose is the essence of their being “new ancestors.” But where is Obadiah Pierce? Maybe he was just an example for the sake of confusion.
I clicked on Peter Hamblin.
But, wait! Are you asking me or telling me that Peter Hamblin is my ancestor (or my relative)?
Susan Tye’s was similar.
Clicking on “LEARN ABOUT Susan Tye” (or Peter Hamblin) actually brought me to kind of a neat overview of this person’s life (however wrong it may be). But you gotta hand it to Ancestry – they do make things pretty.
Notice it says at the top that this information was compiled from 237 family trees. I wonder if those are public trees only or public and private trees?
Anyway, you can see here that Peter Hamblin was her spouse, which explains why both of these “new ancestors” appeared at once.
So here’s the thing.
There is no place in my pedigree where these people would fit. Obadiah Pierce would have a better chance of fitting! Either I have documented proven ancestors who already take up the time period, or mine are younger than Peter Hamblin and Susan Tye (thus, in theory they could descend from them), but they were immigrants. I don’t have to even do additional research to tell you that these people are not my ancestors. I mean, I can file them in the back of my mind (or just let Ancestry do that), but I’m not going to start down a wild goose chase to find how I’m potentially descended from these people.
So, like I said, AncestryDNA may say it has found me a “new ancestor” using just my DNA (from the email, above: “AncestryDNA has a new feature that allows you to discover new ancestors—just through your DNA”), but it lies.
One, then they use the
possibly awful incorrect horrendous undocumented trees of the people I match to make one of their circles (so it’s not “just through” my DNA).
And two, the technology does not exist to do what it is they say they are trying to do. (And to be quite honest, if or when it does exist, I do not expect it will be Ancestry that develops it.)
Ancestry does not have the ability to take the DNA from however many people they think should be in the Susan Tye circle, for example, and say that this is where the “Susan Tye pieces” are, and then look at my DNA and say, “Oh, you are descended from Susan Tye because you match these 3 people who are also descended from Susan Tye because all of you have Susan Tye DNA pieces!” None of the companies can do that – it is only through combined paper and genetic genealogical research that this can be done.
Quit wasting my time, Ancestry. Just give me tools, or at least the ability to download my matches and where we match (chromosomes and positions) into a damned CSV file (you know, like FTDNA and 23andMe do?). Here are the columns to use, in this order: Name, Match Name/User ID, Chromosome, Start Position, End Position, cM, SNPs. Do it for 1cM and above. Thank you.
I don’t care if this is Beta. That is not a good excuse for putting out a stupid feature that any half-serious genetic genealogist would know is just plain wrong.
The only thing that will give them grace in my eyes is if it turns out that they just accidentally matched me up with the wrong ancestors (e.g., their algorithm loop started with a 2 instead of a 1 or something). Because I’m still wondering about Obadiah Pierce (1774-1836). But I’m not going down that path yet either.
Oh, boy. I pity the people who will take these seriously.