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By the Numbers

Genetic ancestry testing is the use of DNA information to make inferences about someone’s "deep" ancestry, hundreds or thousands of years into the past. Genetic genealogy on the other hand combines DNA testing with genealogical and historical records, and typically makes use of large databases to identify matches, or direct comparisons to test for expected matches. There is some overlap between the two, but genetic genealogy is generally more reliable because of its use of additional information: the information about your ancestry available from DNA alone is limited. Still, the fascination with genetic and ancestral origins plays out in the day-to-day activities of many Americans.

Did You Know?

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017, leading personal genomics company AncestryDNA sold about 1.5 million testing kits designed to provide insights into your ethnicity and familial connections.

DNA testing companies Ancestry and 23andMe are allowed – through the fine print of their disclosures -- free rein to host, transfer, process, analyze, distribute, and communicate your genetic information. You still technically own your DNA, but they own the rights to what’s in it—after it’s been anonymized and de-identified, of course. Both companies, according to Wired magazine, have research partnerships that involve exchanging data for money—23andMe with drug companies like Pfizer and Genentech, Ancestry with Alphabet longevity spinout Calico.

Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales announced in 2014 an intriguing new find: a gene for stupidity. Specifically, they showed that kids born with two copies of the common gene known as Thr92Ala who also had low levels of thyroid hormone were four times more likely to have a low IQ than children with only one copy of the gene, or with two copies but normal hormone levels. The mark of stupidity, according to the report was between 70 and 85, noting that anything below 70 is classified as an intellectual disability; the 70-to-85 range is considered “mild intellectual disability.”

The expression of genes in an organism can be influenced by the environment, including the external world in which the organism is located or develops, as well as the organism's internal world, which includes such factors as its hormones and metabolism.

For more information on Genetic Genius and Ancestry testing, visit the Washington Informer newspaper website

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