© 2017   Paper & Spit  

  • Don Anderson

“What am I looking at??” --As testing numbers continue to grow, so does this question

The good news – DNA kit sales have continued to grow. Approximately 30 million have

taken the plunge and volunteered saliva in hopes of knowing what their ethnicity

breakdown consists of and/or wanting to discover new relatives – even answering the

question of who their first mother and/or father might be.

Taking a DNA test is the simple part. Spit or swab, activate, and send your sample back

to the lab for processing. After the usual four to eight weeks (sometimes longer),

notification is received – your results are ready for viewing!

Exciting..........wait a minute..........I am looking at information that is totally foreign!

Disappointed...........I don’t get it...........What am I looking at? Have you ever had a

similar mental and/or verbal outburst when viewing your results for the first time??

Since November, 2015, I have spoken to thousands – members of cultural festivals and

organizations, as well as genealogical societies. To begin, I always ask two questions.

#1) “How many here have taken a DNA test?”

The answer – almost all hands go up immediately. Fantastic. Great, right?

#2) “How many of you understand what you are looking at?”

The answer – usually only a few hands raise – of those, half are at half mast. WHAT??

A huge discrepancy exists between the number of test takers that are able to interpret

their results and those who are not. Without education, the margin will continue to


To be fair, a growing number of resources are available for anyone wanting to educate

themselves regarding DNA analysis – there are. Websites, books, Youtube videos,

Classes – some free of charge, others at reasonable cost are readily available if one knows

where to look and makes the effort to do so.

In my opinion, there is one solution with two timeline alternatives.

The solution consists of providing the purchaser with a list of learning resources that will

educate the reader on the basics of DNA test results.

Timeline number one – the information is made available when a transaction is

completed. This would give the test taker four to eight weeks to become familiar with

what the results mean.

Timeline number two – the information is made available when the results arrive. The

test taker would need to read through the materials before or during review of their results.