... the newly instituted Anthropology Blog award for Outstanding Achievement in Misleading the Public about Human Population Genetics.
I don't usually post about specific genetic testing companies unless they do something innovative, but I got two e-mails recently about a particular company, and I have to make an exception.
First of all, let me state that I have no reason to doubt that their genetic testing results (i.e., the actual Y-STR values) are accurate. What I do have a problem with is the copious amount of misleading information provided in their website (as of Oct 16, 2008).
You will learn for example that there is no haplogroup N in Finland, that there is 30% R1b in Russia, 5% of haplogroup J in Armenia, but 10% in Germany. You will also be pleased to know that Y-chromosome haplogroup J is associated with the Jews and mtDNA haplogroup H with the Vikings. But, wait, haplogroup I1a is associated with the Scythians [absent in most of Siberia and Central Asia but who cares about details], while mtDNA haplogroup H with the Teutons.
If you have time to kill, browse around the site, it is priceless as entertainment, and don't forget to stop by this thread where the company not only asserts that Y-chromosomes of ancient Greeks and Macedonians have been tested, pointing to completely irrelevant bibliography, as "evidence", but also lists the percentages of various ancient tribes in modern nations. Apparently, Bulgarians are 49% Thracian, while Albanians 18%, whereas Greeks and "Macedonians" 0%. Those Thracians must have evacuated from Greek Thrace and flown over Macedonia to settle in Albania :)
If you have any understanding of population genetics, no more needs to be said.
But, if you are a newbie researching the field, spend some time to educate yourself, and don't trust companies that offer you the sky. If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't.