February 23, 2010

Larry David less Caucasoid than Jessica Alba?

Larry David 37% "Native American" and Jessica Alba only 13%?

Methinks this is due to inflated Native American DNA estimates, a problem which has plagued this particular test. As far as I know Larry David is Jewish in ancestry, so I would expect a much higher "European" component.

Alba is apparently half white Canadian and half Mexican American. A figure of about 1/3 Amerindian ancestry has been estimated for a sample of US Hispanics from New Mexico which would seem consistent with Alba's estimated ancestry estimate.

All in all, I would say that these results tend to confirm that while the AncestryByDNA test tends to provide reasonable admixture estimates (within its statistical limitations) for actual admixed persons, it is less valuable for non-admixed individuals who are not a good match for the four chosen ancestral sample groups.


Vincent said...

The AncestryByDNA test is only useful for people who are not admixed and know their ancestry before taking the test. For others, it's basically worthless.

Larry David's challenge is that the test is most likely picking up a signal from the Near Eastern component of Ashkenazi ancestry, and interpreting it as "Native American". Clearly a joke, but not funny.

Major Tom said...

Does Spain Count? Lol!!!

Beautiful confused girl.

Unknown said...

I dont know about this Larry David, I had never heard of him. But I would have expected his Ashkenazi blood to show as Asian not Native American.

As I understand it the difficulty in these tests lies in distinguishing between North American tribes and South American/Caribbean tribes. basically most of the references populations are North American so there are problems detecting tribes from further south. People with Caribbean Amerindian blood show as Asian.

But Jessica Alba's result is quite reasonable. I know of people from France (North African parent) with darker complexions who test as 100%North European. So she has mainly Spanish ancestry. Entirely believeable.

Nick said...

I'd say your last paragraph is possibly right, but only in the sense that "actual admixed persons" in the US tend to have ancestors from one of the four sample groups that AncestryByDNA happens to use. One of my friends in high school was very recently admixed: his father was white and his mother was black. But his father also happened to be Jewish. I can only assume that ABD would claim that he was something like 18.5% Native American which would less ridiculous than Larry David's result but not by much.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the test for David is wrong. According to the link provided by Dienekes on Alba, she has a mother who is half danish, half French Canadian, nee Jensen, and an American born father of American born people who is of Mexican ancestry. Who knows going back to the days before the incorporation of California into the Union.

It would be better for both to have been tested by deCODEme or 23andMe. As for Ashkenazim Jews, and some Southern Europeans, they have small amounts of Asian ancestry, less than 1%. 23andMe can also estimate in one of their tests whether the person has Amerindian admixture and how long ago. Unfortunately most Americans with a Cherokee Princess in their families come out 100% European, which basically means Caucasoid.

By the way, admixed people but predominantly European, still cluster with Europeans of their main ancestry. For example, Brazilians who are slightly admixed African and Amerindian are near the other Iberians in the PCA diagrams. They might also appear in the Middle Eastern PCA diagram also because of their drag towards the Middle East with their Amerindian and African admixture. I have seen Anatolian Turks, with 6% Asian admixture only appear in the European PCA diagram near East and Southern Europeans.

I am sure David would have a low rate of Asian admixture, he might appear in the European PCA near the Italians or just in the Middle East PCA diagram near the Druze. Alba probably due to her Amerindian quota would most likely be in the SW Asian group near the Pathans.

Anonymous said...

Jessica Alba has a mother half French Canadian and half Danish and a father Mexican American.
At the question about her origin she answered Native American, thinking of her father lineage, but the result of the test show how her father is also mostly European.
However French Canadians have admisture with Native American too (Franch settlers had not many woman from Europe) so it isn't impossible she has part of her Native Americans lineage from her mother too.
If Spain count, of course.

Tunguska said...

One possibility is that Larry David has Native Siberian heritage in his deep ancestry, with markers that cluster most closely with the Native American reference group.

Uzi Silber's piece "My Forefathers Were Yurt-Dwelling Siberians"


likely describes a background similar to David's.

Kepler said...

come on, guys! These tests just show person X has 25% of markers typically linked to macroethnic group Y, markers that are just a ridiculuously tiny bit of all genetic data humans have. We know almost nothing of the rest, including their relationship to ethnic groups.

Ricardo Costa de Oliveira said...

They have implemented tables or spreadsheets related to the populational admixtures.
Every population is a historical admixture:

If the results are correct Larry David must have an unknown close Amerindian ancestry.
Of course 23andMe and deCODEme have better tools and maps.

Jack said...

These test are mostly BS given the results.
For exampl3 in olivera's link Greeks, Italians etc. have large amounts of Native American Blood.
What BS!!!

Onur Dincer said...
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Onur Dincer said...
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Onur Dincer said...

These tests are mostly BS given the results.

Agree to that. Obviously these tests lack the discriminative power to provide the real racial admixture rates for any population.

I wonder if population-based results and maps of similar racial admixture tests have ever been published by other companies like 23andMe and deCODEme.

Unknown said...


Had a look at the AncestryBYDNA web page. It does seem to inflate native american signals and seems to include polynesians as native american. Looks to me that they dont really use reference populations and are using USA citizen self declared ancestry. Hence anyone looking a little brown is assuming South European blood when they dont really know.

Very shoddy.

But what is clear is the low "native american" signal in the Ashkenazi is very low. So this Michael David dude got it from somewhere else.

Jack said...

Annie Mouse,
when talking about Western Europeans little means 1-2% or even less.
Anything above 4% can be considered large and the person can be considered of mixed race to some degree.
Of course if you come from the US or Brasil then let's just forget about it and change the topic to French cuisine.

Tunguska said...

Perhaps relevant to a Siberian connection to results such as David's, a recent DNA Tribes newsletter noted "...it is among these northern taiga cultures that American Indian like genetic characteristics are observed to the greatest extent anywhere in Eurasia."


It is not too much of a stretch to posit Siberian introgression into Ashkenazi and other European populations.

Onur Dincer said...

It is not too much of a stretch to posit Siberian introgression into Ashkenazi and other European populations.

What are Siberians doing in Mediterranean Europe while they are virtually absent in much of North Europe?

Tunguska said...

What are Siberians doing in Mediterranean Europe while they are virtually absent in much of North Europe?

I'm referring specifically to a contribution to the Ashkenazi gene pool from outside Mediterranean Europe, as in the case of some Levites described, for instance, in


Anonymous said...

There are too many political affairs behind the studies on the genetic identity of the Jewish Askenazs. Too contradictions among the tests done and the book of Arthur Koestler "The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar to Fill and Its Heritage" has created the theory of the Khazars origin of the Akenazs
The book doesn't have anything of scientific and I believe that the theory has little base, but it is very poular into antisionist ambient today. The Askenazs are mainly of German and Slavic origin, with smaller part from the middle east. The influence Turkish-Mongolians must have been very low.
We need more serious and objective studies on the Askenazs and on the Hebrews.
What is clear is that the test used for the tv show is very generic and can be indicative, but there is something that doesn't work in to recognize genetic of the native Americans.
Also if the test on Jessica Alba seems to be acceptable.

Onur Dincer said...

I'm referring specifically to a contribution to the Ashkenazi gene pool

If the ancestrybydna test results of the Mediterranean Europeans are erroneous, other populations' results must also be erroneous.

Dean said...

To me Larry David looks like a garden-variety Ashkenazi Jew. I love his show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. It's one of the very few television shows I like. I think that if he has so much Native American in him, it would show in his appearance.

He might have something like that in him if some of his ancestry is Russian, but probably not that much, and probably East Asian. Howard Stern took this test and has a small but significant amount of East Asian markers, but it could be a mistake.

What is the correlation between people's appearance and their markers in common with others who look nothing like them? This can be tricky, I guess, at lower levels of commonality.

Unknown said...

I think Larry David looks very much Native American.
I believe the tests are correct.
In fact I think most Americans have Native American in them.