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View Full Version : MyHeritage: Comparing the results of four siblings (Criticism)



sktibo
10-15-2017, 04:38 AM
This is a comparison of the DNA results of my father and his three siblings, and is ultimately a criticism of MyHeritage's ethnicity estimate.

I'm listing their paper trail percentages in detail so it is clear what we're looking at:

This is 75% of their background and this comes from 3 of 4 of their grandparents who lived in Canada but were born in Britain.

25% Central England - Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire.
18.75% South Central or South West England - Gloucestershire, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire.
12.5% Central Scotland - Stirlingshire, Perthshire.
6.25% Wales - Glamorgan.
6.25% South West Scotland - Ayrshire.
6.25% Central Highland Scotland - Perthshire

This 25% of their background has much deeper roots in Canada:

12.5% French Canadian - Quebec
3.9% French Canadian - Manitoba (Rupert's Land)
3.125% Saulteaux Native American - Manitoba (Rupert's Land)
3.125% Northern Scotland - Ross-Shire (Easter Ross)
1.56% Orkney Islands - Orphir
0.078% Assiniboine Native American - Manitoba (Rupert's Land)

The totals for these numbers are:

43.75% English
29.68% Scottish
16.4% French
6.25% Welsh
3.9% Native American

Or, in MyHeritage terms, this should be around about what they get:
43.75% English
35.93% Irish/Scottish/Welsh
16.4% Iberian (I'm considering French to fall under Iberian in this test as none of them got any Western and Central European results, and the Iberian bubble covers France)
3.9% Native American

1.
19284
54.6% English
31.5% Irish/Scottish/Welsh
5.4% Baltic
1.7% Eastern European
3.4% Iberian
2.1% Ashkenazi
1.3% Native American

2.
19285
69.7% English
12.4% Scandinavian
6.7% Baltic
4.0% Italian
5.5% Central Asian
1.7% Indigenous Amazonian

3.
19286
43.4% English
26.8% Scandinavian
24.4% Iberian
4.8% Central Asian
0.7% Indigenous Amazonian

4.
19287
54.4% English
24.9% Irish/Scottish/Welsh
2.7% Finnish
17.0% Iberian
1.0% Native American

On two of them, this test did a very good job. On the other two, it did a very bad job. In my opinion, this discrepancy is an indicator of an unreliable autosomal ethnicity estimate.

-Two Siblings have their British Isles ancestry divided acceptably between England and Scotland/Wales, but the other two Siblings have no Scottish/Welsh category at all and receive large Scandinavian percentages instead while not having any ancestry from Scandinavia - Perhaps it confuses Scandinavia with Ireland/Scotland/Wales? Have any Scandinavians received unexpected percentages from the Celtic Nations category? please comment if so

-Two Siblings were correctly assigned Native American percentages, but the other two were strangely assigned Indigenous Amazonian percentages.

MyHeritage's categories indicate it is able to separate Native American DNA between North America (Native American) Central America, and South America (Indigenous Amazonian). Similarly, it implies it is able to separate ancestry in the British Isles between the English and the three Celtic Nations of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The fact that this test was not able to consistently do this indicates either a problem with the reference populations, or a genetic similarity which is too great within these populations to separate them.
Either way it is unable to reliably split these ancestry types into these smaller categories.

MacUalraig
10-15-2017, 09:09 AM
Shame, 'Indigenous Amazonian' sounds pretty cool :-)

karwiso
10-15-2017, 10:19 AM
This is a comparison of the DNA results of my father and his three siblings, and is ultimately a criticism of MyHeritage's ethnicity estimate.

On two of them, this test did a very good job. On the other two, it did a very bad job. In my opinion, this discrepancy is an indicator of an unreliable autosomal DNA test.



Sorry, but you have to treat the test and the interpretation differently.

I have tested with FTDNA, MyHeritage and Ancestry. All tests match each other to 99.99% with this little exception that some SNP are read differently and some non-calls. So the test is very reliable.

There is no vendor that can give you "correct" interpretation of your ethnicity - it is just an estimation. Personally I don't care about those ethnicity estimates - it is a fun thing, but no one should care about them. The only useful information is how much you match each other and if you have some matches that can help you with you genealogical research.

sktibo
10-15-2017, 02:55 PM
Sorry, but you have to treat the test and the interpretation differently.

I have tested with FTDNA, MyHeritage and Ancestry. All tests match each other to 99.99% with this little exception that some SNP are read differently and some non-calls. So the test is very reliable.

There is no vendor that can give you "correct" interpretation of your ethnicity - it is just an estimation. Personally I don't care about those ethnicity estimates - it is a fun thing, but no one should care about them. The only useful information is how much you match each other and if you have some matches that can help you with you genealogical research.

Hi karwiso,

I did state on the opening line that this thread is about the ethnicity estimate, although I see that my usage of the term autosomal DNA test at the bottom of the thread may have been misleading so I've changed that to ethnicity estimate as well to avoid further confusion...

The main point of these tests for the general public as I understand it is the ethnicity estimate - many people who I've met that have tested don't seem to even be aware of DNA matches and what they can do with them. In this thread I'm only discussing the ethnicity estimate feature. We have entire sections on this forum dedicated to the many features of a number of DNA tests in which there is much active discussion in regards to ethnicity estimates, so people care about and discuss them here - this is the place for that.

We have to be critical of ethnicity estimates from autosomal DNA tests despite the fact that they are currently in their infancy. It is clear at this point that some tests and features do much better than the others (23andme's ethnicity estimate & AncestryDNA's genetic communities are two I think are quite reliable / good) and so I think it is important that the customer base expects the best from these companies instead of accepting shoddy estimates.


Shame, 'Indigenous Amazonian' sounds pretty cool :-)

Just a bit too far south for my ancestors to have possibly been! Certainly does have a nice ring to it though

mwauthy
10-17-2017, 02:24 AM
Thanks for the comparisons. When one sibling has almost 25% of one region while another has 0% it really puts into perspective the reliability of these ethnicity estimates.