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Thread: ISOGG STR Bias? [merged threads]

  1. #1

    ISOGG STR Bias? [merged threads]

    If you look at the ISOGG Wiki page for Y DNA tests

    http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Y_chromosome_DNA_test

    90% of it talks about STR testing. Admittedly, 10 years ago SNP testing was in its infancy but after the efforts of projects like WTY and 1000 Genomes projects and with recent beginnings of Full Y-Genome testing, SNP testing is poised to step out of the shadows and arguably overtake STR tests in usefulness.

    And yet, ISOGG, the organization which most of us have come to rely on to keep track of the Y SNP tree, seems to be stuck in the dark ages and, judging by its wiki pages, is steering people to the STR testing of FTDNA rather than the SNP tests of National Geographic & BritainsDNA.

    I thought ISOGG was supposed to be company neutral. Is this correct or are they tied to one company in reality? Are their wiki administrators all SNP-hating surname project administrators by any chance? If ISOGG wanted to encourage people to take the SNP tests that are the very essence of their SNP trees, you would have thought they would make the effort and keep their own wiki pages accurate and uptodate with what is happening in the SNP world!

    In addition some of the links that have been added to the ISOGG wiki are selling products of the ISOGG wiki administrators. Got a car? Then sell it on the ISOGG wiki! Integrity? Pah!

    ISOGG need to pull up their socks or they run the risk of turning into a vehicle used by the unethical to sell their wares..

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    I see you have a UK IP address. You wouldn't happen to be a shill for BritainsDNA, would you?
     

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    For most genetic researchers, they start with YSTRs looking for matches and getting assigned to genetic clusters. I agree that YSNP testing is making a strong move in becoming a critical test but you still need YSTRs for the last 100 to 1,000 years. ISOGG spends the bulk of their time assisting with YSNP research - but WIKIs are usually for those starting out. ISOGG's haplotree has become the industry standard and is used by anyone doing any serious YSNP research - that is true leadership. If you do not like what is going on, join and volunteer your time vs. complaining about other people who spend a lot of time on your behalf.

    There is a lot of bias for FTDNA testing as they are clearly the leader in the industry. The true long term values in genetic testing are atDNA for recent connections (works up to 1800 and sometimes 1750) and YDNA testing (both YSTR and YSNP) for earlier time frames. Here many various reasons why FTDNA is the leader:

    1) Their primary purpose is genetics for genealogists. 23andme's primary goal is DTC medical testing and Ancestry is selling their online genealogical databases.
    2) Largest database by far for YDNA - specially YSNPs - now only major company offering YSTR tests - this shows the lack of commitment of the other companies to genetic genealogical research.
    3) Works with Nat Geo that has by far the best static test for YSNPs - others just add FTDNA discovered & 1K genomes SNPs to their static tests when published.
    4) Only company - other than the new Full Genomes - that offers "Walk the Y" tests for new YSNP discovery. You will never see the other companies doing this as there is no profit in it.
    5) Only company that has individual YSNPs tests so we known which ones need to be added to the static SNPs tests vs. more uninteresting duplicate/unstable YSNPs.
    6) By far the strongest volunteer community for projects and their staff works with volunteers.
    7) Only company that has rational long term storage of DNA - in case of death or incapacity.
    8) Unlike other companies (your complaint probably), they always publish their SNP discoveries vs. keeping discoveries proprietary for sales reasons.

    It will be interesting to see how FTDNA reacts and cooperates with Full Genomes. FTDNA walked away from the very high testing with their 454 scanner due to the huge labor costs of analyzing each new test. Hopefully, it will be a cooperative relationship where FTDNA will quickly offer new YSNPs being discovered so they can be tracked in their database. Also, with no competition for YSTR testing, their profits will come from this market which will slow down cost reductions due to no competition.

    It is not just ISOGG that is biased - but most of the volunteer community. I wish there were other serious players other the atDNA crowd (which is viable for more recent research). Maybe Full Genomes will mature for the high end of testing and provide IT support at or better than the FTDNA level. Who do you suggest that we pay more attention to vs. broad disparagement of FTDNA ? The other companies are atDNA companies - who else is there that has any size database or serious product lines ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertoCavarelli View Post
    And yet, ISOGG, the organization which most of us have come to rely on to keep track of the Y SNP tree, seems to be stuck in the dark ages and, judging by its wiki pages, is steering people to the STR testing of FTDNA rather than the SNP tests of National Geographic & BritainsDNA.
    How-to books have to be general enough for everyone--they cannot be tailored to the few favored ethnic groups that get all of the SNP attention. Let us recall that the 1000 Genomes project, on which most recent SNP work is based, never recognized the existence of humans between the Netherlands and China, nor did it ever recognize the existence of the Balkans or the Middle East. Consequently, some haplogroups received only limited attention, and others absolutely none at all.

    In contrast, everyone can make use of STRs. They are delightfully universal (well, almost).

    In regard to particular vendors, do keep in mind that until fairly recently, some vendors refused to define their results in an open, industry-standard way--thereby cutting themselves out of the standards process entirely. Thank goodness, that customer-surly practice appears to have died.

    I agree with the previous poster that FTDNA's real competition may soon be FullGenomes, which has reduced its price to $1250. But of course, FullGenomes has not produced any commercial results yet.
    Last edited by lgmayka; 08-27-2013 at 08:45 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertoCavarelli View Post
    ... And yet, ISOGG, the organization which most of us have come to rely on to keep track of the Y SNP tree, seems to be stuck in the dark ages and, judging by its wiki pages, is steering people to the STR testing of FTDNA rather than the SNP tests of National Geographic & BritainsDNA.
    ...
    You may not be aware, but the National Genographic Project outsources their Geno2 testing to FTDNA so I wouldn't really call them competitors.

    That being said, I think FTDNA will have to consider the kind of stuff that FullGenomes is doing, particularly since FTDNA's WTY is not really being processed right now. My guess is that FTDNA and BritainsDNA will both have to respond. Still the expenses involved in the full genome technologies probably will always mandate some kind of mid to low priced combination packages like Geno2 or Chromo2. I don't see those going away.... of course, what do I know?

    As far as ISOGG is concerned, they seem to be an admirable bunch of volunteers doing the best they can because of their passion for genetic genealogy. May God bless them!
    Last edited by TigerMW; 09-30-2013 at 05:14 PM.

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  9. #6

    The Failure of ISOGG and the SNP Testing Community to Sway the DNA-sceptics

    The use of DNA testing to discover more about our past is not accepted by many. People's attitudes can be split into the following categories -

    1. Complete Rejection due to Religious Beliefs
    2. Sceptical - Have never seen any proof that SNP testing yields any knowledge of our past and have read in the papers/internet that it is all a load of rubbish
    3. Believer - Has already taken an SNP test or would like to but can't afford it


    The first group are not likely to be swayed, and the last need none, but reducing test costs would obviously increase the numbers of people testing.

    But what is being done to educate sceptical people of the discoveries being made in SNP? Every few years a book is written by someone like Barry Cunliffe, but they are normally out of date as soon as they are released and, in the great scheme of things, are not read by that many people.

    Is anything else being done by anyone to explain to people what is being found in the SNP world? For example, is there a website somewhere summarising the SNP findings of different Haplogroups and show-casing the best examples which have interesting geo-historical implications?

    As far as I can see there is none, each Haplogroup is busy beavering away with their own results and not talking to anyone else and not helping recruiting newbies.

    As far as ISOGG goes, it has become the main keeper of the SNP trees, and yet it does nothing to counter the "DNA is rubbish" school of thought. Where was ISOGG when the BBC broadcast its first ever 60 minute TV program on personal DNA Testing and the usual knocking took place by some journalists who stated that it was impossible to deduce ancient origins from modern DNA? If ISOGG wanted to counter the "DNA is Rubbish" camp they needed to release info explaining the subject of the documentary in much greater detail so that people could understand the over-simplifications needed in such a short program. If anything the little they have produced reinforces the "DNA is Rubbish" idea which is emotionally dumb to say the least! The phrase "Shooting yourself in the foot" comes to mind...

    Perhaps ISOGG is little more than a social club these days, with its more materialistic members just using its website to market and sell their own mechandise??

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    Why dump on ISOGG the problems of society?

    That so many people living in 2014 are willingly ignorant (your group 1) or too uninterested or too lazy to do their own research (probably many in your group 2) is a function of how we humans have constructed our culture. This is hardly ISOGG's fault or responsibility, and definitely beyond their scope to fix.

  11. #8
    I have never heard of religious beliefs playing a big role in this particular issue, and I think you are begging the question by simply assuming that all sceptics of SNP testing are wrong. Unfortunately, a lot of SNP testing which has been sold was not very useful for any particular purpose, and therefore scepticism is not wrong, especially when the best tests are both expensive and difficult to use. This should not be simply equated with saying all SNP testing is rubbish though. Many people are taking the attitude that they expect the situation to develop.

    The other big concern I have seen is about privacy issues. This has for example affected 23andMe, and it affects anyone trying to study (or look for) any large related family or ethnic group. This is still even an issue for Y STR testing in surname projects.

    Regards
    Andrew

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    I do have to agree with both sides. ISOGG is just a young organization of volunteers that has no dues for organized projects. It is really unfair to dump on any volunteer organization. If you perceive this organization to be too weak, it is due to lack of volunteers to do more (quick complaining and join ISOGG - moving it forward). Or join ISOGG and try to collect funds so many improvements can be made. They are doing the leading edge job for YDNA haplotree and national genetic conferences are now starting for education purposes. Since these groups are primarily funded by genealogists, I spread the blame to the National Genealogical Society which has turned GENTECH into another genealogy conference and left its roots of technologies for genealogists.

    I used to volunteer for many major genealogical projects organizing many people to address a particular need - but no longer do this due to all the nay-sayers out there attempting to control how you conduct your project but unwilling to assist with the heavy lifting. Before you have the right to complain, you have to contribute as a volunteer in the area. What have you done to fix this problem - just complain that others fix it according to your viewpoint. I do have a volunteer web site for R-L21 research (100s of pages, dozens of spreadsheets), my Casey surname project and my L21 YSNP tool:

    http://www.rcasey.net/DNA/Home.html

    Of course, you will immediately complain that it is not as up to date as it could be or not as comprehensive - so why don't you clone this web site for your particular haplogroup or surname. It probably takes too much of your time and you expect others to volunteer to assist you and your agenda.

    There are a few religious people that are against this testing as well as some privacy type advocates as well (this is more important). With YDNA, we are now getting close to identifying the vast majority of male individuals - both dead and alive for the 1,000 years (women are lucky in this respect for privacy - but have to conduct research by male proxy for genealogical research) . Exciting for genealogists but a little scary for privacy related issues. But these are a very small minority and usually are people with their own religious or other agendas. The number of skeptical people is and remains a big issue - but some serious recent progress and education is slowly turning the large ship which takes time. Go pressure NGS to offer courses in genetic analysis to match the scale of its strategic importance for genealogists. There are believers and leaders. We need more leaders but there is a lot to do and some areas take a lot of technical skills (anyone want to help me write some complex MySQL queries could really help advance research faster). With only two posts, you are really probably not a believer or leader.
    Last edited by RobertCasey; 01-30-2014 at 05:03 PM.

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