Saturday, August 20, 2022

Lazy Days of August


Perhaps those of you south of the equator may not relate to this feeling right now, but after a solid week of hundred-degree-plus days, I'm feeling rather melted. Perhaps lazy is the word for it, but strangely, I've had no gumption to jump into my usual daily family history research. Instead, I decided to do some mindless wandering on the website.

The buzz among the genies I follow on Twitter has been about the latest ethnicity updates at Ancestry DNA. While I am generally only mildly curious about those ethnicity readouts, in my heat-defeated state of mind, I decided to amble over and take a lazy look.

The word out on Twitter had been that, yes, Ancestry has just released another update, but that there was something wonky about the new labels. Debbie Kennett gave an example of some of the "strange names" she had seen on her update, and retweeted another customer's screen shot of the same. Regions named "Class Conflict and the Social Gospel" and "Nativism and Regulation" made their appearance in the ethnicity readout, along with "Far Western Territory" and "Early Connecticut & New York Settlers."

True, had recently added several other reference populations, but I don't think they were supposed to include anything like those names being reported by my fellow Ancestry customers over in England. Though I don't personally put much stock in ethnicity estimates, perhaps the heat got to me; I decided to take a look for myself.

To my disappointment, my own most recent DNA update at was dated June of this year. There were no fun glitches with labels like "Town and Country" in my readout—only the boring eastern European and northwest Europe percentages from past (evidently more tame) versions.

Just to make sure, I also checked my husband's test. Same result: updated last June. Nothing new to help me ignore this heat wave.

Perhaps, though, all this uproar about the funny labels woven into the latest release should just be put back in a proper perspective. After all, as genealogy blogger Jane Hough commented in her recent post asking, "How English am I?": "The crucial thing about ethnicity estimates is while their accuracy is improving over time, they are still only estimates."

And that pretty much boils it down to the crux of the matter.

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