Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Philosophy Wire: Genetics – Horoscopes 1-1

aquarius_manuscript_detailPhilosophy Wire by Spiros Kakos [2013-03-12]:

There are now many companies which offer to tell you about your ancestors from a DNA test. You send off a sample of your DNA and $150–300 and in return you receive a report. The results of these tests may find a connection with a well-known historical figure. They might tell you whether you are descended from groups such as Vikings or Zulus, where your ancient relatives came from or when they migrated. Adverts for these tests give the impression that your results are unique and that the tests will tell you about your specific personal history. But the very same history that you receive could equally be given to thousands of other people. Conversely, the results from your DNA tests could be matched with all sorts of different stories to the one you are given.

It is well known that horoscopes use vague statements which recipients think are more tailored than they really are (referred to as the ‘Forer effect’). Genetic ancestry tests do a similar thing, and many exaggerate far beyond the available evidence about human origins. You cannot look at DNA and read it like a book or a map of a journey. For the most part these tests cannot tell you the things they claim to – they are little more than genetic astrology. [source: Sense Science]

Now what is the case?

Are the horoscopes as scientific as genetic analysis? Or is genetic analysis as fake as horoscopes?


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