14 June 2016

DNA Discovery and Taking a Trip around the World

There is a very interesting project happening through Momondo right now. It's called the DNA Journey.

As explained on Bloghizzle's website:
We are currently populating an earth that is unaware of the underlying roots. How deep those roots go and how intertwined they are is a mystery. That is, of course, if you ignore the fact that our DNA tells us exactly that…Momondo gathered a bunch of people and asked them a few questions:
  1. Where are you from? 
  2. What’s your heritage?
  3. Are there any nationalities/people you don’t get along with?
These are questions most of us can answer, and most of us probably did when reading over the questions above.

Aside from the point that we are all humans and should care about DNA, Momondo brought a very special offer to the table. They allowed the participants to travel to every country that pops up in their DNA makeup. An offer that this group of people could not refuse.

Perhaps you're thinking that Momondo is a research group, a think tank, a non-profit?
Nope. Momondo is like a itravel2000.com. It's a website where you can find cheap flights (website).

Does this seems too good to be true? Unfortunately it is. Rahaman (2016) reports that Danish scientists have now weighed in and, according to them, the logic behind the tests doesn’t hold up under closer scrutiny.

Rahaman: Johannes Hansen, a professor at the National History Museum of Denmark, argues that an individual's DNA needs to be compared with a characteristic sample of ‘national’ DNA in order to contextualize it.

Then I thought, well the promotional video could be a useful pedagogical tool to show in class where contestants are recorded as they discover 'the roots' of their DNA. However, Rahaman notes in her article that "several online commentators have drawn attention to how the advert used actors".

This website also has a DNA expert on tap to discuss How DNA opens the world. Unfortunately, Brad Argent is an international commercial development director and spokesperson at Ancestry.com, who has a graduate diploma in counselling, according to Rahaman. He also loses his scholarly-looking glasses between taking the video screen shot and then talking expertly about DNA.

Despite that, you can enter a contest on Momondo's website to have your DNA checked AND if selected, they will fly you to all the places in the world where your DNA supposedly comes from! That, in itself, is enough for me to sign up for hundreds of unwanted Momondo emails at least until the end of the contest (Aug. 16, 2016).