Libby Copeland: There are several ways to review it. We now live in a culture of transparency and authenticity. 60 years ago, if a sperm donor had been treated, it would probably have been kept secret, as it was then culture. If you find out the truth through DNA testing, you really come across a different culture, a different way of thinking about how many children should know about their genetic identity. Which often forces people to look back on their childhood.
But another way to think about it is how DNA testing raises questions for people who didn't even know they were asking. They thought they were going to figure out what the Irish were like. Or, you know, was she really an Italian or a grandmother? But in a minor minority of cases, one finds something deeper and more immediate. And once you know it, you can't go back.
Do you think these companies that offer DNA testing offer people adequate warnings about this type of "DNA surprises"?
I think they could have been much more distinctive. What I have found is that even when people are warned of a statistical probability they learn something unexpected, they often do not think it will happen to them. More and more, I think the whole issue is actually happening. More than 30 million people have been tested; That probably sounds more like 40 million. With these types of numbers, people will be drawn to whether they should choose testing. So you might find surprises that need to be told to you in the form of a DNA test, not through a cousin or brother, or even a relative you didn't know you had.
Your account of this really shows how a relatively small group of people can make decisions that change the course of history, not just for their families, but for everyone. Do you think these seekers feel the weight of this responsibility?
Yes, I think some of them do. What makes it hard to talk about is that people are really willing to do it. They should essentially act as their own bioethicists because they have such little support. There are no official instructions on how, if any MustGet in touch with relatives who are going through DNA testing. Peoples, online communities exist where people can share wisdom. Culturally, culturally, we are only in it together.
Do you see that changing soon?
It's hard to see how you make the rules around these items, or exactly what they look like. It would be good to have at least some good practice for people to rely on. But what I think we need a lot more is research into DNA testing as a sociological phenomenon.
How common is it to surprise people with unexpected DNA? What does it look like? How is it playing? We need more data. And I think that will come. I really think that in a few decades, people will be learning this second about sociology lessons in universities, because this is the moment when things have changed. It is at this very moment that technology attacks the script of how we talk about how families are made.
Before submitting and writing information about this book, you and your family did a DNA test. Have you changed your feelings about this decision after spending so much time in this world?