Sunday, October 15, 2017

It's Not a Phase Mom, It's Genetic Testing but Cooler

There is a lot of ways to start this post, but the only way that comes to my mind at this moment is: "really?"  I know everyone loves technology and finding more information about themselves and buying things because "everyone else did," but at some point there is a line and I think we might have found it.  I understand the appeal of getting genetic information at your fingertips with a few month's delay but the fact is, what really is someone going to do with this information?  There has been diseases or genetic alleles found through these testings, but research has shown that these genetic tests don't go as in depth as they should.  There has been reports that results have caused customers to be overly stressed about their health only to find out from a doctor that the alleles that were detected were not dangerous at all.  In addition, most people are unaware of how these tests are being done, let alone how accurate it is.  When these companies started out, they created a database of genes and all the different alleles through their customers and testing groups.  When customers send in their DNA sample, their genes are compared to the people in that database.  While the databases being developed by these companies are continuously growing and advancing, it is still a very low percentage of the entire human population.  Because of this, there is an apparent sampling error in these companies, causing the results to not be as accurate as the companies have made it out to be.  The FDA has even developed the slogan "think before you spit" to warn customers of the accuracy and the benefits they believe the companies will give them.  Right now, the most accurate results someone will be able to get is through doctors who are specialized in genetics.  
Consumer-based genetic testing is what it is: a manipulation of the consumer to buy.  The fact is, most of the information the customers are getting back, they won't even know what to do with.  As a professor from Stockton University has said, we are in a data crisis.  We have developed so many different and new ways to gain more information than we could ever imagine, but we don't even know how to organize or implement it into something meaningful.  All these people buying these tests off of the shelf at their local Target for about $100 a pop probably will not be able to efficiently use the results they're given back.  Sure, a few Tweets and Facebook posts about how they thought they were 100% Italian but then they found out they were 0.00009% French is cool, but then what?

1 comment:

  1. I think the sampling error is a huge part of why genetic testing is not a super strong indicator as to whether a person with that specific gene has a disease or not. There is such a small percentage of people that have their DNA sequenced, but i think more would only benefit everyone in the long run. But what would happen if your DNA sequence fell into the wrong hands and was used against you?