23andme and further ancestry analysis Data Sheet


Gold Member
I have done genetic testing with 23andme. It cost $100 and I think it was very much worth it. This Data Sheet will be about understanding your results and how to delve deeper into them if you like.

One thing to understand is that, looking at your DNA and saying "this is clearly a Scottish segment" or "this is clearly an Hmong segment" is guesswork. Very educated guesswork, but guesswork all the same.

A company, or software, looks at certain SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) in your DNA, and compares them to a reference set of the DNA of other people. If yours and someone else's are identical, it declares that you must have the same ancestry. So they have samples of pure-blooded Han Chinese, pure-blooded Yoruba, pure-blooded Norweigens, etc. and compare the bits of your DNA to theirs and see if yours looks like theirs.

But not every organization, 23andme included, has all groups. So let's imagine a simple example. Say I only have references from English people, Japanese people, and Nigerian people.

Say I analyze a Mexican person who is half Spanish, and half Native American.

His results would come out saying that he is half English and half Japanese. Because the Spanish are closest to the English of my three reference groups, and Native Americans are closest to the Japanese of my three reference groups. That does not mean he's English or Japanese, just that this is the best guess my method can come up with.

So 23andme may tell you you have ancestry from a specific country, and another method may not tell you that. It all depends on what groups they are comparing you to. You can download software or use web services that have different ancestry groups to get a general picture. It seems like the most sensible thing to do is get several opinions and understand they're all well-educated guesses.

For instance, I have a small amount of African ancestry. Different methods have told me that it's between 2 and 6 percent of my ancestry. It depends on which African groups I'm compared to, and which segments of my DNA they're looking at. Generally results seem to be around 3-4% but some results have been higher or lower. So I guess I'm basically 1/32nd African.

More on this later...

Step 1


You buy the kit, spit in it, mail it off, and in about a month you have your results.

They will tell you your ancestry in broad terms, but you may be left wanting more. You download your "raw data" which is a huge text file, and with that... oh the places you'll go.

Getting more results the easy way
If you want someone else to do the work for you and talk you through it, you can email this fine gentleman: Dr. McDonald, a Ph.D from the University of Utah, for reasons unbeknownst to me, will accept emails from random strangers asking for help interpreting their 23andme raw data. You download your raw data from 23andme, email it to him, and he sends you a few charts helping you understand your results. He even talked with me a bit helping me understand further.

[email protected]

He sends you 3 things.

One is "chromosome painting" where is labels each chromosome's ancestry visually. It looks like this:

You see this individual is mostly mid-eastern, with significant bits of African and European ancestry as well. Again, this is a speculation based on comparing his DNA to a select few groups. Different analyses may give different results.

Getting more results the DIY way with GEDMatch

GEDmatch is a free website where you create an account upload your data and get access to a range of tools online. Go here and register. http://v2.gedmatch.com/login1.php

This lets you analyze your DNA in reference to a bunch of different sets of populations. You can split up populations in a ton of different ways. Are all Europeans the same? Hell no. So how do you split them up? You could just say "North" and "south" or you could get a bit more specific. Here is an analysis of my DNA using only 3 reference populations:

Here's an analysis using the Dodecad V3 calculator:


So here's how I interpret this. Mediterranean for me is "southern europe" where I have a lot of ancestry. "West Asian" essentially means Middle East, which I take as a proxy for Jewish ancestry.

Here's an analysis of my DNA using the Eurogenes 13 population calculator:


So I am basically of European descent, with some Sub-Saharan and Northeast African descent. I am not sure what "red sea" really means. With this you would need to read into the actual population set and find more info to fully understand.

Here's an analysis showing which ancestral groups you come from. This one is a trip:

You see there is no real "simple answer" here. If you want a simple answer, just take what 23andme says and accept it as a "more or less" answer.

How to understand this

There are two websites I have read to help understand all of this.


Search within each of those sites for groups that interest you, maybe related to your own ancestry, and you will find good results that can help you start understanding this.

I hope this helps some people figure out their ancestry and have fun.
Ever since the FDA put the kibosh on 23andme giving out health-related information, people have had to do their own digging on the raw data from 23andme.

Two tools that have proven immensely valuable for this:
SNPedia - To look up SNPs associated with particular conditions and phenotypes.
SNPTips - To load your raw data into your browser so that you can immediately see your genotype for a particular SNP when that SNP is mentioned on a website.

23andme dropping the ball on the FDA is another issue. I'm a libertarian and think the FDA is too restrictive but I also worked in pharma before and know how the FDA operates. Among regulators, the FDA is actually pretty reasonable. What 23andme did was just fucking idiotic and it's the type of shit you get from a female CEO.


Gold Member
I got the idea to do testing with 23andme from the Danger & Play podcast. but you guys lately have convinced me to do it.


Gold Member
I would be interested of doing this aswell.
Who knows what kind of surprises there will be.

Do they accept samples from abroad?

Brian Shima

Just ordered from 23andme. I had the same question as Sp5 about other sites to get tested but I assume Sonsowey looked into that since he's so knowledgable about this


Gold Member
^ Cool man.

I remember the wait was longer than I expected after I sent it off.

They even updated my profile with some results but then made me wait for others, which I didn't quite get.

When you're done let's run it through GEDmatch and get some fun results.

What do you think man, half and half?


Gold Member
Your kit has a code that you use when you create an account to link your email to your kit. Then when its analyzed they send you an email telling you results are ready.

Brian Shima

Oh cool man :) I laughed when I read on the site that some family might not want to hear the results. I can imagine people get upset because they have something in them


Gold Member
^Some people obviously find out about infidelities this way. Or find out they are adopted. I had one of my parents do it. I am fifty percent related to them, thankfully!

Brian Shima

I THINK I got my results back from 23 but the site is confusing and I never received a confirmation e mail about my results! The last e mail stated that the lab received my spit and was analyzing. False alarm it says everything will be ready in two weeks.

Sonsowey is it necessary to answer all those random questions in your profile?
This seems interesting. I'm going to give it a shot. I want to know how much European blood I have in me since Latinos are a mixture of indigenous people and Spanish people.

Dr. Howard

Gold Member
Sp5 said:
Has anybody tried any of other service than 23andme, like the FamilyTree, Ancestry.com, National Geographic or anything else?

Ancestry.com isn't bad. I haven't used them but I know that their research staff shows up to historic society meetings and conventions that specialize in genealogy like quakers. So they aren't just throwing up things at random.


So I used 23andme, uploaded my data to GEDmatch...So now what? All the links and references on GEDmatch are confusing as fuck. I just want to know if I'm susceptible to certain diseases or something or maybe predisposed to be good at certain sports. Anyone know how to find that information out?


Gold Member

Latinos are much more than Spanish+Indigenous. Most countries in Latin America have histories of other European groups coming there, as well as Africans of course, and Middle Easterners as well.

Are you Mexican-American?


No you do not need to answer those questions. They are research questions that help 23andme try to identify new genes correlated with particular traits.


23andme has a whole section about health, that should provide most people with more than enough information to go over. Or did they get rid of it?

GEDMatch, as I have used it, is for people interested in their ancestry moreso than their health. There are different resources out there which can help you analyze your genome in terms of health, disease risk, etc. However, I have no real experience with any of them. You should read up on that on your own and come back with a data sheet for others interested in that.

I must warn you though, you may be thinking you are going to get more info than you realistically will.

There is no way looking at your DNA can tell you "You will be good at Soccer/Wrestling/Basketball".

Any complicated human trait like athletic ability, intelligence, etc. will be highly polygenic. Meaning that there are many many genes with small effects that control your athleticism. Individual genes will tell you almost nothing about yourself in terms of athleticism or health. At this point, the best predictor of health outcomes is simply looking at your extended family. Are there diseases that are common among your family? Grandpa and Dad both have heart conditions? Then watch out for that.

You can do tests which show you if you have genes associated with higher risks for nearly any condition out there. I found out that I have higher risks for certain cancers, and lower risks for certain mental diseases, but this is all based on finding one gene that is generally correlated with the disease. Seeing you have an "elevated risk" for X does not mean you will necessarily get it.

For instance, I am skinny, always have been, and so is my whole family. And I found out I have a gene correlated with the gaining weight easily. I am also over 6 feet tall, but have a gene correlated with being several inches shorter than average. I have a gene that is correlated with sprinting ability, but in athletics in school compared to whole classes of kids, I was often one of the slower ones.

Just one gene doesn't tell you much unless it's the rare case of Tay-Sachs or some rare destructive disease like that. 23andme will give you a list of all these awful diseases that are determined by only one gene. Thankfully I had none of them.