But when Inside Edition had a set of triplets send their spit in to Ancestry.com and 23andMe, they got wildly different results from both services. Neither gave each triplet the same ancestry results -- which, considering they all came from the same womb, is pretty weird.
"Tests can be a crapshoot. For DNA tests, they use genetic markers, which are little variations in the DNA one or several groups may have, but others do not. The more markers there are, the more accurate the test will be."
Some companies may use 12, 37, or 67, while others claim to use more than 700,000 different markers. Any of those numbers can sound impressive with the right marketing spin behind them, but the simple fact of the matter is that nobody's method is perfect. "The best we can do is give a certain range based on those markers (or show who they are most similar to), and sometimes we'll move up a percentage point of an ethnic group if it doesn't add up to 100 percent."
Inside Edition found differences of over 10 percent between the triplets they tested. That is not a small gap. If you were off by 10 percent on a DNA test, you could technically be a mouse. Maybe it's unreasonable to expect perfect accuracy from saliva you mailed to a lab. But a lot of people do anyway, and Morgan winds up dealing with their complaints.
"At least once a week, we'll get a call from somebody who took two or three other tests and then ours, and complains about how different they are. Usually it's 5-20 percent off, but we got an email from a guy showing how in one test he was 7 percent Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, then on another he was 33 percent, and then on ours 45 percent, and he wanted to know what was wrong with everyone. We wrote to him that each test is different because of the number and types of genetic markers used, which can skew data, but he wrote back and said that we were con men."
Genetics experts from the University of Texas and the University of North Carolina have gone so far as to say that these companies are preying on people, because they don't truly have the information they need to pinpoint your origins on a map, and that it's not possible to trace unique ancestry that way. As they put it, "That's the beauty of this scam. The companies aren't scamming you. They're not giving you fraudulent information. They are giving you data, real data, and allowing you to scam yourself."