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Who’s Your Daddy? A panel on genealogy

Posted by QED on 14 September 2022, 09:23
Computer generated representation of DNA

At home DNA testing and associated services have proven to be hugely popular, and the marketplace for genealogy products and services is set to grow beyond £7 billion by 2028.

The companies behind them are starting to branch out, making claims around health conditions that can be diagnosed, dietary requirements that can be finessed, prescriptions that can be targeted, and long lost relatives that can be identified. But how accurate are these tests, what are the risks involved with them, and how does one avoid being inadvertently arrested for a historical murder?

Chairing our genealogy panel at QED will be Andy Wilson, who has been on his own four year journey to identify his previously unidentified father. During this process Andy has irritated quite a few people, and found many who didn’t want to talk with him or even acknowledge his existence... including his actual father. Was he unethical in approaching these hitherto strangers? And did he rely too heavily on the DNA claims made by the companies?

Andy will explore the science, ethics and human impact of at home DNA testing, along with the rest of his panel:

  • Dr Penny Walters, a university lecturer for the last 35 years who has undertaken extensive genealogy research owing to her own adoptive status. Her book, Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy explores some of the questions which we’ll be discussing in the panel.
  • Dr Adam Rutherford is a geneticist, author and broadcaster. This year he became President of Humanists UK and is a former QED speaker. He has written extensively on the topic of genes and genomics.
  • Jonathan Jarry is a Canadian science communicator working for McGill University. He has a Master’s Degree in molecular biology and co-hosts the award winning Body of Evidence podcast with Dr Christopher Labos.

There are still further panels to announce, and much more besides, so pick up your QED ticket today!