The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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A DNA scan to go with your new plasma TV

I just finished Margaret Atwood’s bio-dystopian “The Year of the Flood”—the first of her novels I’ve read—and wow, I can’t believe this is real and not something from the book. Rex says:

The Black Friday sale that I recommend: 23andMe. Complete ancestry and health analysis for $300 if you order three or more. I’m getting it!

I think we’re gonna need a special day for bio-deals in the 21st century. Get all your electronics on Friday; get your DNA upgrades on, what? Blue Monday?


All I can think of is shrink wrapped brain “upgrades” leading us deeper into becoming pre-programmed machines; free will replaced by obedience to our techcratic overlords operating from the Outer Church…. I think I have been reading too much of Grant Morrison’s The Invisible. 🙂

This is certainly a better bargain at $300 than $999, but I’d think hard before spending even that.

I did this, when it came as a free goodie in my TED bag one year. It’s intriguing, no doubt, but the truth is that I learned very little of interest and essentially nothing of value.

Explaining it to a skeptical friend, my wife said “But you learn cool things, like that I have a 75% chance of having blue eyes.”

He looked at her for a moment. “I can tell you for a lot less money that you have a 100% chance of blue eyes,” he replied.

I did learn that I have the gene for “fast caffeine metabolism,” which is more confirmation than revelation, but still mildly reassuring. (I’ve read — somewhere — that this means I am less likely to suffer heart ailments as a result of my significant coffee intake.)

There are actually a lot of interesting tools on the 23 and me website:

Haplo group family trees, the ability to compare DNA with others (for example, my brother and I are 86.43% similar overall, but 92.02% similar in genes determining our Ciracadian rhythms), genetic disease reports, etc.

The site is continually adding more information, but, as Howard pointed out, you won’t necessarily gain any indispensable knowledge (unless you have concern about a specific genetic disease).

That said, it’s cool to be contributing one’s DNA to ongoing research, and to occasionally get little updates (like I just found out I’m at decreased risk for Atrial fibrillation. Sweet!).

ilana says…


my brother and I are 86.43% similar over all

…which, if I recall correctly, makes you 11.57% less genetically similar to your brother than you are to a chimp (and just 51.43% more similar than you are to a daffodil).
I can only assume your mother was abducted by aliens at some point.

(unless of course the notion of “genetic similarity” has become weirdly ambiguous in pop-sci usage).

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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