Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Little, tiny, microscopic data

Yesterday, I took the opportunity to delve a little deeper into my 23andMe report.

If you haven't done this test that examines your chromosomal contents. I suggest you do. It's a lot more enlightening than sitting down with an overpaid therapist who pretends to take notes and respond to every question with...

"And how does that make you feel?"

It made me feel like I was wasting my money and that Siri or Alexa could be more helpful.

Perhaps the most fascinating component of the 23andMe report is the section on my alleged DNA relatives. These are other people who have voluntarily spit into the plastic vial, in order to satiate a similar curiosity about their ancestry.

Turns out there are close to 1500 people in the US alone, who share some of the same ATCG combinations floating around in my body. Meaning we're related. Cousins. Or cousins of cousins. Or even cousins of cousins of cousins. That's so many mental images I don't want to think about.

I've reached out to a few of these people. And not surprisingly, none of them want to have anything to do with me. If I were in their shoes, and genetically-speaking I am, I wouldn't want anything to do with me either.

But here's where the whole thing gets marginally interesting. The brainiacs at 23andMe have taken all this scientific big data and extracted some useful/not useful insights into how it translates into behavior.

Take a look...

I've never claimed to be the brightest bulb in the package. Maybe the whiniest, but certainly not the brightest. But these charts have left me a little confused.

If for instance it says my relatives are 72% less likely to have sweaty palms, does the converse hold true? Meaning we're 28% more likely not to have sweaty palms?

I'm a little befuddled by the presentation. I do know that if we've ever met in public and shaken hands, there's a 99% chance you're gonna make a beeline for the bathroom and the CostCo-sized Purell.

It's not that I'm stricken with anxiety -- I'm 44 years old and frankly don't give a shit anymore -- but my hands and feet are like Niagra Falls.

I also have to question the accuracy of their findings. I like caffeinated soda, though I'm making a huge effort to cut back. I haven't skydived, but my brother and my daughter have. And despite my barrel-chested shape and excessive girth, I have run three marathons. As well as a number of Triathlons.

So what's the point of all this? It all comes down to accounting.

You see the 23andme report costs me $99. And now, since I've written about it on this blog. And this blog is nothing more than a vocational tool of self promotion. So, by the transitive law of twisted tax deductions, I can write the whole DNA exploration experience off on my 2017 tax returns.


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