Data Visualization in DNA Tests

This week, this video on Vox caught my eye. It’s a breakdown of what DNA tests can and cannot tell us about our racial composition. It raised the notion of how DNA tests are commonly displayed in pie charts which gives the impression of ethnicities being these bright-line distinctions from each other. Pie charts make people believe that there are very stark and clear biological differences between races when the reality is that DNA tests are just probabilistic measurements based on a certain sample space. One study even found that DNA ancestry tests reinvigorate age-old beliefs in essential racial differences. Some groups have even turned to genetic tests to try to prove their “racial purity”. After watching, I felt it was surprising to think that the way data is visualized is so powerful and can lead to such impactful consequences.

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