Fake News: Race, DNA, the Daily Mail and Bledington Village

A recent Daily Mail article which claims that an English village has only “42 percent British DNA” is factually incorrect fake news because there is no such thing as a “British race,” and the supposed non-European DNA detected is so low that even the investigating company behind the results calls them “Low Confidence” results.
Writing on his personal blog, historian Arthur Kemp said that the Daily Mail’s article was “part of its relentless attacks on the concept of race and the validity of racial differences.”
The article, he said, “luridly claims that an English village in Gloucestershire is in fact not ‘British’ at all, according to DNA tests—but this claim, is, as usual, based on nothing but ignorance so crushing and obvious that it must be malicious.
The Daily Mail informs its readers that the study was carried out in March by genealogy company Ancestry. The article then helpfully has a video promoting one of that company’s products, confirming that the article is in fact one of the sponsored features for which the Daily Mail is so famous.
Headlined “The English village that's not very English at all!,” the article says that “residents in a Cotswolds community have DNA from 18 different parts of the world despite 95% saying their heritage is white British.”
It then goes on to claim that the residents “have DNA from 18 different places” and that the “average villager's DNA is just 42% British” even though “the last census lists the community as 95 per cent white British.”
The village is, therefore, the article claims, “actually a hotbed of diversity”—and this theme is commonly maintained throughout the article to reinforce the claim, of course, that white British people—and by implication, Europeans general—are all actually racially-mixed and there is no such thing as a “pure” race.
The major claims made with regard to the villagers are as follows:
“Their DNA is from all over the country, with less than half of it coming from Great Britain.”
“The DNA breakdown of the average Bledington resident was: Great Britain (Anglo Saxon) 42.54%; Europe West (The region covered today by France and Germany) 20.61%; Ireland/Scotland/Wales 17.03%; Scandinavia 10.06%; Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal) 2.80%; Italy/Greece 1.79%; Europe East 1.66%; European Jewish 1.58%;  Finland/Northwest 1.03%; Caucasus 0.46%; West Asia 0.24%; Asia South 0.11%; Asia Central 0.03%; Africa North 0.03%; Native American 0.01%; Asia East 0.01%; Middle East 0.01%; Melanesia 0.01%.”
It is from these latter statistics that the claim is then manufactured that the villagers “have DNA from all over the world,” and, therefore, they are “not white British” as they think they are.
All of this is, of course, pure nonsense.
Firstly, there is no such thing as “British DNA” in the same way that there is no such thing as a “British race.” To even claim such a thing, is an indication of crushing, dreadful, ignorance.
In this regard, I am reminded of what T. Lothrop Stoddard, the famous American racial scientist wrote in his book, Racial Realities in Europe, namely that “nationality is what people think they are, race is what they really are.”
There is no “British” race, “French” race, “German” race, or, even for that matter, “Scandinavian” race.
There are, as the science of genetics has confirmed, various races as defined by phenotype and genotype—phenotype by their physical appearance, and genotype by the allele frequency found in their genetic makeup.
Because all humans share the same basic genes, genetic diversity comes about not in the genes per se, but in the frequency, or repetition, of certain alleles, which, the official definition says, are “any of several forms of a gene, usually arising through mutation, that are responsible for hereditary variation.”
Race can be determined by studying these alleles, as all honest geneticists know.
In this way, race is not defined by nationality, but by genetic commonality. It is therefore ridiculous to say that there is a “British race.” There is only a British part of a common European genetic base, which certainly shares its base with the rest of the European gene pool—as do all other European “nations.”
To thus claim that the villagers of Bledington have “mixed ancestry” because their DNA is overwhelmingly European, is to deliberately—and most likely, maliciously, distort the reality of DNA and race.
However, the worst part of the Daily Mail article comes with the non-European ancestry claimed for the villagers of Bledington, and that paper’s trumpeting of this as “evidence” of their “diversity.”
These tiny amounts of non-European DNA (“Caucasus 0.46%; West Asia 0.24%; Asia South 0.11%; Asia Central 0.03%; Africa North 0.03%; Native American 0.01%; Asia East 0.01%; Middle East 0.01%; Melanesia 0.01%”) are what is known in geneticist circles as “Trace DNA”—and are never used to claim ethnicity because they are so small as to be classed as “unreliable.”
The reason for this classification is because of the nature of the common gene pool of humans, which means that almost everyone has some genes in common.
Ancestry—the company which sponsored the Daily Mail article—coyly calls these Trace DNA elements “Low Confidence Regions” for the very reason that the name implies.
In a DNA estimate, low confidence regions are areas for which there's a small amount of DNA evidence found in a sample. All ethnicities with predicted percentages of less than 4.5% appear as low confidence regions.To calculate your ethnicity, we run 40 separate tests on randomly selected portions of your DNA. The bottom number in a range is the smallest amount of an ethnicity that appeared during the 40 analyses, and the top number in a range is the largest amount of an ethnicity that appeared.When an ethnicity has a range that includes zero (meaning that in at least one of the 40 tests, that ethnicity didn’t appear) and doesn’t exceed 15%, or when the predicted percentage is less than 4.5%, the ethnicity is included in an estimate as a low confidence region.The larger the amount of an ethnicity that appears in a test, the more confidence we’re able to attribute to our estimate of that ethnicity. Because low confidence regions are regions for which smaller amounts of evidence appears, our confidence in the percentage of DNA that comes from a low confidence region is necessarily low.
“To put this into even plainer English: Ancestry’s DNA tests specifically say that any ‘ethnicity’ test they perform which produces a result of less than 4.5 percent (and as much as 15 percent) is a ‘low confidence’ result—which means that a result of that size cannot be taken as accurate.
“Given that this fact is publicly available—and common knowledge among all people who have any knowledge on the topic—it becomes clear that the latest Daily Mail article is either crushingly ignorant, or deliberately misleading.
“I think I know which of the two it is.”
He ended his blog post by adding that some of the material in his post was drawn from his forthcoming book ‘Race and Racial Differences: A Handbook for the 21st Century.’