Conclusions About Ancient Populations May be Drastically Wrong Due to Dodgy Method

Geneticist contemplating his DNA dataset. Source: Grispb / Adobe Stock

Hundreds of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in genetics employ a method called Principal Component Analysis. But new research shows this method is highly biased. This means that multitudes of major studies regarding ancient populations may be drastically wrong!

The Irrisistable Draw of PCA

It’s hard to make new friends, especially once you are past your thirties. As Seinfeld so eloquently put it: Whatever the group is that you’ve got now, that’s who you’re going with. You’re not interviewing, you’re not looking at any new people, you’re not interested in seeing any applications. For DNA scientists, and scientists as a whole, the situation is even worse. The long hours and isolation required to do our research have determinetal effects on our social lives. Of course, there are always exceptions. Sometimes you get to know someone who is always there to support you, someone who asks for little and gives much. Someone you can always show up to a party with and be proud of. Someone that your friends and collaborators will admire because it makes you look smart and cool with deep understanding of the science involved. Who doesn’t want a friend like that? Replace “someone” with “something” and you will understand what Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is to scientists, specifically, to population geneticists.

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Source: Ancient Origins

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