Communities

White Supremacists Aren't Thrilled With DNA Testing Results

by Kate Ryan

August 22, 2017
Image via Elvert Barnes/Flickr.

When white supremacist Craig Cobb took a DNA test on “The Trisha Goddard Show” in 2013 and found out he was 14% sub-Saharan African, he refused to accept the results, preferring instead to call the facts “statistical noise.” Cobb is not uncommon in his reaction to DNA evidence. Like Cobb, who tried to make one town in North Dakota exclusively white, other white supremacists have tested their DNA in an attempt to prove purely European roots, only to be sorely disappointed.

In light of the dual rise of white supremacy and accessible genetic testing, sociologists Aaron Panofsky and Joan Donovan decided to study the connection between the two. They sifted through millions of forum posts on the neo-Nazi website Stormfront, where users post their genetic profile and discuss the results. Earlier this August, Panofsky and Donovan shared their conclusions with fellow sociologists at a conference in Montreal. To the surprise of many, they found that when challenged with non-white backgrounds, white supremacists “overwhelmingly” challenge the results and manipulate their ancestral stories instead of accepting genetic evidence. 

Overall, just a third of the forum participants writing about genetic tests were happy with their results. The rest, however, weren’t too jazzed with what they found. But instead of banning them from the online group, other members encouraged them to challenge their results or dismiss them entirely. While some argued it only matters if you’re committed to their racist cause, others pegged the genetic tests as Jewish conspiracies, STAT News reports. They also discovered the truly warped argument circulating in these forums that you don’t need non-white people to have a diverse society because white people are diverse enough on their own.

While there are some bones to pick with genetic testing services, which can be lightly manipulated based on what information (or lack thereof) you give them, for the most part this study shows how adept white supremacists are at distorting reality. To that end, Ancestry.com has stated: “To be clear, we are against any use of our product in an attempt to promote divisiveness or justify twisted ideologies. People looking to use our services to prove they are ethnically ‘pure’ are going to be deeply disappointed. We encourage them to take their business elsewhere.”

Share image via Elvert Barnes/Flickr.

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White Supremacists Aren't Thrilled With DNA Testing Results