Black Hills Woman Magazine | From the Editor

From the Editor
Tracy Bernard

Renowned scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “Part of what is to be scientifically literate, it’s not simply, ‘Do you know what DNA is? Or what the Big Bang is?’ That’s an aspect of science literacy. The biggest part of it is, do you know how to think about information that’s presented in front of you.” How true. For fun, I recently did DNA analysis from 23andMe. If you don’t already know, by sending in a sample of your DNA they can determine your ancestral countries of origin and provide a comprehensive understanding of your genetics, including certain physical traits you may have and markers for the most common genetic diseases you may carry.

Of course, there were a few surprises in the report but more surprising was my overall take on the experience.

Let me start with the initial reactions:

Based on family history, I believed I was mostly German. Nein! Turns out this lassie is mostly Irish/English. Okay, fine, but kind of boring. Come on DNA, there was supposed to be something exciting in there.

Oh, wait, here’s something interesting. I share the DNA haplogroup with Jesse James. Sweet! Oh shoot, he was an outlaw. Uggh… whelp, at least he was a go-getter.

Okay, now we’re talking. I carry a DNA-protein found in elite athletes giving me what they dubbed a “sprinter build”. That’s pretty cool. Ah yes, and now I see I’m also likely to be slightly chubby. But technically, I already knew that if I work out, I develop good muscle tone, and if I eat too many chocolate chip cookies, I get a little chubby.

Exceptional asparagus smell detection? What?! What good is that? Can’t I have exceptional smell detection for poison ivy or chocolate? I’d like to have a power that helps someone or at least gets me a good snack.

While it was nice to be able to tell my pregnant sister that I have no markers for the tested genetic diseases, the test actually provided little usable information, aside from being very entertaining. I am still the exact same person as I was before I learned all those details. It reaffirmed to me that who each of us is has less to do with our physical make-up and more to do with our life choices and what we put in our minds. The strands of our DNA do not bind us. For the record, I choose to be a law abiding, non-murdering, not-so-elite athlete that eats a chocolate chip cookie from time to time. And if you ever need help detecting asparagus, call me.
— Tracy Bernard

Rapid City Police Department

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