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Parody Genomics

Stanford University's Stephen Montgomery has launched a website that parodies some of the more dubious consumer genetics offerings that have popped up, Gizmodo reports. Montgomery's satire site, Yes or No Genomics, purports that it can, for $199 and using a special instrument, tell people whether their genomes harbor variants — as the site exclaims that variants have been linked to disease.

There are a number of companies that make fanciful claims about what can be deduced from a person's genome, Montgomery tells Gizmodo. For instance, Deadspin recently reported that a company said it could deduce a child's soccer prowess from his or her genome.

"Sports, health advice, nutrition ... companies are coming out saying, 'We can look at your DNA and tell you what you should be doing,'" Montgomery tells Gizmodo. "Really, though, we're still trying to understand the basics of genetic architecture. We need to help people avoid getting caught in these genetic traps."

The Broad Institute's Daniel MacArthur says that while some tests — such as ones that claim to tell customers what wine they are genetically programmed to like — are mostly harmless, other tests that say they can uncover disease when they cannot may cause harm.

"We want people to understand which tests are actually useful," Montgomery tells Gizmodo. "People should be empowered in how they use this data."