Finding The Link Between DNA and Privacy Using CARS Skills

Session 15

As premeds, we know about DNA, but with increasing access to DNA, how does that impact our privacy? Follow along with our article to find out!

Check Out Jack Westin!

We’re joined as always by Jack from Jack Westin. Again, check out the course from Jack Westin. If you’re planning to take the MCAT in May, take the course before you even study for the MCAT. Because this is all reading and critical thinking. This is stuff you can prepare NOW. You don’t need to take those sciences. Jack recommends taking the course up to a year in advance. Others take the course while they’re studying for the MCAT or while they’re working or in school. Just give yourself time to prepare for the CARS section. Don’t neglect it. Don’t wing it — even if you’re a philosophy major or someone who loves reading. It’s a unique, challenging test so don’t neglect the AAMC passages. Review that stuff really well. And if you’re interested in the course, sign up sooner. Because it’s a skill, everything you’re learning can be improved. It can improve the way your read or the way you answer questions. They break down things step by step and how to find the big picture. And even after you take the course, you don’t lose these skills. You can only improve on it with time.

Today, we have a great article from the Los Angeles Times.

Link to article: https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-dna-genealogy-privacy-20181012-story.html

Everyone’s DNA sequence is unique. But for those who wish to maintain their genetic privacy, it may not be unique enough.

A new study argues that more than half of Americans could be identified by name if all you had to start with was a sample of their DNA and a few basic facts, such as the region where they live and about how old they might be.

It wouldn’t be simple, and it wouldn’t be cheap. But the fact that it has become doable will force all of us to rethink the meaning of privacy in the DNA age, experts said.

There is little time to waste. The researchers behind the new study say that once 3 million Americans have uploaded their genomes to public genealogy websites, nearly everyone in the U.S. would be identifiable by their DNA alone and just a few additional clues.

More than 1 million Americans have already published their genetic information, and dozens more do so every day.

“People have been wondering how long it will be before you can use DNA to detect just about anybody,” said Ruth Dickover, director of the forensic science program at UC Davis who was not involved with the study. “The authors are saying it’s not going to take that long.”

This new reality represents the convergence of two long-standing trends.

One of them is the rise of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Companies such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe can sequence anyone’s DNA for about $100. All you have to do is provide a sample of saliva and drop it in the mail.

The other essential element is the proliferation of publicly searchable genealogy databases like GEDmatch. Anyone can upload a full genome to these sites and powerful computers will crunch through it, looking for stretches of matching DNA sequences that can be used to build out a family tree.

[04:05] Paragraph 1, Sentences 1-2

Everyone’s DNA sequence is unique. But for those who wish to maintain their genetic privacy, it may not be unique enough.

Jack says:

This is setting up the scene for how may be genetic privacy is important. It’s not explicitly said, but they’re making an assumption about that. A good MCAT question would be what is an underlying assumption of genetic privacy. For most students, they may think they have to go back and read somewhere or find this somewhere in the passage. But this is not something you can find. They will never bring up the assumption. Assumption means something that they don’t say but you have to assume in order for this argument to stand. And so the answer to that question would be that genetic privacy is important or that privacy, in general, is important. But they never mention that potentially. There’s a difference between assumption which is something not in the passage and something else that is more explicit or directly in the passage. You can see it and read it. However, a lot of students have a hard time understanding assumptions and why they even matter. The test really focuses on assumptions, inferences, and understanding those things. This being said, this is something you should look out for.

[06:12 ] Paragraph 2, Sentence 1

A new study argues that more than half of Americans could be identified by name if all you had to start with was a sample of their DNA and a few basic facts, such as the region where they live and about how old they might be.

Jack says:

If someone breaks the law and we have their DNA, we can immediately find them. 20-30 years ago, someone did something wrong and we had their DNA. It’s very hard to find them unless they committed others crime and we can get their DNA. When you’re reading, instead of focusing on whether you understand it, don’t worry about whether you understand it. Rather, think about whether or not it’s something you agree with or something you don’t agree with or it’s interesting to them or not. This is a deeper level of reading and thinking that anyone can get to if they get better at reading.

[08:00] Paragraph 3, Sentences 1-2

It wouldn’t be simple, and it wouldn’t be cheap. But the fact that it has become doable will force all of us to rethink the meaning of privacy in the DNA age, experts said.

Jack says:

It won’t be easy. It’s going to cost some money. And privacy is important because if somebody has their DNA, then they can find us.

[08:36] Paragraph 4, Sentences 1-2

There is little time to waste. The researchers behind the new study say that once 3 million Americans have uploaded their genomes to public genealogy websites, nearly everyone in the U.S. would be identifiable by their DNA alone and just a few additional clues.

Jack says:

The first sentence suggests a sense of urgency. The author is saying that 1% of the population can help you find anyone. You could relate this to a personal experience which could either make or break you, so be careful. The best thing to do is to go on a blank slate and to know nothing about what you’re reading and just become educated by what the author is saying. This is not really an issue but a lot of students do have an issue with bias where they bring in their own perspective on things.

[11:12] Paragraph 5, Sentence 1

More than 1 million Americans have already published their genetic information, and dozens more do so every day.

Jack says:

Just like the previous sentence said, once we hit 3 million, we’re all in trouble and everybody is going to be found out. And we’re already at 1 million, so a third of that.

[11:33] Paragraph 6, Sentences 1-2

“People have been wondering how long it will be before you can use DNA to detect just about anybody,” said Ruth Dickover, director of the forensic science program at UC Davis who was not involved with the study. “The authors are saying it’s not going to take that long.”

Jack says:

So the authors of the article talking about DNA and identifying all these people say it’s not going to take so long. Here, they’re bringing up an authority figure to support the point of the previous paragraph.

[12:38] Paragraph 7, Sentence 1

This new reality represents the convergence of two long-standing trends.

Jack says:

We still don’t know what this is yet at this point.

[12:55] Paragraph 8, Sentences 1-3

One of them is the rise of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Companies such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe can sequence anyone’s DNA for about $100. All you have to do is provide a sample of saliva and drop it in the mail.

Jack says:

So here’s an example of the trend. And here are these companies that are doing direct-to-consumer genetic testing costing $100. Just be sharp and focused on what you’re reading. And you don’t really need to study for CARS because this section actually just allows you to learn on the spot. You’re not learning beforehand and spending years studying stuff. You have to learn it now. This shows medical schools how well you can pick up on things and patterns, and how well you can understand things immediately as soon as you see it.

[15:09] Paragraph 9, Sentence 1

The other essential element is the proliferation of publicly searchable genealogy databases like GEDmatch.

Jack says:

This is the second trend going up a couple of paragraphs. First was the direct-to-consumer genetic testing and then now the databases.

[15:34] Paragraph 9, Sentence 2

Anyone can upload a full genome to these sites and powerful computers will crunch through it, looking for stretches of matching DNA sequences that can be used to build out a family tree.

Jack says:

People are taking the data they’re getting from these companies. And they’re uploading it into a database where computers can say you might be related to this person or that.

[16:05] The Big Picture

This is bringing up the point that we have to rethink about our privacy and how this affects our privacy. That’s the overall theme. If a question came up about the author’s sense of perspective on this and you had to pick one of these answer choices, which one would you pick?

[16:57] Possible Question #1

What is the author’s attitude or perspective towards the topic or discussion?

  • (A) Happiness
  • (B) Fear
  • (C) Worry
  • (D) Not affected

So a lot of students could get stuck on B and C here. Fear is a little too extreme. It’s a little beyond the scope of the passage. You have to stick to what the author is saying and what their perspective was, not your perspective. You may pick D here but then again, you’d be picking out of your own bias, not of the author’s perspective or bias.

[18:38] Possible Question #2

How did they support the use of genetic testing?

The first answer to this is publicly searchable genealogy and the direct-to-consumer testing. So one is more public and the other is private. And they may ask questions about that. Or they may ask which one is not supported by the author when they talk about how genetic testing is being used.

[20:30] Next Step Test Prep

If you’re looking for some more personalized attention with your MCAT CARS strategy and prep, please check out medicalschoolhq.net/jackwestin and learn about his MCAT CARS strategy course. This automatically activates a $100 coupon that you can use to get the course where you also get over 70 hours of instruction to learn and master the critical thinking skills necessary to get the CARS score of your dreams. Get personalized attention and gain confidence with clear, proven methods. Or the the word CARSCOUPON and get notified.

Links:

Jack Westin

MedEd Media

[email protected]

[email protected]

Link to article: https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-dna-genealogy-privacy-20181012-story.html

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