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Panofsky on White Pride, DNA and Denial

Aaron Panofsky, associate professor of public policy, society and genetics, and sociology, spoke to the New York Times about his research on white nationalists who learn from DNA ancestry tests that they may not be as white or European as they previously thought. By analyzing the “white pride” online discussion forum Stormfront, Panofsky and researcher Joan Donovan of Harvard University found that commenters shared test results even when they indicated mixed heritage, and that their fellow white nationalists offered potential reasons those results should not be trusted. Among them: skepticism about the tests’ interpretations of the science and conspiracy theories about Jewish-owned genetic testing companies’ multicultural agendas. Since he launched the study, Panofsky said, genetic tests have increasingly been used to encourage the “mainstreamification” of white nationalism. “Science cannot save us,” he said. “The political problem of white nationalism needs to be confronted on the level of values and law enforcement.”