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D N A & The Book Of Mormon And Its Peoples


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This thread is a spin off of a long one awhile ago found here: Dr. Stewart's DNA Paper..., . The subject of that thread is Dr. Stewart's paper he presented at the 2006 FAIR conference in August: DNA and the Book of Mormon

The Dude and David Stewart have agreed to have a discussion here. This is a "closed" discussion in that just The Dude and David Stewart will be posting in it so we kindly ask the other pundits to refrain.

David Stewart is a practicing physician/surgeon with an undergrad degree in molecular biology. A short bio can be found here.

The Dude wishes to remain anonymous. He has a BS in Molecular Biology (BYU), a PhD in Biomedical Science (UCSD), participates in cancer genetics research funded by the American Cancer Society, and is published.

It should be noted the pace of threads in the Pundits's forum is much slower than the regular threads. Posters in the Pundits's forum may take longer intervals between posts because of busy schedules and the amount of thought and information that may go into the replies.

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Dr. Stewart,

I know you want to talk science, but first, let me review for you where I am coming from so we at least start on the same page.

The Traditional LDS Position:

Lamanites, originating from two Israelite groups described in the Book of Mormon, are the principal ancestors of all modern Native Americans and (according to Spencer W. Kimball) Pacific Islanders. Among the LDS this belief is derived from foundational teachings of Joseph Smith, from scriptures (Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants), and from temple dedicatory prayers given by modern prophets. Clearly, Latter Day Saints who are not aware of modern science have considerable reasons within their faith to believe this traditional position is true, and reason to expect that modern scientific understanding conforms (or will conform) to their beliefs about the natural world and the origin of Native Americans. In contrast, more thorough students of LDS history have reason to believe that the traditional LDS understanding is an outgrowth of early 19th century folk beliefs, where Native Americans were thought to originate from the lost 10 tribes of Israel. Under this cultural influence, Joseph Smith and his contemporaries naturally interpreted the Book of Mormon as a grand history of the hemisphere.

Evolution of the Traditional Position:

Tracking scientific explanations of Native American people and artifacts, there has been a drift in the traditional position among those (relatively few (but growing in number)) Latter Day Saints who are aware of the evidence from archaeology, linguistics, physical anthropology, blood typing, and, most recently, genetics. Although it is not widely acknowledged in the terminology used by LDS apologists, there has been a separate evolution in understanding about the geography of Book of Mormon events and understanding of the relationship between Book of Mormon colonists and pre-existing indigenous inhabitants of the American hemisphere (see here). DNA has only been a Book of Mormon consideration for the last two decades or so, yet a good number of informed LDS writers have expressed little surprise, or concern, that genetic surveys conform with and advance the scientific context that long preceded human DNA studies.

Critical Challenges to the Traditional Position:

Two high profile critics of the LDS Church, anthropologist Thomas Murphy and geneticist Simon Southerton, have used their reviews of DNA surveys as a platform to attack the traditional position and by extension the entire LDS faith. It is apparent that these two men, as LDS believers, adhered to the traditional LDS view, and could not shift their narrow views as other informed LDS have done. Upon learning the scientific invalidity of the traditional LDS model, they experience a crisis of faith, and they expect other LDS to have a similar experience and follow their footsteps out of the Church.

The LDS Response:

For the most part, LDS defenders have responded by pointing out the limitations of genetic surveys, or what they can and cannot tell us about how the American hemisphere was populated. While these defenders explicitly or implicitly concede that the traditional LDS view is scientifically untenable, they point out that DNA evidence cannot disprove more limited models of the sort that have been evolving for many decades under the wings of an older Limited Geography Theory. These limited models, more properly called "Limited Genetic Influence Theory" (LGIT, my term), propose that the American hemisphere and in particular Mesoamerica was already densely populated by humans of East Asian origin when Book of Mormon people first arrived in 600 BC. Subsequently, following a vague timeline not described in the Book of Mormon, the Israelite colonists intermarried with the natives and through the processes of genetic drift, genetic bottleneck, etc. etc. their unique biological signatures were lost (that is, genetic markers, blood markers, and physical characteristics). With reluctance, the critics have acknowledged that non-traditional understanding of the Book of Mormon is not challenged by the genetic "Galileo Event." After all of it, some versions of LGT/LGIT cannot be challenged by genetic evidence. The real debate, where there continues to be one, is not about science, but about theology within the pages of LDS scripture.

A Counter-Reformation?

Some LDS defenders have attempted to explain the data by invoking limited geography theories proposing that Nephite and Lamanite activity was restricted to a small area in Central America, and that any trace of "Israelite" DNA was lost by intermixing with larger indigenous people-groups. A closer examination demonstrates that DNA evidence does not discredit traditional LDS beliefs, and that the claims of critics are based on non-factual assumptions and unsupportable misinterpretations of genetic data.

In beginning your FAIR presentation, you drew a line between your defense of traditional views and the previous LDS defenses predicated on LGT/LGIT. Whereas others have conceded the long standing defunctness of the traditional LDS view, such that DNA at this date is barely even news (to them*), your mode of attack/defense is to argue firstly, DNA does not challenge the traditional LDS position and secondly, the debate is still about science because Southerton and Murphy misrepresented the genetic surveys. This reversal is a great surprise to me and I want to make sure I understand you -- is this your intended position and not a passing rhetorical posture for the FAIR audience?

To me, your defense of traditions that other scientifically minded apologists now describe as "fundamentalist," is an attempt at LGT/LGIT "counter-reformation." (An especially appropriate description following Southerton and Murphy's "Galileo event.")

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Then I will discuss your representation of science.

The Dude

*a few names immediately come to mind: human geneticist Scott Woodward, archaeologist John Clark, phylogeneticist Keith Crandall, biologist Michael F. Whiting, anthropologist John L. Sorenson, and Kevin Barney whose review of this controversy -- not extending to the "counter-reformation" -- seems pretty close to my own.

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Hi,

I appreciate your efforts to clarify as my intent does indeed differ in some ways from your perceptions.

In the paper, I have not claimed at any point that Book of Mormon peoples are *principal* ancestors of modern Native Americans. Only that they are *ancestors.* There are certainly some individuals like Bruce R. McConkie who have promulgated the â??principle ancestorâ? theory, but I do not see his opinion and that of a scattered few others as defining the traditional LDS view. Many other historical statements of LDS leaders have supported the concept of hemispheric spread, without necessarily implying that Book of Mormon peoples are the dominant or exclusive ancestors. As I analyzed data, I considered what elements might or might not be consistent with the different opinions. Unlike most other authors, I have at least been willing to consider the data from a HGT standpoint without dismissing it a priori. I do think that critics and apologists alike have been premature in announcing the demise of HGT, at least from a genetic standpoint. But I do not necessarily advocate one flavor or view among the spectrum of opinions.

You will notice that I have consistently described the HGT as the â??traditional LDS view.â? Nowhere have I claimed that it is the only LDS view, the scholarly consensus view, or even my view. The traditional LDS view or â??hemispheric geography theoryâ? (HGT) is often misconstrued as claiming that the Book of Mormon peoples are the ONLY ancestors of Native Americans. I do not believe that, nor do I believe that such a stance can be supported from statements of LDS leaders. Nor do limited geography theories imply that Book of Mormon peoples are not in at least some small sense ancestors of indigenous peoples across the Americas.

A plethora of writing already exists on LGT, and so any attempts to tackle the problem from this angle would involve little more than re-hashing tired points that have been repeatedly made. Much less thought and analysis is required to defend a LGT view than an HGT one. It does not require much insight or reasoning to suggest that â??Jewishâ? genes are not found among Native Americans because tiny Book of Mormon people-groups were assimilated by much larger indigenous peoples and any trace of â??Israeliteâ? DNA was lost.

I have no interest in a â??counter-reformation.â? Whether limited geography or hemispheric geography theories are ultimately shown to be valid is of little concern to me. Both are, as the titles imply, merely theories. It would be perfectly fine with me if the entire Book of Mormon history occurred in a small area of Central America. I find some elements of limited geography problematic, however

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I understand that The Dude and David Stewart (TD and DS) are to be the principal interlocutors on this thread, and how they go about discussing the issues presented by DS's paper is up to them. Nevertheless, based upon their first two posts, let me suggest something that may be useful and help them and any other participants avoid talking past each other.

If DS is in part defending or at least occasionally addressing something referred to as the "traditional LDS view/interpretation of the BoM," it would be helpful to be precise about what that view actually is. To add to what TD said above, a number of LDS commentators, including biological scientists, have concluded that one particular traditional theory/interpretation of the BoM is falsified by DNA (as well as other) evidence. That is the theory that the three BoM immigrant groups (the seafaring groups who founded the Jaredite, Lehite and "Mulekite" civilizations or cultural groups) were also the sole and original ancestors of all (or as Kevin Barney suggests in the article TD links) "virtually all" pre-Columbian Amerindians.

In the linked article Barney states:

Probably the most common theory historically, and perhaps even yet today, was that no one else was in the land when Lehi and company arrived; Lehi and his wife then became the founders of all civilization and the forebears of all human inhabitants in North and South America; and their operations encompassed the whole of the western hemisphere. For simplicity, I shall refer to this as the "hemispheric" model. Under this theory, the lineage of all, or at least the vast majority of, Native Americans funnels through Lehi and his group.

****

The extant DNA evidence simply confirms what scientists already knew: that most Native Americans ultimately derive from Asia.2 This is inconsistent with the hemispheric model of the Book of Mormon. To that extent, Murphy and Southerton are not arguing against a straw man; many contemporary Latter-day Saints (to the extent that they have thought of the issue at all) continue to uncritically accept a hemispheric model of the Book of Mormon. To the extent that the kind of DNA research publicized by Murphy and Southerton causes these people to reexamine their assumptions about the nature of the text, I think the effect will be a salutary one.

Michael Whiting refers to the theory Barney summarizes as the "Global Colonization Model" and concludes it is falisfied by the DNA evidence. Crandall et al. in their 2003 Dialogue article, refer to it as the "Hemispheric Colonization Model," and also conclude that it is falsified by DNA science.

In his initial post, on the other hand, DS appears to suggest in the language bolded below that what Crandall et al refer to as the "Hemispheric Colonization Model" and Whiting as the "Global Colonization Model" is not the (or perhaps even "a") traditional LDS view/theory:

You will notice that I have consistently described the HGT as the
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David,

Thanks for your clarifications. I now appreciate that you are just taking a fresh and comprehensive look at the genetic data, pointing out evidence that has been missed on both sides. I feel that your presentation was unfortunately vague in introducing and summarizing your position. It would help if you would follow Addictio's request to be precise about what your view* actually is.

On one hand you now say:

* BoM people are not the exclusive, principal, or dominant ancestors of the modern Native Americans. But they are ancestors in at least some small sense.

But in your paper you say:

* One or a few closely-related founding groups serve as the ancestors of the overwhelming majority of Native Americans, fully consistent with traditional LDS views of Native American origins from BoM people.

* The prophet Jeremiah, a contemporary of Lehi, declared that the "ten tribes" were dispersed to the "lands of the North" -- an appropriate designation for Siberia and Mongolia.

* Native Americans and Mongolians/Siberians may share an origin in ancient Israel.

By this, don't you mean that Book of Mormon people *could be* the exclusive, principal, or dominant ancestors of modern Native Americans? If not, then why did you mention this alternative theory and attempt to further bolster the case with your informal survey of Mongolian/Siberian patriarchal blessings?

The traditional LDS view or "hemispheric geography theory: (HGT) is often misconstrued as claiming that the Book of Mormon peoples are the ONLY ancestors of Native Americans. I do not believe that, nor do I believe that such a stance can be supported from statements of LDS leaders.

You will have to take that up with Addictio. :P

[*Edit: It would help if I would be more precise about what I'm asking. <_<

What is the "traditional LDS position" that is "fully consistent with existing DNA data"?]

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Addictio:

The discussion, as stated, was listed as a closed with explicit instructions in the introductory post for other pundits to refrain. If you wish to discuss these issues, we can certainly do it in a separate thread. Otherwise, I would ask that you respect the posted regulations. Unsubstantiated assertions of â??drive-byâ? posters without accountability only muddy the water. Nonetheless I will attempt to clarify.

I have read dozens of statements from church leaders over the years regarding the descent of modern Native Americans from Book of Mormon peoples. I have NEVER read or heard a single authoritative statement from a church leader that would claim Book of Mormon peoples to be the exclusive ancestors of all or â??virtually allâ? modern Native Americans. If there are any, they are certainly not authoritative. You made the claim and it is your responsibility to document it. Indeed, I would challenge ANYONE to document this claim with authoritative statements.

If "Whiting, Crandall et al and Barney" are correct as you maintain that an exclusive or near-exclusive ancestor theory defines the traditional LDS view or HGT, then pray tell...where is the documentation that such a position was indeed authoritatively taught by LDS leaders? Such simplistic definitions passed off as fact without substantiation only demonstrate that those who represent the HGT model in this fashion are arguing against a â??straw man.â?

I have already defined my understanding of the traditional LDS view as precisely as I believe to be possible, based on the statements of LDS leaders and LDS scripture:

-Book of Mormon peoples are ancestors of modern Native Americans

-Book of Mormon peoples inhabited both hemispheres.

-Although some individuals (McConkie) expressed the belief that they are principal ancestors of Native Americans, such statements are absent from most general authority remarks on the subject, and I do not believe that the â??principal ancestorâ? theory is mandatory to the traditional LDS view.

- I view the â??exclusive ancestorâ? theory as a nonsensical and unsupportable straw man far from the â??factual" representation of the traditional LDS view you claim. Even if one accepted the belief that the Lehites were â??alone in the continentâ? (at least as far as direct contact at the time) and had â??hemispheric spread,â? how would this preclude intermixing of â??Lamanitesâ? with other populations after the Book of Mormon record ended in 421 AD?

-David

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The Dude:

BoM people are not the exclusive, principal, or dominant ancestors of the modern Native Americans. But they are ancestors in at least some small sense.

I didnâ??t say that. I said that they are ancestors. I said that I do not see the â??principal ancestorâ? line as being crucial to the traditional LDS view. But noâ?¦I do not reject the principal ancestor theory as being impossible or as being definitively falsified by genetic data. I do reject the â??exclusive ancestorâ? theory.

By this, don't you mean that Book of Mormon people *could be* the exclusive, principal, or dominant ancestors of modern Native Americans?

I believe that Book of Mormon peoples *could be* the principal/dominant ancestors of modern Native Americans, at least from a DNA standpoint.

There, I think those were the answers you were looking for so that we can get into the science.

I have no philosophical problem with LGT, except that I find the arguments of its proponents to be weak both scientifically and theologically. Book of Mormon geography models, while interesting, typically range from the troubled (i.e. significant inconsistencies) to the speculative (nice ideas but little data). I have also found a widespread use of selective data, with individuals presenting data points that seem conducive to their views while ignoring contrary evidence. I would not have a problem being convinced by LGT if there was compelling evidence that passed muster, but little of it -- in my opinion -- rises above the level of speculation. I have found no reason to abandon the traditional teachings of LDS leaders.

For many years, LGT was viewed as a theory. Once Murphyâ??s paper came out, many LGT proponents began to claim (often condescendingly) that DNA data definitively disproved HGT, leaving LGT as the only viable option for educated and literate Latter-day Saints. My examination suggests that the logic used by proponents to arrive at such a conclusion has often involved flawed assumptions, troubled logic, and bad science. I am not suggesting a â??counter-reformationâ? to set the clock back on the LGT (its proponents are welcome to every bit of data they can get), but I do believe that specific claims made by critics and LGT apologists alike are unsupportable.

For instance, before my paper, none of the prior DNA articles (so far as I am aware) addressed the following topics that are crucial to the DNA debate:

- The lack of mtDNA homology among modern Jewish groups and the lack of evidence of pre-dispersion origin for modern Jewish mtDNA would seem to invalidate Mr. Murphyâ??s use of modern Jewish mtDNA as a scientific control for assessing the plausible Israelite ancestry of other groups.

- Critics and apologists alike have viewed the genetic similarities between Native Americans and modern Mongolians/Siberians as providing conclusive proof of non-Israelite origins for Native Americans. Yet no one has previously taken the rudimentary scientific step of examining the validity of this group as a control. I point out the lack of any ancient genetic data that would support the belief that ancient Mongolians shared similar genetic makeup to modern Mongolians, and cite data from other East Asian studies demonstrating drastic genetic change that undermine assumptions of a static gene pool.

- Founding Y chromosome lineages are shared between Jewish groups worldwide and a majority of modern Native Americans, in contrast to the claims of critics and LGTâ??ers that no significant homologies exist. Why have so many PhDs failed to take the effort to correlate Y-chromosome consortium nomenclature from different studies before claiming that there is no homology?

-Why should it be a surprise that modern Jews â?? who lived in the Near East nearly 700 years after the Lehites â?? should share greater genetic commonalities with modern Iraqis, Kurds, and Palestinians than groups that left Israel centuries earlier?

- Why have Mr. Murphy and most apologists failed to consider the genetic impact of Jewish ethnohistory, with repeated reconstitution from small survivor groups?

Not everyone may agree with me in my conclusion that DNA data does not rule out traditional LDS hemispheric geography views. I am well aware that the widespread acceptance of LGT in LDS academic circles long predated the DNA debate. Nonetheless, I believe that consideration of these points has a great deal to offer to the DNA debate, regardless of what conclusion one may ultimately arrive at.

-David

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David,

I didnâ??t say that. I said that they are ancestors. I said that I do not see the â??principal ancestorâ? line as being crucial to the traditional LDS view. But noâ?¦I do not reject the principal ancestor theory as being impossible or as being definitively falsified by genetic data. I do reject the â??exclusive ancestorâ? theory.

I believe that Book of Mormon peoples *could be* the principal/dominant ancestors of modern Native Americans, at least from a DNA standpoint.

There, I think those were the answers you were looking for so that we can get into the science.

Yes, I think your answers are fine so we can now get into the science.

*Your position is that "Book of Mormon people could be the principal/dominant ancestors of modern Native Americans, at least from a genetics standpoint." Yours is a defense of "a" traditional LDS position based on the teachings of LDS prophets.

*My position, the position of LDS critics, and the position of the majority of LDS apologists (who favor LGT) is that BoM people could NOT be the principal/dominant ancestors. The teachings of some LDS prophets are not scientifically defensible.

I have been working on a review of the major scientific points in your FAIR paper, which you have now published with minor changes in the latest FARMS review. I stopped working on this in August when it appeared that you would not participate in a "pundits" discussion, so even now my review remains a day or two away from completion. I hope to be able to post it sometime this weekend.

Until then,

The Dude

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David-

The FAIR/FARMS paper is rich with criticisms of Thomas Murphy but I'm not going to do much in the way of defending him. He has already defended himself as you can see here. My views on DNA and the Book of Mormon are not dependent on him, and as I said in the thread from whence this one sprang, my views were formed several years before the so-called Galileo event. Interestingly, I was approached at that early date by a notorious evangelical anti-mormon who wished to use me in an anti-mormon film or book in much the same way that Murphy was used by Living Hope Ministries. I turned down the anti-mormon recruiter in no uncertain terms, and for exactly the philosophical reasons you spelled out in your paper (under "Suicide Bombing").

There are two main points of my review. First is the minor point: How the supposed lack of Israelite DNA in America was a poor avenue for critics who wanted to falsify the Book of Mormon, and how challenging this criticism can only produce a small technical victory.

Second is the major point: How Dr. Stewart's "Alternative Theory" to reconcile science and a version of Hemispheric Geography falls apart when it collides with the prehistoric timeline for principal/dominant American migrations. The issue of dating the DNA is simply not addressed in a scientific and scholarly manner.

"Jewish" DNA: The Fool's Errand

Genetic surveys propose a migration model where one to three groups emerged from Asia many thousands of years ago to populate the American hemisphere. These groups would be called the principal or dominant ancestors of Native Americans. Notably, the secular genetic studies do not consider the presence or absence of Israelite DNA, whether ancient or modern, as a control. Simply based on the homologies that do exist between modern Native Americans and modern Asians, secular science has arrived at a consensus explanation for how the Americas came to be populated -- an explanation with correlative support from non-genetic sources (i.e. lingistics, archaeology, blood markers, and dental characteristics).

- The lack of mtDNA homology among modern Jewish groups and the lack of evidence of pre-dispersion origin for modern Jewish mtDNA would seem to invalidate Mr. Murphyâ??s use of modern Jewish mtDNA as a scientific control for assessing the plausible Israelite ancestry of other groups.

The very ancient links between the DNA of Americans and Asians are sufficient reason to reject teachings of LDS prophets where Book of Mormon people are postulated to be the principal/dominant ancestors of virtually all Native Americans. Tom Murphy supplemented his thesis with a wholly unnecessary argument about the absence of Israelite markers (e.g. mtDNA or Cohen Y-chromosome) to bolster his criticisms, but this has never been a component of the basic scientific understanding of Native American origins. Your extensive and repeated challenge of Murphy's flawed assumptions in this regard is rather beside the point; the consensus view of secular scientists never relied on an Israelite comparison in the first place. So in a way you were correct when you called Murphy's Lemba challenge a "fool's errand" and he should have never put it on the table. It has only created confusion for Latter Day Saints.

-Why should it be a surprise that modern Jews â?? who lived in the Near East nearly 700 years after the Lehites â?? should share greater genetic commonalities with modern Iraqis, Kurds, and Palestinians than groups that left Israel centuries earlier?

- Why have Mr. Murphy and most apologists failed to consider the genetic impact of Jewish ethnohistory, with repeated reconstitution from small survivor groups?

Who cares? These points are begging the question of an Israelite link, and do not, at this time, contribute to a scientific understanding of Native American origins.

The Alternative Theory

In several places you suggest, implicate, or hypothesize a BoM-inspired alternative to the secular explanation for dominant ancestry. You don't actually say this alternative is true, but you offer specious reasoning that it could be true. This appears to be "a" basis, if not "the" basis, of your clarified position:

I believe that Book of Mormon peoples could be the principal/dominant ancestors of modern Native Americans, at least from a DNA standpoint.

If you actually spelled out your alternative model in clear language, I surmise it would sound something like the following: two groups of ancient people left Israel about 600 BC. One consisted of BoM people (Lehites and Mulekites) who came to America to become the principal ancestors of modern Native Americans. A second group consisted of (for example) the lost 10 tribes who journeyed to the "lands of the North" such as Mongolia/Siberia to leave a genetic remnant among modern people there. One might expect this scenario to produce the exact data-set that secular science relies on to claim trans-Beringian migrations as the source of Native American populations. I remind myself that you stop short of saying BoM people were the exclusive ancestors, but according to the logic of your paper this alternative model, or something close to it, offers Lehites and Mulekites as the principal/dominant ancestors of virtually all Native Americans. Correct?

This kind of alternative makes use of gaps in our knowledge. We don't know the composition of ancient DNA for the people who populated Israel and Mongolia (or most of the rest of the world) at the time of Lehi (600 BC). People moved around a lot, especially the nomadic Mongolians and, according to scripture, 10 tribes of Israel were carried away into the "lands of the North" -- could that be Mongolia and Siberia? It's a very convenient arrangement of unknowns and scripture. You state that this offers remarkable consistency with LDS teachings. Yes, it seems that it does.

- Critics and apologists alike have viewed the genetic similarities between Native Americans and modern Mongolians/Siberians as providing conclusive proof of non-Israelite origins for Native Americans. Yet no one has previously taken the rudimentary scientific step of examining the validity of this group as a control. I point out the lack of any ancient genetic data that would support the belief that ancient Mongolians shared similar genetic makeup to modern Mongolians, and cite data from other East Asian studies demonstrating drastic genetic change that undermine assumptions of a static gene pool.

You are correct to point out the need for ancient DNA samples from mummies and the like, in order to definitively state the common geographic origin of many Mongolians and virtually all Native Americans. The groups could have separated from each other in Mongolia/Siberia, or just as likely, in some other location in Eurasia. The separation could have occurred in the Middle East, as you suggest in your paper. Right now genetic science has no way of knowing the geographical point of their separation. But the inescapable fact that crushes the alternative theory is this: based on all available data from mtDNA and Y-chromosome surveys, the separation would have taken place many millenia before the Book of Mormon story. This issue must be dealt with in a scholarly and scientific manner. It won't do to merely raise a cloud of doubts and sweep two decades of research under the rug.

Dating the DNA

As you know, genetic comparisons offer clues as to the relationships between geographically separated people. Geographical correlations tend to be the main focus of discussions related to the Book of Mormon, including your paper. But equally important to scientists are the temporal clues derived from genetic data, which allow the researcher to calculate a range of dates for how long ago two related populations separated. Unique genetic patterns naturally develop in separated populations, with variability growing over time. Calculations for "time of divergence" are based on the amount of variability in the data set, a standard rate of mutation, and include assumptions for founding population size and generation time. This method gives a range of estimates for when the ancestors of the Native Americans separated from the ancestors of the Siberians. Importantly, researchers consistently strive to correlate their DNA dates with archaeological data (dates based on radioactive decay) and linguistics (estimates based on expansion of language diversity). The best theories in science are always correlated across disciplines.

You acknowledge that temporal data has yet to be explained in harmony with the Book of Mormon. "Many scientists date the genetic divergence of modern Native Americans as having arisen from migrations between 10,000 and 15,000 B.C, rather than shortly after 600 B.C. as stated in the Book of Mormon account." That is correct. Initial estimates based on mtDNA placed the time of divergence very early (30,000- 40,000 years ago), but recent revisions based on Y-chromosome data point to migration times in the range of 10,000-15,000 B.C. and bring them into line with modern linguistic patterns and archaeological dates at the earliest North American sites.

Harvard geneticist Mark Seielstad (American Journal of Human Genetics 73:700, 2003): "The Americas were the last continents to be settled by humans, yet many details of the earliest occupation remain poorly understood. Proposals for the date of first entry fall into two ranges, one suggesting a very early occupation ~30,000-40,000 years before present (BP), and the other favoring dates ~13,000 years BP, when the polar climate was again hospitable. We present Y-chromosome data that support strongly the latter dates." Dr. Seielstad and colleagues analyzed the variability within the M242 Y-chromosome polymorphism among central Asians (as you indicate, M242 is the ancestral marker for most Native Americans). They conclude that the upper limit for Native American migrations is close to ~13,000 years BP. The conclusion of their paper says the following, which you quoted in part (underlined portion) in your FAIR/FARMS paper:

"This discovery, which indicates a rather more recent entry into the Americas than suggested by previous genetic studies, places the DNA evidence more in line with archaeological data, which is characterized by a clear dearth of sites credibly dated beyond 14,000 years BP. Our results do not contradict earlier studies of mtDNA and the autosomes, whose standard errors were large and whose authors noted several reasons to expect their dates to overestimate the timing of the first human arrivals to the Americas. In addition, a more recent time of entry into the continent makes the proposal of the Amerind language family more plausible; or, conversely -- given the rapidity of linguistic change -- the existence of a unified Amerind family would itself imply a fairly recent settling of the Americas, as we have suggested here."

He said "fairly recent" as in 13,000 BP instead of 35,000 years BP.

Keeping in mind this refinement and focus towards consistency across disciplines, I see no basis for your assertion that Native American DNA studies have led to "vastly discrepant estimates of time of divergence". Only the underlined portion of the Dr. Seielstad's conclusion was cited, apparently to emphasize "some of the problems of with early dating."

There is a further attempt to create doubt in the minds of readers and listeners by quoting science writer Ann Gibbons from a 1997 news article, who says, "All this disagreement prompts [stanford University linguist Dr. Joseph] Greenberg to simply ignore the new mtDNA data. He says: 'Every time, it seems to come to a different conclusion, I've just tended to set aside the mtDNA evidence. I'll wait until they get their act together."

This gives the impression that Greenberg doesn't trust the use of mtDNA as a molecular clock; however, the topic of the article is new genetic data pointing to one or two migrations from Asia instead of three, as theorized by the Greenberg Theory of the 1980's (a theory based largely on American languages).

The center of the paper's assault on this critical issue comes from Martin S. Tanner, a lawyer, radio host, and FARMS book reviewer. His layman's offering is a strained version of David A. McClellan's discussion of Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE) assumptions and the Book of Mormon (see Detecting Lehi's Genetic Signature: Possible, Probably, or Not?). Dr. McClellan originally presented the problem HWE assumptions in the context of Limited Geography Theory (yep, he's another LGT'er) and said the violations a reader might infer from the Book of Mormon story would make it very difficult to detect a minor Israelite signature in America. Your quote from Tanner applies McClellan's reasoning in a different way: "If we take these assumptions about haplogroup X instead of the Hardy-Weinberg assumptions, haplogroup X could have been introduced into the Americas as recently as one to two thousand years ago, far less than the ten to thirty-five thousand years under the Hardy-Weinberg assumptions." In other words, if we assume McClellan's postulate of HWE violations and apply them to haplogroup X, then the arrival of the principal ancestors could have been 600 B.C. instead of in the prehistoric past. Or for that matter, one could assume HWE violations for all Native American haplogroups. And viola! The troubling issue of dating the DNA is brought in line with traditional teachings of LDS prophets.

Not so fast. Tanner suggested we can sweep the timing issue under the rug by invoking HWE violations implied by the BoM story, but there's more than one way to determine when modern Mongolians separated from modern Native Americans. You can quantify variability in the Native American population with reference to a Mongolian control, or you can do the reverse. The genetic relationship is symmetrical. A careful reader of the Seielstad paper dating the Y-chromosome (which you cited) would have noticed that those researchers estimated the date of Asian/American separation based on variability within the Asian polymorphism M242. So if Tanner invokes HWE violations for American founding groups, he also has to contrive HWE violations for the Mongolian founding groups. I think the fact that prehistoric dates (>10,000 years BP) are obtained from both Asian and American branches of the family tree is a strong indicator that HWE assumptions were in effect during the expansion of the two sister populations.

Sidebar:

When I criticized the egregious Tanner quote in the original thread you responded:

The fact that I cite a source does not imply that I agree with every point in it. That is the purpose of attribution. Unlike Tanner, I do not in any way see haplogroup X as a "Lehite signature." I simply cited his quote as is because of his concise summary of some (although by far not all) of the dating difficulties.

That's an unusual way to look at attribution. When I attribute it is to give due credit, or to point out where the reader can get more information. But if an individual quotes a source that would lead the audience to credit his position, and the individual does not voice any qualifications or reservations about the source, then there should be some responsibility taken. If you only agreed with the first half of the what Tanner said then you should have only quoted that much, or presented your reservations about the very bold conclusion in the second half. To do otherwise is sloppy scholarship at best. At worst, attribution employed in this fashion can be a tool to introduce specious material while reserving oneself a fall-back position if the material goes sour.

:End Sidebar

- Founding Y chromosome lineages are shared between Jewish groups worldwide and a majority of modern Native Americans, in contrast to the claims of critics and LGTâ??ers that no significant homologies exist. Why have so many PhDs failed to take the effort to correlate Y-chromosome consortium nomenclature from different studies before claiming that there is no homology?

I don't know. Have you asked any of them? Maybe they don't see the relevance of those homologies to the Book of Mormon. I certainly don't. The secular scientists are claiming, after examining Y-chromosome haplotypes in both populations, that those relationships are rooted in prehistory. See: Seielstad, M. et.al., Am. J. Hum. Genet. 73:700, 2003 and Bortolini, M. et.al., Am. J. Hum. Genet. 73:524-539, 2003, both in the same issue of American Journal of Human Genetics. You cited the blog of Douglas Forbes (an LDS computer engineer) who used the Seielstad paper to claim (quoted in your paper) "M242 is found scattered just where you would expect it would be if legends of the 10 tribes escaping captivity by going north are true." Yet nobody bothered to mention that Seielstad's whole point was timing the separation of Americans and Jews... I mean, Asians. (You guys are selectively drawing attention to the Jewish component of the Asian haplotypes *wink, wink*).

I'm disappointed with the carelessness that allowed the Bortolini paper to go unmentioned even though it's in the same issue of AJHG. Seielstad even mentioned it: "Furthermore, microsatellite diversity on the M242-bearing haplotype in several Native American populations (Bortolini et al. 2003 in this issue) is nearly the same as in our Asian sample, substantiating our result and suggesting that the M242-T haplotype entered the Americas soon after it arose." Time of separation for both studies: ~14,000 years BP.

If you can't deal with the timing issues then you can't say Jewish/Asian-Native American Y-chromosome affinities are relevant to the Book of Mormon. You can't seriously offer an alternative theory that the Asian markers in question are the from the "lost 10 tribes". You can't suggest that one to three migration groups to America is "fully consistent" with traditional LDS teachings. You can't claim that the finding of two major Y-chromosome types in Native Americans is "harmonious" with the traditional LDS view of Lehi and Ishmael as principal founders. These statements amount in total, to wishful thinking.

Your final remark on Dating the DNA is to opine, "Time will tell whether current calculations will hold or whether continued revision may be required."

Yes, time will tell. In the meantime we have seen the best arguments and sources you can provide on the critical issue of Dating the DNA. (You mentioned something about critics being "cafeteria sophists" -- oh boy!) The DNA timing problem is the fly in the ointment of any model that does not minimize the genetic impact of Book of Mormon people. I have been saying this on FAIR, to my friends like William Schryver and PacMan, for some time before your presentation was made known.

Only when there is no defensible scientific position does a person appeal to the "ever-changing" theories of science, with an inner hope that someday the theories will change in their favor. It's ironic how even the people who scoff at the reliability of secular science wish they could have it on their side.

Nothing can be proved by science; claims can only be disproved. Based on genetic sciences, BoM people could NOT be the principal/dominant ancestors of virtually all Native Americans. Some teachings of some LDS prophets are not just in doubt -- they have been disproved. Each person will have to decide what that means for himself.

The Dude

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The Dude:

It is certainly a pleasure to discuss these matters with a relatively well-informed and basically reasonable person. This is a nice change from my prior experiences discussing these topics with critics.

I find your critique more remarkable for the points that you concede than for the points you challenge. I will get to the dating issues soon enough. You acknowledge:

â??the supposed lack of Israelite DNA in America was a poor avenue for critics who wanted to falsify the Book of Mormonâ?

â??So in a way you were correct when you called Murphy's Lemba challenge a â??fool's errandâ?? and he should have never put it on the table.â?

â??You are correct to point out the need for ancient DNA samples from mummies and the like, in order to definitively state the common geographic origin of many Mongolians and virtually all Native Americans.â?

â??The separation could have occurred in the Middle East, as you suggest in your paper. Right now genetic science has no way of knowing the geographical point of their separation.â?

Your acknowledgment of the validity of these arguments that I raise represents a drastic departure from the previous stance of critics, and demonstrates a considerable achievement of my paper in bringing essential new considerations into the DNA debate. You do not challenge my basic tenet of the plausible genetic relatedness between Native Americans and ancient Israelites, at least from the standpoint of the specific haplogroups which are or are not present. Your challenges rather center on the relevance of any relatedness that may exist in view of dating estimates that pre-date the Lehites. You are wise not to attempt to defend Mr. Murphyâ??s positions. His â??defenseâ? you cite does not touch upon most of the issues which I raise, and his arguments that I have challenged are indefensible. It appears that we can agree that Mr. Murphyâ??s arguments on these points â?? which constitute the bulk of his writing â?? are defunct.

Virtually every critic and most apologists have fallen into the trap of arguing (or conceding) that the lack of DNA homology between Native Americans and Middle Eastern peoples disproves the HGT. This kind of mindless cowpathing is enshrined in many sources, including the FAIR Wiki:

â??These â??haplotypesâ?? are characteristic of Asian populations. Since they are not characteristic of the Middle Eastern populations, the argument is that DNA evidence has disproven the Book of Mormon. But this argument only says something about the HGT; it doesn't address the LGTâ?

As you correctly acknowledge, such reasoning does not say anything about the HGT at all. Such logic presented by critics and many apologists alike is flawed from two independent vantage points.

First, the validity of modern groups as controls of ancient populations â?? both on the Mongolian/Siberian side and the Jewish/Israelite side â?? has not been previously examined. Both critics and a great many apologists accepted this assumption as fact, even though existing genetic evidence does not allow such a conclusion to be drawn. We have no data from pre-dispersion Mongolian/Siberian populations to support the assumption of static geography for the genetic ancestors of modern East Asian peoples over the millennia, nor do we have early Israelite DNA to validate modern Middle Eastern â??regional affiliation haplotypesâ? as a comprehensive control of early Israelite genetics.

Second, major homology exists on the Y-chromosome side which every geneticist who has written about the topic to date seems to have missed. You have read their articles, and I expect that you are fully aware that the only real previous attempt of LGT apologists to establish genetic relatedness between modern Jews and Native Americans revolved around mtDNA â??haplotype Xâ? theory. All others seem to have conceded that there is little or no genetic relatedness between these groups on either the mtDNA or Y-chromosome sides. I can only conclude that they failed to carefully examine the data and correlate the Y-chromosome consortium nomenclature presented in different studies before presenting their conclusion. This is precisely the kind of high-level analysis that Ph.D. types should be able to do. Yet their pattern of regurgitating othersâ?? views and assumptions as fact without independent analysis undermines their credibility.

In the prior thread, you responded to the Y-chromosome data as follows:

â??Sure, if you go back far enough, you will find affinities between Native Americans, Iranians, Jews... everybody has a relationship. Forbes and Stewart express no understanding that these affinities are hierarchical.â?

Your statement does not accurately represent the very strong degree of relatedness the data show. The Q-P36 lineage and its Q-M3 descendant are found in over 76% of Native Americans. Q-P36/M-242 is also a founding lineage group in Ashkenazi Jews and is found in Jewish populations worldwide. (Compare this to mtDNA â??haplotype Xâ? found in less than 1% of Native Americans of which so much has been made by some LGT proponents, and which I have not seen evidence of representing a â??founding lineageâ? in Jewish populations). Your claim that such remarkable Y-chromosome homologies between Native Americans and modern Jews are merely casual or incidental commonalities on the level of â??everybody has a relationshipâ? grossly understate the scope of this finding and the extreme improbability that such a relationship would be identified by random chance. Nonetheless, I am happy to accept your concession that there is relatedness, and allow readers to draw their own conclusions about how significant that relatedness may or may not be.

The Revised DNA Criticism?

After taking into account the points above that you have conceded, we are left with an argument that bears little resemblance to that which Mr. Murphy and other critics have presented. It is not â??Native Americans are not related to modern Jews, therefore Book of Mormon claims of an Israelite ancestry for Native Americans are false.â? All of the writings of Mr. Murphy, Dr. Southerton, and others on the lack of mtDNA, Y-chromosome, and regional affiliation haplotype homologies between Native Americans and modern Jews disproving traditional LDS views go out the window into the ignominious cesspool of junk science. What remains is an eviscerated â??DNA vs. the Book of Mormonâ? argument that goes something like this:

â??Modern Jewish groups lack DNA similarities on the maternal side, so it is unlikely that their mtDNA reflects Israelite origins. Native Americans have different mitochondrial DNA from most modern Jews and Near Easterners, but we have no data to suggest what ancient Israelite DNA looked like. The presence of some Y-chromosome similarities between modern Jews and Middle Easterners is not surprising, as historical Jewish populations lives in Palestine and mixed with other groups for nearly 700 years after Lehi left Jerusalem. The Jewish population was repeatedly reconstituted from only a fraction of its former peoples with the influx of large amounts of non-Israelite DNA, and it is unlikely that modern Jewish DNA bears much resemblance to ancient Israelite DNA. Native American mtDNA is most similar to modern Siberian and Mongolian DNA. However, the geographic origin of this mtDNA is unclear, as hundreds of migrations occurred across Central Asia, and there is no ancient genetic data from Siberia or Mongolia. DNA studies from other East Asian populations demonstrate drastic genetic change over time, with the earliest Chinese DNA showing almost no relatedness to modern Chinese populations. Native Americans and Modern Jews share remarkable Y-chromosome commonalities, with 76% of Native American males carrying a Y-chromosome haplotype that is a founding lineage in Ashkenazi Jews and is present in Jewish populations worldwide, or a direct descendant of this haplotype. However, scientists believe that these commonalities significantly pre-date Lehiâ??s migration and are not consistent with the Book of Mormon time scale. Therefore, Book of Mormon claims of an Israelite ancestry for Native Americans are false.â?

I appreciate your acknowledgment of the validity of the â??suicide bombingâ? point in that dating issues are not exclusive to Latter-day Saints, but relate to all of Christianity. This remaining argument bears little resemblance to the sensational and simplistic (but profoundly unscientific) claims trumpeted by critics, anti-Mormons, evangelicals, and reporters like Mr. Lobdell of the Los Angeles Times. The same dating arguments call into question numerous biblical teachings, which I have not attempted to defendâ?¦the age of the earth, the Great Flood, the descent of all humans from Eve, the Abrahamic descent of the Jews, and so on. Anti-Mormons find little appealing or sensational in the remaining dating arguments which only expose the limitations of their own beliefs (â??people who live in glass houses shouldnâ??t throw stonesâ?).

If DNA issues amount to little more than a discrepancy of dating, that is hardly news. Archaeologists and anthropologists have maintained dates extending back well before the time of the Lehites for over a century. Mr. Murphy hardly arises from the ashes of his argument as the Galileo he presents himself out to be. Your concessions to this point have already exceeded my expectations for this discussion, and I am happy to agree to disagree over dating issues. But I do disagree on your treatment of dating, and will respond below.

Dating the DNA

Your primary criticisms center on a single issue: timing. In contrast to Mr. Murphy and many other authors who have failed to acknowledge unfavorable data, I have candidly acknowledged this matter, even framing the problem in my paper for you to challenge me on. As you correctly note, I have observed that â??scientists date the genetic divergence of modern Native Americans as having arisen from migrations between 10,000 and 15,000 B.C, rather than shortly after 600 B.C. as stated in the Book of Mormon account.â? Your suggestion that I am misrepresenting the data or failing to candidly acknowledge the authorsâ?? conclusions about timing is unfounded. It would add nothing to the discussion for me to cite Seielstad at 13,000 BP, which is within this range. Similarly, â??failure to mention Bortoliniâ? does not represent any carelessness on my part. I have not claimed at any time that the current estimates of a single secular scholar overlap the timing of the Lehite colony. Nor would estimates several millennia more recent alleviate this problem, as they would still lie well before the Lehite timeframe.

Rather, my argument is that genetic dating estimates are inherently soft and overwhelmingly circumstantial. I do not dispute observed data, but rather the rigor of indirect calculations and subsequent conclusions drawn from them. Early genetic and archaeological data points alike are sparse (yes, I am well aware that divergence estimates performed with data from modern populations can yield valuable results). None of the dating estimates represent observed or directly quantifiable values. They are indirect calculated values, based on a series of assumptions that have not been rigorously validated. For example, the mutation rate is a key assumption regarding time of divergence dating and analysis of haplotype microsatellite variations. There are certain ways of approximating mutation rates in modern populations, but there is no solid ancient data to support the assumption that mutation rates have remained at presently observed levels throughout history. Nor do different parts of the genome mutate at equal rates. As you well know, even a relatively minor error in unproven assumptions about mutation rate or other variables can drastically alter the calculated date. Because of the exponential nature of the calculations, the potential error increases exponentially when dealing with the very remote past. Calculations that may offer a relatively small margin of error for modern populations over a couple of generations may have vast error when estimating time of divergence 100 generations ago or more. Modern genetic studies have continued to generate surprises that challenge basic assumptions about mutation rate, haplotype shifts, and more.

Given the wide variation of estimates in published data from 50,000 BP to as recent as 9,000 BP, I stand by my characterization that different studies have led to â??vastly discrepant estimates of time of divergence.â? What other discipline would tolerate estimates with a margin of error over 500%? By your own admission, dates for the peopling of the Americas have moved 2/3 of the way toward the present (35,000 -> 13,000 BP) over the past few years. If genetic dates can be adjusted, as you note, by 20,000 years largely to correlate with other (archaeological and linguistic) data, what does that tell us about the precision of such estimates? None of these date estimates â?? linguistic, archaeological, or genetic â?? are very precise, especially for very ancient dates.

Even within a single discipline, estimates often do not harmonize particularly well. You acknowledge vast timing differences in estimates based on early mtDNA studies (30,000 â?? 40,000 BP) and Y-chromosome data (10,000-15,000 BP). This is hardly a scenario of overwhelming scientific evidence pointing uniformly towards a common conclusion. Rather, the shift in the dating consensus seems to be based more on the *implausibility* of earlier estimates that conflicted with other data, than on the strength of the evidence itself.

While you are correct that opinions are moving toward the 10,000-15,000 BP date, there are still many scholars who claim much earlier dates. As recently as 2003, some scholars still publicly claimed that â??genetic research shows that â??humans have been in America for at least 20,000 years.â? Archaeological estimates have also been shortened recently, and new findings have created considerable difficulties for the Bering Land Bridge theory.

It is concerning that little progress seems to have been made at identifying the methodological problems or erroneous assumptions with earlier studies dating Native American origins to 40-50,000 BP, even though most scholars currently do not accept such estimates. When data is rejected out of hand or is conveniently moved 2/3 of the way toward the present â?? with no clear scientific explanation except to better correlate with other evidences â?? it is difficult to place much confidence in the process. There is certainly a need to correlate data across disciplines. Yet there is something distinctly arbitrary and unscientific about such adjustments of convenience, which convey no insight into the original theoretical errors while producing a conclusion that is unsatisfying and tentative. Why has mtDNA seemingly changed much faster than early estimates allowed? What factors have contributed to the widely discrepant time estimates even among different mtDNA studies? These and other questions need to be more rigorously answered before dating estimates can be viewed as definitive.

You suggest that I must be bound by the current lower limit estimates. The record suggests that such a demand is untenable. Past claims of a lower timing limit have been consistently falsified and revised lower. The consensus timeframe has been shortened considerably in just the past five years. Am I to believe that science has gotten the dates wrong for 150 years, but that within the past five years we have arrived at a definitive answer? The reader will have to decide how to perceive the credibility of the many scholars who just a few years definitively proclaimed a time of entry into the Americas of 50,000 or even 20,000 years BP. How can they drastically revise their dates with impunity and still maintain (in your eyes) the credibility of science? Am I any less scientific in keeping an open mind and deferring judgment than scholars who erroneously claimed dates of divergence 30,000 years before currently accepted ones? Keep in mind also that I am merely raising possibilities and plausibilities. They claimed their dates to represent proven fact, and therefore are far more vulnerable to being discredited when consensus shifts.

One also wonders how far the line of thought you suggest as viewing current scientific consensus as an intellectual mandate can reasonably be taken. Since most scientists believe in the â??Big Bangâ? and certain evidences can be cited in favor of this theory, is it impossible for a good scientist or an insightful scholar to believe in God?

That is not to say that such data should not be carefully examined and considered. I think that they should be. But it is also necessary to keep in mind the limitations, the unproven assumptions, the data points that do not fit, and the contradictions, before accepting a conclusion as fact. I certainly would not prescribe a medication or perform a surgery based on data as tenuous and contradictory as current genetic dating estimates. Why should I then feel compelled to view such estimates as representing a final factual result?

You and others are certainly welcome to disagree with me, yet my substantial reservations about genetic dating do not arise from any lack of familiarity with the data. Rather, my very background in research, analysis, and logical rigor *demands* that I view current dating estimates as tentative and likely to experience significant future change. There have been too many drastic changes, contradictions, and inconsistencies over even the past few years for me to share your confidence in contemporary estimates. With definitive (and erroneous) claims of divergence 20,000-50,000 years ago still in relatively recent memory, I am not at all concerned if you disagree with my view that Native American genetic divergences could have arisen much more recently than the 10-13,000 years BP presently proclaimed by modern scholars. I do not believe that current lower limits on dating are firm. I am content to wait and see how this plays out over the next half-century before hanging my hat.

The Jaredites

Finally, there is a wild card that has gone unaddressed. The Book of Mormon does not date the peopling of the Americas to the arrival of the Lehites.

Rather, it dates it much earlier â?? to the arrival of the Jaredites. The Book of Mormon records that â??Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others and their families, from the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the peopleâ? (Ether 1:33).

The Book of Ether does not record the starting dates of the Jaredite civilization. The Tower of Babel events (Genesis 11) appear to have occurred within a couple of generations of the Great Flood.

When did the Great Flood occur? The Book of Mormon does not address this question. This is a question to be answered by Biblical studies, not Book of Mormon studies. Perhaps our friends at Living Hope Ministries might tackle that question for us before they release their next video. :P

In any case, the Book of Mormon documents that the Americas have been continuously inhabited since shortly â??after the waters had receded from off the face of this land.â? I do not know when the Great Flood occurred, but most Latter-day Saints believe that this event occurred a very, very long time ago. Many view this as an event of ancient pre-history.

Who were the Jaredites? The Book of Mormon makes no references to their lineage, and therefore no predictions can be made about their genetic signatures. There is no evidence that they were a Semitic people. There is no reason to believe that their DNA would have matched that of either ancient or modern Israelites. Nor would similarities between their DNA and that of modern Asians, Africans, or any other group produce scriptural or theological problems.

Did any Jaredites survive? Many LDS scholars seem to think so, and this belief has become almost a staple tenet of LDS dialogue about early Mesoamerica. Even looking at the issue from a very strict traditional LDS viewpoint of the entire destruction of the entire Jaredite civilization, the Book of Mormon account notes that Jaredite survivor Coriantumr lived for a time among the people of Zarahemla. Did he have children? I am aware of no firm data one way or another, but cannot rule out the possibility, which must be addressed by those claiming traditional LDS views to be scientifically falsified.

As the Book of Mormon records the settling of the Americas in remote pre-history by the Jaredites and makes no claims about either dates or lineage, the finding of very ancient human remains in the Americas is therefore fully consistent with the Book of Mormon account. On this basis alone, genetic dating issues cannot be considered to represent the â??smoking gunâ? that discredits Book of Mormon teachings.

-David

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It is certainly a pleasure to discuss these matters with a relatively well-informed and basically reasonable person. This is a nice change from my prior experiences discussing these topics with critics.

Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you find me basically reasonable -- as I recall, that wasn't your impression of me in the original thread.

I too am enjoying this discussion because I can think carefully about what I'm going to say without worrying that the thread will leave me behind in my thoughts. I can actually do some research and find sources to back up what I'm saying -- that way the ideas I put forth aren't merely my opinions.

I would like to thank Oreos for the original invitation to come here. Change is good! :P

Anyhow, it's been a busy week that hasn't allowed me to finish the response I started on Wednesday morning, but it should be ready tomorrow.

[Note to viewers: This is fine. No one should place any special meaning on the frequency of posts in the Pundits forum. Threads here will move more slowly as there are fewer posters and the posts are reasoned, substantial, and more complex than in the regular forums. ~mods P.S. Passed your msg on to the poster formerly-known-as-Oreos.]

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David-

Dating the DNA

We seem to agree that "Dating the DNA" is the critical, outstanding issue for the traditional LDS position under discussion. Unfortunately, I find your response on this issue to be, well... a rant of your personal opinions -- and far less informed opinions than you realize. I wonder if you haven't quite done the homework in this area. If you are going to level these kinds of criticisms, you will have to give real examples of DNA research gone awry.

The most interesting part of your response was this:

As you well know, even a relatively minor error in unproven assumptions about mutation rate or other variables can drastically alter the calculated date. Because of the exponential nature of the calculations, the potential error increases exponentially when dealing with the very remote past. Calculations that may offer a relatively small margin of error for modern populations over a couple of generations may have vast error when estimating time of divergence 100 generations ago or more.

(Emphasis added)

You don't appear to understand the basic mathematics for determining time of divergence. A neophyte could mistake the mutation-rate effect as an exponential, where small discrepancies in the assumed rate -- at the near end -- could generate dramatic discrepancies when extrapolated over great times. But you, as one who claims to have a depth of knowledge commensurate with leveling severe criticism on an entire discipline of science, should know that the relationship is in fact linear. Slight errors in mutation rate do not compound exponentially when dealing with the remote past -- no more than slight miscalculations in velocity have an exponential effect on the distance traveled in a given amount of time. (The genetic relationship (%D/M=t) is precisely the same as distance/velocity = time.) Discrepant mutation rates may have a cumulative effect on time calculations, but they certainly don't have an exponential effect.

The Seielstad paper on Y-chromosome dating is illustrative for the range of assumed mutation rates (and other variables) that were considered. They indicate that 0.18%-0.20% is the most solid mutation rate for Y-chromosome microsatellites, based on direct observation of mutations in modern father/son pairs (see their references). Nevertheless, to interpret the percent divergence within their M242 data set, Mark Seielstad performed calculations with four different assumed mutation rates (0.10%, 0.18%, 0.20%, and 0.30%) to produce four different time estimates for the separation of the Asian and American branches of M242 (26,700 years BP; 14,825; 13,350; and 8,900 years BP). Anyone can see that those dates have a linear relationship to the assumed mutation rates. Don't you find it laudable that these scientists considered mutation rates 50% higher and lower than what is directly observable in today's father/son pairs? Yet you accuse them of adjusting their values "largely to correlate with other (archaeological and linguistic) data." A wholly unfounded charge!

Now lets ask this question: What mutation rate would it take to make the % diversity within M242 correlate with your Book of Mormon model? Could that rate be slightly different than Seielstad's assumptions, which are based on direct observations, or would it have to be very different from what is observed today?

punditwd8.jpg

This graph shows the linear relationship of Seielstad's mutation rates vs. time (black squares). If that line is extended to 2,500 years for the Book of Mormon timeline, the mutation rate would have to be 1.21% (red circle). That rate is 5.6 times faster that the "most likely" estimate assumed for the study (0.2%) and 3.73 times faster than the highest "within reason" estimate (0.3%). So much for your claim that "a relatively small margin of error for modern populations over a couple of generations may have vast error when estimating time of divergence 100 generations ago or more." In fact, it would take a mutation rate >5-times what is currently observed on the Y-chromosome for the principal/dominant ancestors of Native Americans to have arrived a mere 2,500 years ago. We will get a similar type of result if we perform this exercise with any other study on Native American DNA. You claim it is professional skepticism that keeps you from "hanging your hat" at this date, but in fact, once we understand the calculations and see the mutation rate the traditional LDS model requires, it becomes apparent how unreasonable it is to expect the genetic sciences to ever support this outdated view.

I wonder if most of the reason you are so exorcised about the range of estimates is due to this basic misunderstanding of the underlying science. A little knowledge -- the kind that comes from focusing on secondary news articles and un-reviewed internet blogs -- is a dangerous thing. If you actually read the primary research articles with an eye towards understanding the full picture, you would see that the shifts in dating consensus have taken place for reasons within the data. Your characterization of the shift as "based more on the *implausibility* of earlier estimates that conflicted with other data, than on the strength of the evidence itself" is a gross mischaracterization that suggests (to me) a lack of scholarly efforts.

Here are some good scientific reasons for the varied range of estimates: Different studies use data from their own genetic surveys -- they aren't re-analyzing the same data from other studies and coming up with discrepant results. Second, the amount of data per study has grown tremendously (from dozens of individual samples to 100's or 1000's). Another reason is that older studies used RFLP analysis but newer studies use high resolution SNP analysis. These latter two factors are reasons to have confidence in the most recent timing estimates, which place the entry of the primary/dominant American ancestors at 10,000-15,000 years BP. I think, David, that with your intellectual gifts and medical training, you should be able to study this out and see for yourself the scientific reasons for discrepant results.

Seielstad & Bortolini vs. Martin Tanner

As you correctly note, I have observed that â??scientists date the genetic divergence of modern Native Americans as having arisen from migrations between 10,000 and 15,000 B.C, rather than shortly after 600 B.C. as stated in the Book of Mormon account.â? Your suggestion that I am misrepresenting the data or failing to candidly acknowledge the authorsâ?? conclusions about timing is unfounded. It would add nothing to the discussion for me to cite Seielstad at 13,000 BP, which is within this range. Similarly, â??failure to mention Bortoliniâ? does not represent any carelessness on my part.

I'm sorry I wasn't clear about what I believe you were misrepresenting. It wasn't quite the date issue, since, as you point out, that would have been redundant with your earlier acknowledgment. Rather, it was the fact that analysis of both the Asian branch (by Seielstad) and the American branch (by Bortolini) gave dates that preclude your thesis. You see, you cited that horribly misleading personal communication from Martin Tanner, apparently not realizing that the Bortolini and Seielstad studies render moot your concerns about Hardy-Weinberg assumptions for the founding ancestors of America. You say that failure to mention Bortolini and Seielstad under "Dating the DNA" does not represent carelessness. Then was it a conscious choice to use the Tanner quote instead of Bortolini and Seielstad? You still aren't taking responsibility for this. That is a problem.

I prefer to think you were careless in your research and did not intentionally mislead. I await your clarification.

"Major homology exists on the Y-chromosome side..."

You do not challenge my basic tenet of the plausible genetic relatedness between Native Americans and ancient Israelites, at least from the standpoint of the specific haplogroups which are or are not present. Your challenges rather center on the relevance of any relatedness that may exist in view of dating estimates that pre-date the Lehites.

Putting an approximate date to the genetic relationship is one thing that has to be answered. The linkage could pre-date the Lehites; an alternative possibility is a more recent time of separation of approximately 1,000 years BP, about the time of Mongolian expansion under Gengis Khan (as was suggested for another Y-chromosome marker -- see Zerjal, T., et al., Genetic Legacy of the Mongols, American Journal of Human Genetics 2003, vol 72:717-721).

Your claim that such remarkable Y-chromosome homologies between Native Americans and modern Jews are merely casual or incidental commonalities on the level of â??everybody has a relationshipâ? grossly understate the scope of this finding and the extreme improbability that such a relationship would be identified by random chance.

The problem is that you guys (you and your source, Douglas Forbes) are grossly overstating the remarkableness of this finding. The Seielstad study found 24 Asian or central Asian populations with the M-242 marker: Kyrgyz, Kazak, Kallar, Shiraz, Bartangi, Korean, Yagnobi, Esfahan, Turkmen, Dungan, Tuvinian, Uzbek/Kashkadarya, Shugnan, Uzbek/Bukhara, Uzbek/Surkhandarya, Ydahavar, Tartar, Tajik, Uighur, Uzbek/Khorezm, Uzbek/Tashkent, Arab, Uzbek/Fergana, and Uzbek/Samarkand. Now you guys are saying the addition of some Ashkenazi Jews to that list is of remarkable significance. I must be missing something because it seems perfectly trivial to me.

The Revised DNA Criticism?

After taking into account the points above that you have conceded, we are left with an argument that bears little resemblance to that which Mr. Murphy and other critics have presented.... What remains is an eviscerated â??DNA vs. the Book of Mormonâ? argument that goes something like this:

(The points I conceded?? You are trying very hard to turn lemons into lemonade. :P)

I'll stick with the DNA criticism I originally presented, which you still have not addressed except by sharing your personal opinion. My position is simply one straightforward sentence:

"The very ancient links between the DNA of Americans and Asians is a sufficient reason to reject teachings of LDS prophets where Book of Mormon people [meaning Lehites and Mulekites] are postulated to be the principal/dominant ancestors of virtually all Native Americans."

The Jaredites

Finally, there is a wild card that has gone unaddressed. The Book of Mormon does not date the peopling of the Americas to the arrival of the Lehites.

Rather, it dates it much earlier â?? to the arrival of the Jaredites....

I wouldn't exactly call this a wild card. This Jaredite hypothesis does not complement the Book of Mormon model we have been discussing -- it supplants that model. The Jaredite hypothesis accepts the difficulties of the traditional LDS view where the principal/dominant ancestors should have arrived in 600 BC, and suggests that the genetic difficulties can be explained by positing an earlier, more mysterious, lost civilization, from an undefined origin and time. This harks back to something you said just a few days ago:

You said: "Much less thought and analysis is required to defend a LGT view than an HGT one. It does not require much insight or reasoning to suggest that "Jewish"? genes are not found among Native Americans because tiny Book of Mormon people-groups were assimilated by much larger indigenous peoples and any trace of "Israelite"? DNA was lost."

Measured by that remark of yours, the Jaredite hypothesis is no better than LGT, is it? All it does is "rename" Mongolians/Siberians/Asians as "Jaredites" and otherwise relies on the same logic as LGT.

Rather than discuss the whole can of worms this "Jaredite/confounding language/great flood" opens up, I'll just take your appeal to this hypothesis as a sign of your growing unease with the cards in your original hand.

So are you... um... trying to tell me your position is defunct? I can be a gentleman about that, if you are.

The Dude

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Thank you for your reply. A more emphatic and well-documented reply, now this is getting fun. :P I appreciate your candor and insight in pointing out areas where you differ with my conclusions, and your efforts to bring relevant data to the table. You have made some interesting points which I agree with, and others on which I read the data differently. I am in the middle of a ten-day call period again, and it will likely be the weekend (Saturday/Sunday) before I can get a response off.

%D/M=t is an overly simplified calculation of dating methods that does not adequately reflect current methodology. We will more carefully examine which variables have a linear impact on dating error, and which have non-linear or exponential effects, as well as evaluating the assumptions (both factual and unproven) behind dating calculations. I remain very comfortable with my arguments.

-David

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Thank you for your reply. There are many issues to address, but first we must back up and look at the bigger picture. The framing of your core argument is shiftingâ?¦reflecting perhaps a growing unease with your cards. Initially you claimed:

My position, the position of LDS critics, and the position of the majority of LDS apologists (who favor LGT) is that BoM people could NOT be the principal/dominant ancestors.

Now you state:

The very ancient links between the DNA of Americans and Asians is a sufficient reason to reject teachings of LDS prophets where Book of Mormon people [meaning Lehites and Mulekites] are postulated to be the principal/dominant ancestors of virtually all Native Americans.
(emphasis mine)

Perhaps you are realizing that you have bitten off more than you can chew, and are finding it necessary to revise your argument to include the qualifier â??virtually allâ? that I have already explicitly disclaimed. We discussed before getting into the science that I do not believe exclusivity or near exclusivity of Native American ancestry from Lehites/Mulekites to be supported by the teachings of LDS prophets. This element therefore cannot be construed to be part of the â??traditional LDS view.â?

The way in which you framed the initial argument puts you in an untenable position, as you are assuming a high burden of proof in attempting to demonstrate that the principal ancestor theory is not possible under any circumstances. I, on the other hand, only have to demonstrate that the principal ancestor theory is *possible* -- I do not have to prove anything. There are so many angles from which plausibility exists that I can understand how uncomfortable your initial position must be.

I have never claimed that the Lehites came to an empty continent. Your efforts to vigorously defend claims of early genetic divergence of Native American and Asian populations only obscure the fact that even an acknowledgment of such a claim would do little to support of your thesis that the Lehites cannot be the primary ancestors of Native Americans. Groups within the Lehite time frame arriving *well after* the seemingly ancient genetic divergence between Asians and Native Americans can still be the principal ancestors of Native Americans.

The â??principal ancestorâ? theory does NOT imply exclusivity and therefore does not require me to account for every genetic variation or for divergence dates of the earliest groups. Lineages believed to have undergone very ancient divergence are represented in only a small fraction of modern Native Americans, and the large majority of Native Americans carry genetic signatures of far more recent origin well within the Lehite timeframe.

Genetics and Ethnohistoric Questions about M3

Wells and Yuldesheva (PNAS 2001) observed:

â??The American descendant of M45, defined by the marker M3, may be as little as 2,000 years old; this finding, as well as the fact that it is not found in Central Asia or Siberia, suggests that the expansion of this haplotype occurred entirely within the Americas. An assessment of the upper limit to the date of entry of humans into the Americas therefore awaits the identification of further markers on the M45 lineage that are ancestral to M3 and are found in both Central Asia and America. What seems to be clear, though, is that an ancient M45-containing population living in Central Asia was the source of much modern European and Native American Y-chromosome diversity.â?

Hmm, â??may be as little as 2,000 years old.â? As you may recall, the M3 lineage is the *dominant* Y-chromosome present in 60-66% of Native American males. How interestingâ?¦ A â??principal ancestorâ? of the majority of Native American Y-chromosomes within the Lehite/Mulekite timeframe.

The fact that the M3 haplotype has become so dominant throughout the Americans in such a short time produces serious problems for current consensus models. It would be extremely difficult for the M3 lineage with its relatively recent presumptive origin to so quickly become the dominant Y-chromosome haplotype in the Americas without a founding event such as that recorded for the Lehite colony. Most anthropologists believe that Native American groups of 2000-3000 years ago were widely dispersed in the Americas and that genetic divergence was well-established. There is simply no awareness of any kind of ethnohistoric event or process which could rationally explain the current spread and prevalence of M3 as the dominant Native American Y-chromosome lineage. Could M3 be a Lehite signature consistent with the â??principal ancestorâ? theory? Perhaps. But again, I donâ??t have to prove anything about M3 except merely to raise possibilities â?? the burden of proof that it is NOT possible falls to you.

â??Principal Ancestorsâ? of the English

Now letâ??s hop across the sea to examine another situation where an equally interesting scenario has unfolded. For this, weâ??ll cite University College London researcher Mark Thomas who has been widely cited in the Book of Mormon DNA debate for his Jewish mtDNA work. This time, weâ??ll examine English Y-chromosome genealogy. Dr. Thomasâ?? article can be found here, while readers looking for a laymanâ??s summary can find one here.

Anthropologists and geneticists believe that the British Isles were first settled by humans some 30,000 years ago â?? long before than human entry into the Americas. Yet where did the principal ancestors of the British come from? From migrations 30,000 years ago? 10,000? 5,000?

The surprising answers overturn traditional assumptions. It is estimated that between the 5th and 7th centuries AD, between 10,000 and 200,000 Anglo-Saxons migrated from Germanic lands to Britain â?? a small number of migrants (0.5-10%) compared to the 2 million indigenous Britons of the time. In spite of these odds, Dr. Thomas observed that â??The native Britons were genetically and culturally absorbed by the Anglo-Saxons over a period of as little as a few hundred years.â?

Today, 50-100% of English Y-chromosomes are believed to have an Anglo-Saxon origin. The existence of genetic sequences in the British population that appear to date back tens of thousands of years does nothing whatever to discredit the finding that the very recent Saxons are the principal ancestors of modern English males. And the Anglo-Saxon migrations occurred only at or slightly before the halfway mark (5th-7th centuries AD) of our march back in time toward the Lehites (600 BC), suggesting that the circa 600 BC entry of the Lehites cannot be considered a barrier to their becoming â??principal ancestorsâ? of modern Native Americans.

Linzi Population

Now letâ??s go further east and consider the example of the Linzi populations of central China that I cited in my paper. One could doubtless calculate the divergence time of modern Linzi Chinese populations from other Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, or others. The results would undoubtedly reflect a very ancient divergence, likely 10,000+ years. But when we go back just 2500 years, what do genetic tests of human remains from the Linzi area show? The modern Linzi population at the anticipated stage of divergence? Not at all. Rather, a completely unrelated people with European genetic features. Modern Linzi may indeed have diverged from neighboring East Asian populations 10,000 years ago. Where were the ancestors of the modern Linzi people? Wherever they were, they certainly do not appear to have been living in the Linzi area 2500 years ago! What conclusions can rightly be drawn from modern divergence data without collaborating genetic and ethnohistoric data from ancient populations?

Divergence Dating and Ethnohistory

The extrapolation of divergence calculations from modern populations onto ancient peoples inhabiting static geography is inherently dangerous and often misleading. Your attempt to â??proveâ? your argument based on genetic data collected from modern populations alone without ancient historic controls from the relevant geographic regions and without consideration of ethnohistoric possibilities â?? or even of documented ethnohistoric patterns in other world populations â?? is ill-considered. Divergence dating is a very limited and inherently problematic tool for attempting to establish ethnohistory. Historic controls often contradict modern assumptions of geographic genetic continuity.

You have previously acknowledged the fallacy of assuming that ancient populations shared similar genetic makeup to modern peoples, but fail to understand how the same principle discredits your present arguments. The ethnohistoric unknowns render the rest of your points moot. I could stop here, and it would be adequate to defend my case. But I will continue to clarify other issues, even if they have been reduced to tangents.

Upper vs. Lower Limits

Notice Seielstadâ??s title â?? â??A Novel Y-Chromosome Variant puts an upper limit on the Timing of First Entry into the Americas.â? He does not emphasize lower limit claims. Wells and Yuldesheva also acknowledged that â??An assessment of the upper limit to the date of entry of humans into the Americas therefore awaits the identification of further markers on the M45 lineage that are ancestral to M3 and are found in both Central Asia and Americaâ? [emphasis mine in both].

These genetic papers appropriately emphasize the impact of genetics in establishing the upper limit, and not the lower limit, of divergence time. Alleged â??lower limitâ? dates have repeatedly been discredited, as we see from the rollback within the past ten years of claims dating the settling of the Americas from 35,000 years ago down to 20,000 and now to 7,000-15,000 years. There are several reasons why upper limit estimates can be made more solidly than lower limit estimates. These reasons should be obvious to you. Firm lower limits cannot be set without solid ethnohistoric data. Without such data, there is no way to be sure that modern populations accurately reflect the full genetic history of the geography they inhabit, or that the genetic differences apparent in contemporary populations unquestionably arose post-divergence. Ethnohistoric possibilities of â??linkingâ? populations which have died out or have been genetically absorbed lead to the overestimation of real divergence times. It is also very difficult to accurately estimate many of the crucial variables on which dating calculations are based â?? intergenerational times, effective population size, and so forth -- without credible ethnohistoric data.

Dating Calculations

You wrote:

In fact, it would take a mutation rate >5-times what is currently observed on the Y-chromosome for the principal/dominant ancestors of Native Americans to have arrived a mere 2,500 years ago

Seielstadâ??s study deals with the first divergent ancestors, without answering the question of principal ancestry, so your statement is in error. It is irrelevant when the first ancestors arrived in the Americas. The only dates we need to concern ourselves with deal with the arrival of the principal ancestors. As Iâ??ve already pointed out, the principal ancestors of many populations have arrived much, much later than the first ancestors.

There are many other sources of error besides mutation rate which you do not appear to recognize at all. In fact, it would *not* require a mutation rate â??>5-times what is currently observed on the Y-chromosomeâ? for arrival of even the first ancestors 2600 years ago.

This point has become virtually irrelevant and there is no need for me to proceed further, but I will address it anyway.

Dating Native American Divergence

I appreciate your graph and summary elegantly pointing out that the difference in mutation rate between even a Lehite model of â??exclusivityâ? (one which I have made clear I do not advocate, and cannot categorize as representing traditional LDS views) and Seielstadâ??s lower +/-50% estimate is less than four-fold. Such a number is far less than the â??orders of magnitudeâ? difference of dates that critics have alleged for decades, having been shortened drastically within just the past few years.

Unfortunately, your simplified chart does not fully represent Seielstadâ??s work, nor does it address the issue of study limitations. You cited only the calculations according to the Stumpf and Goldstein method (Table 4), and failed to cite the significantly shorter divergence dates he presents using the method of Su et al (Table 3), which includes an additional variable (effective population size) not considered in Stumpf and Goldsteinâ??s calculations. For a 25 year male intergenerational time, .30% mutation rate, and small effective population size (1,111), Seielstad estimates the age of M-242 at only 5400 years, decreasing to 4950 years for a larger effective population size. This 5400 year figure puts us in an entirely different range from the longer and less-sensitive Stumpf and Goldstein figure that you present as the absolute bottom limit.

Even the 5400 year figure does not account for significant additional sources of error. Good studies include a 95% confidence interval and quantify their precision, accuracy, and standard error. Seielstad produces estimates based on specific assumptions, but provides no confidence interval for any of the calculations! This in fact relates to his methodology and the models he has chosen for estimating date. Seielstad acknowledges that â??a significant drawback of this method is the lack of a clear approach for calculating standard errors.â? He has not attempted to account for any potential sources of error outside of narrow parameters: assumptions of mutation rates +/-50%, intergenerational times of 25 and 35 years, and effective population sizes between 1,111 and 10,000. The fact that Seielstad has adopted methodology which has rendered him unable to calculate precision or accuracy does not mean that we should grant his date estimates a free pass to disregard these essential statistical concepts.

Precision, Accuracy, and Error

What kind of error margins or confidence interval can we expect from genetic dating studies? Unfortunately, Seielstad does not â?? indeed, is not able to â?? address this question at all. We can find better answers from Uma Ramakrishnan and Joanna Mountainâ??s â??Precision and Accuracy of Divergence Time Estimates from STR and SNPSTR Variationâ? (Mol Bio Evol 2004, available here).

They investigated the precision, accuracy, and error of calculations based on both STR and SNPSTR data in simple two-population divergence models with fixed variables. They assume fixed, arbitrary mutation times, growth rates, and migration rates (Table 1). In most scenarios, they find precision (5-95% confidence interval) spanning approximately a 400% range (i.e., the upper estimate is four times the lower time estimate) for STR, and a 250-300% range (upper estimate is 2.5-3 times the lower estimate) for SNPSTR data (Table 4). In Figure 2, you can see that error for both groups is also quite considerable. Seielstad, as you recall, used the less-rigorous microsatellite/STR data.

Ramakrishnan and Mountain document that bottlenecks, migration, growth rates, and other factors impact the error of dating estimates. They observe: â??The inference of within-species population history from molecular data is typically more challenging than the inference of species relationships: gene trees are inconsistent with population history more often than they are with species history. Both gene flow and stochasticity contribute to this inconsistency.â?

Ramakrishnan and Mountain acknowledge that some of their core assumptions poorly reflect real-world factors: â??Coalescent simulations assume neutral evolution, randomly mating populations, and non-overlapping generations.â? They acknowledge that their calculations â??have focused on simple two-population models,â? and that â??inference of more complex population historiesâ? may benefit from evaluation of many SNPSTR systems,â? but that â??further work is necessary to evaluate the accuracy and precision of [sNPSTR] estimates.â? Formulas are never be more valid than for the normative data to which the model was fitted to, so we can expect greater imprecision with real populations. Populations with complex dynamics, unknown or imprecise mutation times, and varying growth and migration rates, will experience significantly greater imprecision than even the 400% date confidence interval they find for STR data with a simple collection of known variables.

Ramakrishnan and Mountainâ??s calculations, if anything, result in very favorable estimates of error compared to what we would expect to see in Seielstadâ??s study. The former assumed known, static variables in a simple model: Seielstad makes assumptions about unknown variables in a complex population. Therefore, it is likely that we can expect Seielstadâ??s calculations to have a 5-95% confidence interval range of at least 400% between smallest and greatest values, and possibly far more.

For the layman, a 5-95% â??confidence intervalâ? means is that there is a 90% probability that the real value lies within this range, and a 10% probability that the true value may lie without this range. Even this allows a p<0.10 value (5-95%), which is less rigorous than the p<0.05 required to constitute adequate evidence of in most fields. Any value that lies within the 5%-95% confidence interval (or in more rigorous studies, 2.5%-97.5%) is considered scientifically reasonable, and those who attempt to prescribe or discredit figures found within this range lack the mandate of science.

Mutation Rates

Even our 400% precision estimate considers Seielstadâ??s assumed variable values to be basically correct. Letâ??s examine some of his other assumptions and see how they fare.

Ramakrishnan observes: â??Extensive molecular analysis has indicated high variation in mutational properties among STR loci.â? He cites 50-fold variability in loci mutation rates (.0001-.005). Another simplistic and undocumented assumption is that currently observed mutation rates have remained relatively static over time. At a minimum, such assumptions need to be validated by studies of mutation rates in ancient populations with proven dates of 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 years ago. Such validation has not been forthcoming.

While I applaud Seielstad for expanding mutation rate possibilities on both sides, the fact remains that his +/-50% error allowance is a contrived figure pulled out of a hat â?? not a validated scientific limit. Such arbitrary boundaries are no substitute for the absence of solid historical mutation rates, and are grossly inadequate for the wide variation as mutation rates at different loci spanning nearly two orders of magnitude. Seielstadâ??s statement that at least some of the loci in his study are similar to those that were used to calculated the 0.18%-0.20% average mutation rates in modern populations is not adequate basis for the extrapolation of this rate across all 15 loci, the extrapolation of this rate back to prehistory, and his allowance of only minor variability.

Intergenerational Times and Life Expectancy

Most geneticists have traditionally assumed 25-year male intergenerational times. Seielstad cites research that in modern times, male intergenerational time has been in the 32-35 year range. He calculates dates using both the traditional figure (25 years) and the modern upper limit (35 years).

The problem with the use of a 35-year intergenerational time, and even the questionable nature of a 25-year time, should be obvious to anyone versed in ethnohistory or social science. The Wikipedia records that â??Average life expectancy before the 'health transition' of the modern era is thought to have varied between about 20 years and 35 years, depending upon particular circumstance.â? Neolithic and Bronze age life expectancies are estimated at 20 and 18. Life expectancy in classical Greece and Rome has been estimated at only 28 years. At the end of the 19th century, it was 33. Even in the U.S., life expectancy at birth in 1901 was only 49. In present-day â??non-civilized groups,â? it is 34.

Seielstadâ??s preference for the 35-year intergenerational figure (â??our best estimate of the mutationâ??s age is ~18,000 BPâ? â?? corresponding to the 35-year calculations in Table 4) seems to demonstrate either lack of awareness or bias. Any social scientist knows that intergenerational times have lengthened with delay in marriage and child-bearing in modern times, and that average marriage ages for both men and women were much lower in early societies than modern ones â?? with no birth control. The extrapolation of 35-year modern intergenerational times back to prehistory (and, any dating conclusion based upon such a figure) is ludicrous.

The graph below shows historical life expectancy estimates, while the red and green lines correspond to Seielstadâ??s assumptions about life expectancy. Even this assumes relatively long 28-year Native American life expectancies in the classical era corresponding to life expectancies in Greece and Rome, in spite of ethnohistoric evidence suggesting that Native American civilizations during this period might be better categorized by Bronze Age or even Neolithic technology.

lifeexpectancy.jpg

One can appreciate how unreasonable assumptions of a 35-year intergenerational time are outside of the modern era, and even the questionable nature of the 25-year intergenerational time. I am quite certain that populations with 18, 20, or 28 year life expectancies did NOT have 35-year average intergenerational times. Even a 25 year assumption is dubious for early populations. A shorter intergenerational time, such as 20 years, would trim off additional time (20% for 20 years compared to 25 years).

Confidence Intervals for Seielstad

If we apply the typical 400% precision range (5-95% confidence interval, with most of the range falling on the high end to fit normative distributions) from Ramakrishnan and center it on Seielstadâ??s calculated dates, we get a better idea of what a more valid range of dates may be. Again, this figure does not even include error from variability in mutation rates, mistakenly long intergenerational time estimates, complex population dynamics, gene flow, methodological bias, etc., and so the real confidence interval would be even wider (less precise).

The number of loci tested has an inverse *exponential* effect on precision and error (Ramakrishnan Table 3). Seielstad tested only 15 loci, while Ramakrishnan used 20. This further lowers the precision and widens the confidence interval range of Seielstadâ??s study.

With the possibilities Seielstad considers of a small effective population size, 25-year intergenerational time and 0.30% mutation rate, Seielstadâ??s 5400 year BP divergence figure would under a fairly typical distribution have a 5-95% confidence range of roughly 2500 to 10,000 years. The Book of Mormon records the story of a family that left Jerusalem toward the lower end of that range.

If we consider the impact of a shorter (20-year) intergenerational time and increase the mutation rate a further 50% to .45%, and the divergence time estimate falls to 2600-3000 years. Suddenly, the 2600 BC date of Book of Mormon peoples has become feasible. Throw in the 5-95% confidence interval and the Book of Mormon date is not merely feasible: it is mid-range for an event that could have occurred even more recently.

Or letâ??s accept the standard .20% mutation rate (8175 years BP per method of Su et al, Table 4). Weâ??ll drop the intergenerational time down to 20 years, which will decrease our base date to 6540 BC. We assume that the real confidence interval may cover a 600% range instead of a 400% range, in view of complex population dynamics, smaller number of loci tested, and other errors. Once again, the confidence interval includes dates more recent than 2600 BC.

For all of these plausible scenarios, the estimated confidence intervals span the time of the Lehite arrival:

confidenceintervals.jpg

If we accept a more standard p<0.05 level of statistical significance (CI 2.5%-97.5%), a variety of other scenarios cover the date of Lehite arrival without difficulty. There are any number of scenarios in which the date of Lehite entry into the Americas falls within standard confidence intervals, without even going beyond the variable assumptions that Seielstad provides. But againâ?¦exclusivity is not an argument that I have made, nor is it necessary to my thesis. It is merely the icing on the cake.

Seielstad acknowledges the difficulty in calculating standard errors, and seems to make no claims about accuracy, precision, or error. Your uncritical acceptance of Seielstadâ??s dates without any evaluation of potential sources of error, your seeming lack of awareness of the concept of precision and confidence intervals as applied to genetic dating, and your insistence that Seielstadâ??s paper discredit Lehite dates that fall within any reasonable estimate of the confidence intervals, put you in a position that is scientifically untenable.

I canâ??t find the phrase you cite of â??within reasonâ? estimates (or any similar claim) anywhere within Seielstadâ??s paper. This appears to be your own contrivance, so I must consider your statements to represent an inaccurate â?? although rather creative â?? representation of his work. Your graph presents data from Figure 4 as definitive numbers for each set of assumptions without acknowledging the existence of (or need for) confidence intervals, instead (erroneously) implying that the confidence interval fell between the blue dots rather than extending beyond them in both directions. Your convenient omission of the far more recent dates from Table 3 (Method of Su et al) also makes me less sympathetic.

Your treatment of genetic dating does not appear to me to be consistent with the expertise you claim in matters of genetics and critical analysis. You are certainly welcome to hold your own opinion, which you can scientifically support as reasonable anywhere within the confidence interval â?? but you cannot claim the mandate of science for challenging dates that lie within that interval.

Evaluating Research Quality

I hardly have to appeal to concerns about research quality. Iâ??ve already demonstrated that the Lehites fall within the likely confidence interval for Seielstadâ??s study, that exclusive Lehite ancestry of Native Americans is not part of my core thesis, and that an early date of entry is not required for the Lehites to be principal ancestors.

Yet your dismissive attitude towards the limitations of DNA dating studies I have raised as â??only my opinionâ? and your citation of study conclusions without any acknowledgment of potential limitations, makes me question your critical analysis skills. I have published (and continue to publish) medical articles and have reviewed articles for several medical journals, recommending revision or rejection of manuscripts that do not meet adequate standards of methodological and analytic rigor. In a field with relatively rigorous standards, I must remain skeptical about low-quality research. The current discussion has been characterized largely by my skepticism towards soft research conclusions and your uncritical acceptance of the same, proclaiming them as incontrovertible fact providing â??proofâ? of your thesis.

It is unfortunate that researchers in so many fields demonstrate little awareness of the concept of â??levels of evidence.â? The premier medical journals in my field of orthopaedic surgery, like the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, rate articles by levels of evidence reflecting the quality of the underlying research. A brief overview of levels of evidence can be found here.

In brief, such levels from the most to least rigorous designs include prospective randomized trials with good follow-up and sound design (level I), lesser-quality prospective randomized controlled study or prospective comparative studies (level II), case control studies (level III), case series, retrospective analyses, therapeutic studies, and descriptive or observational studies (level IV), and â??expert opinionâ? (level V). Low quality (level III, IV) studies that meet p-values of statistical significance are frequently contradicted by better-quality studies. While such low-quality studies may offer interesting observations that can help to direct future research, they are not considered to offer rigorous scientific proof. The burden of proof is not upon the reader or reviewer to prove that the conclusions of low-quality studies are wrong, but on the researchers to provide data that is of sufficient quality to firmly support their conclusions.

A second example may be more understandable to the lay reader. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that food advertisers making claims about their products must disclose that â??the science behind a qualified health claim is emerging, not certain.â? They have developed a system of grading for research claims, ranking from A (very solid research) to D (emerging research). Even when relatively promising research exists, products must carry the obligatory disclaimer: "FDA concludes there is little scientific evidence supporting this claim." As food marketers have found, complex data cannot be readily reduced to simplistic claims. Nor are drugs approved for market with promising but low-quality research.

Genetic dating is very much an emerging science, and not a certain one. Most genetic dating studies rank very low on the level of scientific rigor: level IV. Most lack controls, or cite â??controlsâ? that have not been adequately validated. Most fail to include estimates of precision and error that would satisfy the scientific requirement of statistical significance, and fail to cite confidence intervals that convey the full range of scientifically reasonable outcomes. Such confidence intervals, when they can be calculated at all, are extremely wide (Ramakrishnan Fig. 2). Many of the underlying assumptions cannot be rigorously validated due to the absence in many cases of collaborating ethnohistoric or other data. Evolutionary geneticists claim to accurately extrapolate backwards 10,000, 20,000, or 30,000 years on the basis of modern DNA alone, when DNA from even 1,000 or 2,000 years ago often cannot be found to validate the early predictions of their models. Relatively â??recentâ? DNA from as little as one to three thousand years ago often cannot be found at all to provide even an early check on the predictions of existing theories. When ancient DNA is found at all, it has produced surprising findings that have required drastic revision of existing theories far more often than it has validated consensus views. The quality of DNA dating studies is much, much lower than that which would be required to approve a medication, to market food claims, or to define a medical standard of care. The findings, while interesting, require further validation.

The low quality of genetic dating research is understandable. It is hardly satisfying for researchers to conclude an intensive analysis with strongly discrediting statements that allow many possibilities but provide few answers. There is a strong human desire for certainty, which has always led to findings being overstated. I find that almost every researcher is biased towards thinking that his own research is of higher quality research than it actually is. No one should mistake the conclusions of emerging science for fact. Medical hypotheses are readily testable, while genetic dating hypotheses can rarely be tested or adequately corroborated by other data. People in my field have to be right about everything â?? or, very close â?? while anthropologists and evolutionary geneticists do not have to be right about anything.

While your posts demonstrate a greater awareness of genetic issues than some, they convey largely uncritical acceptance of consensus genetic theories without evidence of insight into their limitations, margins of error, and unproven assumptions. Your reasoning also fails to allow for relevant ethnohistoric possibilities in the Americas that have been documented in other people-groups. It is almost insulting to intelligence when individuals like yourself try to pass off â??Dâ?-grade research as solid fact with a universal mandate, and characterize those who do not buy into such conclusions as benighted or uninformed.

Y-Chromosome Homologies

Of the 49 groups Seielstad studied, you are correct that segments of 24 populations carried M242. The large majority of the groups carrying M242 are Central Asian rather than Siberian or East Asian. The prevalence of M242 in Mongolians â?? traditionally reported as the most closely related major group to Native Americans â?? was zero. Significantly higher prevalences of M242 have been found in Central Asian populations like the Hunza (not cited in Seielstadâ??s table) than in any of the Siberian or East Asian lineages tested to date. The higher prevalence of M242 in Central Asian groups than in East Asian groups might suggest that M242 may not have been an early founding lineage among East Asian groups, but may have been introduced by migrants from Central Asia.

Among the 24 (primarily Central â?? not East) Asian groups carrying M-242, prevalences ranged from .01 to .18, averaging .068. These prevalences are far below the high prevalence of this lineage and its descendants found in Native Americans (0.76) and raise many genetic and ethnohistoric questions, as Native Americans represent a much broader segment of the mtDNA haplogroups found in modern Mongolians than Y-chromosome haplogroups.

The finding of M-242 among Native Americans, Ashkenazis, and other world Jewish populations is interesting not merely because of its presence, but because it has been documented to be a founding lineage in the former two groups. The same has not been documented for most of the groups in Seielstadâ??s report.

Your insistence that this finding is â??perfectly trivialâ? on the level of â??all humans are relatedâ? based on the existence of M-242 at low frequencies in some Central Asian populations and a few East Asians does not seem to demonstrate awareness of the concept of founding vs. non-founding lineages, or the ethnohistoric dilemmas that these matters raise. It seems remarkably unscientific to dismiss this similarity out of hand without acknowledging the limitations of existing data.

But these points are of little concern. My purpose in citing this data is to demonstrate that the claims of Mr. Murphy and others that Native Americans and Jews have no Y-chromosome relatedness is false. The ethnohistory remains to be elucidated. My task is merely to raise possibilities â?? I do not have to prove anything to anyone.

Corrections

In your prior citation of three sentences from Seielstadâ??s statement, you claimed (by underlining) that I quoted only the second sentence in my FAIR/FARMs paper, apparently trying to demonstrate (unsuccessfully) that I was taking the quotation out of context. In fact, I quoted the second and third sentences in full in both the FAIR and FARMS papers, which the reader can readily verify. I believe that you are too fair-minded and intelligent to attempt to misrepresent something so obvious, and so I can only view your omission as an act of carelessness.

You also wrote:

Yet you accuse them of adjusting their values "largely to correlate with other (archaeological and linguistic) data." A wholly unfounded charge!â?

You are misreading my message. This is not a criticism of Seielstad. I was rather referring to your acknowledgment of early dates from mtDNA (30-40,000 YBP) and subsequent statement of the changes in consensus dating reflecting â??refinement and focus towards consistency across disciplines.â? Why have the very early mtDNA dates been discounted and in many cases revised drastically towards the present? As I stated: "largely to correlate with other (archaeological and linguistic) data," and perhaps to bring mtDNA results in line with (unrelated) Y-chromosome data, and not because of any great methodological insight into the problems with earlier mtDNA studies. I have done little more than re-state the point you already acknowledged in different terms, which should give you little ground for objection beyond polemic reasons. Seielstad recognized the problems with earlier dating in an additional statement you cited, noting the â??clear dearth of [archaeological] sites credibly dated beyond 14,000 years BP.â?

I explicitly acknowledged both at the beginning and end of the DNA dating section in my FAIR/FARMs paper that â??consensus science still dates the peopling of the Americas well before the Lehites.â? I am therefore at a loss to understand what you think citing Bortolini or Seielstadâ??s estimated dates would add. Neither of them mention â??haplogroup Xâ? which is the topic of the quote by Tanner (an LGT proponent), and so your assertion that those specific studies contradict Tannerâ??s statement appears misplaced. Other genetic researchers list the same factors Tanner cited as influencing calculated divergence times, as I have previously discussed. If you donâ??t like Tannerâ??s quote, it could just as easily be replaced by ones from Wells and Yuldesheva, Ramakrishnan and Mountain, or others without altering my argument.

It is simply not possible within the time and space confines of the FAIR/FARMS paper to address DNA dating issues comprehensively and pick quotes that will make everyone happy. An entire paper could be written on dating issues alone. I may in the future consider expanding the dating section considerably, as prior time and space constraints no longer apply.

Loose Ends

I did not directly state that mutation rate has an exponential impact on date calculations. I stated rather that â??even a relatively minor error in unproven assumptions about mutation rate or other variables can drastically alter the calculated date.â? I also noted that â??Because of the exponential nature of [dating] calculations, the potential error increases exponentially when dealing with the very remote past. Calculations that may offer a relatively small margin of error for modern populations over a couple of generations may have vast error when estimating time of divergence 100 generations ago or more.â?

I accept your criticism that my initial statement regarding dating methodology was vague and poorly-worded. I can certainly see that one could draw a (non-textual) inference that I believe that mutation rate has an exponential impact on potential error. The â??exponential nature of the calculationsâ? in fact refers to an item you have neglected in your reply â?? the â??other variablesâ? I allude to in the first sentence. As for â??a minor error in mutation rate drastically altering the calculated date,â? Ramakrishnan and Mountain observe: â??time estimates for the above analyses were based on an average mutation rate of 0.00255 (average of 0.0001 and 0.005).â? Mutation rates of .0001 and .005 are both very small, but the second rate is fifty times the first, and the average of the two is twenty-five times the first. Such an â??averageâ? may poorly reflect real historical data, and of course such calculations can significantly impact dating in either direction.

%D/M=t is an overly simplistic reduction which does not adequately reflect current methodology. Better models of time of divergence and precision/error DO involve non-linear calculation for certain factors with a geometric or exponential impact for some. The collective effect of multiple uncertain variables and complex population dynamics also amplifies potential error for remote dates.

In â??Precision and Accuracy of Divergence Time Estimates from STR and SNPSTR Variationâ?, Ramakrishnan and Mountain review in detail various models for timing of divergence. You will note that none of these models are purely linear.

The delta-mu squared model (Goldstein):

calc1.gif

Divergence time for delta-mu squared:

calc2.gif

DL estimate of divergence time (minimizes bias compared to delta-mu squared model for STR loci with range constraints):

calc3.gif

With distance M calculated by:

calc4.gif

TDL estimate:

calc7.gif

Zhitovsky method (more accurate with population growth or gene flow after divergence):

calc8.gif

Zhitovsky average square distance:

calc9.gif

It would accomplish little to belabor each model, which is described in more detail in Ramakrishnan and Mountainâ??s article and in the original sources they link to. If you wish to view me as being uninformed about dating issues, you certainly have my permission to do so. I think that I have demonstrated otherwise, and I have never cared much about what others thought of me.

The Jaredites

Awareness of the Jaredite civilization is important to any discourse about the LDS hemispheric geography model, as the Book of Mormon does NOT claim that the Lehites were the first settlers of the Americas. It renders early archaeologic findings moot, as the Book of Mormon claims no specific entry dates for the Jaredites. Do Jaredite possibilities supplant the traditional LDS view, as you suggest? Only if carried to the far extremes.

Dating Issues in Perspective

The points I conceded?? You are trying very hard to turn lemons into lemonade.

The dating argument is only a small part of the initial argument put forth by Murphy, Southerton, and others. Perhaps you, in contrast to all other critics and apologists, had independently come to the conclusion even before reading my article that DNA issues all boiled down to the sole issue of dating and had determined that the argument that Native Americans lack Jewish DNA was â??poor avenue for critics who wanted to falsify the Book of Mormon.â? In the event of such a remarkable coincidence, such areas of agreement may not truly represent â??concessionsâ? on your behalf.

The DNA argument has been reduced to a sliver of Murphyâ??s original claim, which I view as a substantial accomplishment. I wonâ??t attempt to play this up or down further, and trust the ability of readers to draw their own conclusions.

Independent Thought

I am not, as you suggested in the other thread, merely a minion of the Church. I am not in anyoneâ??s pocket. I do not â??cowpathâ? or mindlessly regurgitate othersâ?? opinions. I study data independently do my own thinking, even when it leads me to positions that are unpopular within the Church. Since 1999, my research documenting very low LDS convert retention and activity rates has not endeared me to anyone in the Church Office Building. I have not retreated from sharing unfavorable growth data and conclusions openly, even though I am sure that the Churchâ??s public relations officials must cringe. Bits of my recent Associated Press interview from earlier this month are found here. Many critics have considered me to be honest, candid, and insightful when I talk about church growth issues, but deluded and brainwashed when it comes to DNA. The truth is that I call it as I see it, and answer to my own inner sense of integrity and conscience rather than to outside influences.

-David

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Thanks for the thorough reply. It will take some time to prepare a full response to all of your points, but I would just like to quickly deflate your opening remark.

Perhaps you are realizing that you have bitten off more than you can chew, and are finding it necessary to revise your argument to include the qualifier â??virtually allâ? that I have already explicitly disclaimed.

Explicitly disclaimed? Are you referring to this in post #6?

I have read dozens of statements from church leaders over the years regarding the descent of modern Native Americans from Book of Mormon peoples. I have NEVER read or heard a single authoritative statement from a church leader that would claim Book of Mormon peoples to be the exclusive ancestors of all or â??virtually allâ? modern Native Americans. If there are any, they are certainly not authoritative. You made the claim and it is your responsibility to document it. Indeed, I would challenge ANYONE to document this claim with authoritative statements.

(emphasis mine)

It seemed very clear that your negative emphasis was on "exclusive ancestors" and not the "all or 'virtually all'" clause. After all, your FAIR presentation began with a quote from Spencer Kimball, ""With pride I tell those who come to my office that a Lamanite is a descendant of one Lehi who left Jerusalem some 600 years before Christ and with his family crossed the mighty deep and landed in America. And Lehi and his family became the ancestors of all of the Indian and Mestizo tribes in North and South and Central America and in the islands of the sea, for in the middle of their history there were those who left America in ships of their making and went to the islands of the sea."

So, I think you are wrong to accuse me of shifting the terms of the debate (by revising my position). I don't believe you explicitly disavowed that Lamanites are the ancestors of "all or virtually all." If that's what you meant, then it would have been trivially easy to disprove your above challenge with authoritative statements. Like I just did. :P

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There seems to be an unsupported logical leap between Pres. Kimball's statement that the Lehites were merely ancestors of all or virtually all Native Americans, and your construction that the Lehites/Mulekites were principal ancestors of all or virtually all Native Americans.

For clarification, the stances I am defending are that:

1. Lehites/Mulekites could be the principal ancestors of Native Americans (on the whole), and

2. Lehites/Mulekites could be ancestors of virtually all Native Americans (ancestors in some sense, not necessarily the principal ancestors of every single tribe).

I am not defending the idea as you have re-framed it that Lehites/Mulekites were principal ancestors of all or virtually all Native Americans, as I cannot support such a statement with citations from LDS leaders. Such an argument would demand, from an ethnohistoric standpoint, the near-exclusivity that I have objected to.

As you likely are aware from population coalescence modeling, when two people-groups come together, one group may achieve overall numerical or genetic dominance. Yet it is unlikely that "all or virtually all" of the hundreds or thousands of tribes and sub-groups spread over a vast geographic area would reflect primary ancestry from the dominant group, even if virtually all populations had some genetic influence from this group. Rather, we expect to see variability, with the dominant group having a very high genetic influence on some populations, but only a minor genetic influence on some others.

We see this for instance in England. Most English Y-chromosomes are of Germanic descent and Germanic Y-chromosomes are found in almost all regional groups, yet Germanic genes are not dominant in some regional populations. For the dominant group to represent the principal ancestors of virtually ALL tribes and sub-groups would demand genetic near-exclusivity. The dynamics of coalescence scarcely allow otherwise.

If you have a hundred bags of colored marbles, and most of the marbles are blue, and all bags have some blue marbles, that does not necessarily mean that every bag has mostly blue marbles. Hope that makes sense.

-David

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There seems to be an unsupported logical leap between Pres. Kimball's statement that the Lehites were merely ancestors of all or virtually all Native Americans, and your construction that the Lehites/Mulekites were principal ancestors of all or virtually all Native Americans.

The logic, which is consistent with Kimball's statement, comes from the fact that virtually all Native Americans exhibit very ancient ancestry to "Asian" populations. (i.e. you have a hundred bags of marbles, and virtually all of the marbles in all of the bags are blue) This represents their principal/dominant ancestry, in the genetic sense. You can take that ancestry and say that it actually represents "Israelite" and is a mere 2,600 years old (hasn't that been your stance in this thread?); or you can take that ancestry for what science says it is, and postulate BoM people as minor, genetically invisible ancestors (this is LGT).

Your stance #1 seems to be the former. I don't understand why you are quibbling about "virtually all" but consider "on the whole" to be an acceptable qualifier. Oh well, please just indicate which group of Native Americans you think could have had Lehites/Mulekites as their principal genetic ancestors, and then we can just talk about them. (Contrary to some peoples' opinions in the Dialogue & Discussion folder, I don't need you to take the "virtually all Native Americans" position, but I do need you to have some kind of clear position.)

Your stance #2 seems to be the latter, a kind of LGT, which I haven't seen you defending. I must not understand you, but I am trying.

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David-

I am working on a scientific review of your last major post, including a careful look at your statistical claims, your challenges to Mark Seielstad's work, and particularly your point that mutation M3 could have occurred as recently as 2,000 years ago. In the meantime, I'm posting this. There's no need for you to respond before my scientific review is done (might be several days), unless you wish to clarify your position at this time. As you wish....

***

I reject your charge that I am finding it necessary to revise my argument to include a new qualifier. First, I said "virtually all" in post #9, which was my review of your FAIR/FARMS paper so it cannot be viewed as a tactical revision. Second, it makes no sense to me how those two words, as some sort of qualifier, would make my position "easier to chew." What is the logic here? Whatever it may be, I take offense that you began your hefty post by indicting my motivations. It set the stage for you to further insult my critical thinking abilities and scientific background, where expressing the scientific reasons for disagreement would have been sufficient.

Let me clarify why "virtually all" has been part of my position since the beginning. It is a fact of science that virtually all Native Americans have ancient proto-Asian roots (I'll say proto-Asian out of deference to your ethnohistoric concerns). The M242 Y-chromosome polymorphism accounts for the majority of NA's, and one other related polymorphism accounts for the rest. That's virtually all. It's the same picture for mtDNA: virtually all haplogroups are A,B,C, D or X. These markers do not encapsulate the entire genetic history of NA's, but they do represent what we would call principal/dominant ancestors. Hence the two Y-chromosome markers and the five mtDNA markers today represent the principal/dominant ancestry of virtually all modern NA's. I cannot use a lesser qualifier than "virtually all" in conjunction with "principal/dominant ancestry" because then who would I be referring to? Here they are, virtually all of them with ancient proto-Asian roots, and if they really are >10,000 years old then they couldn't have come from the Book of Mormon.

Admittedly, I still have a battle to convince you and some other people that your concerns about timing have no reasonable scientific merit, but where I'm victorious in showing that the timing is solid, I automatically get to claim "virtually all" Native Americans in one fell swoop. That is why I am not concerned about the boldness of my position.

Does this force you to take a position of exclusivity for NA ancestry? I don't know. That's your problem in grappling with the scientific picture. I guess if your position rejects exclusivity and the observable data demands exclusivity, then you should quickly give up that position and take another. I find your position(s) vague, and I don't pretend to know quite what it is (or they are) anymore. You keep indicating that timing issues are moot, or you are just doing this for the "icing on the cake" -- but then you keep coming back for more. That's good. :P

In your most recent major post, you equated the presence of the M3 marker in 60-66% of NA males as evidence of "principle/dominant" ancestry. You said, "Hmm, 'may be as little as 2,000 years old.' As you may recall, the M3 lineage is the *dominant* Y-chromosome present in 60-66% of Native American males. How interestingâ?¦ A â??principal ancestorâ? of the majority of Native American Y-chromosomes within the Lehite/Mulekite timeframe." So we are using the same terminology where surviving Y-chromosome and mtDNA markers define principal/dominant ancestry of modern people. This should be used consistently by the both of us. Agreed?

Here, from your FAIR/FARMS presentation, you embraced the broad genetic picture of Native American ancestry:

Genetic evidence of one or a few closely-related founding groups serving as the [principal/dominant] ancestors of the overwhelming majority of Native Americans is fully consistent with traditional LDS views of Native American origin from the Lamanites, Nephites, and Mulekites.

I took the license of inserting "principal/dominant" because you were speaking in reference to the four or five mtDNA haplogroups, and it is now our terminology.

Another example from FAIR/FARMS:

The finding of two dominant Y-chromosome lineages in [virtually all] Amerindian populations is harmonious with traditional LDS view of Lehi and Ishmael representing the principal male ancestors of Native Americans, with Zoram and the Mulekites contributing minor lineages.

I took the liberty of inserting "virtually all" because it is an observable fact that the two Y-chromosome lineages you were speaking of are so represented in NAs (although not equally in all groups or tribes). From these two examples it is clear that in some instances you do take a stance that differs from my own only by the words "could be" in place of "could not be."

In summary, your recently affirmed stances were:

1. Lehites/Mulekites could be the principal ancestors of Native Americans (on the whole), and

2. Lehites/Mulekites could be ancestors of virtually all Native Americans (ancestors in some sense, not necessarily the principal ancestors of every single tribe).

But also:

David Stewart: Lehites/Mulekites COULD BE principal ancestors of virtually all NAs.

The Dude: Lehites/Mulekites COULD NOT BE principal ancestors of virtually all NAs.

I suggest this should be stance #3 for you, if I may be so bold. Or maybe it replaces your stance #1 since "on the whole" may be equivalent to "virtually all" and "overwhelming majority." You will have to tell us. I don't mean to set your position for you, just to help clarify it for myself and other FAIRboard readers.

I see one additional possibility that perhaps I should mention out of due respect: that you never intended to use this thread to defend certain stances you took in your FAIR/FARMS presentation.

Henceforth I will continue to press forward with my position. Whatever your position turns out to be, it ought to mesh with mine in some way. Otherwise we are just talking past each other.

The Dude

Edit to add: this thread sure is taking a long time to load. When is it going to roll over into page 2?

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The Dude:

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I will await your full scientific review. A few matters of clarification:

So we are using the same terminology where surviving Y-chromosome and mtDNA markers define principal/dominant ancestry of modern people. This should be used consistently by the both of us. Agreed?

Correct.

Genetic evidence of one or a few closely-related founding groups serving as the [principal/dominant] ancestors of the overwhelming majority of Native Americans is fully consistent with traditional LDS views of Native American origin from the Lamanites, Nephites, and Mulekites.

The words [principal/dominant] you have added here are not mine. However, I am happy to defend the plausibility of the principal ancestor theory so that we will have something to talk about. An â??overwhelming majorityâ? may be 60% or 65% in an election, or 70 or 75% in general parlance, but this is a far cry from â??virtually all.â? "On the whole" also expresses a bare majority or preponderance, and is not synonymous with your substitution of "virtually all."

The principal ancestor theory neither precludes nor demands exclusionary ancestry. Any degree of ancestry from 51% to 100% is consistent with the principal ancestor theory.

I cannot use a lesser qualifier than "virtually all" in conjunction with "principal/dominant ancestry" because then who would I be referring to? Here they are, virtually all of them with ancient proto-Asian roots, and if they really are >10,000 years old then they couldn't have come from the Book of Mormon.

The combined use of â??virtually allâ? and â??principal/dominant ancestryâ? as such is not found in my paper, nor in the premises I set out to defend. It is your construction. While you are certainly welcome to attack that viewpoint, I feel little obligation to defend it. I am certainly happy to try. The more I study the data, the more I come to believe that such a stance likely is defensible. Yet this is not my primary thesis.

As you know, most scholars cite 1-4 migrant groups as representing the principal ancient ancestors of modern Native Americans, with the consensus being 2-4. Even the number of groups is controversial. Questions of the order in which they arrived, the time intervals between them, and which group represents the dominant ancestor of Native Americans, have not been adequately resolved. The vital date in question is not necessarily the date of first entry, but the date of arrival of the principal ancestors. I am well aware that is some genetic relatedness between the various waves of ancient migrants that populated the Americas. Yet enough ethnohistoric questions exist that it is not even necessary for the Lehites to have been the first of these groups in order to represent the principal ancestors of modern Native Americans â?? although it is certainly possible that they could have been.

I have no objection to the phrase â??virtually allâ? when properly used. My concern is rather with its improper combination with other concepts in a fashion that alters meaning. There seems to be confusion in the other thread about this matter as well, so I will attempt to address it once more.

Iâ??m about as apolitical as one can get (I registered too late to vote in both the present and the last elections â?? shame on me). But here is an analogy everyone should be able to understand.

In the 2004 U.S. elections, the majority of voters voted for the Republican presidential candidate, and all states had some Republican voters. Do such data support the inference that virtually all states or cities had a majority of Republican voters, or that virtually all Americans vote for Republicans most of the time? Or, would the fact that the Democratic candidate carried some states disprove that the majority of American voters voted for the Republican?

Such unsupportable constructions would lead me to conclude that the individual either does not fully understand the initial data, or is attempting to reframe the discussion.

Notice also that the new constructions transform the argument into a near-exclusionary one. Given geographic and demographic variations in voter preferences seen in any society, almost the only way in which one party would dominate in virtually every state (or city) would be a near-monopoly situation, in contrast to the bare majority seen in the 2004 election.

Genetic coalescence modeling leads us to expect that when populations merge and one population becomes genetically dominant (contributing 50+% of overall genetic makeup), subgroups within those populations will reflect that genetic history to different degrees. The dominant group may constitute 90% of the genetic makeup of some tribes or individuals, but only 5 or 10% of the genetic makeup of other tribes or individuals. The fact that the founding group with overall dominance is only a minority ancestor of some populations or individuals does not change the fact that it simultaneously represents (1) the principal ancestor group of the population on the whole, and (2) the ancestor group (in some sense) of all virtually individuals in that population.

It is correct to simultaneously maintain that (1) The Lehites/Mulekites could be principal ancestors of Native Americans (contributing >50% of the overall genetic material found in the Americas) (McConkie), and (2) Lehites/Mulekites could be ancestors of all or virtually all Native Americans (Kimball). This is a hemispheric argument and not an LGT one.

However, framing the issue as the Lehites/Mulekites representing â??principal ancestors of all or virtually all Native Americansâ? transforms the central issue of discussion from genetic dominance to near-exclusivity. Observed population dynamics suggest that such an argument would largely preclude even minor genetic contributions from other sources.

I accept your explanation that you are not trying to alter the argument, although the freewheeling logic and over-reaching substitutions you propose do heighten my concerns about the questionable logical and scientific rigor of what you deem to constitute "proof." I am not trying to split hairs or get bogged down in semantics, but I do think that it is important that we clearly and accurately describe the core theses that we are attempting to support or refute. The concept is straight-forward and is not worth much grief. If I have failed to adequately convey the reasons for my objection to your phrasing here, I will abandon the topic so that we can move on.

-David

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David-

You said: "The way in which you framed the initial argument puts you in an untenable position, as you are assuming a high burden of proof in attempting to demonstrate that the principal ancestor theory is not possible under any circumstances. I, on the other hand, only have to demonstrate that the principal ancestor theory is *possible* -- I do not have to prove anything. There are so many angles from which plausibility exists that I can understand how uncomfortable your initial position must be."

If you want to say something is plausible, you have a burden of proof to show that it is "appearing worthy of belief." Readers of the thread should be able to compare your hypothesis with alternative explanations, and then come to a conclusion about it's believability. It is possible that more than one explanation will seem plausible, or it may turn out that one is vastly more plausible than the other; this can only be decided when you are specific and put something on the table, as you did earlier by proposing that M3 could be a signature of Lehite colonists 2,600 years ago.

Just claiming something is possible isn't very impressive and doesn't take a lot of intellectual work. Someone could claim that Elvis was reincarnated as a millipede in a nearby solar system, and I would have a very difficult time proving this is impossible. But everyone can see the implausibility of that sort of claim.

I've come to realize that it has been to my disadvantage that FAIR readers are in the dark about the hierarchical relationships between the different DNA markers under discussion. It isn't enough for me to point to DNA dating methods without fully explaining the marker that is being dated. There happens to be a context for each of these markers, lending external support to their estimated dates. Therefore, I have prepared a review of the different Y-chromosome markers, including M3, and sometime this weekend I will post it.

I will also discuss the difficulty of M3 being a Lehite signature, along with the difficulty of *any* of the major Y-chromosome markers representing evidence of Book of Mormon people. Readers should then be able to judge the plausibility of your hypothesis versus the plausibility of the consensus model.

Finally I will tie up some loose ends, including a critique of your critique of Mark Seielstad's paper. Even though the alleged weaknesses of Seielstad's paper will seem less important once the hierarchy of markers is made clear, it will serve as an opportunity to show just whose intelligence is being insulted in this thread.

The Dude

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David-

You probably know all this but the vast majority of readers don't. Below is a chart I made for Y-chromosomes among Native Americans, with lineage frequencies below the name of the marker:

pundit9inmk6.jpg

The concentric circles represent hierarchical relationships between the Y-chromosome haplotypes, such that inner circles have a descendant relationship to the outer circles. The numbers indicate the observed frequency (%) of each haplotype in surveyed populations (American/Asian), with each percentage indicating the total frequency of that haplotype plus it's descendants. The numbers are based on survey data from Stephen Zegura and Michael Hammer (see here) except for P-M45 which comes from Bortolini.

*Therefore, starting at the bottom (most recent), Q-M3 was found in 52% of NAs but in none of the Asians.

*The parent haplotype Q-P36 (aka. QM242) was found in 76% of Americans, meaning 24% were just Q-P36 carriers plus the 52% that also had the Q-M3 descendant marker. Less than 10% of Asians were of the Q-P36 lineage.

*The next marker up, P-M45, was not surveyed by Zegura but it is known to be the parent lineage for Q-P36 and Q-M3 and it is found without the two descendant markers in many American groups (frequency of 4% in South Amerinds and 63% in Canadian Na Dene, see Bortolini et al. AJHG 2003; frequency of 9%-73% in 7 diverse American tribes, see Lell et al. AJHG 2002).

*A second major founding lineage for America is the C group, with a frequency of 6%; this lineage is independent of P-M45 and its descendants, but is also (like the P-M45 set) a major marker across Asia. Not show is a Native American-specific subgroup of the C lineage, called C-P39, which would be a circle nested inside the C lineage.

*Lastly, approximately 14% of markers in Zegura's study were of other minor lineages (<5%), or else a European lineage

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The Dude:

Stumpf and Goldstein

Mark Seielstad said: "Although this method [su] is now well established for a range of demographic scenarios, we wanted to compare these estimates with those from an entirely different method -- one that is insensitive to assumptions of [effective population size] and population growth rate (Stumpf and Goldstein 2001)."

So it is clearly stated that the Stumpf and Goldstein method is superior because it gives a narrower range of estimates, and it does allow for the calculation of standard errorsâ?¦ the data I used was the most precise data set in the paper.

Mark Seielstad makes no such claim, and any reader can see that you are misrepresenting his statement. He presents the method of Stumpf as a different method to provide another perspective, in light of some uncertainty about early Native American demographics. He makes no claims about the superiority of one method over another, and to the contrary acknowledges that â??this method [su] is now well established for a range of demographic scenarios.â? He should be applauded for considering a variety of demographic scenarios for the Su model, allaying many of concerns that would be associated with a single estimate.

If the Stumpf model was categorically superior to Suâ??s method, there would have been no reason for Seielstad to have cited both models. Had you understood the pros and cons of both the Stumpf and Su models, you would have immediately seen why Seielstad included both â?? a population model and a population-free model â?? in his analysis. Without even considering precision questions related to the model of Su et al. under varying population assumptions, it is indeed difficult to determine how you can declare the Stumpf figures to be more precise. Stumpfâ??s method has its own limitations which I will get to shortly.

In their original paper, Stumpf and Goldstein wrote:

Because model-free and model-based approaches have different biases and limitations, we conclude that there is considerable benefit in the continued use of both types of approaches.

Are model-free methods clearly superior? No. That is why Stumpf and Goldstein advocate the use of both, as Seielstad has done. Your uncritical acceptance that the real date *must* lie within the range of the Stumpf figures in Seielstadâ??s table without offering any insight into the assumptions, limitations, and problems of such methodology, is not what one would expect from a discerning reader.

Stumpf and Goldstein further discuss the limitations of model-free methods:

Model-free approaches make only limited use of the data and do not use knowledge of population geneticsâ?¦All properties can be inferred using population models, but model-free approaches provide reasonable estimates only for a subset of propertiesâ?¦

Because of the very specific assumptions of this approach and that of Eq. 1, neither is suitable as a general method for dating Y-chromosome genealogies, as they have sometimes been appliedâ?¦

Although likelihood approaches include a natural framework for assessing confidence, the difficulty of estimating CIs is a serious limitation for model-free approaches. Moreover, point estimates (e.g., for TMRCA) may be unbiased regardless of the details of the genealogy under consideration, whereas the corresponding CIs depend strongly on the shape of the genealogyâ?¦

[emphasis added]

The confidence intervals of *model-free* estimates still depend highly on â??the shape of the genealogyâ? â?? something Stumpf and Goldstein acknowledge is largely unknown. Obviously this raises concerns about precision and challenges your assumption that the S&G method is more precise and thus more free of error.

Model-free estimates are highly sensitive to errors in mutation rates:

Uncertainty concerning the mutation rate and process presents a serious limitation for model-free approaches. In the case of microsatellites, deviations from the SMM could result in substantial biases that are hard to detect in model-free analyses. Important possible deviations from the SMM include variable step size ( 2 > 1) that has been observed at low frequency directional bias in the mutation process, length dependence in the mutation rate and step size, and a dependence on the size of the repeated motif. Finally, it is clear that microsatellite allele length is constrained, in part as a result of the mutation process and this will influence the dynamic of distance measures.

â??A serious limitation.â? Referring specifically to Y-chromosome studies, they write:

If the mutation rate depends on repeat count, this can have quite profound consequences for estimates of genealogical depth (Table 1). This is also a problem for model-based approaches where the initial choice of an underlying population and mutation model may bias the results. For example, deviations from constant
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This was not displaying correctly as a single post, so I had to split it in two.

Standards and Certainty

Standards of near-certainty are quite appropriate for medicine and FDA approval of new drugs, where uncertainty implies risk to human patients. This level of statistical detail is rarely seen in other areas of biological science, genetics, or molecular biology.

Genetic dating studies are primarily level IV, low quality research on the scale of scientific rigor. That is understandable because of the low quality of data available, as Stumpf and others acknowledge. In many ways, this is okay. No one will die or face adverse health consequences if beliefs about times of settling of the Americas are off by many thousands of years. Yet at the same time, the conclusions of such studies offer you and other critics only flimsy support for your attempts to discredit traditional LDS views about Native American origins.

Logic, parsimony, and the method of strong inference are generally applicable tools that must be used before statistics can be correctly applied. These tools often make statistical precision unnecessary.

Itâ??s been evident from your posts that you consider statistical precision often to be unnecessary, from the neglect of confidence intervals on your first graph to the present. I appreciate your acknowledgment of this in plain terms.

The logic you present, unfortunately, is circular. These other methods of â??logic, parsimony, and strong inferenceâ? did not save mtDNA dates from being massively wrong in the past, because a great deal of â??logic, parsimony, and inferenceâ? is based on what the dates are believed to be, as you have nicely demonstrated near the top of your post.

Mutation Rates

(quoting DS) â??In fact it would *NOT* require a mutation rate >5-times what is currently observed on the Y-chromosome" for an arrival of even the first ancestors 2600 years ago.â? (end quote of DS)

It would if mutation rate was the only variable to change.

No, it wouldnâ??t, as the impact of confidence intervals must be taken into consideration even before considering the impact of changes in core variables. I pointed this out as explicitly as possible in my last long post, but you perseverate in trying to defend your defunct claim. If this is not clear to you, I am confident that it will be clear to many readers.

Obviously he is referring to variation between STR loci, not to variation in mutation rate in the same locus at different times.

Thatâ??s what I said, which you could have found by more careful reading. I cited the â??wide variation as mutation rates at different loci spanning nearly two orders of magnitudeâ? The 50-fold range cited by Ramakrishnan is 1.7 orders of magnitude. The 25-fold for autosomes would be 1.4 orders of magnitude.

Regarding the Y-chromosome, even relatively small variation in mutation rate is enough when other factors are accounted for. My examples demonstrated this, using only small variations demonstrating findings consistent with Lehite history â?? not orders of magnitude. I have already demonstrated this and will not re-hash it further.

As we do not know the historic mutation rates in the same locus at different times, it is best to acknowledge that current mutation rates can provide a guide, but may not precisely reflect earlier mutation rates. To claim more than this is unjustified.

Miscellaneous Responses

Actually, my criticism was that you didn't know, or never really thought about, the basic calculation.

I was giving you a chance to be, as you stated, "a gentleman," and was trying to find some common ground without criticizing your over-reaching. You can believe whatever you want. I am satisfied to let the reader form his own opinion about what each of us does or does not know about dating calculations.

I see that I have been too lenient throughout the debate in accepting your many clarifications, while you have made every effort to disallow mine. Letâ??s look at some of yours:

First I should note that %D/M=t was intentionally simplified

I see. It's okay for you to rationalize an incorrect statement that does not reflect scientific methodology, but it's not okay for me to state that my statement about "mutation rate and other variables" was vague and poorly-worded. How convenient. Readers will have to decide whether they believe you.

â??I could have included the error bars on my graph, but I reasoned that it would just make it more complicated for non-scientist readers

Then why did you misrepresent 8900 years as the lowest â??within reasonâ? estimate? Seielstad did not claim this. You did not take into account the confidence interval or other sources of potential error.

Itâ??s not just the graph. Your statement that the traditional LDS view would require a mutation rate â??3.73 times faster than the highest â??within reasonâ?? estimateâ? further discredits your claim that you thought about confidence intervals at all. Nor did you even bother to mention the method of Su et al. with its lower dates that Seielstad also views as being inherently reasonable. What convenient omissions for you!

So which of the models that you cut and pasted into your post actually provides evidence of this? Discerning readers may be wondering if it is no accident that you just splashed some complex formulas on the screen and then excused yourself without discussing them.

Whatever. You are the one who made the comment about thinking it rude to talk over readersâ?? heads. Anyone can see that the models are not merely linear as you initially claimed. The number of loci tested also has an inverse exponential effect on error. Several other variables have complex effects. There are model-based (i.e. Su) and non-model based methods (i.e. Stumpf) that calculate dates in different ways, although all are prone to various errors. I am not particularly concerned by what you think I do or do not know, and I would hate to waste my time responding to side discussions that do not significantly impact the core debate. Readers can draw their own conclusions about our respective knowledge bases.

I couldn't help but chuckle when, within the ellipses of the above quote, you offered an ethnohistoric just-so story, i.e. "a founding event such as that recorded for the Lehite colony" to explain M3 dominance, but then you turned right around and said M3 dominance could not be rationally explained by "any kind of ethnohistoric event or process.")

Misquoting me again. I did not say that it could not be rationally explained by any kind of ethnohistoric process, but that there was no awareness of such a process. Among whom? The prior sentence implies that I am speaking of anthropologists. I said:

Most anthropologists believe that Native American groups of 2000-3000 years ago were widely dispersed in the Americas and that genetic divergence was well-established. There is simply no awareness of any kind of ethnohistoric event or process which could rationally explain the current spread and prevalence of M3 as the dominant Native American Y-chromosome lineage.

I have confidence in the ability of the lay reader to correctly interpret my meaning as written.

I trust that Q-M3 was your best shotâ?¦

Once again, perhaps you should have read what I wrote instead of polemicizing:

Could M3 be a Lehite signature consistent with the â??principal ancestorâ? theory? Perhaps. But again, I donâ??t have to prove anything about M3 except merely to raise possibilities â?? the burden of proof that it is NOT possible falls to you.

The charts and estimated confidence intervals I presented do *cross* the time of the Lehites, one of them with no modifications to Seielstadâ??s core assumptions. This is not just for the M3 lineage, but for the time of divergence of Native American lineages as a whole. So no, your demonstration of hierarchal markers does not make my criticisms of Seielstadâ??s paper â??less important,â? nor does it address the potential for system-based error. Mutation rate, intergenerational times, genealogy patterns, and the number of loci tested can impact model-based and non-model based dating calculations on both the Asian and American sides, in addition to the other factors specific to each model.

In summary, the theory that Native Americans descend principally from people who now live in central Asia has much evidence to support it.

Finally something I can agree with you on. The problem however is in elucidating the ethnohistory of those peoples. If they been statically situated for millennia (the people who *now live* in Central Asia), there is certainly no scientific evidence to demonstrate this.

Who Needs Genetics Anyway?

I think I have made a persuasive argument that it is not possible, because a ~2,000 year date for M3 is contradicted by the spread and dominance of this marker over an incredibly large areaâ?¦

Finally, there are the demographic reasons I already pointed out for why a time of ~2,000 years ago (for a dominant marker like Q-M3) is highly implausible, if not impossible.

Your preexisting bias comes out that traditional LDS views of dominant Lehite/Mulekite spread over the Americas in 2000 or 2500 years (regardless of what genetic markers may or may not have been involved) is implausible or impossible to begin with. Now, you can conveniently ignore dating estimates unfavorable to you regardless of genetic dating possibilities. Your argument might be characterized as, â??who needs genetics anyway?â?

You should have announced from the beginning that you felt that the traditional LDS view is was implausible or impossible even before we brought genetics to the table, and that dating was really not your core concern. Then I would have been able to direct my time and energy to more productive projects rather than engaging in this debate. At this late date, your statements come across as nothing more than strapping on the low-altitude parachute and priming the â??ejectionâ? seat on your plane.

Your presentation of such a flimsy assumption as persuasive evidence demonstrates once again how low your standard of â??proofâ? is. Thoughtful individuals knowledgeable in ethnohistory acknowledge that ethnohistory is full of surprises, and speak in more cautious terms than your sweeping claims. I am content to let the reader determine whether your arguments are as compelling as you suppose.

the editorsâ?¦would have been too embarassed to pass along your comments to Dr. Seielstad. They would have written you off as a nincompoop. You are not the person to be questioning my critical thinking skills.

<chuckle>. Yes, you and the giants who walk the earth. I would be embarrassed to have made many of your claims in any public forum, to say nothing of AJHG. I am content to leave it to the readers to decide who is not qualified to critique whose critical thinking skills.

I should also say that I've had more than one critic send me an email or PM saying that you should be given more airtime for your ideas about DNA.

I have already spent far too much time dealing with frivolous objections and misguided criticisms. A variety of perspectives on Book of Mormon/DNA issues are available, and individuals have abundant resources to sort things out for themselves. I have moved on to more pressing tasks and have little interest in re-hashing DNA issues.

I stand by my FAIR and FARMS papers as is, without apology or correction. I donâ??t see your criticisms as overturning a single point of my paper, or as presenting any compelling reasons for Latter-day Saints to reject traditional views of Native American origins. Readers will have to make their own decisions.

My patience has been tried with the need to continually correct your egregious mis-quoting of my statements and of those found in the genetic literature. What is perhaps most concerning is that you seem to be oblivious to the inaccuracies in your own citations and summaries of othersâ?? statements. At the very least, sloppy or degraded data lead to similarly flawed conclusions, although it is hard not to recognize a pattern of similar sloppiness your inductive leaps and over-reaching claims of â??proofâ? that hamper higher-level analysis. You seem to be genuinely unable to separate the real findings from your personal assumptions and extrapolations. Your freewheeling logic, the dropping of inconvenient (for you) qualifiers that alter meaning, the low standards of â??proofâ? you accept for your own views, and your continued neglect of cautions cited by the original authors themselves, make me doubt that it is possible for this discussion to meaningfully progress further.

I hope that many people will read it this debate and that our arguments and data will shed some light for critics, apologists, and the undecided, whatever they may ultimately choose to believe. Ill-considered replies? Absolutely. Genuinely irresponsible critiques? Indeed. But whose? The reader will have to judge. I trust the ability of discerning readers to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the various arguments and come to their own conclusions.

At this point, I expect that you have made your best attempt to rebut my main arguments, and I yours. Little new information or insight being added at this point, and we are both repeating ourselves. A little wrap-up is in order soon, and we should move on to other tasks. You and your stromal tumors, me and my broken bones and skeletal dysplasias. Perhaps one more post from each of us and we should close the thread.

-David

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