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New Science Impacts Book of Mormon DNA Studies - Southerton is at it again!


Tramper

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From Signature Books web-site

"Ten years ago, population geneticists could study only relatively simple genetic configurations from the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA. Since then, there has been a revolution in the methodology available for this kind of study so that now scientists are examining the most complex areas of an individual

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A friend sent me the link a couple of nights ago to this latest from Simon Southerton, and I passed it on to Ugo Perego (who has completed his doctorate since his Wikipedia entry was last updated), Scott Woodward, and John Butler.

They were, to put it very mildly, unimpressed.

In fact, I think that Southerton and his friends at Signature have a real advantage on this issue now: His critics are bored with him and his claims.

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We learned that European and African Jews (Ashkenazi and Sephardic) originated in the Middle East and migrated together to northern Italy, where they separated.

And one of the reports specifically mentioned that this could be traced because the populations intrabred and remained genetically isolated--the opposite of the argument for Lehites in the New World.

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They were, to put it very mildly, unimpressed

Maybe they didn't understand it?

In fact, I think that Southerton and his friends at Signature have a real advantage on this issue now: His critics are bored with him and his claims.

I think you have it backwards. Here's a small sampling of hits on a few Google searches (from high to low):

dna 134,000,000

snp dna 8,480,000

book mormon 1,700,000

mormonism 1,030,000

mormon dna 680,000

admixture mapping 263,000

book mormon dna 99,300

neal maxwell institute 88,700

maxwell institute dna 50,700

If Southerton's critics are bored with his claims, it's because they are too busy with their LGT (Meso- or North-American) fantasies.

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Maybe they didn't understand it?

That's possible, I suppose. It's possible that Simon Southerton can run circles around Drs. Woodward, Perego, and Butler with regard to human historical genetics.

I wouldn't bet on it, but it's possible.

I think you have it backwards.

I can promise you that I don't. Two of the three geneticists that I contacted explicitly expressed weariness with what one of them called Southerton's "game."

Here's a small sampling of hits on a few Google searches (from high to low):

dna 134,000,000

snp dna 8,480,000

book mormon 1,700,000

mormonism 1,030,000

mormon dna 680,000

admixture mapping 263,000

book mormon dna 99,300

neal maxwell institute 88,700

maxwell institute dna 50,700

Uh huh. And your sample proves that neither Dr. Butler nor Dr. Perego nor Dr. Woodward is bored with Southerton's "game" . . . how exactly?

If Southerton's critics are bored with his claims, it's because they are too busy with their LGT (Meso- or North-American) fantasies.

But I thought I "have it backwards."

Yet, now, you seem to be not only admitting that Dr. Perego, Dr. Butler, and Dr. Woodward are bored with Southerton's "game,' but to be confidently asserting a rather odd reason for their boredom.

Can you make up your mind, please?

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A friend sent me the link a couple of nights ago to this latest from Simon Southerton, and I passed it on to Ugo Perego (who has completed his doctorate since his Wikipedia entry was last updated), Scott Woodward, and John Butler.

They were, to put it very mildly, unimpressed.

In fact, I think that Southerton and his friends at Signature have a real advantage on this issue now: His critics are bored with him and his claims.

Wait, three Mormon scholars were unimpressed? Mormons are bored with criticism? Well color me mildly impressed.

I'm sure these three will be publishing their ground breaking objections in the Journal of Genetics presently.

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A friend sent me the link a couple of nights ago to this latest from Simon Southerton, and I passed it on to Ugo Perego (who has completed his doctorate since his Wikipedia entry was last updated), Scott Woodward, and John Butler.

They were, to put it very mildly, unimpressed.

In fact, I think that Southerton and his friends at Signature have a real advantage on this issue now: His critics are bored with him and his claims.

Yes, quite underwhelming. Scott Woodward is probably thinking "If I were Simon Southerton, I would've focused on the Neanderthal inbreeding 30,000 years ago. That's much more trouble for the average members' faith."

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No more headaches from mental gymnastics for me.

Hmmmm. Too bad. Intellectual exercise is healthy.

I'm sure these three will be publishing their ground breaking objections in the Journal of Genetics presently.

You seriously believe that Signature Books PR releases merit responses in the Journal of Genetics? (And why, incidentally, do you think that a journal published in India would be the natural place for such responses?) Has Simon Southerton ever published anything on this subject in a peer-reviewed book or journal?

It doesn't seem to me reasonable to expect that LDS geneticists set aside their normal research and writing every time the publicist at Signature Books feels the itch to issue a press release. But it's not as if they're sitting on their hands, even on this topic. Dr. Ugo Perego published a lengthy discussion of "The Book of Mormon and the Origin of Native Americans from a Maternally Inherited DNA Standpoint" on the FAIR webpage as recently as 10 April of this year:

http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/Book_of_Mormon_and_DNA.html

It will appear in a slightly modified form in the very next issue of the FARMS Review.

Have you read it?

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I'm sure these three will be publishing their ground breaking objections in the Journal of Genetics presently.

I'm sure they will, once Southerton publishes his.

I was initially impressed with Southerton's statements--until I compared them to the actual quotes he used from the studies. Where there was a sweeping conclusion on any subject, it was always Southerton's own, not one he was able to cite from the studies themselves.

Thus I suspect that what the geneticists Dr. Peterson refers to are bored with is his tendency to overstate what the existing research shows, not with the exciting, cutting edge techniques used in the studies.

Don

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Wait, three Mormon scholars were unimpressed? Mormons are bored with criticism? Well color me mildly impressed.

I'm sure these three will be publishing their ground breaking objections in the Journal of Genetics presently.

I'll be impressed when there's a criticism of the Church you aren't impressed with.

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Faith and Reason go hand in hand, but Reason must never be trusted completely; Faith has a definite role to play. It makes me laugh out loud when I hear any scientist state (s)he has the final answer, they know everything there is to know, and there is no chance of an error. Science has the benefit of always being in the position of learning and never being able to state they know it all. I will stand on faith when there is a conflict between the two simply because I know that science does not know it all.

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Faith and Reason go hand in hand, but Reason must never be trusted completely; Faith has a definite role to play. It makes me laugh out loud when I hear any scientist state (s)he has the final answer, they know everything there is to know, and there is no chance of an error. Science has the benefit of always being in the position of learning and never being able to state they know it all. I will stand on faith when there is a conflict between the two simply because I know that science does not know it all.

Why do you go with faith when there is a conflict? Why not withhold judgment? Maybe ambiguity is uncomfortable for you.

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I just go off the phone with Simon. It's a fascinating area of research. Imagine the plus for genealogy. Finding distant cousins etc. DCP can be dismissive, these scientists are not antilds, just interested in population genetics.

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DCP can be dismissive, these scientists are not antilds, just interested in population genetics.

It's not a matter of what "these scientists" say.

It's a matter of what Simon Southerton says they say, as opposed to what scientists like Ugo Perego, Scott Woodward, and John Butler (who, incidentally, actually work in the fields of human and population genetics) say they say.

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It's a matter of what Simon Southerton says they say, as opposed to what scientists like Ugo Perego, Scott Woodward, and John Butler (who, incidentally, actually work in the fields of human and population genetics) say they say.

Dr. Southerton says a lot of things. Here's what he said in 2008:

"In case anyone from FAIR is unclear I will repeat what I wrote four years ago

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Southerton seems incapable of grasping the potential distinction between disagreeing with the science, its power, or its tools (which I know for a fact Perego does not) and disagreeing with his rather naive, ill-informed attempts to strongarm that science into a crude club with which beat the Church.

[i remember years ago when I saw the large number of articles in the FARMS Review and JBMS on DNA and the Book of Mormon. I remember thinking, "Man, this is all good stuff, but why are they beating this dead horse? Surely it ought to be obvious to anyone who knows even a little genetics that this dog won't hunt?" Time and experience has shown me the necessity of such repeated equine trauma, but I remain amazed that it is necessary, much less that a PhD geneticist (albeit in plants) continues to tilt at such silly windmills.]

On the upside, It is refreshing to see Signature Books' continuing trend, however, toward open and overt partisanship. It's a refreshing change from past claims of being merely neutral, "objective" (or "functionally objective") purveyors of "the truth" about Mormon matters who take a "Just the facts, ma'am" approach and let the chips fall where they may, with no agendas, preconceived notions, or axes to grind. That disingenuous pose gets old fast.

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Simon has not made much headway since he last published his findings about dna and the book of mormon. For awhile, he was on top of the speaking tour attempting to prove the book of mormon false. Some people followed him out of the lds church convinced that it had something of substance in proving the book of mormon false. But...after awhile, his research did not have much of an impact. The church survived and the apologists began to counter his claims. Now, I am sure that not many members are convinced about simon's findings and are led out of the lds church because of them.

Now he is attempting to regain his guru status among the exmo crowd. And I am sure that exmos will jump on his findings and proclaim with gold trumpet in hand that the lds church is false.

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Southerton seems incapable of grasping the potential distinction between disagreeing with the science, its power, or its tools (which I know for a fact Perego does not) and disagreeing with his rather naive, ill-informed attempts to strongarm that science into a crude club with which beat the Church.

Apparently his thinking is this: if we can detect a few instances of Neanderthal DNA entering the European gene pool 30,000 years ago, then we should also see evidence for the Book of Mormon no matter how "limited" you set your interpretations. If Lehi has direct descendants still living, unique markers from his autosomal DNA are still in the population and could be found. The new SNP technology is powerful enough to find minor influxes such as this; it's not like YcDNA and mtDNA which can truly disappear even from direct descendants.

The difference is that we know what Neanderthal DNA looks like. We don't know what to look for in regards to the colonies described in the BoM. It's a matter of finding candidates (or not finding them) that could never be confirmed anyway.

If the BoM colonies ever existed there ought to at least be candidate SNP markers from those people. I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see apologists with good science credentials (like Perego) trumpeting such candidates. I'd bet there were minor migrations from Eurasia even though I think the BoM is not historical.

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Apparently his thinking is this: if we can detect a few instances of Neanderthal DNA entering the European gene pool 30,000 years ago, then we should also see evidence for the Book of Mormon no matter how "limited" you set your interpretations. If Lehi has direct descendants still living, unique markers from his autosomal DNA are still in the population and could be found. The new SNP technology is powerful enough to find minor influxes such as this; it's not like YcDNA and mtDNA which can truly disappear even from direct descendants.

Indeed, they perhaps could be found. But, to what degree has anyone looked? I warrant that no SNP researchers have yet addressed this question. So it would seem to be a bit premature to be crowing about it. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, especially if no systematic approach has been taken to look for it.

We say "a few instances" of Neanderthal genes entering the pool. How many Neanderthal individuals? How do we know? Into what population size of Homo sapiens? Compared to what size of a pre-Lehite Amerindian population? What impact did the 94% die-off post-Contact have? (If any). Was Neanderthal DNA subject to selection (positive or negative)?

I don't know the answers to these questions (and perhaps no one does yet). Regardless, I think this matter requires a more robust analysis than a rather triumphalistic press release. [Though if anyone has references that address the question aside from the original paper by Green et al. in Science 328, I'd be pleased to read them.]

The difference is that we know what Neanderthal DNA looks like. We don't know what to look for in regards to the colonies described in the BoM. It's a matter of finding candidates (or not finding them) that could never be confirmed anyway.

Precisely.

If the BoM colonies ever existed there ought to at least be candidate SNP markers from those people. I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see apologists with good science credentials (like Perego) trumpeting such candidates. I'd bet there were minor migrations from Eurasia even though I think the BoM is not historical.

And, if there were such incursions, it is difficult to see how this could even in theory be distinguished from Lehites, especially when Lehi is a pre-Babylonian Diaspora Manasseh-ite, and we know nothing about his wife.

DNA is only a problem for an "empty hemisphere" model of the Book of Mormon--which model was already amply disproved by the text's discussion of demographics, blood group studies, and the archaeology of the New World. Thus, DNA has thus far brought nothing new to the party but what we already knew for decades before. This is why I find the whole flap so bewildering. No one who knew anything about the issues could have been surprised--or alarmed--by the DNA evidence. Indeed, one could have PREDICTED what the DNA evidence would show (in the main) as it applies to the Book of Mormon. If the blood group stuff doesn't look modern "Middle Eastern," fat chance that the majority DNA patterns are going to.

That's why I find it astonishing that Southerton had some type of "epiphany" moment with regards to DNA, as if the rest of that data wasn't around for years before.

But, he does not seem to have had a very deep knowledge or familiarity with LDS scripture and the writing about it, either before or after his departure.

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DNA is only a problem for an "empty hemisphere" model of the Book of Mormon--which model was already amply disproved by the text's discussion of demographics, blood group studies, and the archaeology of the New World. Thus, DNA has thus far brought nothing new to the party but what we already knew for decades before.

For the most part I agree with your post but I think you are going too far here. DNA is only NOT a problem for relatively limited interpretations of the BoM colony vs. rather expansive interpretations of what "others" existed. You assume such an imbalanced setup is the only thing one can gather from the text and that is not quite the case. I would say the DNA more or less solidifies that imbalanced setup as the only viable interpretation, far more than previous archaeology. It sets up quantitative parameters around what interpretations are reasonable. There was more leeway before DNA.

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