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Southerton Answers FARMS & FAIR


Dan Vogel

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News item: March 2005

Dr. Southerton answers FARMS and FAIR

Dr. Southerton Responds to Misinformation Disseminated by Apologists about DNA

Over the past year, the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) and the Foundation for Apologetic Information nad Research (FAIR) have sponsored numerous lectures and published book-length articles that have grossly misrepresented the science of population genetics. Dr. Simon Southerton, of the Australian national laboratories in Canberra, has issued a response to clarify what FARMS and FAIR have obscurred by their confusion over, for instance, recombinant and non-recombinant DNA. The issue is not the theological reinterpretation of the Book of Mormon by FARMS and FAIR, but rather the underlying science. Because of the degree of interest in the topic and the number of inquiries Dr. Southerton receives, he promises to update his response as more whacky pseudo-scientific claims are made. Click here for Dr. Southerton's response.

http://www.signaturebooks.com/excerpts/Losing2.htm

I thought members of this board would be interested in this item.

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Just took a quick glance but...

The Book of Mormon claims in its introduction that the Book of Mormon people (the Lamanites) "are the principal ancestors of the American Indians."

Strike 1: The Book of Mormon makes no such claim. The introductory matter is not part of the text of Book of Mormon.

In 600 BC there were probably several million American Indians living in the Americas. If a small group of Israelites, say less than thirty, entered such a massive native population, it would be very hard to detect their genes today. However, such a scenario does not square with what the Book of Mormon plainly states and with what the prophets have taught for 175 years.

Strike 2: Such a possibility is not ruled out by the text of the Book of Mormon. Various leaders may have indeed made some unfounded assumptions over the years based on their understanding and handed down assumptions. However, the text of the Book of Mormon doesn't rule out this possibility.

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Dr. Southerton receives, he promises to update his response as more whacky pseudo-scientific claims are made.

I wonder what "whacky pseudo-scientific claims" are being referenced. If he is talking about Murphie's "Galileo event" then I would agree that there are many such claims in his work.

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Because of the degree of interest in the topic and the number of inquiries Dr. Southerton receives, he promises to update his response as more whacky pseudo-scientific claims are made.

The phrase 'poisoning the well' comes to mind.

I am left to wonder if he will update his response if reasoned, logical arguments against his claims are made, or if he will only be responding to 'whacky psuedo-scientific claims'. I have learned to be somewhat skeptical of anyone whose first response is to brand his opponent's arguments as psuedo-scientific, rather than to engage their actual arguments. I wonder how many people called Einstein's relativity arguments as 'whacky' when they first saw them.

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The issue is not the theological reinterpretation of the Book of Mormon by FARMS and FAIR, but rather the underlying science.

That is so classic..... Does he ever think that HE is the one "reinterpreting" the Book of Mormon according to his narrowed anti-eyes?

But I have a question for Southerton.

How does he explain Saints like ME (and many others over the last 170 years, including Prophets and other leaders) who had already interpreted the Book of Mormon the same way FARMS and FAIR are, before they ever knew of FARMS or FAIR?

You see, the problem is HIS interpretations of the Book of Mormon AND the Words of the Prophets.

It's not FAIR or FARMS.

By the way, his "rebuttal" of FARMS and FAIR is really quite poor.

For example, he states:

Most LDS adherents believe, and all the LDS prophets have taught, that Israelites are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.

Boy, really? Maybe he's forgotten that LDS theology believes that ALL OF THE EARTH has the Twelve Tribes of Israel intermixed. In otherwords, all of mankind has the blood of Israel in them at some point.

Has that ever meant that Israel is the "dominant" DNA. No, the Prophets have never taught such.

There is another falacy of his statement. What they have taught is that the "Lamanites" are the principle ancestor's of the American Indians.

According to the Book of Mormon, the "Lamanites" are like the Gentiles of the Old World. They were not simply those decended from Laman and Lemual. And I knew this long before Murphy/SouthertonDNA came along, or FARMS and FAIR responding to such.

Again, Southerton is ignorant of the Book of Mormon as well as the meanings of the Words of the Prophets, as all anti's are.

Simon..... If you ever learn anything, learn that the Prophets deal in "Spiritual" matters when they speak.

Ever read your Patriarcal Blessing lately? Hopefully then you will get a CLUE as to how you've created your OWN strawman to then debunk yourself.

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I wonder how many people called Einstein's relativity arguments as 'whacky' when they first saw them.

Einstein's "Special Theory of Relativity," published in 1905 was well-received by the few physicists and mathemeticians who initially read it.

Gradually as his Special Theory (and other papers he'd written in 1905) became better understood, by 1909 he was famous in the physicist community. However, no one knew of him in the outside world.

In 1916, Enstein published his "General Theory of Relativity," and this is when he became world-famous. This was partly because the physicist community had already accepted his "Special Theory of Relativity," and therefore supported its validity.

The only people who attacked Einstein's theories as whacky, using vitriolic propaganda, were the Nazis. Actually, "whacky" is an understatement. Their attacks were vicious and idiotic.

Back to the topic . . .

Jaynee

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Let's assume for a minute that the LGT is correct, that Southerton's work has (among other things) helped to dispel the long held but mistaken belief that (nearly) all Native Americans & Polynesians had Lehi as an ancestor.

So, what do we make of the history of leadership assertions, patriarchal blessings, testimonies borne & grown, joyful tears shed, dreams, aspirations and collective pride felt by young LDS "Lamanites" as they were taught of and took pride in their special status as direct descendents of Lehi?

So were testimonies developed with that understanding as a principal catalyst a case of the Holy Ghost & the Lord together sort of prompting these people along the lines of "well, you're sort of close, in a way... kind of, but you're getting warmer! Stay with that thought & feeling! Eventually you'll see your impression is fundamentally incorrect, but we're leading you in the right direction!" ?

The Navajo (aka "Dineh") are relatively recent inhabitants of the southwestern US, having migrated from northern Canada about 500 years ago. In reality they're close relatives of the Eskimos / Inuit, almost certain to *not* have any legitimate Israelite heritage - except through intermarrying with Jews after Columbus - yet the Navajo were taught by generations of LDS prophets, missionaries and genuinely good common LDS people that they enjoyed special status as direct descendents of Lehi.

I know a few Navajos who came up to go to school in Utah in the Indian Placement Program of the 1970s, who previously felt honored in sunday school when the lesson of the Lamanites came up. Some of them today feel they were ripped off, in this particular regard.

I wonder why the Lord allowed so many good people (Anglo & Indian alike) to get confirmation of this mistaken idea?

That was all just an innocent mistake, confirmed by the Holy Ghost to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions? Forgive my skepticism, but this reminds me of the old primetime soap opera "Dallas" when Bobby dies but miraculously gets written back into the series by the assertion the entire previous season of episodes was all a dream.

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I wonder why the Lord allowed so many good people (Anglo & Indian alike) to get confirmation of this mistaken idea?

Wonder away...it is irrelevant. This line of defense amounts to nothing more than noisy breast beating...why, why...why? Doesn't matter....you are still left with the BOM.

I can only shake my head that Southerton so obviously whistles past the graveyard of the comprehensive treatment given by FARMS in several detailed articles by world renowned experts. We get the very tired, very overused and very obvious "stick in my thumb and pull out the same plum" response:

However, such a scenario does not square with what the Book of Mormon plainly states and with what the prophets have taught for 175 years.

ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz

Forgive my skepticism, but this reminds me of the old primetime soap opera "Dallas" when Bobby dies but miraculously gets written back into the series by the assertion the entire previous season of episodes was all a dream.

I've moved past skepticism. I'm quite convinced this is all we are ever going to get in the way of a "response". This reminds me of that primetime fairy tale about Three Little Pigs.

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Let's assume for a minute that the LGT is correct, that Southerton's work has (among other things) helped to dispel the long held but mistaken belief that (nearly) all Native Americans & Polynesians had Lehi as an ancestor.

I haven't seen Dr. Peterson around lately, so I'll offer the reply he's repeated oh-so-many times:

So far as I'm aware, advocates of limited geographical models also believe that all, or virtually all, Native Americans are descended from Lehi. There is no necessary incompatibility between the two views.
(see here)
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Here's the real irony of all this discussion:

The unique claim of the LDS church is that it possesses an exclusive access to God-- the keys of the priesthood and it's attendant gifts, especially in this case the gift of revelation, are what sets the church apart from all those with "portions" of the real truth. LDS scholars, on the other hand, the predominant source of LDS apologetics in general and the LGT in specific, are not unique. All religions have these kinds of defenders, and until they make Apologist a Priesthiood office, there is nothing special or sanctioned in about the apologists arguments.

The good people at FARMS, and all other apologists, have less authority to discuss the claims of the BOM than their spiritual superiors. Those superiors have made clear statments about what they consider to be the true order of geography, and until they say otherwise, the prophets have spoken.

A living prophet may trump a dead prophet, but a dead prophet always trumps a living apologist.

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The unique claim of the LDS church is that it possesses an exclusive access to God--

You sure you want phrase it that way? It could imply a HUGE misconception amongst the less eductated folks.

the keys of the priesthood and it's attendant gifts, especially in this case the gift of revelation, are what sets the church apart from all those with "portions" of the real truth.

I agree 100%. When Christ established his church with apostles and prophets he gave them such keys and authority. Why do so many presume that such a foundation is faulty and anyone can claim such rights?

The good people at FARMS, and all other apologists, have less authority to discuss the claims of the BOM than their spiritual superiors. Those superiors have made clear statments about what they consider to be the true order of geography, and until they say otherwise, the prophets have spoken.

A living prophet may trump a dead prophet, but a dead prophet always trumps a living apologist.

Is this one of those - everything the prophet said is gospel. When a prophet opinionates that apple pie is better than cherry it now gospel? Your problem is two fold 1) your view LDS prophets fits in well with the strawman view most evangelicals like to take - ignoring biblical evidence to the contrary. 2) on the issue of linage I believe that all Native Americans are "children of Lehi" while I do not believe in that Lehi is the ancestor of all Native Americans - it's adoption into the covenant and this is often the way in which the Lord does things. I have read past statements of the prophets and I see no conflict with their views and what science and the BoM have to say on the subject.

Amature LDS apologist trumps antimo critic.

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emaughn-

It would probably be a good idea to understand arguments before regurgitating them.

I'm not an antimo, and you're not an apologist.

If an ordained prophet speaks regarding the BOM, he has, by right of priesthood authority, a superior insight into the BOM and it's origins and teachings, than any secular-based apologist, regardless of whether or not that apologist is a faithful LDS member or not.

Comments regarding LGT are not similar to comment regarding pie preference.

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OK, if I understand the viewpoint that the LGT is valid while all Native Americans (& presumably Polynesians, too) are still direct literal descents of Lehi, then the following seems to be also true:

- Those carrying the DNA of Lehi from MesoAmerica spread that DNA out to all the other Native American (and Polynesian) groups, from the immediate tribes in Mesoamerica, to groups in North America & South America, to the ancestors of the Navajo in northern Canada, to the Inuit of NE Canada & Greenland, to every group who have become entrenched in the amazon jungle, to the natives Magellan encountered on Tierra Del Fuego at the tip of S Amerca.

On the Polynesian side, this same group of people (or their descendents) accomplished the same thing in the Pacific, from Rapa Nui in the east to the forebears of the Hawaiians living in the Marquesas (or wherever that migration orginated from) to New Zealand, etc. The Polynesian assertion seems more probable, in terms of geography, but Polynesians are also quite genetically homogeneous, overall (from what I've been able to gather), which would seemingly make the existence of Israelite DNA easier to trace. (I'm still coming up to speed in this area, so there could be some big holes in my thesis.)

In short, do proponents of both LGT & Indians as direct literal descendents of Lehi propose this notion, that descendents of Lehi were able to spread his DNA out to the farthest reaches of the Native American world?

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Corky,

> OK, if I understand the viewpoint that the LGT is valid while all Native Americans (& presumably Polynesians, too) are still direct literal descents of Lehi, then the following seems to be also true:

> In short, do proponents of both LGT & Indians as direct literal descendents of Lehi propose this notion, that descendents of Lehi were able to spread his DNA out to the farthest reaches of the Native American world?

==Who is it that holds this viewpoint? Who are these proponents?

-Smac

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Southerton: "It is also clear that American Indian X lineages have been in the New World for in excess of 15,000 years.

"The amount of DNA variation found in each of the five American Indian female DNA lineage families indicates that they have been present in the Americas for at least 15,000 years, possibly longer."

I wonder what our evangelical friends, who tout Southerton and Murphy against the Book of Mormon, make of this part of the DNA evidence? If the earth is only 6,000-7,000 years old, where were these people's ancestors 15,000 years ago?

Southerton; "8. When God cursed American Indians and changed their skin color, as reported in the Book of Mormon, God could have changed their DNA as well.

If so, why would God change the DNA so it matched Asian DNA? As Latter-day Saints, we have already offended Blacks and the Indians. Are we going to offend Asians now, as well?"

I have always (before FARMS and FAIR) thought that the way their skin color was changed was by intermarrying with the natives. This would also change the DNA of their offspring, of course. The rhetorical shot about offending Asians indicates an agenda. And what's this "as Latter-day Saints" line? He doesn't sound like a saint to me.

I do not claim to be a genetics expert, but I did pretty well in my genetics courses in college and medical school. It is very plausible to me that the DNA contribution of a small group of immigrants could get lost in the larger population. Dr. Southerton's hand waving does not convince me otherwise.

Dr. Southerton's inference that Lehi's party should be expected to resemble modern Isrealis is not convincing. There really is no way to know. As just one point of uncertainty, we are told Lehi was desended from Manasseh. Where are Manasseh's descendants today, and what do they look like? There are certainly people out there who know more about this than I do, but Manasseh's mother was Asenath, a priestess of Egypt. It's been my understanding that Joseph's time in Egypt was likely during the Hyksos regime, a people which came from Asia. If so, Joseph's wife was Asian. If Manasseh followed common practice of the time, he might well have married into his mother's family (as with Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Leah), introducing more Asian, including mitochondrial, DNA into his line.

Dr. Southerton's interpretations are obviously driven by an agenda, and must be read with that in mind. He has said nothing which convinces me that DNA studies disprove the Book of Mormon, or convincingly refutes the experts published by FARMS.

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Hey Smac,

See Trespasser's post above - apparently Dr. Peterson asserts (or at least does not discount the possibility of) this notion of LGT and Lehi DNA spread through Native American populations.

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but isn't this what was posted in the link referenced by Trespasser?

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Praetorian 1964 said: If an ordained prophet speaks regarding the BOM, he has, by right of priesthood authority, a superior insight into the BOM and it's origins and teachings, than any secular-based apologist, regardless of whether or not that apologist is a faithful LDS member or not.

Your statement is basically incorrect. You can make it correct if you make a small edit: When an "ordained prophet speaks regarding the doctrinal truths of the BoM, he has, by right of priesthood authority, a superior insight..."

You are assuming that geography is synonymous with doctrine, and it is not. It never has been. If you read the latest scholarship on this topic (yes, including Southerton), you will find that many ordained prophets have left the door open concerning geography. Some have made statements that are compatible with a HGT and with LGT. Those who dismiss the Book of Mormon out of hand, who are loathe to admit a divine provenance for the book, are quick to cherry pick which historical statements they want to cite.

The bottom line is that you are trying to force a false dichotomy between scholars/apologists and prophets. This is not an either/or situation, as you try to make it. One can accept HGT and be faithful. One can accept LGT and be faithful. One can accept LGT/limited incursion and be faithful. One can accept HGT/limited incursion and be faithful. The geography doesn't matter; it isn't doctrine.

I'll give you another example. If a prophet speaks to a group of Jews, in Israel, about their heritage, and it is later found that a majority of the audience have only been Jewish for a few generations, does that invalidate what the prophet said? Or, perchance, does it mean he is not a prophet because he didn't know about the late conversion of the audience?

No, it doesn't. It simply means he was mistaken. He was talking about something not directly related to spiritual matters.

I'll give you another example. I am a convert to the Church. Historically, my ancestors on both of may parents sides came from Illinois and Tennessee. I have no "pioneer stock" in my genes; my ancestors did not cross the plains, nor did they suffer deprivations because of their religious choices.

However, the LDS pioneers are my adopted heritage. I still feel every bit as proud of my LDS heritage, and what people suffered for it, as any direct descendant from those pioneers. I feel just as strongly about them as a converted Jew would about his newfound Jewish heritage.

Are the LDS pioneers my "principal ancestors." Maybe not genetically, but they are culturally. I should point out that it is very possible that there is a genetic link in a distant relative who may have left my ancestral families in preference for the Saints, but if so, I haven't found it yet. The existence of such a genetic tie would not make my ties to LDS history an truer or any more real than it currently is.

-Allen

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Corky:

In short, do proponents of both LGT & Indians as direct literal descendents of Lehi propose this notion, that descendents of Lehi were able to spread his DNA out to the farthest reaches of the Native American world?

I linked to the thread specifically to answer that question for any who are interested. If you want my understanding of what Dr. Peterson was saying, I'm happy to offer it, but I don't promise to be all that accurate :P

Genetic studies have shown that in a surprisingly short period of time (as I understand it, a millenia or so) any individual with surviving descendents among a population will be an ancestor to pretty much the entire population. So, if Jim-Bob lived in Europe a thousand years ago, and his descendents didn't die out, then if you live in Europe today, you're pretty much guaranteed to have Jim-Bob in your ancestry somewhere.

Thus, the LGT does not preclude the idea that all (or virtually all) Native Americans are descendents of Lehi.

As for your question about DNA: No, not necessarily. Having Lehi as one of you ancestors way back when and presently having Lehi's DNA to any measurable extent are two separate questions.

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Southerton: "It is also clear that American Indian X lineages have been in the New World for in excess of 15,000 years.

"The amount of DNA variation found in each of the five American Indian female DNA lineage families indicates that they have been present in the Americas for at least 15,000 years, possibly longer."

If this is true, it disproves the Bible also. Funny all the Anti's forget that.

I also wonder where they got the sample of Lehi's dna to compare. Lehi was of the 12 tribes that made up Israel, the Jews of today are of only 2 of those tribes, so comparing the dna of modern day Jews (2500 years after Lehi) to that of American Indians of today (2500 years after Lehi), just doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me.

Was Lehi a Jew? I just did a search on "Jew" in the Book of Mormon and the way it reads to me, while definatly an Israelite he may not have been of the tribe of Judah, there is talk of the Jews, but not necessarily as Lehi being one of them, in fact the way its written, its almost as if the Jews were not the same tribe as Lehi.

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> See Trespasser's post above - apparently Dr. Peterson asserts (or at least does not discount the possibility of) this notion of LGT and Lehi DNA spread through Native American populations.

==Yes, but your characterization seemed quite a bit more specific and all-encompassing (emphasis added):

OK, if I understand the viewpoint that the LGT is valid while all Native Americans (& presumably Polynesians, too) are still direct literal descents of Lehi, then the following seems to be also true...

I'm not sure that DCP has asserted such a thing. And an affirmative assertion is quite a bit differention from "not discount[ing] the possibility of" such a thing.

==Further, TrespassersW pointed out, "[h]aving Lehi as one of you[r] ancestors way back when and presently having Lehi's DNA to any measurable extent are two separate questions." He expressly differentiates what you appear to be conflating.

-Smac

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I also wonder where they got the sample of Lehi's dna to compare. Lehi was of the 12 tribes that made up Israel, the Jews of today are of only 2 of those tribes, so comparing the dna of modern day Jews (2500 years after Lehi) to that of American Indians of today (2500 years after Lehi), just doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me.

Was Lehi a Jew? I just did a search on "Jew" in the Book of Mormon and the way it reads to me, while definatly an Israelite he may not have been of the tribe of Judah, there is talk of the Jews, but not necessarily as Lehi being one of them, in fact the way its written, its almost as if the Jews were not the same tribe as Lehi.

1 Nephi 5:14 And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.

The word "Jew" comes from "Judah". Lehi was descended from Joseph, (probably through Manasseh, though Ephraim had the same mother), who was only Judah's half-brother. Joseph's wife was also quite likely very different genetically from Judah's (see my post above).

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Your statement is basically incorrect. You can make it correct if you make a small edit: When an "ordained prophet speaks regarding the doctrinal truths of the BoM, he has, by right of priesthood authority, a superior insight..."

You are assuming that geography is synonymous with doctrine, and it is not. It never has been. If you read the latest scholarship on this topic (yes, including Southerton), you will find that many ordained prophets have left the door open concerning geography. Some have made statements that are compatible with a HGT and with LGT. Those who dismiss the Book of Mormon out of hand, who are loathe to admit a divine provenance for the book, are quick to cherry pick which historical statements they want to cite.

It's a basic question of epistemology:

What is the best way to "know" something? If the answer is revelation, then priesthood power and prayer are the best way to obtain answers about any question, including doctrine, lineage, or geography. Southerton relies on things like intellect, scholarship, and the wisdom of men--many of the very things that the scripture warn against. It's ironic that so many members here do the same thing.

It's a slippery slope, isn't it?

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> What is the best way to "know" something? If the answer is revelation, then priesthood power and prayer are the best way to obtain answers about any question, including doctrine, lineage, or geography.

==This is not a correct interpretation of LDS belief.

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. (D&C 9::P

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. (D&C 88:118, see also D&C 109:7,14)

==Our faith exhorts its members to study, to seek "out of the best books words of wisdom" and to "seek learning, by study and also by faith."

> Southerton relies on things like intellect, scholarship, and the wisdom of men--many of the very things that the scripture warn against.

==I think you misinterpret the scriptures.

> It's ironic that so many members here do the same thing.

==There's nothing ironic about members of the LDS Church adhering to scriptural commandments to study and to learn. Your caricature of LDS belief is not accurate.

-Smac

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