Video review from 4/13/22:
Text version (not a transcript, not by a long shot):
“Traced: Human DNA’s Big Surprise” is the new book by Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson of Answers in Genesis. In Traced, Dr. Jeanson uses Y-chromosome haplotypes to argue that the Y chromosome supports a Young Earth history, specifically the AiG version.
His argument works like this:
Establish a Y-chromosome mutation rate based pedigree studies to calculate a Y-chromosome time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) approximately 4500 years ago.
Reinterpret the Y-chromosome phylogeny and chronology based on this earlier TMRCA.
Correlate historical events, like migrations, to nodes in the Y-chromosome phylogeny.
Overlay the Y-chromosome phylogeny onto the pedigree for Noah and his sons derived from Genesis.
Do (3) for Biblical events (e.g. the Flood, Babel, etc.)
Claim you rewrote the history of humanity and confirmed the AiG interpretation of Genesis.
There are, uh, significant problems with the case Jeanson makes.
The first, which underlies much of his analysis, is that he treats genealogy and phylogeny as interchangeable.
They are not interchangeable. Genealogy is the history of individuals and familial relationships. Phylogeny is the evolutionary history of groups: populations, species, etc. A phylogenetic tree may superficially look like a family tree, but all those lines and branch points represent populations, not individuals. This is an extremely basic error.
There are additional problems with each step of the case he makes.
In terms of calculating the Y-TMRCA, it’s nothing new: He uses single-generation pedigree-based mutation rates rather than long-term substitution rates. It’s the same error that invalidates his work calculating a 6000kya mitochondrial TMRCA. He even references a couple of studies that indicate the consensus date of 200-300kya for the Y-MRCA, but dismisses them as low-quality (he ignores that there are many, many more such studies).
He is constrained in an extremely narrow timespan for much of the Y-chromosome branching due to its occurrence after the flood (~4500 years ago) and running up against well-documented, recorded human history (he ignores that Egyptian history spans the Flood). So he has to squeeze a ton of human history into half a millennium, at most.
In correlating his revised node dates on the Y-chromosome phylogeny with historical events, he employs some really half-as…uh, amateurish “analysis”. Like, “the ancestral population for sister haplogroups existed along the line between the geographic homeland for the derived groups, and the descendants migrated in opposite directions” amateurish. I’m not exaggerating; this is how he explains how and where E1b1a and E1b1b descended from E1b1.
He also just ignore inconvenient data that refute his model. Just straight up. Thanks to the crew on the Peaceful Science forum, my favorite example of this is R1b in Europe, and specifically Italy. Jeanson claims haplotype R1b arrived in Europe between 700 and 1400 CE, and specifically in Italy in the 14- or 1500s. Exceeeeeeeept…we have DNA from a stone age burial in northern Italy dated to about 14,000 years ago, and that individual was, you guessed it, R1b.
Even if we take Jeanson’s YEC timeline at face value, a stone age specimen would be pretty close to the flood, about 4kya, which also directly invalidates his model.
Moving on, the next step in his argument is to overlay the Y-chromosome phylogeny (now with incorrect new dates incorrectly correlated to historical events) with the pedigree of Noah and his sons and their descendants derived from Genesis. To do this, Jeanson egregiously acts as though a phylogenetic tree and a pedigree are interchangeable, treating nodes on the phylogeny as specific individuals rather than populations.
And finally, he correlates the haplotypes on the phylogeny (now incorrectly overlayed with Noah’s family tree) with Biblical groups and events.
That’s how Jeanson rewrites the history of humanity. That’s it.
It’s actually worse than that. Because he ignores Neanderthals. Neanderthals interbred with Homo sapiens. Most YECs have Neanderthals (and Denisovans) as descendants of Adam and Eve, and living post-flood. This means that Noah is also their Y-MRCA. The problem is that we have Neanderthal genomes, and their Y chromosomes are highly divergent. This necessarily pushes the MRCA back far beyond the YEC timeline, even using Jeanson’s incorrect mutation rates.
How does Jeanson deal with this?
He completely ignores it.
Really. There are a grand total of three (3) mentions of Neanderthals in this book. At no point does Jeanson engage with the fact that Neanderthal genomics refutes the foundation of his argument – the recent Y-MRCA. So…that’s not great.
The last thing I want to mention is that, so far, no other YEC “scientists” have gotten on board with Traced. Not many people have commented on it, really. AiG is in full hype mode, but that’s about it. Dr. Rob Carter published a piece answering a question about a secular paper, and the degree to which his qualifications and critiques apply to Traced is…notable, I think.
So Traced doesn’t do what we’re told it does. It’s too full of basic errors and shoddy analysis.
It’s not designed to convince real biologists that AiG is actually right. And I don’t even think it’s designed to convince non-YECs, Christian or not, that YEC is right. I think this is designed to reassure people already on board with AiG’s version of Genesis that they have “science” to back up their beliefs. It’s to make a subset of YECs feel good, and not much more. There are too many errors, basic, obvious errors, for anything else.