Nathaniel Jeanson’s Traced

I read Jeanson’s ‘Traced’

It is complete nonsense.

One thing that AiG is good at - better than the rest of these creationist ministries - is promotion and marketing. An important thing to remember about someone like Jeanson is he does not have any of the academic freedom typical of a professional scientist.

When I debated him about Replacing Darwin I recall at one point I asked about AiGs statement of faith. I was questioning this follow the evidence approach he claimed he was championing given he is contractually obligated to never accept any empirical evidence if it is contrary to a very particular set of Biblical views. His only answer was it was OK because AiG leadership approved the book. This would virtually never happen in academia. I think he also mentioned he makes no royalties off his books. Also not something typical of actual academics.

Also people have complained about Jeanson not being responsive to requests for debates. But my experience debating Jeanson was that AiG was very forceful on setting conditions. He apparently can’t do anything without Ken Ham’s permission.

Again in case you missed it before here are my reviews of Traced. Again speaking to the issue of control, and someone in a now closed thread asked about all the positive reviews for Traced on Amazon. I attempted to enter a review on Amazon and was blocked. My negative review for Replacing Darwin was still available last I checked. I never received any notice from Amazon about violating their policies on any reviews. I’m not blocked from reviewing any other books on Amazon except Traced.

I’m still not sure how it works but I suspect Jeanson can ask certain people be blocked from reviewing his work and that is artificially inflating the reviews. Again it’s about control.

Here are my reviews posted to my webpage in case anyone missed them.


I’m curious – what happens when you try to review it? Is there a blocking message? Missing review link? I have known reviews to go into Amazon’s “in” hopper and then never get approved, without getting an e-mail back to say they weren’t posted or why. If you’re just posting it and then never seeing it show up, I’d try again.

Sometimes Amazon seems to have strange arbitrary triggers. For example, some of the blockquotes in your review contain the word “Negroes,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s triggering some kind of policy filter (silly if it is, of course, because the usage is in quotes from other works, but I wouldn’t count on that being understood by whoever’s processing these).

But if you’re getting a message telling you you’re blocked, that’s a new one to me and I’d be interested in knowing what the heck is going on there. Not that anyone at Amazon is likely to ever tell anyone…


Your April 20 post about how Jeanson inferred Y-chromosome mutation rates was enlightening. Thank you for revealing the issues with his methods and assumptions


Very simple point that Jeanson doesn’t get: there is no way to root a tree so as to get a three-way split (a trichotomy) except to root it at an internal node of exactly three branches. On a dichotomous tree, all internal nodes are like that. But Jeanson tries to root within a branch, not at a node, which must result in a two-way split. Either one brother is the father of another (bit of an icky secret for the Noah family) or something is wrong with the root.


Appreciate your review and the detailed followup on the mutation rate methodology. Somehow that kind of thing still surprises me, in spite of myself.

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This quote is quite something in light of the Karmin quote Jeanson points to, as well as @John_Harshman telling me that each male would have to have a unique genotype in Jeanson’s tree. :relaxed:

“One thing to note is that we mainly focused on structural variants in this paper (Maretty et al. 2017 Nature 548: 87-91) so we were not very conservative with regards to filtering of SNPs. So thats why the Y chromosomes are not completely identical.” - Laurits Skov, personal communication, April 19, 2022

A fully resolved branching tree diagram is bifurcating – one branch splits into two, each of those two into another two branches, and on and on as genes are replicated and accumulate differences. Jeanson seems to think that this branching pattern necessarily reflects population growth (pgs. 79-80). It does not. Bifurcating trees will still represent gene diversity even when a population is stable over time. It’s not as if a stable population – neither expanding nor contracting – will just forever have a single branch for every gene in perpetuity.

I’m glad you’ve addressed Jeanson’s hypothesis that the tree reflects minimum population growth. But I’d say you haven’t addressed it there - it really is patrilineal genealogical science, which is then applied to a y-chromosome tree that has multiple mutations per generation. So I can’t see how your critique applies.

There as you know are billions of ways to root a tree with that many taxa. He says he tested about three or four and the Bible one fit. He has no clue as to what he’s doing.


Just a red font message shows up saying you are not allowed to review this item. I never even get the opportunity to type out anything. Weird?

The tree we are talking about is based only on about 3,000 sites so yes among those sites they should be identical between father and son and according to one of the actual authors of that study.

Also for most of the Y chromosome, but not all, males don’t have genotypes. The PAR and adjacent regions and some of the X degenerate site being exceptions.


Distance based trees do not reflect population growth in the way Jeanson claims. At all.

A population with a constant number of males, neither contracting nor growing, will still exhibit bifurcating trees for paternally inherited loci. It’s not as if only growing populations have genetic diversity.


That is indeed weird. I have never seen that and have no idea what might bring it about. I’m sure Amazon doesn’t just give authors carte blanche to refuse reviewers, or all my DI book reviews would be missing. But something has happened there, for sure. You could always try contacting the “communities help” e-mail people at Amazon to inquire, but usually all that gets in most cases is a stock cut-and-paste reply that isn’t very helpful.

Edit: doggoned if I didn’t go test it. I clicked the link as though I were about to write a review and it responds in red, “this item is not eligible to be reviewed.” I have never seen this.

Second Edit: well, I also tried the same thing on another account, and I get the same message. I think the book itself may be in some sort of not-to-be-reviewed status somehow, but I have no idea why, and I also have no idea why, if that’s so, there are reviews of it already there.


Here’s my hunch: The print version is still in PRE-ORDER status but the Kindle Edition has been selling for a while. So I assume that the reviews are from Kindle orders.

Amazon often lumps together related products into a single stream of reviews—which can cause confusion when one sees clues in a review that are unrelated to the product page one is reading (e.g., complaints about an ACME lithium battery may appear on an ACME NiCd battery listing for the same company.)

I put my hunch to the test—and, indeed, Amazon won’t let me post a review to the print edition of the book but the Kindle edition lets me immediately start assigning stars.

Mystery solved? (If there are any references to print editions in the reviews, they probably came from people who got early print stock from non-Amazon sources.)


So I should submit a review for the Kindle version and problem solved huh?

Good theory

Something is definitely going on behind the scenes

This makes sense - what I briefly mentioned on the other thread about Dan’s review (I haven’t checked that one out yet) is that the book is sold out in print from its initial printing. Both Amazon and AIG have nothing available until July. I guess Amazon putting the book back on pre-order status blocks print reviews because this is not a typical situation. I was curious about the reviews so I checked out the Amazon page several times, including when I ordered my book when it said there were only a few copies left. Then I saw they quickly got more in stock on Amazon but they must have quickly sold them again because they’ve been out of stock for at least a week. @Joel_Duff they aren’t ignoring this one. I checked the ranking as well - it’s ranked pretty high. The evolution category amuses me, I gotta be honest.

Thanks for the reply, but it still doesn’t address what I wrote. It’s genealogical science. A patrilineal genealogical tree will continue to branch if the population is growing. If the population were to stop growing, or decrease, and now you’re looking at a genealogical tree of survivors in the modern day, you’d only see the one branch left in that time period. If you apply that to a y-chromosome tree with multiple mutations per generation where each person is an individual branch, the y-chromosome tree branching will reflect population growth. That’s why I’ve said on another thread Jeanson’s hypothesis is like genealogical science and genetic drift had a baby (because the one lineage that survives is the result of drift). The baby is a population growth curve. :laughing:

The cool thing is too that I realized Jeanson could apply this to any subpopulation or even to get an idea of a historical mutation rate of say, African haplogroups, by matching the growth curve to any population that remained in place for a significant period of time where their population sizes are known.

Actually, there are only 2N - 3 ways to root a bifurcating tree of N taxa; 3N - 5 if you allow rooting at internal nodes too.

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How so? What will be different?

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This is all simply untrue. My next question is it worth the likely Herculean effort it will require to explain to you why.

Jeanson is using either unrooted or poorly rooted distance based trees. They are just displaying the distance between sequences. It’s not a family genealogy.


Let me ask you this. What would a tree look like for a constant population neither growing nor shrinking? A single lone branch with no bifurcation?