New Jeanson Book: Traced Human DNA's Big Surprise

Sigh. Yes, I don’t get it. I’m not sure why @dsterncardinale thinks I don’t want to get it when I’m specifically asking. I understand there could be back mutations. I understand how alleles could be lost in autosomal DNA. I understand how mutations could be lost if there’s less than 1 mutation per generation in mtDNA or the y chromosome. I don’t understand how they can be lost if there’s multiple mutations per generation in uniparentally inherited DNA. If every male passes on 3 mutations approximately, someone is going to have a male child if the population is growing, so I don’t understand how the mutation rate and substitution rate would be different over time.

I DO want to understand it. I think population genetics is interesting but I know it’s not intuitive, so I do know the likeliest outcome is that I’m drawing a blank because I’m not understanding correctly and I would like to get it. Hopefully my explanation is helpful to see where my misunderstanding lies.

You’re right; I haven’t. I just was curious if anyone disagreed outright with the hypothesis on the face of it. But I couldn’t tell since no one responded.

Yes, it is a hypothesis. And I very much doubt the book would be written without it. The Y-chromosome mutation rate is important, but Jeanson puts forward evidence that that hypothesis about the tree and minimum population size is working in several places in the book.

There are lots of haplogroup that have their origin in Central Asia. And Jeanson has Turks as J2 and G, which you can see from your map. The general theme in the book seems to be that the highest haplogroup levels in any given area are the most recent migrants, and that some migrations generally happen as a slow outward spread, but otherwise there are specific historical events that move a group in or push it out. In the case of R1b into western Europe, obviously the suggestion is that it migrated quickly from eastern Europe and spread out quickly, based on the distribution of various recent subgroups of R1b.

I don’t have time to write this up more, but quick check-in: I’m nearly done, and it’s gotten worse.

Here’s the slight-of-hand Jeanson does:

  1. Extrapolate pedigree mutation rate backwards indefinitely.

  2. Reset Y-chromosome chronology by dating nodes in y-chrom phylogeny based on incorrect rate.

  3. Eyeball real-life historical events that could correlate with revised node dates and say “could be that <event> (e.g. mongol invasion of europe) is apparent in <node> (e.g. divergence of central asian haplotypes into european lineages)”.

  4. Conflate phylogeny and genealogy in order to overlay revised, incorrectly-dated y-chromosome tree onto Genesis-derived pedigree starting with Noah.

  5. Do (3) but for Genesis stories rather than historical events.

  6. Claim you rewrote the history of humanity and confirmed Genesis.

It’s bad. Honestly I’m surprised at just how bad.

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Will every male have a male child?

Of course not.

When a male dies without having any male children, what happens to the 3 new mutations they experienced? What about any unique mutations from their father? Grandfather? Great-grandfather?

They’re gone. Their lineage could very well persist, if they have daughters, but the diversity unique to their Y-chromosomes will vanish. This is just something that happens by chance each generation - some fraction of the variations in the Y-chromosome are lost.

So you have opposing forces - mutations generating new variants, and drift (and selection) removing them. Over many generations, these opposing forces reach equilibrium. That is the long-term substitution rate, the rate at which new mutations accumulate in the Y-chromosome. It’s a slower rate than the one-generation mutation rate, because the mutation rate only considers one side of the equation - new mutations - but hasn’t yet been affected by the other - drift and selection.

Jeanson uses the one-generation rate and projects backwards, acting as though drift and selection never operate. He’s been doing it since at least 2015 with his mitochondrial DNA TMRCA calculations. And it invalidates basically all of his work.

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There’s your problem. Not every male passes on his Y chromosome. That only happens if he has sons. All the mutations that happen in males who have no sons are lost. Further, given most reasonable assumptions, every strictly male lineage except one will eventually be eliminated because all it’s various branchings will end in daughters (or extinction, which is the same thing as far as Y chromosomes are concerned). This is true whether the population is expanding, contracting, or stable.

Then again, barring selection, that one remaining lineage will have experienced a number of substitutions per generation equal to the mutation rate per generation unless selection has been operating. And if there’s no selection, population size is irrelevant.

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I will note that this is in response to a post I made 6 days ago. The conversation has moved along quite a bit since.

Yes, and there is evidence that R1b arrived in Europe during the stone age, long before Jeanson’s time-frame.

So if it wasn’t the Turks, was it the Huns or the Mongols, or some other lesser migration, and what is Jeanson’s evidence that they had R1b?

That is a ludicrously simplistic claim. It fails to account for the fact that (i) relative sizes of the migrant and pre-existing populations would affect the balance, and (ii) that if the migrants had gone through multiple migrations, they would likely already be a genetic mix.

It also does not account for the fact that R1b is highest in the areas of Western Europe that saw the least migrations during the last two millennia – Ireland (particularly the West-- the Vikings had a colony around Dublin in the East), Wales, the Scottish Highlands, the Basque country, Brittany, etc.

I.e. Jeanson’s “general theme” does not fit the evidence.

… where there is no evidence that it was predominant.

Where the evidence suggests it has existed since the Stone Age.

The more I learn of Jeanson’s claims the more the following analogy comes to mind. That of a demented amateur taxidermist, who is attempting to stretch a zebra’s hide over the skeleton of a rhino. It simply doesn’t fit!

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I’ve been scratching around on the genetics of some pre-Roman Empire populations, and then looking for what Jeanson had to say about them. In doing so, I came across this little ‘gem’:

I would note that the Etruscans,[1] Celts[2] and Basques[3] are all pre-Roman Western European ethnic groups, known to have the R1b haplogroup.

Making claims about the migration of R1b to Western Europe without tracing these groups, is ludicrously blatant negligence. I must assume that Jeanson omitted them because he knew that their inclusion would blow his thesis out of the water.

I think this puts the last nail in the coffin of Jeanson’s “supposed” understanding of human genetic history, and his “supposed” claims to being a real scientist.


  1. The origin and legacy of the Etruscans through a 2000-year archeogenomic time transect

    By contrast, the newly reported central Italian individuals from 800 to 1 BCE show ~75% frequency of the Y-chromosome haplogroup R1b, mostly represented by the R1b-P312 polymorphism and its derived R1b-L2, that diffused across Europe alongside steppe-related ancestry in association with the Bell Beaker complex (16). This suggests that this R1b Y-chromosome lineage spread into the Italian peninsula with steppe-related movements during the Bronze Age. In the first millennium CE, its frequency is reduced to ~40% with higher occurrence of Near Eastern–associated Y-chromosome lineages such as J (fig. S5B).
    ↩︎

  2. Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome

    This turnover invites the possibility of accompanying introduction of Indo-European, perhaps early Celtic, language. Irish Bronze Age haplotypic similarity is strongest within modern Irish, Scottish, and Welsh populations, and several important genetic variants that today show maximal or very high frequencies in Ireland appear at this horizon. These include those coding for lactase persistence, blue eye color, Y chromosome R1b haplotypes, and the hemochromatosis C282Y allele; to our knowledge, the first detection of a known Mendelian disease variant in prehistory. These findings together suggest the establishment of central attributes of the Irish genome 4,000 y ago.
    ↩︎

  3. The place of the Basques in the European Y-chromosome diversity landscape

    The majority (about 86%) of the Basque Y chromosomes belong to haplogroup R1*(xR1a,R1b3f)-M173, of which R1b3*-M269 accounts for 88% (Figure 1). As this haplogroup is also the most abundant type in all Western Europe16 it places the Basque Y chromosomes within the European landscape. The above data are reflected in the low diversity values for the Basque populations (Table 1). Within R1b3*-M269, Basques also show a reduced STR diversity (Table 1). Thus, compared for instance to the non-Basque Iberians, the average number of mutations in our sampled Basques is significantly lower (Mann–Whitney U-test, P=0.009).
    ↩︎

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It’s not about whether anyone agrees or disagrees; it’s about whether it is consistent with the available data. It isn’t.

But it’s not consistent with the extant data, so it isn’t a scientific one.

What evidence? Not what anyone says about the evidence, but the evidence itself.

That’s not how hypothesis testing works in real science. His hypothesis is DOA.

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Continuing the discussion from New Jeanson Book: Traced Human DNA's Big Surprise:

I appreciate that honesty.

Then I suggest that you engage with the others who are explaining it until you do.

Sorry for not responding right away.

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Thanks for the explanation. I really do want to know. I got that part.

Yeah, I wasn’t sure about his specific mtDNA paper after watching your videos, but I didn’t think that was such a big deal for the hypothesis about mtDNA being young in general, since in your debate with SFT, he was mentioning that the mutation rate for the more sequenced part of mtDNA left time for drift. Hopefully I’m summarizing correctly.

Thank you. This is what makes discussing population genetics more fun. :slightly_smiling_face: I got that mutations will be lost, but since the tree that we’re looking at is survivors, if there were multiple mutations per generation, why can’t we just count backwards, (barring possibly the tips of the branches maybe really skewing the average over time because of a lot of drift)? Meaning the ancient branches should show a stable mutation rate though…?

My question above is also related to this comment.

But I had read the section in Wikipedia and y chromosome again and it was explaining why selection probably doesn’t operate. But I don’t understand what you mean by “if there’s no selection, population size is irrelevant”?

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Most basic result of neutral theory: the number of fixations in the population per unit time is equal to the number of mutations in the average individual per unit time. This is because Nµ mutations happen in the population each generation (or whatever period of time you’re measuring µ in), while the probability of fixation for each mutation is 1/N. (Here I’m talking about the Y chromosome, and N just means the number of males in the popuation). Since the number of fixations is Nµ * 1/N, the N cancels out. Population size doesn’t matter.

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I talk about Traced for a good 30 minutes at the beginning of my recent episode of This Week in Creationism. I hadn’t intended to say so much at this time but couldn’t stop talking about it. With regards to the science, @dsterncardinale pretty much says all that needs to be said about the book. The book is disappointing to me personally in the sense that there is nothing new in it for those that have watched all of Jeansons videos and read his papers over the past 5 years. Also, the book doesn’t include enough science for any scientists to know what he has done because he is trying to write much more simply than he did in “Replacing Darwin.” In fact he doesn’t include many things I had thought he would try to provide (and very much needs to!) a fuller explanation for (e.g. Neanderthal and other members of the hominin “kind” are missing from the book and his radiometric dating chronology converter system he promoted in early videos is not there)
I can’t add much to what Dan has said because the underlying the basis of Jeanson’s ancestry analysis is already been laid bare well before this book came out and Jeanson does nothing to respond to those flaws but rather seems to just double down on them.

I am more interested in how the book will be marketed and how it will be used (or not used) and accepted by other creationists. As I say in the video, so far this is a stand-alone product of one person (though very much leans on the work of Robert Carter at CMI who receives for to little credit for his apparent influence, as I point out Carters paper in 2018 draws many of the same conclusions as Jeanson so the hyped novelty of Jeanson’s work does not ring true to me) and Ken Ham cannot expect this product which he has paid for to be taken seriously by other scholars until Ham can convince other YEC biologists outside of AiG to strongly endorse this analysis. The only reason I or others will critique this book at all is because so many lay-Christians will pick it up and think that it provides a trustworthy response to the conventional scientific consensus.
I will also say, I feel a bit bad for Jeanson, he has a real passion for this and has done a huge amount of work to write this book. But there is such a dearth of expertise in the multiple disciplines that he touches upon within the YEC community that he is drowning in a sea of information that I wouldn’t’ expect any one person to be able to become an expert on. He needed multiple co-authors which don’t exist and the insular nature of YEC ministries doesn’t provide a mechanism to enable. He is out there on his own. Yes, he had some reviewers but his entire thesis is built on populations genetics/phylogeny reconstruction/molecular evolution and for that he lacks internal checks and balances. He doesn’t want to take advice from non YECs but he doesn’t have any YECs that can really understand what he has done and give him any constructive advice except may be Robert Carter who seems to have helped him quite a bit but I’m not sure has the ability to do this sort of analysis himself.

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It’s been pointed out before that Jeanson seems not to understand the simplest things about phylogenetics: how to read a tree, how to root a tree, whether there’s such a thing as a “main line”, and so on. And as far as I can see he’s never done any analyses on his own, just relying on trees published in the mainstream literature.

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I didn’t believe that, either, when I first heard it. But fortunately the math is so simple that anyone can understand.

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An important thing to emphasize is that this is population-wide. So using Jeanson’s numbers of 3 mutations per generation and a 30-year generation time, that’s 0.1 mutations per year that reach fixation. (There are problems with this that are beyond the point I’m making right here). Jeanson treats this as the rate, going back indefinitely, per lineage, rather than for the population as a whole. You can have a population of 10 people, 100 people, 10 million, whatever, you’re going to fix approximately 0.1 mutations per year.

Let’s take a population of 1,000,000 (Just making up numbers to illustrate the Jeanson’s problem) and say 10,000 males reproduce in a given year. How many Y-chromosome mutations are we going to get in that year? 30,000. But how many mutations are going to achieve fixation that year? ~0.1. How many of those 30,000 will ultimately achieve fixation? Not very many, if any at all.

Jeanson’s math implies all 30,000 of those mutations stick around forever.

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I may be being incredibly dense (per usual), but doesn’t this contradict what @John_Harshman recently wrote? The one remaining lineage’s mutation rate is the substitution rate (the mutations are fixed in the one remaining lineage, if I am understanding correctly), so why is Jeanson’s math wrong? Apologies for unraveling my misunderstanding here in this entire post in advance if needed. :sweat_smile:

I was thinking about this in terms of genealogical science…I wondered if someone will correct/unravel my logic here. I take a look at this R1b tree below and M269, which belongs to 58% of western European men, and from what I could tell, it is mostly agreed by scholars that it comes from outside of Europe because the earliest branches of R1b are in Asia. In terms of genealogical science, almost everyone in Europe shares a common ancestor within about 600 years. But obviously that isn’t male lines only. But again in terms of genealogy, we also know everyone in Europe descends from Charlemagne. And again although Charlemagne’s male line has died out, doesn’t that mean someone’s male line around that time could have been the ancestor of all European males today because it would take the same number of generations?

I was also thinking discussing Europe and R1b is somewhat like the science of GAE, because at least one of the R1b men that is a universal genealogical ancestor will be the y-chromosome ancestor too. If Adam was a universal ancestor to everyone by 1 A.D., he was also the y-chromosome ancestor at least of Joseph, adoptive father of Jesus. Yes? No? It’s so late my sleep-deprived brain is feeling very muddled, and so I definitely couldn’t figure out the genealogical math on Europe and R1b-M269 men. Anyway, when I look at this and see
Western European sub-variants in the Middle Bronze age, that seems laughably early. Those seem easily A.D. era.

Finally, I kept pondering Jeanson’s hypothesis of the y-chromosome tree showing minimum population growth curves, and it seemed to me as if that was just another way of looking at the genealogical science of patrilineal ancestry.

Well, donations have paid for. :slight_smile: But I agree, if YEC have scientific hypotheses that hold up, they should be able to convince their own house first.

In this book yes…it’s almost impossibly ambitious. But the small nature of the YEC community also means you have to start somewhere big to get anywhere I think…

I’ll watch your video. I’m definitely curious to see where this book takes the YEC community over time.

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Valerie, your response is more than a little tangled, and it is not clear what connection it has with my comment:

Were you intending your response to be an argument against this comment? If so, then your argument must fail, as any argument must fail that contradicts the evidence (unless of course it is presenting hard evidence that itself contradicts the previous evidence).

I had also (previously) elaborated on my quoted point here:

I have also provided evidence of multiple pre-Roman ethnic groups that carry the R1b haplogroup here.

There is therefore an abundance of evidence that R1b was already in Europe two millennia ago. I would also point out that you (and as far as I can tell Jeanson) have presented no evidence that it happened after this date (in the form of a migrant group from Central Asia in the last two millennia that were definitely known to have R1b in reasonably high concentrations). (It is of course possible that R1b entered Europe both before two millennia ago and after that date.)

Because of this, I will not attempt a point-by-point discussion of your reply, but will highlight a few passages that I find potentially problematical:

Citation please. (Also, a tighter definition of “almost everyone” is needed for this statement to be meaningful.)

It is possible, but very very unlikely. We have a large number of ancestors from 600 years ago, but only one strict-male-line ancestor (father’s father’s … father) from that time. The chance that, out of all our ancestors from that time, our common ancestor is this one is therefore very small.

A problem with this statement is that GAE (at least as far as I understand it) does not state that Adam (assuming he existed) definitely was a universal ancestor of everybody by 1 AD, only that it is possible.

I’m sorry, but your personal incredulity does not make a good argument against the evidence.

Unless you can impeach this evidence – which as I stated, would require you to present hard evidence of your own that directly contradicts it (not merely arguments against the evidence), this evidence remains a fixed point around which we must all build our arguments:

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

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I’m going to refer you to earlier posts rather than repeat myself. I don’t have anything to add.

No, it doesn’t. Genealogical ancestry doesn’t imply any genetic ancestry at all, including the Y chromosome. The most recent universal genealogical ancestor is much younger than the most recent genetic ancestor of any piece of the genome.

Yes if you believe the biblical genealogy. But that doesn’t make him the Y ancestor of anyone else. And if you believe the biblical genealogy but also that Joseph is the adoptive father, then that isn’t Jesus’s genealogy. Where did his Y chromosome come from? But I digress. The point is that genealogical ancestry and genetic ancestry are quite different things.

No worries. Aren’t you required to assume that the Bronze age is much younger than we think? And what about all those ancient genomes? Have you forgotten?

Jeanson doesn’t understand coalescence, unfortunately.

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