The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

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Lemmie
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Lemmie »

analytics wrote:If we give these authors the benefit of the doubt that they understand the basic math, "B" means the basket of evidence that we actually have. Thus, P(B|A) means, "What is the probability we'd see this basket of evidence if the book is historical?" Likewise, P(B|~A) means, "What is the probability we'd see this basket of evidence if the book isn't historical?"

That's not how they defined those two terms at all. I used their definitions, very specifically. And i don't blame you for not following, its not really a logical argument they are making.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Gadianton »

Analytics wrote:3- How can you possibly conclude that a true book mentioning "excellent workmanship" (point 6.18) is 50 times more likely than a false book mentioning it? This is totally made up.


Just looking at my spreadsheet here, and I think we've gone over this point before with Bayes and apologetics. Accounting for the likelihood of seeing the evidence if H is false is possibly the main thing religious belief does wrong as it goes about finding justifications for belief. If I Google "excellent workmanship" 1830 archive.org, the hits pour in. In fact, you can discount anything the Book of Mormon says that would have been natural to write about in 1830. The control texts are ridiculous. They are writing as if, here are a known collection of facts about the ancient Myans, now here is a text by Spaulding that tries to guess what would have been true for the Myans. And now here is a book by Smith that tries to guess at what would have been true for the Myans. We see that Smith did far better than Spaulding and so our method of finding hits fails for the control texts. But that's the wrong control: the right control is the sum of all 1830 influences that would have caused smith or spaulding to create a hit if the Book of Mormon is false (or MS is false).

And so it's not exactly what was pointed out above about all ancient societies having something in common, it's about what we would have expected a 19th century writer to say about the ancient world. The only evidence that would be interesting at all in the least, would be something the Book of Mormon says that would be considered extremely odd for somebody to have said in 1830. I'm open to examples but can't think of any.

Funny enough, Carmack and Skousen are in the ballpark conceptually at least, with the understanding that grammar common to the 19th century is thrown out; if the grammar didn't exist in the 19th century, it's a candidate. It gets past the first filter. But then there is the problem (Lemmie's favorite one) that these bits aren't locked into a specific period. That would be like, okay, Smith said some unusual things that we wouldn't expect a 19th century writer to say about the ancient world, but there is no tight commonality to mesoamerica.

So the "commonality to ancient people" doesn't become important until first, you get past the glaring error of underestimating the likelihood of seeing the evidence if the Book of Mormon is false, given 19th century influence on smith.

Okay, physics guy, forget everything else I've said in this thread up to this point, this is my candidate for the Achilles heel. Please provide your criticism.

(fyi Lemmie, I have to get through the "C" student level discussion first, then I'll come back to your points, which while they may seem easy for you, will take me a little work to understand; i have glimpses, but not all put together)
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Res Ipsa »

Physics Guy wrote:I have to clarify: I have not actually read this article. I have only been raising general issues that could be problems with an article like this, in the hope that someone else would do the grunt work of reading the paper and seeing what problems are actually there.

If these guys have been talking about likelihood ratios, then my second potential problem of normalization is not relevant. The normalization factor will be the same for both P(A) and P(B), so it will cancel out in the likelihood ratio. So if the paper is all about ratios, then my second potential problem is really completely irrelevant. It should not be considered as another weight on the scale against this paper. It should instead be completely discounted.

There may remain a serious issue related to it, if the probability that a genuine historical record should screw up a basic fact of Mayan society was artificially limited in this paper to no lower than 2%. If these guys have done that kind of thing, then that is a real problem. As my discussion of normalization mentioned, the probability of basic screw-ups like that should be way lower than 2%. Even the 0.1% that I assumed arbitrarily for the sake of example was generous. I mean, how likely is it that a contemporary American historian should describe the presidency as a hereditary office? How likely is it that an American state would make its governorship hereditary and have the anomaly persist for several generations? That's the sort of scenario we'd be considering, I think, if were to suppose that some of the discrepancies between Mayan society and the Book of Mormon were nonetheless compatible with historical authenticity. Assigning a probability of 2% to such errors is way too lenient.


The paper's assumption of a symmetry between the effect of a "hit" as opposed to a "miss" is fatal. I played with some numbers for a while. The effect of a "miss" is orders of magnitude greater than the effect of a "hit" when you seriously think through the likelihood of true and false positives. Compound that with another fatal error -- treating each parallel as independent -- and there's really nothing to be salvaged.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Physics Guy »

Gadianton wrote:So the "commonality to ancient people" doesn't become important until first, you get past the glaring error of underestimating the likelihood of seeing the evidence if the Book of Mormon is false, given 19th century influence on Smith.


Yeah, this might be the big flaw. As JarMan pointed out, a lot of the coincidences between Nephites and Mayans are simply common features of ancient societies. Ancient societies were a somwhat popular topic in 1830s New England. So a lot of the coincidences between Nephites and Mayans may simply have been memes of 1830s New England—memes that happened to be substantially right.

If anyone wanted to argue that popular culture of 1830s New England was inspired by God, then perhaps the remarkable accuracy with which a bunch of backwoods hicks grasped ancient empires could be impressive as evidence. Or perhaps the accuracy of their historical memes would simply show the value of literacy. Either way, though, it would have nothing to do with the inspiration of Joseph Smith in particular. If you want to show that he was more inspired than his New England neighbors, you have to show that his guesses about Mayans were better than theirs would have been.

Along with this point, I would say, one has to emphasize as well that it's a package deal. If a certain picture of ancient societies was a common meme in 1830s New England, then you can't count each little individual aspect of that picture as a separate guess about the Mayans by Joseph Smith. For him to adopt his contemporary meme wholesale would be just one guess on his part, as a package. It may be surprising that that whole package is as accurate as it is, but that's no reflection on Smith. He doesn't get credit for that, if all he did was go along with the preconceptions of his contemporaries.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Physics Guy »

Res Ipsa wrote:The paper's assumption of a symmetry between the effect of a "hit" as opposed to a "miss" is fatal.

This is what I was thinking. A con artist making stuff up may be guessing 50/50, or even 2/98, but a contemporary describing his own real world is way less likely than 2% to get basic things wrong. This might be a second basic flaw.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Res Ipsa »

Physics Guy wrote:
Gadianton wrote:So the "commonality to ancient people" doesn't become important until first, you get past the glaring error of underestimating the likelihood of seeing the evidence if the Book of Mormon is false, given 19th century influence on Smith.


Yeah, this might be the big flaw. As JarMan pointed out, a lot of the coincidences between Nephites and Mayans are simply common features of ancient societies. Ancient societies were a somwhat popular topic in 1830s New England. So a lot of the coincidences between Nephites and Mayans may simply have been memes of 1830s New England—memes that happened to be substantially right.

If anyone wanted to argue that popular culture of 1830s New England was inspired by God, then perhaps the remarkable accuracy with which a bunch of backwoods hicks grasped ancient empires could be impressive as evidence. Or perhaps the accuracy of their historical memes would simply show the value of literacy. Either way, though, it would have nothing to do with the inspiration of Joseph Smith in particular. If you want to show that he was more inspired than his New England neighbors, you have to show that his guesses about Mayans were better than theirs would have been.

Along with this point, I would say, one has to emphasize as well that it's a package deal. If a certain picture of ancient societies was a common meme in 1830s New England, then you can't count each little individual aspect of that picture as a separate guess about the Mayans by Joseph Smith. For him to adopt his contemporary meme wholesale would be just one guess on his part, as a package. It may be surprising that that whole package is as accurate as it is, but that's no reflection on Smith. He doesn't get credit for that, if all he did was go along with the preconceptions of his contemporaries.


Yep, as Analytics pointed out, we have to look at the basket of hits and misses and ask how likely it is that a history of natives written by someone in that place, time and circumstances would result in a similar pattern of hits and misses, especially as hits and misses are defined by the authors.

One other thing, the authors conclude that the odds of the Book of Mormon not being a history of the Mayans are orders of magnitude less than less than me being killed by a meteorite. That's the kind of fantastical result that should lead an author to go back over the paper to figure out where he screwed up. It's almost as if the purpose of the paper isn't to claim the Book of Mormon is historical, but to attack the usefulness of Bayesian analysis.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Res Ipsa »

Physics Guy wrote:
Res Ipsa wrote:The paper's assumption of a symmetry between the effect of a "hit" as opposed to a "miss" is fatal.

This is what I was thinking. A con artist making stuff up may be guessing 50/50, or even 2/98, but a contemporary describing his own real world is way less likely than 2% to get basic things wrong. This might be a second basic flaw.


Yeah, it's hard to see the magnitude of the difference without playing with the numbers. Thank whoever you choose for online Bayesian calculators!
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Gadianton »

Physic's Guy wrote: Either way, though, it would have nothing to do with the inspiration of Joseph Smith in particular. If you want to show that he was more inspired than his New England neighbors, you have to show that his guesses about Mayans were better than theirs would have been.


Maybe it ultimately reduces to numerous tight guesses about Mayan specific guesses. But, hmmm. What I was thinking, is the example Analytics gave of "excellent workmanship". Perhaps nobody else thought to include in their pseudo history anything about Mayan excellent workmanship. But 19th century trade and auction mags talk about it all the time. Perhaps nobody thought to include a volcano or earthquake, but perhaps in other fiction, an earthquake or volcano is a popular theme.
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Analytics »

Gadianton wrote:
Analytics wrote:3- How can you possibly conclude that a true book mentioning "excellent workmanship" (point 6.18) is 50 times more likely than a false book mentioning it? This is totally made up.


Just looking at my spreadsheet here, and I think we've gone over this point before with Bayes and apologetics. Accounting for the likelihood of seeing the evidence if H is false is possibly the main thing religious belief does wrong as it goes about finding justifications for belief. If I Google "excellent workmanship" 1830 archive.org, the hits pour in. In fact, you can discount anything the Book of Mormon says that would have been natural to write about in 1830. The control texts are ridiculous. They are writing as if, here are a known collection of facts about the ancient Myans, now here is a text by Spaulding that tries to guess what would have been true for the Myans. And now here is a book by Smith that tries to guess at what would have been true for the Myans. We see that Smith did far better than Spaulding and so our method of finding hits fails for the control texts. But that's the wrong control: the right control is the sum of all 1830 influences that would have caused smith or spaulding to create a hit if the Book of Mormon is false (or MS is false).

And so it's not exactly what was pointed out above about all ancient societies having something in common, it's about what we would have expected a 19th century writer to say about the ancient world. The only evidence that would be interesting at all in the least, would be something the Book of Mormon says that would be considered extremely odd for somebody to have said in 1830. I'm open to examples but can't think of any....


But that is exactly what they tried to do. A basic pattern of their reasoning is like, "The Book of Mormon mentions thrones, and there were thrones in Mesoamerica. But it would be extremely odd for Joseph Smith to mention thrones in a made up book because as far as Joseph Smith knew, the North-American Indians didn't have thrones. Major hit for the Book of Mormon!!!"

Their insistence of this being "extremely odd" is based on their idea of what Joseph Smith would think about the history of Indians. What they seem to have forgotten is that Joseph Smith wasn't just making up a book about the ancestors of the Native Americans. He was also making up a book about the descendants of the Israelites in the Bible.

This goes back to the issue of independence. All of the alleged hits that are characteristics that are shared between the world of the Bible and the world of Mesoamerica aren't independent at all, because they can all be explained by the single assumption that Joseph Smith made up the story that the white and delightsome chosen people from the Middle East brought with them mid-eastern trappings.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

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The Dale's, the authors of the article have it made in the shade, and they knew they would coming into it all. All they have to say to anyone refuting their use of Bayes, or evidences, or facts, is, "You haven't read our article carefully, you do not understand." This is classic apologetic. I also remain entirely unconvinced. They haven't yet answered any objections whatsoever, they have simply claimed anyone who disagrees with them has not read the article and does not refute their use of Bayes. How convenient...... :wink:

I would be thrown out immediately were I to ever comment, but someone sorely needs to bring up the Bayesian refutation of a real, historical Jesus, and how that is problematic for their supposed real "historic" Book of Mormon. If Bayes is valid for Jesus being fake, then it is for the Book of Mormon being fake. If Bayes is wrong about Jesus being myth, how is it right for Book of Mormon being historical?! Oh what a conundrum!
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

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Philo Sofee wrote:The Dale's, the authors of the article have it made in the shade, and they knew they would coming into it all. All they have to say to anyone refuting their use of Bayes, or evidences, or facts, is, "You haven't read our article carefully, you do not understand." This is classic apologetic. I also remain entirely unconvinced. They haven't yet answered any objections whatsoever, they have simply claimed anyone who disagrees with them has not read the article and does not refute their use of Bayes. How convenient...... :wink:


This is the apologetic equivalent of gish galloping. Blind your opponent with so many arguments regardless of how weak or accurate they are. Sorenson has done this for the last five decades.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gish_gallop

It also looks like Romney as used the same tactic! This is begging to be made into a meme.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Gadianton »

Analytics wrote:This goes back to the issue of independence. All of the alleged hits that are characteristics that are shared between the world of the Bible and the world of Mesoamerica aren't independent at all, because they can all be explained by the single assumption that Joseph Smith made up the story that the white and delightsome chosen people from the Middle East brought with them mid-eastern trappings.


I guess my gut is telling me we need to go beyond even this. I like the way you put it: They're thinking "..because as far as Joseph Smith knew, the North-American Indians didn't have thrones". While I agree that the KJV is the elephant in the room for source material, I feel like we're still stuck in a mode of imagining that Joseph Smith is trying his darndest to make up real Indian history with Biblical connections. Who knows precisely what he was trying to make up? Am I wrong to think that, whatever motives and ambitions, if something in the Book of Mormon exists significantly in the 19th century in a way that he'd very possibly know about it, then the probability that such a thing could make it into the Book of Mormon if it's false is pretty darn high?

Let me give an example. Perhaps it's not the best, but I'm not a Book of Mormon buff, and this is one I did dig into a little (surprised i found it):

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=38828

Book of Mormon agriculture. The arch-summary is that there are logical problems with agriculture in the book of Mormon; no agriculture cults (i followed Coe here I believe), no combinations to give a complete protein, and no mentions of root crops. Also, I found distinct evidence that root crops were lacking in New England farming. It's surely no stretch to believe that Joseph Smith drew upon his background as a farmer rather than follow the Bible or even go out of his way to copy other psuedo-biblical texts or reciting other myth culture in a focused attempt at creating the most believable indian tale that could be told. I point out in this thread, that Bushman uses the Book of Mormon's lack of corn, beans, and rice (beans + rice; complete protein lol) as evidence against Joseph Smith borrowing from View of the Hebrews. Maybe I'm missing something, but as a critic, while certainly it helps to have explanations for the concoctions of Smith, it's less necessary than knowing the information was readily available to his time and place.
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by kairos »

Some great analysis going on here - keep it up!

For me it seems that if Coe had written that Mayans rode
Horses and used elephants in their society then common hits with
the Book of Mormon would be noteworthy but since he did NOT and Joseph Smith DID, these two instances alone blows the Book of Mormon out of historical waters!
And I did not use any math!
Just calculatin,
k

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

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Physics Guy wrote:I have to clarify: I have not actually read this article. I have only been raising general issues that could be problems with an article like this, in the hope that someone else would do the grunt work of reading the paper and seeing what problems are actually there.

If these guys have been talking about likelihood ratios, then my second potential problem of normalization is not relevant. The normalization factor will be the same for both P(A) and P(B), so it will cancel out in the likelihood ratio. So if the paper is all about ratios, then my second potential problem is really completely irrelevant. It should not be considered as another weight on the scale against this paper. It should instead be completely discounted.

There may remain a serious issue related to it, if the probability that a genuine historical record should screw up a basic fact of Mayan society was artificially limited in this paper to no lower than 2%. If these guys have done that kind of thing, then that is a real problem. As my discussion of normalization mentioned, the probability of basic screw-ups like that should be way lower than 2%. Even the 0.1% that I assumed arbitrarily for the sake of example was generous. I mean, how likely is it that a contemporary American historian should describe the presidency as a hereditary office? How likely is it that an American state would make its governorship hereditary and have the anomaly persist for several generations? That's the sort of scenario we'd be considering, I think, if were to suppose that some of the discrepancies between Mayan society and the Book of Mormon were nonetheless compatible with historical authenticity. Assigning a probability of 2% to such errors is way too lenient.


So please read it and let us know what you think. It should be easy to spot the errors for you. How does one divine historical probabilities anyway? Guess? This seems to be a glaring error in using bayes theorem for anything other than areas where the probabilities can be found with some certainty.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by MrStakhanovite »

Res Ipsa wrote:Ok, I’ve now read the whole paper, and I have a very basic question: does it actually use Bayesian analysis at all?


Short answer is that “yes they are” but how they went about it is convoluted and isn’t playing well. Usually one starts out with your most abstracted expression (using variables) and after explaining the process of how the sausage is made, you go your specifics and actually make the sausage. You try to be as transparent as possible with your entire process and hope that the strength of your methods is enough to impress people to accept the sausage once it is presented.

For whatever reasons the authors and editors decided that they would just present people the sausage (give the values, explain their relations, then execute the computations) and extoll the virtue of sausages in general by saying that anyone can make their own sausage if they don’t like the author’s.

Res Ipsa wrote:They act as if all there is to Bayes is the use of prior probability. They don’t do the heavy lifting of working through the equation to rigorously determine the actual strength of each piece of evidence.


I think they overemphasized the priors as a way to showcase a“look how generous we are being to the skeptics!” attitude, though in fact their epistemic generosity was pretty paltry. Fits the pseudo-piety of Mopologetics like a glove really, probably why Midgley tap danced into the comments so quickly.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Res Ipsa »

Thanks, that makes sense.
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― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by MrStakhanovite »

Lemmie wrote:Regarding Mr Stak's point about re-stating how to map the information without limiting it to being a fact; even with that fix, another large problem arises.


Let me try again…

The axioms of subjective probability have the comparable probability relation > being defined as a set of boolean algebra א (Not the usual symbol but I was getting an SQL ERROR with doublestrokes so I just went with alef ) with all A events and B events being subsets. The empty event is ∅ and the universal event is Ω. So for every A event in א would mean ∅ ⊆ A ⊆ Ω. On any probability measures on א, only P(Ω) is going to equal 1 and nothing else.

I totally get that they wrote this in such a fashion that it commits them to some stupid stuff, but I think they are going to be more committed to the aforementioned axioms than their own stylistic word choices.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Lemmie »

MrStakhanovite wrote:
Lemmie wrote:Regarding Mr Stak's point about re-stating how to map the information without limiting it to being a fact; even with that fix, another large problem arises.


Let me try again…

The axioms of subjective probability have the comparable probability relation > being defined as a set of boolean algebra א (Not the usual symbol but I was getting an SQL ERROR with doublestrokes so I just went with alef ) with all A events and B events being subsets. The empty event is ∅ and the universal event is Ω. So for every A event in א would mean ∅ ⊆ A ⊆ Ω. On any probability measures on א, only P(Ω) is going to equal 1 and nothing else.

I totally get that they wrote this in such a fashion that it commits them to some stupid stuff, but I think they are going to be more committed to the aforementioned axioms than their own stylistic word choices.

Except that their errors are not just stylistic. The authors specifically ruled out the universal event Ω being considered by their own definitions, in fact, they stated it would be dishonest to extend their set beyond A, which they are defining and therefore limiting to a subset of the universal event that is only found in Coe's book. Moreso, they are specifying that they are only considering elements of that subset A that they consider to be true. Defining an element of subset A as true a priori, and then determining that only those true elements of subset A are being considered does NOT allow for the possibility of considering the effect of an untrue element A after the initial conditions are set, nor does it allow for ANY consideration of an element of the universal set outside of A.

They set up their parameters, Stak. If they want to expand them, they need to re-write the paper.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

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Gunnar wrote:The Book of Ether alone is absolutely fatal to the credibility of the Book of Mormon, with or without the damning, contrary DNA evidence. It is a slam dunk certainty that there could not ever have been a world wide flood that wiped out every single land species of fauna on earth, including humans, that were not on a single, large wooden boat, or that all mankind spoke a single language until the time the Tower of Babel was supposed to have occurred. The evidence against that myth is at least as strong as the DNA evidence.

Over on the Interpreter comments page for the Dale & Deal article, Arc posted the words of Jeffrey R. Holland concerning not only the lack of human habitation in the Americas before the arrival of the Book of Mormon migrations, but also claiming that the continents of the western and eastern hemispheres separated to form the Atlantic basin in accordance with the word of the Lord less than 10,000 years ago.

Arc was reminded by Theodore Brandley that many LDS scholars do not believe in the universal flood (even though the Book of Mormon mentions it), and then stated that the debate was not 'on topic' for discussion the Dale & Dale paper.

Meanwhile, in response to "Mr. Blanco's" comments on the Interpreter article, Hoosier defended Ugo Perego's rationalization for the lack of any middle eastern DNA in the Amerindian genome, while admitting that he/she didn't know much about genetics. Hoosier believes that the extinction of middle eastern DNA was aided by the population bottleneck that occurred during the population-thinning epic battles described by Joseph Smith Jr. in the Book of Mormon.

The following compilation of Simon Southerton's comments on the Book of Mormon DNA problem is too long to post over there. It is posted here because there seems to be members and lurkers alike who are reading both here and over on the Interpreter site regarding the Dale & Dale paper. This was originally written as a response to Philo Sofee and is posted here with the permission of Dr. Southerton.

____________________

Simon Southerton Responds to Apologists Regarding the Book of Mormon DNA Problem

Brief: This documents Dr. Simon Southerton's response to Kerry Shirts regarding Kerry's question, in November of 2017, about a 2014 piece in the Interpreter claiming that it is not reasonable to expect Lehite DNA to be detected in the genomes of modern descendants of pre-Columbian Amerindians.

Kerry,

I was preoccupied with work at the time Perego and Ekin’s Interpreter piece was written in 2014, so didn’t really look closely at it. Here are some thoughts on the article.

There are a couple of recent advances that I should mention at the outset that have some bearing on the paper. The famous X2a mitochondrial DNA lineage, which is present at about 3% in North American Indians, was recently discovered in the ancient remains of Kennewick Man which were retrieved from the banks of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington. This skeleton is over 8,000 years old, so the discovery confirms the lineage entered the Americas over 15,000 years ago and has nothing to offer the apologists. (Rodney Meldrum’s empire is built on his X lineage lies and this completely undermines him.)

I should also mention that Perego’s specialty is clearly mitochondrial DNA and he makes no mention of the powerful whole genome research which is now being published. This type of research can reveal in great detail where the European and African DNA found in Native Americans (about 1%) came from and the time it arrived in the New World.

The article is based on the premise that the small founding populations described in the Book of Mormon met and then integrated into large native populations while they themselves never became numerically significant. Lots of excuses are given for why Lehite/Mulekite/Jaredite DNA may not be found including things like bottleneck effect, genetic drift and natural selection. Somehow the Lehite/Mulekite/Jaredites, while having unlucky DNA, managed to rule native populations for a thousand years. But the authors say nothing about how this farcical takeover was peacefully achieved. Next to nothing is written about how members need to interpret the Book of Mormon text to fit with this vanishing geography. You are left to wonder why God allowed the Book of Mormon narrative to completely fool all the prophets, including Joseph Smith, and millions of honest and sincere readers of the text for almost 200 years. Silly God.

The article skims over the Native American data. Several times the authors say 95% of the DNA is Asian, presumably because you can park faith more comfortably in 5%. I’ve gathered data from over 100 research papers where the authors were specifically studying the origins of native tribes and deliberately excluding people with known European/African ancestry. Of the 15,555 individuals studied 99% have an Asian mtDNA lineage and 1% have either a European or African lineage.

Whenever scientists have taken the time to see where these European lineages came from, they invariably find a match in an individual in Western Europe. Not a single individual among the 15,555 (0.0%) has been identified with a Middle Eastern DNA lineage. Over 600 Mayans have been tested and 99% had an Asian lineage and 1% an African lineage. Yet just a couple of years ago BYU Mesoamerican apologists were weeping about the amazing linguistic and archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica. All evidence mainstream science completely rejects by the way.

The whole genome data sheds further light on the origin of the European DNA in Native Americans. To study the whole genome, scientists use about 700,000 DNA markers scattered across all of the chromosomes. Subsets of these markers are specific to particular populations, e.g, Greeks, Druze, French etc. Genomic markers can therefore be used to track where European and African DNA in Native Americans came from. The following link will take you through to a map that allows you to track where the European and African DNA in the Maya and Pima came from. In both cases, it virtually all came from Western European countries or Sub-Saharan Africa and none came from the Middle East.

http://admixturemap.paintmychromosomes.com/

(Click on the Pima and Maya populations to see where their DNA came from.)

The authors make the point that it’s not possible to distinguish between pre (3000 BCE) and post Columbus European DNA because mtDNA accumulates new mutations at a rate of one mutation every 3,000-9,000 years. Here they are making the very hopeful (but mistaken) assumption that Lehite DNA could be among the European DNA. Middle Eastern populations have been largely separated from Western European populations for almost as long as Asians have been separated from Native Americans. 25,000 years is enough time to accumulate 3-8 new mutations. That’s why it is frequently easy to distinguish the two. I personally have an H mtDNA lineage, but the lineage H subgroup I belong too is exclusively found in Western Europe.

The genomic DNA analysis can also shed light on when the European and African DNA arrived in native populations. As our genomic DNA is passed down the generations, the paternal and maternal chromosomes frequently cross over or recombine. This effectively chops each of our chromosomes up into chunks that come from different ancestors. With each passing generations the chunks get smaller and smaller. If your family tree was largely Native American and a European entered it at some time in the past, it's possible to estimate when they entered based on the length of the European chunks. If they entered recently the chunks would be large. If they entered 2000 years ago they would be very small. These sorts of estimates have been made for admixture in Native American populations and the admixed DNA arrived within the last 500 years.

See http://admixturemap.paintmychromosomes.com/

To further cloud the issue, the authors claim that we can’t possibly know what Lehi’s DNA looked like. They even make the absurd claim that “it must still be acknowledged that virtually any individual DNA profile could be found in any population, although at different frequencies.” Given that the Lehite/Mulekite/Jaredite groups all came from the Fertile Crescent region, and the Lehites and Mulekites from Israel, it is perfectly reasonable to assume they carried DNA that is present in contemporary Middle Eastern populations. The authors are arguing that all of the DNA the Book of Mormon people brought with them may have been rare lineages, which may not be present in Middle Eastern groups today.

The most revealing thing about the article is what it doesn’t say. It says essentially nothing about how Mormons need to reinterpret the Book of Mormon narrative to accommodate the territory they have conceded to science. The authors know that after many thousands of DNA tests, Middle Eastern DNA has not been detected. The Lehites were at most a vanishingly small part of New World populations. We are left to wonder why they make absolutely no mention of the massive populations they encountered? Why did those native populations hand over the rule of their civilisations to a small band of Hebrews? Apparently this astonishing capitulation occurred twice, with both the Lehites and Mulekites.

The Book of Mormon was “written to the Lamanites” but now we don’t know where the Lamanites are. Meanwhile the prophets who are meant to interpret scripture stand silently by.
______________________

Our mitochondrial DNA represents a single maternal lineage within our family tree since it is passed from mothers to offspring in each generation. Apologists often make the point that mtDNA lineages get lost and most go extinct. That's true if you focus on the individual, however, the same mtDNA lineage can be passed down by the individual’s sisters, aunties and their daughters, and many other female relatives in previous generations. It ain't all doom and gloom for mtDNA.

Scientists studying human populations (doing population genetics!) are not focusing on the DNA of individuals (funny how a dumb "non-population geneticist" needs to remind the apologists). They are looking at the DNA of populations. Instead of looking at individual mtDNA "haploypes" they are looking at "haplogroups" which are collections of related haplotypes. The A,B,C,D and X mtDNA classes are haplogroups, and within each haplogroup there are many haplotypes. Haplogroups tend not to go extinct and this is the case in the Americas. Virtually all of the ancient remains tested in the Americas have an A,B,C,D or X mtDNA lineage. Also, the A,B,C,D and X lineages are still present today at about 50% collectively in Central and North Asian populations.

Our Genomic DNA, however, represents 99.99% of our DNA and comes from many more of our ancestors. A lot of whole genome research has been published in the last few years and it hasn't been addressed by the apologists. It's much harder to argue for extinction with Genomic DNA; that's why they are starting to claim the Lehites were never numerically significant to begin with.
Last edited by DrW on Tue May 07, 2019 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
David Hume: "---Mistakes in philosophy are merely ridiculous, those in religion are dangerous."

DrW: "Mistakes in science are learning opportunities and are eventually corrected."

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Gadianton »

I finally sat back over a couple of tacos last night and began to read the actual article.

In the Book of Mormon we read:

Book of Mormon: There shall come over the whole earth an intense darkness lasting three days and three nights. Nothing can be seen, and the air will be laden with pestilence which will claim mainly, but not only, the enemies of religion. It will be impossible to use any man-made lighting during this darkness.

Mormon Interpreter: One example of Bayesian “strong” evidence is the remarkably detailed description of a volcanic eruption and associated earthquakes given in 3 Nephi 8. Mesoamerica is earthquake and volcano country, but upstate New York, where the Book of Mormon came forth, is not. If the Book of Mormon is fictional, how could the writer of the Book of Mormon correctly describe a volcanic eruption and earthquakes from the viewpoint of the person experiencing the event? We rate the evidentiary value of that correspondence as 0.02. We assume a piece of evidence is “unusual” if it gives facts that very probably were not known to the writer, someone living in upstate New York in the early 19th century, when virtually nothing of ancient Mesoamerica was known.

What can I say. How could he have known?
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Physics Guy »

I looked up the paper on Interpreter and it looks really long. I'm afraid I don't have time to pore through it all.

One thing that caught my eye was that they count the flood myth as a hit against Smith having made up the Book, as if Smith were an alien visitor to Earth, totally ignorant of human cultures in general, making random guesses about Mayan culture. Who the hell has ever suggested that, though? The alternative to historical authenticity for the Book of Mormon is not random guessing on Smith's part. It's systematic copying of the Bible, which includes a flood, for Noah's sake.

If the Mayans also had a flood myth, then maybe that's surprising as a common feature of two ancient cultures, but it is NOT evidence in favor of authentic Mesoamerican history against Bible fan fiction, because a Bible-copier and a Mesoamerican historian would be equally bound to mention a flood. And this is precisely the kind of point that Bayesian inference is all about; the only way to overlook it is to have no grasp of Bayesian inference at all.

I was hoping to find a subtle error that intelligent people could have overlooked, yet be intelligent enough to recognize if it were clearly pointed out. Now it looks instead as though the problems with this paper may be more tedious to explain than that. I don't have time, I'm afraid.

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