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The tripartite Asian Model of the peopling of the Americas through "Beringia" was re-asserted with "the most comprehensive survey of genetic diversity in Native Americans so far" in a study published in Nature this week, "Reconstructing Native American Population History," by Harvard's David Reich et al. If ever there was a blue chip study, this is it. Only it is more like junk bonds in which no one should put stock.
If you read the fine print of this new issue from the Ivy League anthropological establishment, you may discover:
- Although the authors claim to go beyond examining single loci on the mitochondrial genome or Y chromosome and to analyze instead 364,470 SNPs, they are still stuck on the same biased samples. In one of their feats of prestidigitation, they statistically filter out "West-Eurasian-related and sub-Saharan African related ancestry in many Native Americans" (p. 371). They ignore anything that does not support their preconceived conclusions.
- Anthropologists have always insisted on the Bering Land bridge. Geneticists start with anthropologists' assumptions and test their model. Guess what? After enough manipulations you can make it work!
- Whole genome sequencing was adopted because it has become most economical, but half the samples were just adopted into the new study after doctoring the preexisting data. These biased data (Pima, Inuit etc.) were not reliable when they were collected (as far back as the 1990s), and have only been improved through statistical voodoo. The new Indians' samples (heavily geared to Mexico, Central America and northern South America) were probably subjected to SNP investigation out of interest in biodiversity and possible medical applications anyway. The motives of investigators who mostly belong to medical faculties are tainted.
Our analyses show that the great majority of Native American populations—from Canada to the southern tip of Chile—derive their ancestry from a homogeneous ‘First American’ ancestral population, presumably the one that crossed the Bering Strait more than 15,000 years ago. We also document at least two additional streams of Asian gene flow into America, allowing us to reject the view that all present-day Native Americans stem from a single migration wave, and supporting the more complex scenarios proposed by some other studies. In particular, the three distinct Asian lineages we detect—‘First American’, ‘Eskimo–Aleut’ and a separate one in the Na-Dene-speaking Chipewyan—are consistent with a three-wave model proposed9 mostly on the basis of dental morphology and a controversial interpretation of the linguistic data.
So we're back to Greenberg and other discredited believers in the linguistic explanation of human diversity, something they used to call racism. Maybe that's because culturally inferior American Indians make such great subjects for grant getting in the first place. Especially if they are safely dead, on a reservation, or far away and helpless and completely extraneous to our society.
Photo: Painting of a Cherokee woman by Sharon Irla. No Cherokees have ever been used in such studies.