GENEALOGY-DNA-L ArchivesArchiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2005-06 > 1118868870
From: "Ken Nordtvedt" <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Heresy!
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2005 14:54:30 -0600
Since your message about Campbell dna does not seem to be part of a thread,
it is hard to figure out what you are talking about?
What dna evidence or interpretation thereof is wrong?
That "55 people in the project can not trace their origins further back
than early America" does not mean much. Surely their European ydna
(assuming that is what they have) did not originate in America, so it is
about as good as British Isles ydna in forming statistical trends, and it is
no more deviant from ydna of a thousand years ago than the stuff found today
Perhaps you could lay out the dispute or point to a past thread which spells
it out? "Campbell" is a very common surname, and it therefore probably
represents both lines from the earliest folks to claim that name as well as
many who took the surname through the centuries for one reason or the other.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, June 15, 2005 2:30 PM
Subject: [DNA] Heresy!
> First let me state that it's my position (and I believe Clan Campbell's)
that the origins of the earliest Clan Chiefs are shrouded in mystery. I
don't think that the Clan has taken a definitive position one way or
> Peter essentially asks "how can that be when DNA data indicates a strong
tendency toward R1b?"
> Well, in my opinion the ... (here it comes) ... the DNA evidence is wrong!
Or more precisely, our interpretation of the DNA evidence is specious. Now
before everyone gets wound up, let me explain.
> First, I believe that the many surname Group Administrators tend to over
analyze their data. For instance, the Campbell project -- which at 76
results returned has become a sizeable project -- has the following
> 55 samples (72%) cannot trace their oldest proven ancestor beyond the USA
> 10 samples (13%) have a proven line to Scotland
> 5 samples (7%) have a proven line to Ireland
> 6 samples (8%) have a line traceable to Canada
> Clearly this sample size is biased towards the USA and not necessarily
representative of the lines that existed a thousand years ago. In addition,
I believe that many of the studies based on YSEARCH.ORG data base are
probably biased in the same manner. I suspect that the vast majority of
FTDNA participants live in the US.
> Second, the samples in most studies are not independent. For example I
believe that 4 of my 6 Canadian samples (which have a documented common
ancestor) were collected because a single researcher reached out to his
> With all due respect to some of my fellow researchers -- while publishing
DNA signatures of Somerled and Colla Uais is fun, we have to take this
information with a grain of salt. In most cases the written record of these
individuals is suspect at best.
> I also have to admit that I am as guilty as the next fellow. Based upon
some of the Campbell Project's "ancient" lines I have publicly speculated
about the DNA signature of Sir Colin "Iogantach" Campbell of Lochawe who
died in 1412. Such assertions are fun but not scientific fact. In most
cases the supporting analysis has not been published nor has the analysis
stood up to a juried peer review.
> I only mention this because I believe that many of us take this analysis
too seriously. I am frequently accosted by distraught Campbell study
participants who think that because of a match with another surname that
they aren't Campbells or get overly excited about a high resolution match.
In the end, we must remember that DNA analysis is a statistical technique
that is subject to uncertainty.
> Which brings me to my final point. There's an old saying in statistics --
"If you torture the numbers enough, they will tell you whatever you want to
hear!". Sometimes I feel that list members are making sweeping
generalizations based upon very small data sets. I guess my heart goes out
to the numbers, because I can hear them screaming.
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