Ideology versus science (again): University of New South Wales urges professors to lie about the arrival date of Aboriginals

June 30, 2019 • 10:30 am

A reader sent me a link to an article from The Australian which, sadly, is behind a paywall (click on screenshot to see). It is the very height of shameless pandering to ethnic groups who accept false stories about their history, and it’s also the nadir of academic truth. (If you want a transcript of the entire piece, judicious inquiry will yield one.)


For you, dear readers, I’ll transcribe the relevant parts:

University science lecturers have been warned off making the familiar statement in class that “Aboriginal people have been in Australia for 40,000 years.”

It puts a limit on the occupation of Australia and many indigenous peoples see this as “inappropriate,” according to the University of NSW language advice for staff.

The document suggests that it is “more appropriate” to say that Aborigines have been here since the beginning of the “Dreaming/s” because this “reflects the beliefs of many indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia from the beginning of time, and came from the land.”

. . . A new set of classroom guidelines, which alert scientists to existing language advice, was circulated in the science faculty this month. One scientist said that most academics got on with their work and did their best to ignore such documents.

. . . The indigenous language advice says putting a date on Aboriginal arrival “tends to lend support to migration theories and anthropological assumptions.”

ASSUMPTIONS? But wait—there’s more!

Many indigenous Australians see this sort of measuring and quantifying as inappropriate.”

Asked for evidence, a UNSW spokeswoman cited “extensive consultation” with the university’s Centre for Indigenous Programs, Nura Gili, and its Equity Diversity & Inclusion Division.

But scientists push back, recognizing that although some aboriginal people hold this false view of their origins, the scientific facts say otherwise:

Last year a UNSW science faculty research centre said the First People “arrived soon after 50,000 years ago, effectively forever, given that modern human populations only moved out of Africa 50,000-55,000 years ago”.

The centre’s blog on its review of the scientific evidence begins: “Many Aboriginal Australians would say with conviction that they have always been here.”

. . . The inclusivity guidelines, which introduce and link to the indigenous language advice, were approved by a working group involving the dean Emma Johnston.

. . . The Weekend Australian asked researchers in this field whether indigenous Australians had warned them against the attempt to unravel the timing and sequencing of arrival on the continent. University of Wollongong archaeologist Richard Fullagar said: “The Aboriginal people I’ve worked with are enormously interested in the scientific evidence” of early indigenous occupation.

He said this research could be sensitive, and said: “Aboriginal people have sometimes told me that they have been here forever.

“Current scientific evidence indicates that the first Aboriginal groups in Australia came from islands to the north and ultimately (like all of us) from modern human dispersals out of Africa with subsequent genetic mixing.

The “advice” of UNSW, a respected Australian University, is reprehensible, for it urges scientists to dissimulate about where Australia’s inhabitants came from to protect their feelings and avoid contradicting their origin myths.  But it’s too bad if people’s feelings are hurt by the truth, especially when the truth is an important part of anthropology and history.

It is as if, in America, anthropology and evolution professors were told to avoid saying that hominins evolved from our common ancestor with chimpanzees beginning about six million years ago. After all, such a statement would hurt the feelings of the 38% of Americans who adhere to young-Earth creationism as described in Genesis. And surely that is a higher percentage of Americans than of aboriginals in the Australian population.

In an issue like this, there can be no compromise with truth, no catering to the false beliefs of minority groups. It’s doubly shameful that this initiative came in part from Dean Emma Johnston, who has a background in estaurine science.

But science is not a form of postmodernism in which all truths are equal. And a truth universally acknowledge by those who have studied the data is that the ancestors of indigenous Australians came to the continent roughly 50,000 years ago.

Shame on you, University of New South Wales and Dean Johnston! I hope, and trust, that the University scientists will ignore your ridiculous guidelines.

I’ll be sending a polite note to Dr. Johnston, whose contact details are at the link.

70 thoughts on “Ideology versus science (again): University of New South Wales urges professors to lie about the arrival date of Aboriginals

  1. Oh, hell’s fire! This reminds me of Black people claiming that Cleopatra was Black, and wearing T-shirts depicting Cleopatra as Sub-Saharan Black.

    I didn’t have the heart (or the courage, actually, I was intimidated) to say that Cleopatra was of Macedonian origin, one of the inbred Ptolemies, and to say that she was Black is kinda like saying that Custer was an Indian.

    And speaking of American Indians, there are some who are furious at the very idea that they migrated through Beringia, now known as the Bering Strait, from Asia. That’s just a White Conquerors’ Lie, so I’ve heard.

    So I guess I’m a White Conqueror and Oppressor when I notice how similar many Tibetans and American Indians look. And I also noticed that Tibetans make silver and turquoise jewelry that looks much like the jewelry of American Indians.

    1. The irony is that regardless of the personal family background of Cleopatra herself, most contemporary Egyptians were not “blacks” either (by and large). Even modern Egyptians are much closer genetically to SW Asian Middle-Eastern people than to Sub-Saharan Africans and genetic studies show this was even more so back then as the majority of black ancestry arrived after the Arabic conquest of Egypt by the Arabic slaver operations.

      1. Historically, there were long periods of time when Nubia and Egypt were part of the same “country”. Nubians were black. Pharoahs from the time of Nubia’S control of Egypt were black. Apparently, Egypt and Nubia were trading partners when they weren’t busy attacking each other and interacted in this way for many centuries.

        I have no idea what percentage of Cleopatra was Macedonian and what percentage may have been something else. We do know that Cleopatra’s son was half Roman. There was more “mixing” than most of our historical documents choose to make clear.

        I don’t think it mattered as much what color you were as that power and wealth were the major attractants.

        1. I did not say that there was no contact and mixing before the Arabic conquest, neither that all the mixing came from slave trade.
          Genetic studies show that in Northern Egypt (the Cairo – Alexandria region, where Cleopatra power centre was, but indeed farther from Nubia) the bulk of sub-Saharan ancestry arrived relatively recently, after the time of Cleopatra.

  2. Are we supposed to accept all national origin myths? Brutus of Troy founded Britain? Aryans founded Germany? Better that we all understand how similar we are.

  3. You don’t understand, they have other ways of knowing that are totally and completely as valid as science. They DREAMED that they’ve been there forever. You cannot refute that!

    Checkmate, Scientists!

  4. I agree with that dean that her initial quoted sentence should be changed–but not to the suggested blather, more to something like ‘ least 60,000 years, and surely at most 160,000 years (to be very safe that nothing untrue is said’, all in place of “…for 40,000 years.”

    If some sort of sop should be included, the statement can be made that ‘anatomically modern humans have almost certainly been in Australia for much longer than any of them have been anywhere in what is presently called Europe”, which probably takes some people by surprise. And perhaps it should be added ‘… but nowhere near as long as Neanderthal humans have been in Europe’. And there maybe also including ‘..including at present, if you wish to call persons with 2 or 3 percent Neanderthal genes to be both Neanderthal and anatomically modern.’

    All the other stuff from her office is pretty much nonsense. The quoted dates with 50 and 55 thousand are also out of date (with double entendre in the last three words).

  5. What would our current administration say? There are good people on both sides. Let’s all have our own opinion.

    Notice – There will be a program on CNN this evening on White Nationalist, 7 pm central time, 8 pm EDT.

    1. It is ironic that you choose to spread politically soothing falsehoods in a discussion about spreading spreading politically soothing falsehoods. Trump explicitly condemned the Neo-Nazis, and Anarcho-Communists who were at the protest you refer to, and merely pointed out that there were also good people on both sides of the issue as to what should be done with the statues.

      He was the adult in the room and I was very proud of him that day. Go back and read his statements, or better yet, watch the news conference. They were interrupting him right and left, but he made sure to explicitly state the violent extremists on both sides should be “totally condemned.” His point was that there are arguments to be made as to whether we should preserve our history so we don’t forget it, or whether we should remove statues which can be construed to support views we now find abhorrent. That is nothing even remotely like the controversy over whether the Aborigine dreamed themselves into existence. And is, of course, nothing like you imply. You are knowingly (I assume given how widely available the information is) repeating a defamation dear to the left in the US and spreading it to people in other countries who will not likely be able to easily access the truth, which is shameful on your part. And you went out of your way to drag it into a place it does not belong.

          1. The fact that realobfuscationpolitics can find at least 2 persons ‘on the other side’ who are not obvious asshole neo-nazis, is just an evident stupid figleaf for all the stupidos who wish to give Drumpf an excuse so that he can continue his nudge-nudge wink-wink encouragement of those racist assholes.

  6. “Many indigenous Australians see this sort of measuring and quantifying as inappropriate.”
    Are we to infer from this that Australian aboriginal theorists preceded Derrida, Lyotard, and the rest of postmodernism by a long (and of course indeterminate) time? In fact, the next paragraph hints at the real origin of this dictum. “a UNSW spokeswoman cited “extensive consultation” with the university’s Centre for Indigenous Programs, Nura Gili, and its Equity Diversity & Inclusion Division. Uh huh. We can expect the academic deep thinkers of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to reject “measuring and quantifying” whenever it is not in the service of Equity—or possibly whenever it is done. After all, quantification often leads to inequitable conclusions like: 7 > 2.

    1. Actually, the indigenous Aussies deserve more credit than the poststructuralist bullshitters: It seems likely that the former at least believe to be true what they claim in this direction. Except possibly Derrida, the famed, mostly from France’s universities, postmodern ‘thinkers’ probably knew perfectly well they were just clever wordsmiths/academic frauds, stringing lines of meaningless nonsense (even if cow-college professors of English etc. were easy to take in).

      For me, it almost seems like Derrida didn’t realize the charlatanism of his movement. In that case we have another instance, like Trump, of a genius in some particular skill (wordsmithing and conman-ing for those two), who is a total idiot in almost everything else.

  7. MORE bureaucratic bovine nitrogenous excrement in NSW? Never mind doing any DNA testing to validate where they actually came from. Same for “Native Americans” and Tibetans. My multiracial/ethnic background includes the former along with French & Scottish to name just a couple. I guess that makes me a mongrel. So what!

    1. My father knew- through hypnosis— that he was Pocahontas in a former life. And a few other notables. No one else in the family shared his sentiment, or even cared.

      1. My daughter, when she was only about three or four years of age, used to say that she once had been a little boy in “ancient Egypt” and would describe how she lived in a stone house. I used to tell her she really must have been related to King Tutenkhamen, because she was Princess Cute’n’charmin’.
        I remember that we had watched a documentary about Egypt on the telly at one time, so I guess that was what informed her fantasy.

  8. Next they will come for the geologists and the astronomers. We must respect the Aboriginal theories of how the land was shaped:
    “a serpent being that meandered over the land creating rivers, waterways and lakes”
    “the story of how the sun was made is different in New South Wales and in Western Australia”


    1. Personally, my own favorite Origin Theory is that of the NW coast native Americans. In the old days, everything (animals, trees, mountains, clouds, etc.) could speak and did. But then Raven, also known as The Changer, came through and changed everything (for the worse it seems to some) to the way it is now. One of Raven’s blunders was, by scratching a hairball off his chest, to create the human species. The Office Diversity & Etc. may yet advise that we get in the canoe and present this Theory in courses on Geology, Biology, Evolution, and everything else.

  9. I grew up in Tasmania and was in primary school in the 1970s. We learned a little about Aborigines: to quote my grade 4 teacher, “The settlers didn’t understand the Aborigines and they killed them all and it was very sad.” I got the impression the Aborigines had preceded Europeans by a few hundred years, but don’t recall how I got that impression.

    Textbooks available in schools at the time (one I recall by a popular historian called Russel Ward) were so racist that I don’t even want to write any quotes.

    Beyond that I didn’t learn anything at all about Aborigines until I went to university and researched it myself as a social studies project. I still recall telling a roomful of my fellow students that Aborigines had been in Australia for 40,000 years. They were just as gobsmacked as I was. We’d never encountered such a time span before, let alone one related to people who are still around as a continuously existing culture.

    While awareness has obviously improved (though I was horrified to see a survey that about 70% of Australians are unaware that there were massacres and wars), this current denial of reality is really a bit much. The dissonance between “We were always here” and “Nope it was only about 50,000 years” is really not so bad.

    Worst of all, denying our common African origins avoids feeling the horror and senseless loss of destroying so much of a culture “we” should have recognised as brothers we hadn’t seen for 50,000 freaking goddam years.

    I don’t feel any personal guilt of course — I never did anything bad. But the enormity of the loss and above all the injustice of it all makes me tear up just thinking about it.

    1. Well said.

      If the desire to throw out the scientific understanding of aboriginal origins is based on the good intention to make reparations for the damage done by colonialism in the past — “ we failed to respect you then, but look how we respect you NOW” — then it misses the mark. Treating indigenous peoples like children isn’t respectful.

      When we try to correct someone, we assume a position of equality. We also invite them into the shared ideals of wisdom and progress.

      1. Yep — and it mirrors the racist stuff that people like Russell Ward were writing as late as 1964 — that they are incapable of understanding civilisation. (Albeit without comparing them to wild dogs as Ward did. I will now clean my typing fingers with sandpaper.)

      2. When we try to correct someone, we assume a position of equality. We also invite them into the shared ideals of wisdom and progress.

        Good one, Sastra! I’m adding it to my scrapbook. You got a mention in Grania’s memorial, but the way.

  10. ‘The Australian’ is Murdoch propaganda in its purest form; everything in it is ideologically slanted to portray science, higher education, proponents of justice and disadvantaged groups in the worst light.

    The 40,000 year figure is obsolete; it was widely accepted as a minimum because it represented the limit of 14C dating available in the 70s and 80s. Specific older dates are still controversial, but there’s no good reason to fix arrival at 40ka, or less than 50ka. So… whatever.

  11. We had the Enlightenment (the age of reason) now we seem to be entering an age that values ignorance. I guess the second dark ages works, but there must be a better name? A good name could help to concisely label its stupidity as these events happen over and over again.

  12. Excepting for some of the the academics working in the humanities, I expect the rest of the teaching staff at UNSW will just ignore the recommendation.
    Well, not ignore, technically, since some eye rolling will be an unavoidable reflex.

  13. An argument that makes just as much sense [i.e., none at all] as the regressive left “hurt feelings” argument: “Many white people think that the white ‘race’ is superior to non-white races. They find it offensive to be told that the scientific evidence does not support this belief, so shut up. And don’t tell them that ‘white privilege’ means non-whites can complain, but they can’t. They find that offensive too.”

  14. Part of the project of science is to eliminate this sort of parochialism, with different accounts of our history based on where you live.

    I propose a fix:
    “The “advice” of UNSW, a formerly respected Australian University, is reprehensible,…”

  15. The answer to this, and the similar claims of Native Americans, is simple: “Are you saying that you aren’t human beings? Because all homo sapiens alive today are descended from people who left Africa some 70-100K years ago. If you’re not descended from them, that must mean that you aren’t human”.

  16. Here’s a link to the document itself:

    It’s a mix of commensense stuff like saying that “Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth were the first European men to cross the Blue Mountains” rather than the “first men to cross” and the obviously fringe stuff that’s discussed above.

    What’s less clear is whether this document has any kind of official status whatsoever, and whether The Australian isn’t exaggerating as part of its own political biases. It’s not original writing – the document in question seems to be one of those canonical “diversity” documents like Peggy MacIntosh’s “White Privilege” article – something that’s been recirculated and copied all over the place for 20+ years without looking at it critically.

  17. I guess they are not teaching that Pama–Nyungan language group covering most of Australia is only 5000 year old and possibly because waves of migration to Australia from north.

  18. I’m sick of all this political correctness about Australian Aborigines. You may have missed the recent decision of the AFL to accept a contrary version of the origins of Australia Rules Football that claims the game has its origins in a game “Marngrook” played by Aborigines.

    But in passing I want to point out that the word “aboriginAL” is an adjective while the noun for the name of the people is “aborininIES”

    1. It has become offensive to refer to ethnic groups using the noun form. You have to use the adjective followed by “person.” Hence you cannot say “Jew” or “Aborigine,” You have to say “Jewish person” or “Aboriginal person” instead. It’s weird how cultural taboos evolve.

  19. Professor Coyne.

    It seems you are not aware of the unreliability of the news source your comments are derived from. This is well known in Australia, if not in your neck of the woods.

    Murdoch owned, “The Australian” is notorious for its’ stories of the “PC academics going mad” type.

    Is your BS detector totally offline? The UNSW Dean of Science instructing staff not to teach the basic facts of archaeology?

    1. Mr. Courtis,

      Perhaps if you did some checking you’d see that the advise of UNSW is indeed accurate, as given on its website:

      More appropriate
      “… since the beginning of the Dreaming/s”

      “Since the beginning of the Dreaming/s” reflects the beliefs of many Indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia, from the beginning of time, and came from the land.

      Less appropriate
      “Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for 40,000 years”
      Forty thousand years puts a limit on the occupation of Australia and thus tends to lend support to migration theories and anthropological assumptions. Many Indigenous Australians see this sort of measurement and quantifying as inappropriate.

      Before you tell me that your BS detector is totally offline, do your homework. Yes, the Dean is telling staff how to teach archaeology. Frankly, I’m sick of people like you who, based solely on your opinion of a news source, discount it completely. You will now hie your tuchas from this site, whipped and chastened. (Not really, for people like you will never admit your errors.)

      1. The stuff about prehistory is almost as bad.

        Prehistory simply refers to the time in any culture before people started writing down things that happened. Historians deal with old documents. The time before there were documents is, by definition, prehistory.

        There is no judgement inherent in the word. Every part of the World has a prehistory. In Britain it ended in the first century when the Romans invaded. On the other hand, I remember going to some ruins of an American settlement in California or Arizona that were dated to around 1300 and were also described as prehistoric.

        1. I agree.
          But I’d add that, especially in the last 10 years or less, there is a very dramatic illustration of how, the ‘date’, when the SCIENTIFIC prehistory of various peoples starts, is a widely variable function of which method to get data is used.
          The big example is now the theory of so-called “ancient DNA”. David Reich’s recent book, entitled “Who we are and where we came from” IIRC, is an excellent source for those of us who are not sufficiently expert to read intelligently the scientific literature.
          It does have a big section on the Australian/New Guinean indigenous.

          1. My last sentence is more false than true; I just looked again for a different reason.
            And Reich’s title is “Who we are and how we got here”, not what I said above.

  20. Reprehensible. Well, you work with fruit-flies and I, as an anthropologist, work with people. If one wishes to continue to work with some people, concessions must be made. What is a person to do if a truth is also offensive or threatening? You can snoot yourself out of doing this, or, do as I am doing. My wife and I are working with a people who are firmly convinced that they have always lived where they live. Choosing the holier than thou route means that nothing is accomplished, but one can feel better about sticking to the hard and fast rules of science as you see it. I would rather learn what I can and let the people, who have been royally screwed over time and time again by whites, believe what they wish. I can deal with it, and we get our small part of science and history to be interpreted as it may without being threatening and lose all our contacts. No need to go all high and mighty about it. People are different. Believe me.
    Incidentally, what we are doing is science pure and not at all simple.

    1. “I would rather learn what I can and let the people, who have been royally screwed over time and time again by whites, believe what they wish.”

      That’s perfectly legitimate in your situation. I wouldn’t, of course, publish a myth as truth. Usually writing from an objective viewpoint can avoid any hard feelings.

    2. Lying in the service of the profession?

      Keeping one’s mouth shut about facts while doing fieldwork might be a necessary strategy. When you start teaching that aboriginal myths, or anyone else’s myths, are something other than myths you cross the line. At that point you become a dishonest and you most certainly aren’t going science, simple or not.

    3. And thus, we must add what you are doing to the list of crimes committed against these people.

      You are not virtuous for allowing them to continue wallowing in ignorance. Quite the opposite. That doesn’t mean you must attempt to convert them, or convince them of the truth. But it certainly means you shouldn’t humor a persistence in believing in falsehoods, or hide the truth form them. Each human deserves the truth to the extent it is known from the next human. That is the key to enlightenment, and the only way forward.

  21. There can be “…no catering to the false beliefs of minority groups…”? Obviously the size of the group is irrelevant.

    Perhaps this was an inadvertent slip revealing a level of animosity towards this particular group?

  22. I appreciate the opinions of scientists. But scientific opinions are not the same as facts.

    Scientist are famous for forming opinions based in scant evidence, and reluctance to change them because of what “everyone knows”. In fact we know very little about practically nothkng. We BELIEVE. We ASSUME true until oroven fakse.

    That’s not science.

    Any conclusions about an age of arrival of arrival or early dispersion of humanity is based on very scant evidence. In tropical and subtropical areas the amount of recovered artifacts and dna evidence more 3000 years old is tiny compared to that recovered in temperate zones.

    The theory that homosapiens originated in Africa is just that, a theory. It could have happened anywhere within transportation distance, and there is no proof that the transportation of 50,000 years ago was less sophisticated than that today.

    Occam’s razor is not a sfientific principle. It may seem unlikely, but there is no objective evidence that humans evolved on Earth. Our progress from horses to reuseable space launch vehicles happened within a few hundred years, and our environment extinction seems to be imminent. That seems like a highly unlikely situation, but is real.

    1. You are babbling and have no idea what you’re talking about. For one thing, you apparently have NO inkling of the evidence—no, not just opinion, that hominids emerged in Africa. And really, you see NO evidence that the transportation of 50,000 years ago was less sophisticated than today? Where were the planes and cars then.

      Jebus, you need to post at The Discovery Institute. Oh, I forgot–they don’t accept comments,

  23. The 40kya number confuses two different things, as I understand it. That number represents somewhere around how fist arrival of anatomically modern humans in Australia. But those earliest peoples don’t seem to have left much, if any, genetic legacy in modern Aboriginal people. Their primary ancestors arrived somewhat later. We know this because Aboriginal people are, like all non-Africans, descendants of the our-of-Africa bottleneck.

    We also know some other facts which create time-bounds: the Neanderthal admixture, a multiple Denisovan ancestry. Aboriginal people are most closely related to Papuans (they descend from a common source population). And like Papuans, they have the highest amounts of Denisovan ancestry. In any even, they probably arrived 10-32 kya and expanded within the last 10k years.

    This is still quite a long time, but the “40,000 years” thing is pious BS.
    This is the best paper I’m aware of:

    1. Part of what you assert, “as I understand it”, is correct in that the 40,000 year arrival, is false, without being preceded by the phrase ‘at least’.

      But it is a misunderstanding in that you are apparently asserting that it should be preceded by exactly the opposite, that is, by ‘less than’.

      Correct me if I misread what you said.

      Your very reference, in its abstract, contains the phrase “We estimate that Aboriginal Australians and Papuans diverged from Eurasians 51–72 kya”. That agrees with even later evidence in which the “51” could even be changed to 60, unless I have been misreading recent scientific articles.

      I’ll try to find that again, and report back here if and when I do.

      1. See:
        Human occupation of northern Australia by 65,000 years ago”. Nature. 547 (7663): 306–310. doi:10.1038/nature22968.

        1. No. There are multiple issues that you’re misunderstanding. There’s the arrival of anatomically modern humans in Australia perhaps 50kya. But that doesn’t meant that those people are the ancestors of the Aboriginal people of Australia. Humans very frequently went locally extinct or left such a minor contribution to later people residing in the same area that it’s not detectable. For example, modern European are not meaningfully related ice age humans residing there. You simply cannot assume that there is a direct line of descent from the earliest people to today. Ancient DNA has been full of counterintuitive surprises, such as the fact that Native Americans are closely related to Northern Europeans, or that what we think of as Europeans didn’t really exist before about 6kya.

          What the data show for aborigines (and Papuans) is that they diverged very early from others in the out of Africa population. But that doesn’t mean they arrived in Australia as of the divergence time. To the contrary, they had to travel across Eurasia and, along the way, interbreed with Neanderthals and Denisovans. The aborigines also had to separate from the Papuans and populate Australia. Those last two steps almost certainly occurred much later than 40kya.

          There are some limitations regarding the estimates because the paper reports the results of studies on modern living aborigines. It would be best to have ancient dna samples to make better estimates.

          1. To begin, the introduction to the 2017 Nature paper to which I had given the reference:

            “Optical dating of sediments containing stone artefacts newly excavated at Madjedbebe, Australia, indicate that human occupation began around 65,000 years ago, thereby setting a new minimum age for the arrival of people in Australia.
            Chris Clarkson, Zenobia Jacobs[…] & Colin Pardoe”

            You completely ignored that almost immediately with your

            “There’s the arrival of anatomically modern humans in Australia perhaps 50kya.”

            Are you somehow claiming that “human” in the Nature paper refers to not anatomically modern, but to one of the other–Neanderthal, Denisovan, ..–human subspecies?
            If you are, I would like to see something specific besides the ..could have…could have…kind of argument of which most of both your contributions consists. Anyway, let’s see some specific backup other than vaguely referring, e.g. to ancient DNA.

            To be specific about another point, you appear to be claiming the likelihood that somehow, at least once, maybe more often, a group of anatomically modern humans arrived in Australia but subsequently went extinct, having no living descendants whatsoever today. If so, do you know of anything like real scientific evidence, or is it all some more of this (wild but impossible to yet disprove) conjecturing?

            I’m very certain there’s nothing specifically supporting you on these points in David Reich’s book on ancient DNA which I’ve gone through twice (very recently–after all it’s a 2018 publication). Less certain to me, but I also seriously doubt there is anything in the published scientific literature giving support.

            But I’d certainly be very interested in either a detailed claim from you that I have misinterpreted anything, yours or in that Nature paper from 2018, or details of evidence you know about, as I asked for above.

            1. I don’t actually have access to the full Nature paper currently. But I do have access to the Reich book.

              I didn’t happen to recall the exact date of earliest human evidence in Australia. I was just using the 40kya date from the article under discussion.

              But that actually makes my point. 65 kya is 10s of thousands of years too early to have been the surviving out-of-Africa group for a variety of reasons. (It’s possible and even likely that there were other OOA populations that just didn’t make it). Look particularly at Chapter 8 and failure of the Southern Route.

              Reich doesn’t spend too much time on the Aborigines, but they are discussed a bit. 65kya predates the Neanderthal and Denisovan admixture by about 15-20ky (which you should be familiar with from Reich’s book). It’s likely that they were from a failed out-of-Africa group (perhaps by the “Southern Route”). Reich places the Neanderthal admixture at 54-49kya and the Denisovan admixture with the Papuan/Aborigine ancestors at 49-44kya. (See figure 22 in Reich’s book). Those remains from 65ky simply cannot be the primary ancestors of Aborigines.

              The issue is then whether the people 40kya were from the same population that gave rise to modern Aborigines. That’s not entirely clear (and really only could be confirmed through ancient DNA).

              A bit of geographical history is important here: until about 10kya, Australia and New Guinea were connected by land. The people living there (leaving modern descendants) were related but perhaps lived in different populations (that what the Nature absract means by “structure”). Note this bit: “all of the studied Aboriginal Australians descend from a single founding population that differentiated ~10–32 kya.” This means that the people who were there 40kya may not have left descendants.

              Basically, what the abstract says is that the ancestors of Papuans and Aborigines separated about 25-40 kya, but the population that became modern aborigines only differentiated 10-32 kya. So that can’t be the same population in Australia 40kya (and certainly not 65kya).

              1. There is nothing in what you say which contradicts the claim of scientists that, more than 60,000 years ago, there was a group of anatomically modern humans in Australia, and that present day Australians who claim to be largely aboriginal have most ancestral lines back through those early humans.

    1. When I was younger, I was privileged to spend some time with the Navajo (diné) people in AZ. And a wonderful people they are. But their mythology states that they erupted from the earth in the land bounded by their four sacred peaks. Of course the archeological evidence says they migrated in from Northern Canada as evidenced by the fact that their language is Athabaskan.

      At one point I asked a Navajo man, with whom I felt comfortable asking such questions, how the Navajo reconciled the facts about their language with their creation myth. He smiled and said it was easy to explain. Long ago some Navajo migrated North and took their language with them and it spread among the Northern tribes.

        1. Slightly better than the common story amongst the Inuit about where qallunaat (“bushy eyebrowed ones” – aka, European-derived folks) are from.

          (For those who don’t know, the story is not favourable to either “us” or at least some Inuit themselves – we are supposedly the result of an Inuk woman having sex with a dog!)

  24. Reporting harassment isn’t easy. I had to do it early on in my military career, and I think I cried because it was such a hard thing to do. But my Chief was awesome, and took me seriously. I decided against a formal complaint at the time, and the person in question eventually came to me and apologized. But it doesn’t always end so well for every case. You take a chance, because maybe the person you’re reporting to doesn’t take you seriously, or doesn’t believe you because no one else has ever come forward.At romance conventions, I think the reverse happens. The guys are objectified and harassed in the same way that women are at SFF cons. It doesn’t matter if they’re spouses, or cover models or even authors. I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened that I’ve heard of, let alone what may have occurred where I hadn’t. I can’t remember the stats on the study I read, but the number of harassment complaints made by men against women was staggeringly low.It makes me sad that it’s happening in 2013, but I like to think it’s blowing up because we are now aware of it and more people realize that it’s not okay.

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