I thought about saying something about this (“Homer’s great masterpieces, The Iliad and The Odyssey, have been dated to around 762 BCE by new research based on the statistical modelling of language evolution”) back when it was in the news, but frankly it made me tired. Fortunately, Memiyawanzi had a rant about it that expressed what was in my soul:
I really don’t know what to say. Bayesian phylogenetics applied to raw lexical data gives tenuous results at its good, bizarre BBC headlines like ‘English Language originated in Turkey‘ at its bad, and now, can be used as a terrible, terrible replacement for traditional textual criticism and philology at a bar-lowering new ugly for the mindless glottogonic speculation that is increasingly being made in this area by researchers in genetics with little to no actual historical linguistics training.
And as eoforholt says in the comment thread: “It’s worse than the press release makes out. In the article itself, they say that their method on its own actually yields a 95% confidence interval 61-1351 BC, a 1290 year range. It’s only when they weight their model earlier (to take into account Herodotos’ mention of Homer) that they get the range discussed in the press release.” I will, of course, be interested in responses from people who know more about this stuff than I do; my skepticism meter sometimes goes higher than is entirely warranted.