Monday, October 26, 2020

Hyper intolerance

Two articles in today's Wall St. Journal remind me of the M2C citation cartel. 

[M2C is the acronym for Mesoamerican/Two-Cumorahs theory promoted by Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, BYU Studies, FairMormon, etc.]

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-free-speech-dies-11603658971?mod=hp_opin_pos_1

How Free Speech Dies

Hyper-intolerance is a familiar path to tyranny throughout Latin America.




Excerpts:

Facebook, Twitter and Google chief executives go before a Senate committee this week to face questions about alleged censorship....

The problem, which is familiar in Latin America and now seems to be coming to a theater near you, is a new “hyper-intolerance” on the part of the upper classes, academics and the media. This is scary because where efforts by elites to silence dissent have succeeded, things haven’t ended well, even for those who instigate them. What starts with canceling an opponent for some heresy almost inevitably leads to gagging civil society.

Full-blown censorship is associated with totalitarian regimes using military enforcement. But dive into the tragedy of tyranny in the Americas and you often find, long before the consolidation of power, insidious support from public intellectuals for controlling thought and speech. Over and over again their role in the “revolution” has been to define virtue and justice, and unleash the mob to denounce and condemn the unrepentant....

One is left to contemplate what might have been in any of these countries had open minds been ready to defend open society. And to further contemplate what is to become of open societies where minds close.

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The mark of M2C is the mark of closed minds.

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Another WSJ editorial makes a point that applies to M2C.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-press-of-conformity-11603660797?mod=opinion_lead_pos3

The Press of Conformity

A case study in how the media stigmatize opposing views.

By pretending that the two stories [about the Hunter Biden laptop] conflict, the progressive media are attempting to say that the emails and texts should never have been reported.

This is laughable coming from the crowd that spent four years pushing the Russia-Trump collusion narrative from 2016 that was ginned up and promoted by the Hillary Clinton campaign. They spun the claims of the Steele dossier, despite no supporting evidence and no on-the-record witnesses. Yet now they claim that on-the-record statements from a former Hunter Biden associate, along with emails and texts that the Biden campaign hasn’t disputed, should be kept from the public.

Application to M2C: M2C is based on anonymous editorials in the 1842 Times and Seasons; i.e., there is no supporting evidence and no on-the-record witnesses.

Yet M2C proponents claim that on-the-record statements from Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Brigham Young, Lucy Mack Smith, Parley P. Pratt, and numerous LDS Church leaders, should be kept from Church members.

All of this is relevant beyond next week’s election. If Democrats win up and down the ballot, progressives will control the commanding heights of nearly every American elite institution: Congress, the administrative state, Hollywood and the arts, the universities, nonprofits, Silicon Valley and nearly all of the media.

Yet instead of playing watchdog for the public, today’s progressive press partisans devote themselves to attacking anyone who breaks from their orthodoxy. They denounce independent voices like Ms. Strassel with their Twitter brigades, then they unleash reporters who are ideological enforcers masquerading as media critics. They can’t tolerate any opposing political view. This is why Americans in record numbers don’t trust the media, and it’s why we will keep reporting the news others won’t.


Friday, October 23, 2020

M2C Evidence Central

they began to mark themselves... (Alma 3:18)

The mark of M2C is expanding.


The new web page, Evidencecentral.org, has an excellent logo. The designers did a nice job. 


The web page is a great idea that I fully support--in theory. It's important for people to know there is evidence to support the claims of the prophets and the scriptures.

However, Evidence Central is (so far) completely tainted by the mark of M2C. It's just another member of the M2C citation cartel. 

Consequently, Evidencecentral.org accumulates and presents evidence to convince people to disbelieve the teachings of the prophets.
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Here are some examples. Notice the mark of M2C on every page.



In Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon, there are zero accounts of people building massive stone temple, pyramids, or other structures. Yet the M2C citation cartel has retranslated the text to describe these and other features of Mayan culture.


Joseph Smith's translation describes building houses with "cement" and cities "both of wood and of cement." It never mentions building with stone and cement, but M2C has retranslated the text to present as "evidence" the massive stone pyramids and other Mayan structures.

11 And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.
(Helaman 3:11)

In North America, indigenous people built with wood and cement.

The only cement we know for certain was Nephite was discovered in western New York. Moroni used it to construct the box into which he placed the abridged plates. 



In Joseph's translation, Coriantumr's stone was so unusual that the people of Zarahemla brought it to Mosiah to be interpreted. It is the only engraved stone mentioned in 1,000 years of Nephite history.

20 And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God.
21 And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons.
(Omni 1:20–21)

In the M2C translation, these stones were ubiquitous because among the Mayans they were ubiquitous.

Of course, such stones are common in many human societies. I've seen them in China, Cambodia, India, Egypt, Mexico, Belize, Lebanon, Israel, Greece, Italy, Turkey, etc. It's difficult to find an ancient society without such stones. 

The lack of such stones in the Book of Mormon, combined with the special mention of Coriantumr's stone, suggests we should look for ancient American societies in which a large carved stone would be unusual, even undecipherable.

The last society to cite as evidence of the Book of Mormon is a society that had large engraved stones everywhere.
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I encourage people to go through EvidenceCentral and see if you can find any evidence to support the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah or the translation of the Book of Mormon with the Urim and Thummim. 

If you find such evidence, send me an email (lostzarahemla@gmail.com) and I'll mention it in this blog.








Thursday, October 22, 2020

The partiality of paternalism

Now that people recognize the mark of M2C as the antithesis of intellectual pursuit and a direct repudiation of the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, many people are wondering why LDS intellectuals adopted the mark of M2C in the first place.

These intellectuals are smart, credentialed and well intentioned. Some (but not all) of them ostensibly recognize the importance of an open mind. What would lead them to adopt a logo that declares as a fundamental premise that the only permissible discussion of Book of Mormon geography is in the context of a Mayan setting?


There's a simple explanation. These intellectuals simply assumed the prophets were wrong about Cumorah and they fell in love with their theory.

In technical terms, M2C (the Mesoamerican/2 Cumorahs theory) is an example of "the habit of precipitate explanation." 

The reason so many people become emotionally attached to "hastily born theories" such as M2C was explained in 1890 by the geologist T.C. Chamberlin. His paper was reprinted in Science magazine in 1965. A pdf is available here: 

http://www.sortie-nd.org/lme/Statistical%20Papers/Chamberlain_1997.pdf

Chamberlin explained how affection for one's theory create a "blinding influence."

For a time these hastily born theories [such as M2C] are likely to be held in a tentative way with some measure of candor or at least some self-illusion of candor. With this tentative spirit and measurable candor, the mind satisfies its moral sense and deceives itself with the thought that it is proceeding cautiously and impartially toward the goal of ultimate truth. 

It fails to recognize that no amount of provisional holding of a theory, no amount of application of the theory, so long as the study lacks in incisiveness and exhaustiveness, justifies an ultimate conviction. It is not the slowness with which conclusions are arrived at that should give satisfaction to the moral sense, but the precision, the completeness and the impartiality of the investigation.

It is in this tentative stage that the affections enter with their blinding influence. Love was long since discerned to be blind and what is true in the personal realm is measurably true on the intellectual realm. Important as the intellectual affections are as stimuli and as rewards, they are nevertheless dangerous factors in research. All too often they put under strain the integrity of the intellectual processes.

The moment one has offered an original explanation for a phenomenon which seems satisfactory, that moment affection for his intellectual child springs into existence, and as the explanation grows into a definite theory his parental affections cluster about his offspring and it grows more and more dear to him.

While he persuades himself that he holds it still as tentative, it is none the less lovingly tentative and not impartially and indifferently tentative. So soon as this parental affection takes possession of the mind, there is apt to be a rapid passage to the unreserved adoption of the theory. 

There is then imminent danger of an unconscious selection and of a magnifying of phenomena that fall into harmony with the theory and support it and an unconscious neglect of phenomena that fail of coincidence. [In the case of M2C, it started with "unconscious neglect" but now the M2C citation cartel not only neglects but actively suppresses, attacks, and censors facts that "fail of coincidence" with M2C.]

The mind lingers with pleasure upon the facts that fall happily into the embrace of the theory, and feels a natural coldness toward those that assume a refractory attitude. Instinctively there is a special searching-out of phenomena that support it, for the mind is led by its desires. There springs up also unwittingly a pressing of the theory to make it fit the facts and a pressing of the facts to make them fit the theory. [A perfect description of Book of Mormon Central.]

When these biasing tendencies set in, the mind rapidly degenerates into the partiality of paternalism. 

KEY POINT that explains M2C:

The search for facts, the observation of phenomena and their interpretation are all dominated by affection for the favored theory until it appears to its author or its advocate to have been overwhelmingly established.

The theory then rapidly rises to a position of control in the processes of the mind and observation, induction and interpretation are guided by it. From an unduly favored child it readily grows to be a master and leads its author whithersoever it will. The subsequent history of that mind in respect to that theme is but the progressive dominance of a ruling idea. 

Briefly summed up, the evolution is this: a premature explanation passes first into a tentative theory, then into an adopted theory, and lastly into a ruling theory.

When this last stage has been reached, unless the theory happens perchance to be the true one, all hope of the best results is gone. To be sure truth may be brought forth by an investigator dominated by a false ruling idea. His very errors may indeed stimulate investigation on the part of others. But the condition is scarcely the less unfortunate.

As previously implied, the method of the ruling theory occupied a chief place during the infancy of investigation. It is an expression of a more or less infantile condition of the mind. I believe it is an accepted generalization that in the earlier stages of development the feelings and impulses are relatively stronger than in later stages...

The defects of the method are obvious and its errors grave. If one were to name the central psychological fault, it might be stated as the admission of intellectual affection to the place that should be dominated by impartial, intellectual rectitude alone.

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M2C promoters (and Book of Mormon Central employees) will claim that my views (Moroni's America, etc.) are just as defective.

There's a big difference, though. I accept the teachings of the prophets that the New York Cumorah is a fact. When we start with a fact, we avoid "the habit of precipitate explanation."  That's why it is crucial to recognize that Oliver Cowdery was not merely speculating or proposing a theory.

He declared the New York Cumorah was a fact.

By insisting that Oliver merely speculated that it was a fact, the M2C promoters implicitly recognize the fundamental weakness of their position.

Denying facts is the "tell" that M2C is a hoax. 

But plenty of people lead productive lives while believing in hoaxes, and I'm fine with people believing whatever they want. 

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

How the M2C logo makes sense

Adapted from a twitter feed:

Once you realize that M2C advocates think of themselves as priests policing heresy rather than investigators seeking truth, the M2C logo and the censorship by the M2C citation cartel will make a lot more sense.




Monday, October 19, 2020

Logos and perspective

This political season is a good time to remember the contents of an 1839 letter that Joseph signed as co-author and personally edited:

We ought always to be aware of those prejudices which sometimes so strongly present themselves and are so congenial to human nature against our neighbors, friends, and brethren of the world who choose to differ with us in opinion and in matters of faith. 

Our religion is between us and our God. Their religion is between them and their God. 

There is a tie from God that should be exercised toward those of our faith who walk uprightly. . .. 

It is without prejudice, but gives scope to the mind, which enables us to conduct ourselves with greater liberality toward all others that are not of our faith than what they exercise toward one another. These principles approximate nearer to the mind of God because they are like God or godlike. 

Those who read my blogs know that I have great respect and fondness for the members of the M2C citation cartel. All those I've met are great people, sincere, dedicated, smart, etc. 

While I disagree with their interpretations of the text and the relevant extrinsic evidence, it doesn't bother me in the least that other people have different opinions. I object strongly to their policy of censorship of alternative ideas, but none of these differences are personal. I'm happy to associate with and interact with anyone despite disagreements about any particular issues.  

Unlike some of my critics, I don't resort to name-calling, accusations of apostasy, etc. Such logical fallacies reflect their insecurity about their opinions and are easily ignored anyway.  

For those who are serious about these topics, many differences of opinion arise from a simple difference of perspective. Once we understand this it is easy to have unity of purpose simultaneously with diversity of thought.

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From Twitter:

Everything you see, hear and know is based on a subjective perspective.

It is all relative to where you stand.

https://twitter.com/BrianRoemmele/status/1317454797516070912



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One highly significant difference of perspective involves the Book of Mormon Central logo, which is the old logo from F.A.R.M.S. 

For some people, this logo represents outstanding, brilliant scholarship. Even the Maxwell Institute, for a time, used a modified version of the logo.




For others (such as me) it represents completely closed minds and bias confirmation presented in the guise of scholarship. 

This logo literally teaches that the Book of Mormon is a Mayan Codex (i.e., Mormon's Codex, which M2C believers hold out as the "high-water mark of scholarship on the Book of Mormon"). 

This logo teaches that the "real Cumorah" is in southern Mexico.

This logo is the antithesis of the Church's position of neutrality.


It would be impossible for any organization or publication that identifies itself with a Mayan glyph to represent the Book of Mormon to even consider, let alone fairly evaluate, the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. 

That's why the hirelings of Book of Mormon Central spend their time trying to convince Church members that the prophets are wrong.

That logo represents a deliberate choice to repudiate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

The logo of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies is composed of characters from four of the main ancient languages and cultures relevant to Book of Mormon research. The Hebrew “aleph” in the upper left corner and the Greek “omega” in the lower right are the first and last letters of the Hebrew and Greek alphabets, standing for “the first and the last” (Isaiah 48:12), who is Jesus Christ.

The Mayan glyph in the upper right is stylized, representing Mesoamerican studies. The Egyptian “Wd3t-eye” in the lower left corner represents Egyptian studies. This character, the pupil of the sun god Re, was an ancient symbol of resurrection, since a myth told how the eye was torn to pieces and then put back together. The round pupil of the eye was also used as the model of the round outline of the hypocephalus placed under the head in royal burials, of which Figure 2 in the Book of Abraham is an example.


You can see the original explanation here.

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Once those who identify themselves with this M2C logo understand how the rest of us perceive it, maybe they will be a little more understanding of our point of view.

Probably not, but hope springs eternal.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Once someone gets a PhD...

 From Nate Silver's twitter feed:

Nate Silver
This is not a subtweet of anyone in particular and it's going to annoy some people since I have a lot of PhD followers/friends and also I'm a stubborn guy myself but...one thing I'm noticed is that once someone gets a PhD, it become 10x harder to convince them they're wrong.

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To this I would add, once someone is hired by a PhD, it becomes 20x harder to convince them they're wrong.

And if they're working on PhD themselves, it becomes 30x harder to convince them they're wrong.

Exhibit A: the employees of Book of Mormon Central who troll faithful LDS who happen to disagree with M2C because they still believe the prophets.






Thursday, October 15, 2020

M2C handbook illustrations

The M2C handbook explains how to perpetuate M2C. 

1. Develop a logo that depicts the Book of Mormon as a Mayan codex:


2. Put the logo everywhere:






3. Hire fine young scholars and pay them to flood the Internet with M2C and attacks on faithful LDS members who still believe the teachings of the prophets.

4. Spend millions of dollars to enforce M2C and censor alternatives.