long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Friday, May 1, 2015

You have not adequately addressed the literature

The other day Matt Roper of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship told me "You have not adequately addressed the literature on these questions, including a great deal that I have written myself." In that same exchange, he declined to respond to any of the facts in my book, The Lost City of Zarahemla, and has refused further collaboration.

Let's see. I first met with Matt in January to discuss his article that purported to prove Joseph Smith wrote the Times and Seasons articles linking the Book of Mormon to Guatemala. As a reminder, here it is: http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=2891&index=7

So I not only specifically addressed this article on this blog and in my book, but I visited Matt three times, in person, all on my own initiative, to discuss it with him. His response was to stonewall, make promises he wouldn't keep, and then accuse me of not addressing the literature.

Which is pretty much what everyone told me to expect.

Don't get me wrong. I like Matt, I think he's a capable scholar, and I'm sure he has good intentions. But as I've shown in numerous posts on the blog, the articles he's published need a lot of work.

In my view, he has an impossible task. They're defending an impossible theory, in my opinion. He and his collaborators are doing everything they can to keep the Mesoamerican theory alive. Maybe they don't realize it's on life support. Certainly they refuse to acknowledge it is based on a faulty premise--or at least they're not admitting it yet. And, to be sure, they give me a lot of great material for my presentations.

But my objective in all of this is to reach consensus. How is that possible when one side refuses to engage?

I'll continue pushing on the string, regardless. On this blog I've done peer reviews of several of Matt's articles. I'll continue doing so, I suppose, although the point I'm making about confirmation bias and result-oriented research has already been documented many times. Maybe one of these days I'll run across an article that holds up, with rational arguments, well-researched facts, and sound conclusions. I'll be sure to put it in the headline if I do.


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