We live in a world in which it is dangerous to ignore the advice of experts, but it is almost as dangerous to follow their advice. The trick is to know when the experts are the solution and when they are the jailers of your mental prison.
There are plenty of "experts" in Church history and Book of Mormon historicity. Some are inside the Church; others are outside the Church.
Critics of the Church and the Book of Mormon also rely on Loserthink tactics. They are jailers of the mental prisons of their followers.
Mormon Stories and CES Letter, two of the best-known critics, employ most of the Loserthink strategies discussed in the book. We'll look more at their work in upcoming posts, but today we'll focus on M2C.
How can you determine whether these experts are the solution or the jailers of your mental prison?
You can consider the tactics they use and their objectives. Are they supporting or repudiating the teachings of the prophets on these topics?
Tactic 1. The M2C jailers of mental prisons use patterns or analogies as arguments and rationales for M2C. The M2C intellectuals use the term "correspondences" to describe the patterns they cite to make people believe ancient Mayan culture has something to do with the Book of Mormon.
|The book of|
The Nephites were farmers.
The Mayans were farmers.
Therefore the Nephites were Mayans.
When explained that way, the futility of a theory based on "correspondences" is apparent. Yet the entire M2C theory consists of little more than such "correspondences."
Chapter 6 in Mormon's Codex, for example, is titled "About Correspondences" and argues that "The text of the Book of Mormon can be compared with the findings of Mesoamerican scholarship at several levels... In this volume, correspondences vary between two levels of persuasiveness. Some correspondences are so specific that there seems to be no explanation for their occurrence in both the Book of Mormon and data from archaeology or anthropology other than that some literal historical sharing must have occurred. Other correspondences are somewhat less striking, yet given the context provided by the strongest correspondences, it seems very likely that those that are less focused also are best explained as the result of direct historical connection rather than by a mental interventionism."
I give Brother Sorenson great credit and respect for addressing the issue of correspondences because the entire M2C theory depends on such comparisons and patterns. But just because he addressed the issue doesn't mean these correspondences are meaningful--or that they are so meaningful as to justify repudiating the teachings of the prophets because of them.
These correspondences can be persuasive because, as Loserthink explains, "humans use pattern recognition to understand their world. Humans are very bad at pattern recognition. And they don't know it. We can't tell the difference between valid patterns that might predict something useful and something that simply reminds us of something else but means nothing."
The psychological power of pattern recognition, or finding "correspondences," enables our M2C intellectuals to frame M2C as obvious and conclusive. In fact, they think these "correspondences" are so decisive that the teachings of the prophets, by comparison, are "manifestly absurd" (to use the description Brother Sorenson uses in Mormon's Codex).
That the "correspondences" cited by M2C intellectuals mean nothing is evident from the reality that experts in ancient Mayan studies who are not inside the M2C bubble see no connection between the Mayans and the Book of Mormon.
Tactic 2. Another section of Loserthink, titled "Fake News Filter," explains the problem of people being stuck in silos. "It is one thing to disagree with an opposing viewpoint, but it is a far bigger problem if you have never heard of it."
Book of Mormon Central, FairMormon, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine--all these M2C publications share a common editorial policy of censoring information and commentary that contradicts M2C. In a word, they resort to censorship.
The logo includes a Mayan glyph, foreclosing the possibility that the Book of Mormon could have taken place anywhere else.
This logo represents a closed-minded organization that insists the prophets are wrong. They justify censorship because they claim that, as experts, they have the answers. Further inquiry, discussion, and debate is unwelcome.
Consequently, there are many members of the Church who have never heard that there is an alternative to M2C. Many of them have never heard that the prophets have consistently taught that the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is in New York.
Ignorance is one of the most powerful jailers of mental prisons possible.
As long as these organizations continue to censor ideas and information that contradicts M2C, including the teachings of the prophets, they will continue to function as jailers of mental prisons.