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, August 21, 2020

Obvious hoaxes in public

Some of our M2C friends were upset a while back when I described M2C as a hoax. In fact, some of them responded by claiming the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah were a hoax.


On the one hand, we have the consistent and unambiguous teachings of the prophets.

On the other hand, we have the speculations of a handful of RLDS intellectuals who, just as the LDS leaders were planning to purchase and preserve the Hill Cumorah in New York about a hundred years ago, came up with an interpretation of the text of the Book of Mormon that put the "real Cumorah" in southern Mexico. This was M2C: the Mesoamerican/Two-Cumorahs theory.

Eventually, a handful of influential LDS intellectuals adopted the RLDS reasoning and began teaching M2C at BYU and CES, using bias confirmation and the M2C citation cartel to support their theories. Through the normal operation of the Academic Cycle, trusting students came to accept M2C and perpetuate it themselves, to the point where today, M2C is pervasive throughout the Church.

I mention this today because last night, we had the candidate for President of the United States who currently leads in the polls deliberately and prominently repeat a hoax that a significant number of Americans actually believe because of deceptively edited video and accompanying commentary.

I usually avoid political commentary, but this is a remarkable development in the history of mass psychology, playing out where we can all see it.

This ongoing spectacle of the "fine people" hoax puts the M2C hoax in perspective. We see that it is possible for millions of Americans to believe an obvious lie if they are (i) primed to believe it, (ii) kept unaware of the contrary facts, and (iii) shown "correspondences" that confirm their bias.

If past patterns hold, we will see that many of my American critics who advocate M2C also believe the "fine people" hoax, or at least they will defend it. It's the same psychology.

To be clear, I think most people who believe M2C are sincere, awesome, faithful, and exemplary in every way. People can believe whatever they want; in the LDS context, what matters is whether people are committed to building up Zion and bringing people to Christ.

But M2C exalts scholarly interpretations and fundamentally teaches people to repudiate the teachings of the prophets on one specific topic, thereby establishing a framework for analysis of other topics that also prefers intellectuals over prophets.

In case you don't know about the political "fine people" hoax to which I'm referring, here is how Joe Biden framed the hoax last night.

Just a week ago yesterday was the third anniversary of the events in Charlottesville. Close your eyes, remember what saw on television, and remember seeing those neo-Nazis and Klansmen and white supremacists, coming out of fields with lighted torches, veins bulging, spewing the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the ‘30s. Remember the violent clash that ensued between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.
Remember what the President said when asked, he said there were, quote, “very fine people on both sides.”  

Politicians always portray their opponents as wrong on the issues. It's not even unusual for politicians to edit videos to convey false narratives. The "fine people" hoax was created by editing the President's comments to create a video that conveys exactly the opposite of what he actually said.

E.g., https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2019/03/21/trump_didnt_call_neo-nazis_fine_people_heres_proof_139815.html

What's different about this hoax is the way it is being used to falsely divide Americans on an issue they actually agree on--the importance of equality and mutual respect--and the way it is being used to justify violence and destruction in our society, as we see daily.

Some twitter commentary:

@JoeBiden is still pushing the repulsive “Fine People Hoax” lives. The Hoax has been debunked. Thoroughly.He knows it’s a lie.

Biden runs on character and then tells the most divisive lie in American history (the Fine People Hoax) in his acceptance speech. 

Biden, again, went with the "Fine People on Both Sides Hoax", the most divisive hoax ever and is the source of much of the violence against Trump supporters.  Disqualifying!  He must never lead this nation.

I'm a Black man. President Trump never called Neo-Nazis or Klansmen "very fine people." Never. 
You've been lied to by a candidate who actually passed pro-segregation and anti-Black legislation. Joe Biden ain't with us.

Biden's spreading of the Fine People Hoax creates a real health risk for Trump supporters because his supporters believe it to be true. Twitter could protect the public by labeling tweets with that hoax as false. 

Biden has repeatedly cited the fine people hoax. He launched his campaign on it. Rewatch his launch video. But he will continue to use it because he has gotten away with it from the beginning.


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