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.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Campus unicorns

I posted this on the consensus blog and thought people here might also appreciate it.

Campus Unicorns - photo: iStock from WSJ

Another way to look at the problem of Mesoamerican dominance at BYU/CES is by analogy to the situation in universities generally with respect to political orientation. Most of academia is liberal. For example, only 6.6% of professors in the social sciences are Republicans.

In a similar way, most of the BYU/CES faculty follows the Mesoamerican theory. The research groups--FARMS/Maxwell Institute, BYU Studies, BAMF, AAF, the Interpreter, and the other groups shown as links on the BOMC web page (the citation cartel)--are exclusively Mesoamerican in orientation. They refuse to publish anything that contradicts their Mesoamerican theory. This constitutes a serious impediment to the search for truth.

Today's Wall St. Journal has a piece by Jon A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. titled "Campus Unicorns: Conservative Teachers."* They make an important point that relates directly to the problem with the Mesoamerican theory:

"Political bias expresses an intellectual orientation—one that inclines us to find some questions more important and some explanations more plausible. Because of this, none of us can rely on our fellow partisans to identify flaws in our thinking. Building an academic community with varied biases, then, is essential to the very health of the social sciences. Political uniformity makes it difficult to converge on the best approximation of the truth.

"It’s true that in some happy cases social science is self-correcting. But it can take a very long time. Sociologists spent decades playing down the importance of two-parent households before finally admitting that family structure matters. As a conservative in the field told us: “Basically, sociology had to be dragged kicking and screaming until it recognized that broken families aren’t a good thing. It’s like, if you have to spend decades and millions of dollars in [National Science Foundation] grants to convince astronomers that the sun rises in the east.”"

The parallels should be obvious. Shields and Dunn could just as well have written that when you see social science through a liberal lens, you can't unsee it.

A key analogy from the quotation is that Mesoamerican scholars cannot rely on their fellow partisans to identify flaws in their thinking. This is apparent to anyone who reads the material published by the citation cartel (as I show on this blog). These scholars convey a pretense of diversity by quibbling about which river in Mesoamerica is the Sidon, but they simply can't see the fundamental flaw in their basic premise or the logical errors in their thinking and writing.

This Mesoamerican uniformity makes it difficult to seek the truth, let alone find it. The charters of BMAF and BOMC don't even pretend to be seeking the truth; instead, they focus on "research and evidences regarding Book of Mormon archaeology, anthropology, geography and culture within a Mesoamerican context," thereby limiting themselves to a flawed and narrow agenda.

The quotation Shields and Dunn provide about two-parent households and the sun rising in the east has an exact analogy in Book of Mormon studies. The Mesoamerican scholars who dominate BYU/CES have to be dragged kicking and screaming until they recognize that Joseph and Oliver put Cumorah in New York all along.

Shields and Dunn "hope to persuade more liberal professors of the importance of viewpoint diversity—something that would require them to cultivate a distrust of their own reason and impartiality." That's exactly what I've been trying to do for the last 16 months, so far to no avail. The Mesoamerican seers are not only convinced of the correctness of their theory, they don't see any need to "distrust their own reason and impartiality." In fact, they don't want to be impartial.

Their minds are made up. Thanks to their Mesoamerican lens, they can't unsee it.

Parents of students at BYU/CES--and the students themselves--should be aware of this situation. They should resist being indoctrinated in Mesoamerican theory without at least a fair and equal presentation of alternatives.
*Mr. Shields is an associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. Mr. Dunn is an associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. They are the authors of “Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University” (Oxford University Press, 2016).

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