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.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Deseret News-FairMormon echo chamber

A lot of people have asked me why the Deseret News never covers stories about the North American setting, Letter VII, the two sets of plates, etc.

Many readers have noticed that the Church News this week published two full-page articles about the FairMormon conference. I usually get a lot of questions when this happens, so I'm answering them in advance. There's no reason for you to be upset with the editorial position these articles represent. It is what it is.

Actually, there's a good reason for the editorial stance you've been complaining about. R. Scott Lloyd, who writes most of these articles, has been covering FairMormon since at least 2003.


He is good friends with Daniel Peterson, who runs the adamantly anti-Heartlander magazine the Interpreter. In fact, one of the articles you've seen this week is a full-page report on Dan's speech at FairMormon (in the print edition).

Here are the digital editions if you didn't see the print edition:

Religion Does Make a Difference, FairMormon Speaker Says

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

History Skills Can Strengthen Study of Book of Mormon Witnesses, Speaker Says

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer
These are fine articles. Nothing objectionable about them at all. I especially enjoyed the one on history skills.

But don't expect to ever see something in the Deseret News that disagrees with Dan Peterson's position. Who, by the way, is a nice guy on a personal level. He just happens to have a long track record of strongly opposing the North American setting for the Book of Mormon, from FARMS through the Interpreter.

Plus, he writes a weekly column for the Deseret News.

The title of this post comes from a piece I read in the Wall St. Journal today that helps explain why you'll never see FairMormon or the Deseret News cover the topics I mentioned at the outset.

"Echo chambers maintain themselves by creating a shared spirit and keeping discussion confined within certain limits. As Noam Chomsky once observed, 'The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.'”

I once had an experience with Dan Peterson's Interpreter that exemplifies this echo chamber mentality. Their web master refused to allow a comment I made to their online journal because it challenged Mesomania. He wrote me a private email that I'll keep private but the gist was, they think they have a lively debate because they allow people to debate whether the river Sidon is the Grijalva or the Usumacinta. [These are two rivers in Mesoamerica.]

As long as Scott Lloyd is writing the articles in the Church News, they will be friendly with Dan Peterson and Mesomania. Granted, neither of the articles I linked to today focus on Mesomania, but the FairMormon conference definitely did.

Just as we know FairMormon's Mesomania prevents them from allowing a fair comparison of the different theories of Book of Mormon geography, or even a balanced representation of the North American setting, Letter VII, or the two sets of plates (because of the implications for the New York Cumorah), we can't expect the Deseret News to do so. They are one unit, in terms of editorial stance.

That said, enjoy the articles. Just don't expect anything different.

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