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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Another hoax to learn from

A lot of people wonder how to break the M2C hoax.

I agree that it is astonishing that the M2C hoax has stayed alive as long as it has. It is being maintained through censorship and confusion, but more and more people are catching on.

In upcoming posts, we'll discuss ways you can break the hoax, at least for some people. As I mentioned yesterday, employees of the M2C citation cartel will not change their minds. Nor will the perpetrators of the M2C hoax. But many M2C believers will, once they realize how they have been manipulated.

Before we discuss the methodology, we have to understand that the M2C hoax started over 100 years ago. I have a post scheduled soon titled "100 years" that focuses on a seminal publication dated 1919.

This means we're dealing with a well-entrenched hoax.

To make it worse, the M2C hoax has had a quasi-official endorsement because it has been overtly taught at CES and BYU for decades.

Talking to people about the M2C hoax will give you a chance to observe cognitive dissonance in real time.

People who believe the hoax will fall into what Scott Adams calls a "hoax funnel." As you debunk the hoax step-by-step, they will descend further into the funnel.

We are fortunate right now because we have two highly visible hoaxes as examples.

Yesterday I mentioned the Russia hoax.

The second hoax is the "fine people" hoax; i.e., the false claim that President Trump called neo-Nazis and racists in Charlottesville "fine people."

Because the media pushed the hoax so aggressively, it has taken two years for the "fine people" hoax to be debunked. Of course, there are still some media figures and politicians who are trying to keep it alive. It has proven very useful for them and they don't want to give it up. You may know someone who still believes the hoax. A lot of people do.

For today, I'll encourage you to read Scott Adams' description of the hoax funnel as it applies to the "fine people" hoax. As you read his post, think of all the similarities to the M2C hoax.

Here is the link to his post:


Illusion of scholarship - Mormon's Codex part 4

Preliminary note: From time to time, people still contact me about things that employees of Book of Mormon Central (BMC) write on the BMC web page (the Kno-Whys), on their blogs, or on other social media.

Here's my take. These are all fine young scholars, but they're employees. Book of Mormon Central is the most sophisticated and best-funded advocate of M2C the world has ever seen. They work hard to persuade their readers that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah.

You're not going to change their minds.

Think of it this way. If you're interacting with an employee of the Republican National Committee, are you going to persuade him/her to support Speaker Nancy Pelosi? If you're interacting with an employee of the Democratic National Committee, are you going to persuade him/her to support President Trump?

That's the level of commitment and devotion you'll find among employees of Book of Mormon Central. Don't waste your time trying to change their minds. Facts are just as irrelevant to them as are the teachings of the prophets.

We love our M2C brothers and sisters. There is no need to contend about any of this. There no point to contending, anyway. From a purely intellectual perspective, we can all see that M2C is a hoax. They can't. And we can't expect them to. It's basic psychology 101.

Focus your efforts and conversations on simply sharing the teachings of the prophets with your friends, family, and associates, along with the evidence that supports those teachings. We are happy with whatever people want to believe. We just want them to be able to make informed decisions.

That's why I write this blog.

In 1990, the author of Mormon's Codex, Brother John Sorenson, wrote a book titled The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book. It was published by FARMS with the M2C logo that Book of Mormon Central still uses (upper left corner).

You can read it here:


The Source Book contains much of the intellectual ancestry of M2C as set forth in Mormon's Codex.

A more accurate title would be: The M2C hoax: A Source Book, including methodology and dogma.

The introduction, page 2, claims "The first task I have set is to examine everything substantive that has been written by Latter-day Saints on the subject [of Book of Mormon geography]. There is no use 're-inventing the wheel.' If answers to questions of the geography of Book of Mormon events already have been found, we might as well acknowledge and take advantage of them. If reliable answers have not come forth, we at least need to know what ground has been plowed."

One would think that, because Joseph and Oliver had unambiguously established the New York Cumorah as a fact, and because all of their successors as prophets, seers and revelators have (so far) affirmed that teaching, the New York Cumorah is an "answer" that has already "been found," so there is "no use re-inventing the wheel" about the location of Cumorah.

But no.

Brother Sorenson, like the rest of the M2C citation cartel, doesn't even want readers to know "what ground has been plowed" if that ground involves the New York Cumorah.

While they acknowledge some of the teachings of the prophets, they ignore them. They characterize them as the uninformed and uninspired teachings of men.

The Source Book dismisses the teachings of the prophets, apparently because they are not "substantive." Instead, the Source Book relies only on the words of intellectuals, mingled with the infamous 1842 Times and Seasons articles and comments by Orson Pratt, who plays the role of the General Authority foil for the superior intellectuals.

The Source Book relegates to the Appendix some of the teachings contained in my proposed BYU Packet appear in the Source Book.

(BYU packet: http://www.lettervii.com/p/byu-packet-on-cumorah.html)

[Note: This section contains a lot of detail, so feel free to pass over it if you're in a hurry.]


If you look carefully at Appendix A, starting on p. 371, you notice some key omissions. And the way these statements are edited here evinces an effort to discredit them as confused, inconsistent speculation by uniformed and unqualified people.

For example, Brother Sorenson quotes part of Letter VII, but omits the key phrase "the fact that." The M2C citation cartel always frames Letter VII as the theory of an ignorant speculator, but President Cowdery stated it was a fact. (Oliver explained that all eight of the essays he and Joseph wrote were based on facts.)

To be fair, when Brother Sorenson wrote the Source Book in 1990, some of the material in my BYU Packet was unknown or difficult to access. For example, he didn't mention that Joseph had his scribes copy Letter VII into his personal history, but not a lot of people knew that back in 1990.

Yet that's no excuse for deleting "the fact that" from the excerpt.

Parley P. Pratt's statement that it was Moroni who anciently applied the name Cumorah to the hill in New York is missing.

Brother Sorenson provides this editorial comment to D&C 128:20: "It is clear that by the date of this revelation, Joseph Smith, and seemingly his readers generally, commonly recognized the term Cumorah to refer to the hill in New York."


Joseph's readers knew that the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 was the same one from which Joseph got the plates because the Times and Seasons republished Letter VII just a year before it published D&C 128:20.

The Source Book devotes considerable space to the infamous and anonymous 1842 Times and Seasons articles. It attributes these articles to John Taylor or Joseph Smith, neither of whom had anything to do with the articles.

(The M2C citation cartel attributes these articles to Joseph Smith not to support their accuracy or veracity, but to cast doubt on Joseph's other teachings; i.e., they say he changed his mind about Cumorah, even though the articles say nothing about Cumorah and were published in the same issue of the Times and Seasons that contained D&C 128:20.)

The Source Book includes a paraphrase of the early 1827 incident in Lucy Mack Smith's history when Joseph came home late and explained that as he was passing by the Hill Cumorah, the angel chastised him. But then it editorially refers to the 1878 statement of David Whitmer, "which seems contradictory."

On p. 384, when the Source Book provides the 1878 statement (the messenger taking the Harmony plates to Cumorah), Brother Sorenson inserts this bizarre editorial comment.

"If his mother's biography of Joseph is correct, the name Cumorah would not have been new to Joseph at this time. The two sources contradict each other enough that one wonders about the soundness of this detailed recollection after fifty years had passed and given Whitmer's advanced age. Of course, Lucy Mack Smith's statement was itself a recollection after eighteen years."

We can all read David Whitmer's statement for ourselves and see that this was David's statement, not Joseph's. The name Cumorah was new to David, not to Joseph. There is no contradiction between David's statement and Lucy's statement. To the contrary, the two statements corroborate one another.

Why would Brother Sorenson make such an obvious mistake?

The M2C intellectuals recognize that David's encounter with the messenger going to Cumorah exposes the M2C hoax. Their treatment of the event demonstrates this.

Sometimes they simply censor it, the way the Saints book did.

Other times they falsely paraphrase it, as we see here:

The historical record shows that David Whitmer reported this incident multiple times. There is evidence that it was not a late recollection, as I discussed here.

When we look at the entire historical record, we see that Joseph gave the plates to the messenger before leaving Harmony. Joseph, David and Oliver met the messenger on the way to Fayette. The messenger explained he was going to Cumorah. Joseph said he was one of the Three Nephites. The messenger later brought the plates of Nephi to Fayette so Joseph and Oliver could translate them.

The accounts are completely consistent and authentic. They are additional corroboration of Letter VII.

Which is why the M2C intellectuals have to undermine, dismiss, and censor the account.

Back to the Appendix.

On p. 388, the Source Book cites President Ivins' General Conference address from April 1928, discussing the acquisition by the Church of the Hill Cumorah.

But it selectively edits his address to convey the impression that the teachings about the New York Cumorah are merely opinions. Anyone can read the full address and see that President Ivins was reaffirming the New York Cumorah as the same one Mormon refers to in Mormon 6:6.

The most blatant M2C editing, however, consists in the censorship of the General Conference addresses of President Marion G. Romney and Elder Mark E. Peterson in 1975 and 1978, respectively. Both leaders specifically and unambiguously reaffirmed the New York Cumorah. Yet they are omitted from the Source Book

Orson Pratt appears prominently in the Source Book, but Brother Sorenson doesn't mention that Joseph edited out Orson Pratt's hemispheric theory when he composed the Wentworth letter and replaced it with the unambiguous statement that the remnant of Lehi's posterity are "the Indians that now inhabit this country."

To his credit, Brother Sorenson does include that key passage from the Wentworth letter in the Appendix. He just ignores it as irrelevant.

Of course, most Church members don't know what Joseph taught because the Curriculum and Correlation Departments censored it from the Joseph Smith manual, as I showed here.

Censorship has become standard practice for the M2C citation cartel and their followers.

Here, we need to point out that some of the M2C citation cartel, such as FairMormon, do not completely censor the teachings of the prophets. Like the Source Book, they acknowledge some of those teachings.

They just ignore them and attribute them to the uninspired teachings of men.

With the teachings of the prophets censored or dismissed as irrelevant, the field is white and ready to harvest.

Page 3 summarizes the approach: "To anticipate my conclusion, the upshot is that the existing literature goes in so many directions that no solution stands out as sufficiently persuasive to rally consensus behind it. As a consequence I conclude (in Part 3) that the task must start over with the basics. The following parts then present a set of tools to move students toward a consensus."

From this we see how and why the M2C intellectuals veered so far off base.

Once you reject the teachings of the prophets as not substantive, not relevant, and incorrect anyway, you're free to promote whatever you want.

We'll look at more of the Source Book in upcoming posts, but for now I want to leave with this incredible piece of irony.

On page 10, Brother Sorenson explains why the early Saints, including Joseph, Oliver and their contemporaries, were so naive and ignorant.

This is a perfect description of today's M2C citation cartel.

Today, the M2C intellectuals are still few in number, all known personally to each other, and are concerned with unity, not alternative views. 

Within their cartel, there is still no source of nor room for variant points of view, let alone criticism.

But there is one major difference between the early Saints and today's M2C intellectuals.

Among the early saints, "no one would have thought of questioning Joseph Smith."

Among today's M2C intellectuals, no one believes Joseph Smith.

The early Saints relied on what the prophets taught. They knew Joseph and Oliver personally. They knew these two men had personal experience with Moroni, the Three Nephites, and the depository of Nephite records in the Hill Cumorah in western New York.

The early Saints recognized that when he wrote Letter VII, Oliver Cowdery was the Assistant President of the Church. He was an ordained prophet, seer and revelator. He had the mantle. A few months later he, along with Joseph, received Priesthood keys in the Kirtland temple from Moses, Elijah, and Elias. The Savior Himself appeared to them and accepted their work.

Today's M2C intellectuals cavalierly teach that Oliver was ignorant, that his mantle was meaningless, and that he misled the Church about the New York Cumorah.

The early Saints recognized that Joseph Smith helped write the essays that were published as letters, including Letter VII. They knew Joseph fully endorsed Letter VII by having it copied into his personal history as part of his life story. They knew Joseph had encouraged, even directed, the republication of these essays in every Church-related newspaper during his lifetime.

They knew Letter VII was republished by Joseph's brother William in New York City just two days after the martyrdom.

And they knew that all of Joseph's contemporaries and successors endorsed Letter VII.

Most of the early Saints had never lived in western New York, but a few did. President Heber C. Kimball visited the Hill Cumorah. He reported that he observed the embankment around the hill still standing.

Today, it has been mostly plowed under, so our M2C intellectuals say it never existed.

We can't overemphasize this.

Brother Sorenson and the rest of the M2C citation cartel look at the early Saints with disdain partly because, as he wrote here, "no one would have thought of questioning Joseph Smith."

Today, all they do is question Joseph Smith.

And that's why the M2C intellectuals find it so hard to recognize, let alone admit, that M2C is a hoax.


The last section of that passage is a nice example of what passes as "scholarship" among the M2C intellectuals.

Notice how Brother Sorenson asserts his subjective interpretation of the Book of Mormon, derived from circular reasoning designed to support his M2C theory, makes a Missouri location for Manti "out of the question." 

As we'll see in upcoming posts, the entire M2C hoax is based on the premise that what the prophets have taught is "out of the question."

Monday, April 29, 2019

Time to expose the M2C hoax

Current events have given us a rare opportunity to finally expose the M2C hoax.

The collapse of the Russia collusion hoax has primed people to recognize that they have been lied to. Everyone now sees that what the media portrayed as truth for 2 years was actually a hoax.

The Russia hoax is a parallel to the M2C hoax. People who believed the Russia hoax for two years are angry to see the hoax exposed. They just cannot believe that the media and their favorite politicians misled them so completely for so long.

I often hear from readers who, when they share the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, get angry responses from people who believe M2C* because of what they were taught in CES or BYU classes.

(*M2C is the acronym for the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, promoted by certain LDS intellectuals who claim the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah.)

To understand the source of this anger, we need to recognize that there are two categories of people in the Church:

A. those who still believe the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, and 

B. those who disbelieve those teachings.

[Technically, there is a third group: those who have never heard those teachings. This includes pretty much everyone who is younger than 40 years old. However, the young people in the Church have been skillfully primed by M2C intellectuals to reject the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, so they usually fall into group B until they learn more about the M2C hoax.]

Group B also includes the employees of Book of Mormon Central and other members of the M2C citation cartel who actively work to persuade members of the Church (and the world as a whole) to disbelieve the teachings of the prophets.

Group A, those who still believe the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, do not feel anger at all. They feel confidence and peace. They do not contend with anyone about this; they simply oppose censorship, especially censorship of the teachings of the prophets.

They happily desire to share the teachings of the prophets so others can make informed decisions for themselves. For them, the joy of sharing the teachings of the prophets is akin to sharing the gospel itself. They respect free agency. They don't expect others to agree; they certainly don't demand agreement.

They are surprised that other members of the Church get angry when they learn what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah, but they recognize this anger arises from cognitive dissonance, because M2C is incompatible with faith in the teachings of the prophets.

Those who still believe the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah identify with Nephi, who wrote, "Behold, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God, because of the anger of my brethren." 2 Nephi 5:1

We are reminded of something Michael Crichton said:

"Human beings never think for themselves; they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told - and become upset if they are exposed to any different view."

George Orwell put it this way: “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” 

It's fine for people to believe whatever they want. No one should get angry about what someone else believes. 

But no one should tolerate the intentional censorship of the clear teachings of the prophets. 

Members of the Church deserve good information. President Nelson taught us that "good inspiration is based upon good information."

Yesterday I heard a variation of that:

"Information begets inspiration."

We can't make informed decisions when we don't have good information.

The M2C citation cartel continues to censor good information because they don't want Church members to make informed decisions. They know that, given a clear choice between the teachings of the prophets and the teachings of the M2C intellectuals, most members of the Church will chose the prophets instead of the intellectuals.

This is true despite the effective priming techniques employed by CES and BYU with their fantasy maps.

But now, thanks to the exposure of the Russia collusion hoax, it is a good time for Church members to recognize the M2C hoax.

Americans are beginning to accept the reality that the media perpetrated the Russia collusion hoax. They can see that the media (and many politicians) deliberately misled them for political reasons.

Likewise, members of the Church, at least in the U.S., are beginning to accept the reality that certain LDS intellectuals, as well as LDS media, perpetrated the M2C hoax.

They can see that the M2C citation cartel deliberately misled them for academic and financial reasons.

M2C intellectual arguing in favor of M2C
by telling the prophets, "But you were all
ignorant speculators who misled the Church
about the New York Cumorah!"
The M2C hoax, started in the early 1900s by RLDS scholars, has persisted for over 100 years despite the objection of LDS Church leaders, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

You can read what the prophets have taught here:

The M2C intellectuals claim superiority over the prophets. They claim their intellect is greater than the mantle of the prophets.

They are telling us that the prophets who taught the New York Cumorah were merely ignorant speculators who misled the Church.

It is astonishing that so many members of the Church believe this hoax, but in almost every case (not counting the paid activists), it is because Church members don't know any better.

Think about this. Book of Mormon Central has raised millions of dollars and is hiring fine young scholars to promote M2C throughout the world on social media. They want everyone to know that they, the intellectuals, are correct, while the prophets are wrong.

BYU fantasy map that teaches
students the prophets are wrong
BYU and CES are actively teaching the youth of the Church that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah.

How is that playing out?

Fewer and fewer members of the Church believe the Book of Mormon is an authentic history.

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery recognized that it was essential to ground the Book of Mormon in the real world.

That's why they wrote and published (and republished many times) Letter VII, which declares it is a fact that the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is the same hill where Joseph found the plates.

Joseph and Oliver had first-hand, personal experience with the repository of Nephite records in that hill. Moroni himself identified the hill as Cumorah.

The New York Cumorah was reaffirmed for 140 years by many prophets, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

Yet the M2C intellectuals insist they were all wrong.


Because of the speculation of a couple of scholars from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who also rejected Brigham Young, John Taylor, and all the other prophets who succeeded them.

Our M2C intellectuals preferred this speculation instead of the teachings of the prophets and have spent decades confirming their bias.

And that's fine. They and their followers can believe whatever they want. No one should be angry or contentious on either side.

But no one should engage in censorship, either.

There is something else Michael Crichton said that pertains to all of this.

"In the information society, nobody thinks. We expect to banish paper, but we actually banish thought."

The M2C citation cartel knows they can banish thought by controlling information. They know that censorship can succeed in the Church because so many Church members rely on the employees at CES, BYU and COB to provide good information.

Most Church members are shocked to learn how the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah is being systematically censored.

As Joseph wrote,

For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, [including LDS] who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it— D&C 128:12

A good place to find the truth is Letter VII and the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Illusion of scholarship - Mantle vs. Intellect

Before continuing our look at Mormon's Codex and the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (M2C), we need to pause and consider the issue of scholarship more broadly.

15 years ago, a manual for Seminary teachers included a talk by then-Elder Boyd K. Packer titled "The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater than the Intellect."

You can read it here:

Before reading excerpts from that talk, let's be clear.

Everyone acknowledges that M2C constitutes a repudiation of the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

By definition, M2C means the prophets were wrong.

This is no secret. Supporters of M2C freely and openly acknowledge this.

BYU map that teaches students that
the prophets are wrong
Employees at CES, BYU and COB openly teach that the "real" Cumorah is in Mexico (or in a fantasy land), while the "hill in New York" was incorrectly named "Cumorah" by early members of the Church who were ignorant speculators.

The M2C citation cartel and their followers and employees claim that all Church leaders who taught that Cumorah was in New York misled the Church. This includes members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

If you read FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, BYU Studies, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, and other members of the M2C citation cartel, you know they (and their predecessors) have been teaching this for a long time.

To support M2C, all of these intellectuals uniformly reject the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. (For a compilation of the teachings they reject see here:

These M2C intellectuals claim these prophets were ignorant, lacked credentials, and were merely expressing their own opinions as uninformed men.

And that's what they are teaching the youth of the Church.

Now, let's review what Elder Packer taught. Think of how it applies to those who claim the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah.

I have come to believe that it is the tendency for many members of the Church who spend a great deal of time in academic research to begin to judge the Church, its doctrine, organization, and leadership, present and past, by the principles of their own profession. Ofttimes this is done unwittingly, and some of it, perhaps, is not harmful.
It is an easy thing for a man with extensive academic training to measure the Church using the principles he has been taught in his professional training as his standard. In my mind it ought to be the other way around. A member of the Church ought always, particularly if he is pursuing extensive academic studies, to judge the professions of man against the revealed word of the Lord....
Some of our scholars establish for themselves a posture of neutrality. They call it “sympathetic detachment.” Historians are particularly wont to do that. If they make a complimentary statement about the Church, they seem to have to counter it with something that is uncomplimentary.
Some of them, since they are members of the Church, are quite embarrassed with the thought that they might be accused of being partial. They care very much what the world thinks and are very careful to include in their writings criticism of the Church leaders of the past....
Those of you who are employed by the Church have a special responsibility to build faith, not destroy it. If you do not do that, but in fact accommodate the enemy, who is the destroyer of faith, you become in that sense a traitor to the cause you have made covenants to protect.
Those who have carefully purged their work of any religious faith in the name of academic freedom or so-called honesty ought not expect to be accommodated in their researches or to be paid by the Church to do it....
Several years ago President Ezra Taft Benson spoke to you and said: “It has come to our attention that some of our teachers, particularly in our university programs, are purchasing writings from known apostates … in an effort to become informed about certain points of view or to glean from their research. You must realize that when you purchase their writings or subscribe to their periodicals, you help sustain their cause. We would hope that their writings not be on your seminary or institute or personal bookshelves. We are entrusting you to represent the Lord and the First Presidency to your students, not the views of the detractors of the Church” (The Gospel Teacher and His Message [address delivered to Church Educational System personnel, 17 Sept. 1976], p. 12.)
I endorse that sound counsel to you.
Remember: when you see the bitter apostate, you do not see only an absence of light, you see also the presence of darkness.
Do not spread disease germs!...
Do you believe that the successors to the prophet Joseph Smith were and are prophets, seers, and revelators; that revelation from heaven directs the decisions, policies, and pronouncements that come from the headquarters of the Church? Have you come to the settled conviction, by the Spirit, that these prophets truly represent the Lord?
Now, you obviously noted that I did not talk about academic qualifications. Facts, understanding, and scholarship can be attained by personal study and essential course work. The three qualifications I have named come by the Spirit, to the individual. You can’t receive them by secular training or study, by academic inquiry or scientific investigation.
I repeat: if there is a deficiency in any of these, then, regardless of what other training an individual possesses, he cannot comprehend and write or teach the true history of this Church. The things of God are understood only by one who possesses the Spirit of God.
I want to say something to that historian and to others who may have placed higher value on intellect than upon the mantle.
The Brethren then and now are men, very ordinary men, who have come for the most part from very humble beginnings. We need your help! We desperately need it. We cannot research and organize the history of the Church. We do not have the time to do it. And we do not have the training that you possess. But we do know the Spirit and how essential a part of our history it is. Ours is the duty to organize the Church, to set it in order, to confer the keys of authority, to perform the ordinances, to watch the borders of the kingdom and carry burdens, heavy burdens, for others and for ourselves that you can know little about.
Do you know how inadequate we really are compared to the callings we have received? Can you feel in a measure the weight, the overwhelming weight, of responsibility that is ours? If you look for inadequacy and imperfections, you can find them quite easily. But you may not feel as we feel the enormous weight of responsibility associated with the callings that have come to us. We are not free to do some of the things that scholars think would be so reasonable, for the Lord will not permit us to do them, and it is his church. He presides over it.
Do not yield your faith in payment for an advanced degree or for the recognition and acclaim of the world. Do not turn away from the Lord nor from his Church nor from his servants. You are needed—oh, how you are needed!
It may be that you will lay your scholarly reputation and the acclaim of your colleagues in the world as a sacrifice upon the altar of service. They may never understand the things of the Spirit as you have a right to do. They may not regard you as an authority or as a scholar. Just remember, when the test came to Abraham, he didn’t really have to sacrifice Isaac. He just had to be willing to.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Illusion of scholarship - Mormon's Codex part 3

Once you recognize that Mormon's Codex is a long-winded academic justification for repudiating the teachings of the prophets, you see the logical fallacies and circular reasoning throughout the book. Today we'll look specifically at Cumorah.

John L. Sorenson begins his Preface to Mormon's Codex: An Ancient American Book, John L. Sorenson with these observations:

"This book presents a wide array of evidence that the Book of Mormon is an ancient historical record that could only have been produced by a writer who lived in Mesoamerica (southern Mexico and northern Central America) many centuries before Spanish explorers reached that area.... Numerous theories have, of course, been proposed to correlate Book of Mormon geography with the modern map of the Americas. None of these theories have been considered definitive by authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In chapters 2 and 7, I explain why I consider only one of those theories--involving a particular area in Mesoamerica--to escape the fatal flaws exhibited by all the others."

I suspect most readers glide right over this sleight-of-hand rhetoric. The truth, though, is that Church authorities have always made a clear distinction between fact and theory regarding Book of Mormon geography.

Fact: The Hill Cumorah is in New York. This was established as a fact in Letter VII, written by President Oliver Cowdery who was an eye-witness to the depository of Nephite records in that hill (Mormon 6:6). Joseph Smith helped write these letters, had them copied into his personal history, and endorsed their republication for the rest of his life. The fact that Cumorah is in New York has been repeated many times by Church leaders, including by members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference. No member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve has ever repudiated this teaching of his predecessors.

Theory: Church leaders have always said don't know for sure the locations of other Book of Mormon events, so every proposed geography other than the New York Cumorah is necessarily a theory.

All of this means that, starting right from the outset, Mormon's Codex is propaganda, not scholarship.

Mormon's Codex does refer to Cumorah several times. In a passage that is really the heart of M2C, the book even addresses the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, albeit dismissively and obliquely:

"There remain Latter-day Saints who insist that the final destruction of the Nephites took place in New York, but any such idea is manifestly absurd. Hundreds of thousands of Nephites traipsing across the Mississippi Valley to New York, pursued (why?) by hundred of thousands of Lamanites, is a scenario worthy only of a witless sci-fi movie, not of history." 

Mormon's Codex, p. 688.

The disdain expressed here for the teachings of the prophets persists in all the writings of the M2C citation cartel. 

BYU fantasy map that instructs
the youth that the teachings
of the prophets are absurd
Book of Mormon Central, BYU Studies, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, and other members of the M2C citation cartel continue to teach that the New York Cumorah is absurd.

The fine young scholars employed by Book of Mormon Central are active on the Internet, seeking to persuade their peers that the prophets are wrong.

Employees at BYU, CES, and COB (the Church Office Building) continue to teach the youth of the Church (as well as everyone else in the world) that the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah are absurd.

Relying on the illusion of scholarship created by the M2C intellectuals, the authors of Saints actually altered Church history to censor the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

Even the anonymous Gospel Topics essay on Book of Mormon Geography, already changed once, purports to overturn the long-held teachings of Church leaders about the New York Cumorah without even acknowledging those teachings.

All of this is the result of the illusion of scholarship that Mormon's Codex typifies.

Ironically, we could agree with Brother Sorenson and still accept the teachings of the prophets.

But the conclusion would be the exact opposite of M2C.

If it's absurd to think that hundreds of thousands of Nephites would traipse across the Mississippi Valley to New York, and if we accept the teachings of the prophets that Cumorah is in New York, then the absurd element is thinking that the Nephites came from Mesoamerica in the first place.

That possibility never seems to occur to Brother Sorenson or the rest of the M2C citation cartel. It's one of the main reasons why the material they produce is merely an illusion of scholarship.

Whatever it is, the work of the M2C citation cartel is not scientific. No scientist censors viable alternative explanations without at least carefully considering them and explaining the reasons for rejecting them.

(And yes, I realize they claim they have done so, but as we've seen before, their treatment consists of one or two brief outcome-oriented articles that I've addressed in detail on this blog before.)

To be clear, I do not reject the Mesoamerican setting and I won't until it has been rejected by the prophets. However, I think it is implausible, given the New York Cumorah. I think the evidence from ancient North America aligns far better with the text of the Book of Mormon than the evidence from Mesoamerica, Baja, Panama, etc.

For me, the distinction between fact and theory, between the New York Cumorah and everything else, is so well established by the prophets that it is inexcusable to censor, let alone repudiate, the teachings of the prophets.

It's a side benefit that the fact of the New York Cumorah is so well supported by available archaeology, anthropology, geography, and geology.

Mormon's Codex is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.

(For those reading this post in translation, that phrase in English is used to describe a situation in which an important or powerful person, organization, etc., is being controlled by someone or something that is much less important or powerful.)

Here we have an admitted theory--the idea that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica--being used to repudiate a known fact taught by eye-witnesses and prophets of God for over 140 years, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

The key point is this:

Mormon's Codex (and M2C as a whole) depends entirely on the premise that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah. 

- Because they are wrong, any theory that identifies Cumorah in New York is also wrong.

- Therefore, the events of the Book of Mormon could not have taken place in North America and must have taken place in Mesoamerica.

- Therefore, believers in the Book of Mormon must find evidence of the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica.

- Because such evidence is not obvious, believers must reinterpret the text so it fits the evidence that actually exists in Mesoamerica.

- Hence, we have Mormon's Codex and all the rest of the publications from the M2C citation cartel.

All of the "correspondences" and "parallels" in Mormon's Codex are a product of this circular reasoning. Most of them are attributes common to most human societies--especially the Asian societies from which the Mayans came.

The treatment of Cumorah in Mormon's Codex is an illusion of scholarship, as you'll see if you read it carefully. Here are some examples:

"In the final stage of their retreat, all the identifiable Nephites assembled near the hill Cumorah, probably Cerro El Vigia in south-central Veracruz.... 

When all the remaining Nephites were 'gathered in,' the numerically superior Lamanite horde waged battle. In a single day they exterminated all 23 units of the defenders (each nominally of 10,000 men)....

Finally, the hill where the end came for the Jaredites, who called it Ramah, and the location of the last battle of the Nephites at the same hill (they called it Cumorah), have a highly likely correspondence to Cerro El Vigia (see fig. 7.2), an outlier on the northwest of the Tuxtla Mountains. In overall location and in a dozen other features, the textual information in the Book of Mormon agrees with the geographical situation. 72"

In classic M2C citation cartel fashion, Footnote 72 (page 142) cites David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah (Bountiful, UT: Horizon Publishers, 1992). Brother Palmer, of course, encouraged Brother Sorenson to write his books.

Brother Palmer is the one who wrote the self-serving entry on Cumorah in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism that cites only his own book for authority, again in classic M2C citation cartel fashion. You can read my discussions of his book if you search for "David Palmer" on this blog. Brother Palmer cites the anonymous articles in the Times and Seasons for authority, while ignoring the teachings of the prophets entirely, except for a brief dismissal of Letter VII, which he doesn't even quote.

As you go through the "criteria" for Cumorah set forth in Mormon's Codex and In Search of Cumorah, you'll see that the criteria are derived not from the text but from the assumed Mesoamerican setting. There must be volcanoes, for example, which Mormon and Moroni forgot to mention but which Brothers Sorenson and Palmer thoughtfully provide.

As I noted at the outset, once you recognize that Mormon's Codex is a long-winded justification for repudiating the prophets, you see the logical fallacies and circular reasoning throughout.

We'll have more examples in the next few posts.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Illusion of scholarship - Mormon's Codex part 2

In my previous post in this series, we saw how Terryl Givens claimed Mormon's Codex is "the high-water mark of scholarship on the Book of Mormon." Foreword, Mormon's Codex, p. xvi.

Today, let's look at the basic premise of Mormon's Codex.

First, I re-emphasize that I have great respect and admiration for Brother John L. Sorenson, the author of Mormon's Codex: An Ancient American Book. As I mentioned in my own book, Moroni's America, Brother Sorenson has helped me and many other members of the Church think of the Book of Mormon people and events in a real-world context. That is an important and invaluable contribution that I hope everyone recognizes.

He also taught us all that we can and should use scientific discoveries in archaeology, anthropology, geology, geography and other fields to understand the real-world context of the Book of Mormon.

In my view, the only problem is that Brother Sorenson started with a false premise and never looked back.

To understand this, we need to assess what we mean by scholarship.

If you google the definition of "scholarship" you get this result from the online Oxford dictionary.



  • 1[mass noun] Academic study or achievement; learning at a high level.
    ‘the intellectual dishonesty has nothing to do with lack of scholarship’

I want to be crystal clear about this.

I do not think the M2C intellectuals, including Brother Sorenson, are intellectually dishonest.

I do not think they lack scholarship.

Scholarship involves citations and analysis of data. It involves interpretation of source materials. It involves source-checking and peer review.

But scholarship also requires careful, respectful consideration of alternative viewpoints, and this is where Mormon's Codex, as all of M2C publications, falls way short.

It's very simple.

The M2C intellectuals have elevated their intellectual preferences over the teachings of the prophets, and then they have engaged in bias confirmation to persuade themselves they are correct and the prophets are wrong.

When it comes to the Hill Cumorah in New York, we as members of the Church can choose to accept the prophets or the intellectuals. It's an either/or choice.

Some critics claim that my book, Moroni's America, lacks sufficient "scholarship" to match up with Mormon's Codex. I have three responses.

First, I explained at the outset that Moroni's America was an introductory examination of the evidence for the North American setting. It was an experiment, essentially. I wanted to see if the physical evidence and the text supported the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. It was never intended as a full-bore scholarly proof of the North American setting. There is abundant scientific evidence to support the North American setting that has never, to my knowledge, been assembled in one location or document. However, that will change soon, as we'll announce next month.

Second, for members of the Church, the teachings of the prophets deserve deference, especially the accounts of eye-witnesses to events that no one since has experienced. When someone from history says "I saw such-and-such," no amount of scientific analysis, especially scientific analysis 150-200 years later, can disprove that eye-witness. IOW, the burden of proof is virtually insurmountable if one seeks to disprove a historical eye-witness account; conversely, the burden of proof is low when all one seeks is to corroborate a historical eye-witness account.

Third, the question of Book of Mormon geography depends largely on interpretation of the text. Anyone who claims their view is "based on the text" is delusional; everyone's view is based on an interpretation of the text. There are few nouns, verbs, or modifiers that do not have more than one connotation. This should be self-evident to everyone, especially scholars and academics. Yet it is their belief in a particular interpretation, and their subjective rejection of alternative interpretations, that guide M2C intellectuals throughout their work, including Mormon's Codex.

Lately, people have been citing the anonymous Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Geography to claim that (i) the modern prophets have changed the teachings of their predecessors and (ii) that we should not discuss Book of Mormon geography and historicity.

Neither proposition is set forth in the essay.

The essay has already been changed once, and will undoubtedly be changed in the future, if only to correct the obviously false statement of fact it contains, as I've discussed before. Plus, there is the obvious problem in the essay where it conflates theories and facts, and the confusion about the difference between claiming prophetic and Church support for one's theories vs. supporting the unambiguous and (so far) unrepudiated teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

In the meantime, the essay reaffirms the principle that we can all believe whatever we want.

The question still boils down to prophets (New York Cumorah) vs. scholars (M2C) because there is scientific evidence to support both positions.

That leads us to examine the M2C claim that M2C is the product of sound scholarship.

The cover jacket of Mormon's Codex: An Ancient American Book explains the fundamentals. Original in blue, my comments in red.

Leading scholar and author John L. Sorenson brilliantly synthesizes in this volume his work from 60 years of academic study of ancient Mesoamerica and its relationship to the Book of Mormon.

IOW, the book synthesizes 60 years of bias confirmation.

Here Sorenson reveals that the Book of Mormon exhibits what one would expect of a historical document produced in the context of ancient Mesoamerican civilization. 

Notice carefully the word choice here. "Reveals" implies the uncovering of a previously unknown truth or reality. Yet no one--literally no one--would expect ancient Mesoamerican civilization to produce a manuscript such as the Book of Mormon. 

Even the M2C intellectuals lament that the Book of Mormon refers to horses instead of tapirs, sheep instead of agouti, wood and cement instead of stone and cement, etc. There is a stark absence in actual Mesoamerica about Israelite practices and teachings, let alone the Christian teachings that permeate the Book of Mormon from start to finish. 

He also shows that the scholars' discoveries about Mesoamerica and the contents of the Nephite record are clearly related. 

Here, you should notice that "contents of the Nephite record" is really "Sorenson's interpretation of the Nephite record." As we'll see, the book is full of reinterpretations of the actual text.  

Indeed, Sorenson lists more than 400 points where the Book of Mormon text corresponds to characteristic Mesoamerican situations, statements, allusions, and history.

These are the illusory correspondences of which I've written quite a bit. We'll take another look in this series. 

Are we to simply suppose that mere coincidence can account for similarities of this magnitude? 

These illusory correspondences are anything but coincidences. Sorenson and other M2C intellectuals have specifically interpreted the text to match elements of Mesoamerican society and history. 

The parallels are too striking and too sweeping to answer in the affirmative. 

The "parallels" were designed by the M2C intellectuals. The surprise would be if they were not striking and sweeping.

Even the greatest savant of the early 19th century--let alone a marginally literate frontier farm boy--could not possibly have produced a volume as rich in Mesoamericana as the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Smith was prepared by the Lord to translate the Book of Mormon. He was anything but "marginally literate." And could hardly be a book more removed from Meosamericana than the Book of Mormon. The text says nothing of jade, jaguar, and jungles, for example. No stone pyramids. No volcanoes. Nothing, really, about Mesoamerica. 

The only format in which a record such as the Book of Mormon could have been preserved is that of a native Mesoamerican book referred to by scholars as a codex. 

Re-read that statement of fact and judge its absurdity for yourself.

According to the record itself, the text was compiled by a man named Mormon, who lived in the Mesoamerican isthmus area in the late fourth century. Mormon passed the record to his son Moroni, who survived him by more than 35 years and made modest additions to the text.

This is perhaps the most audacious statement on the jacket. Now the text of the Book of Mormon itself claims Mormon lived in the Mesoamerican isthmus. I realize this was probably an editing error; they meant to say only that the "record itself" identified Mormon as the compiler, not that he lived in Mesoamerica. But whoever copy edited this piece was so persuaded by M2C that he/she didn't catch the distinction. In fact, I suspect many M2C scholars and their employees and followers actually believe the text refers explicitly to Mesoamerica, just as this jacket copy claims.

A significant contribution to the fields of Book of Mormon studies and Mesoamerican studies, Mormon's Codex is John Sorenson's magnum opus. It contains copious explanatory material, extensive footnotes, over 1,300 bibliographical references, illustrations, an appendix, and detailed maps. This long-awaited volume will appeal to informed general readers, archaeologists, and scholars alike.

Quantity as evidence of veracity. Beautiful. 

Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
Deseret Book Company

Neither of these organizations has, or ever will, publish something that supports the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. Enough said.

Next in this series we'll discuss the origin of the bias that the book confirms.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The M2C hoax - off the rails

Recently Glenn Greenwald discussed the causes of the Russian collusion hoax (which has a lot of parallels with the M2C hoax).

The media formed a citation cartel and refused to engage with anyone who questioned their cartel.

"This is one of the problems that I think let the media just to go so far off the rails is that, especially those two cable networks, but also even newspapers, pretty much prohibited dissent from ever being heard so they constantly fed each other these conspiracy theories and told each other they were on the right track they advanced it further. And never really had to confront anybody who questioned or challenged them in any way," Greenwald said on Thursday's broadcast of 'Tucker Carlson Tonight.'

"I've spent the last two years debating everyone I can find who had different views than I had on this whole saga because I wanted to make certain that the things I were saying were scrutinized and subjected to critical rigor," the journalist said. "And that's exactly what they avoided and that's exactly the reason why they went so far off the rails."



Today I'm giving my sixth presentation in the last 2 weeks. Other people have given many more recently. This means thousands of Church members have learned, for the first time, about the teachings of the prophets regarding the New York Cumorah and the evidence that supports the prophets.

This is progress. Members of the Church are enthusiastic about learning these things. But there is still a long way to go.

Many people are upset at how deeply they've been misled by the M2C hoax (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory).  One of the most common questions people ask is: Why do employees at BYU/CES and COB continue to teach the M2C?

The academic cycle
The answer is two-fold:

1. These employees have all been taught M2C by people they trusted, so they accepted it. The academic cycle works great.

2. They believe the scholars instead of the prophets because they have been persuaded that the scholarship is overwhelming and conclusive.

We can stipulate that the M2C intellectuals are faithful LDS members with good intentions. They just have a different view on the question of intellectuals vs. prophets.

M2C is driven by the claim of intellectual superiority over the prophets.

It's not easy to persuade members of the Church that the prophets are wrong. That's why M2C intellectuals created the M2C citation cartel in the first place.

They use the cartel to censor the teachings of the prophets and the evidence that supports those teachings. The M2C citation cartel wants people to believe there is no alternative to the Mesoamerican setting for Book of Mormon geography. It is M2C or bust.

That censorship is one sign that M2C is phony scholarship. 

M2C proponents refuse to provide readers (and Church members and leaders generally) with all the information they need to make informed decisions.

Tomorrow we'll resume our series on the Illusion of M2C scholarship, focusing on Mormon's Codex.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Illusion of scholarship - Mormon's Codex part 1

After my post on the illusion of scholarship, people wanted specific examples.

Let's start with Mormon's Codex, which Professor Terryl Givens claims is "the high-water mark of scholarship on the Book of Mormon." Foreword, Mormon's Codex, p. xvi.

Well, let's start with Brother Givens. In the Foreword, he writes,

"Whether or not God spoke to Moses on Sinai, Jesus resurrected from the dead, or Paul wrote words given him by inspiration, no one doubts the Old World setting and ancient origins of the Old and New Testaments. Until such time as a preponderance of evidence provides comparable historical plausibility for the Book of Mormon's ancient origin, no one can expect scholars to consider the book as anything other than a nineteenth-century cultural artifact. If such a time is to come, it will arrive in large measure through the efforts of John Sorenson, who has done more than any Latter-day Saint scholar to shift the terms of the Book of Mormon debates."

This is the M2C or bust approach; i.e., you have to believe the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica, and that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah, or else you have to believe the Book of Mormon is fiction.

Brother Givens' M2C or bust approach has two major fallacies that we must infer Brother Givens is fully aware of.

First, Brother Sorenson did not originate M2C and was not the first to focus on Mesoamerica. Both were the work of RLDS scholars in the late 19th and early 20th century. Sorenson simply adopted their approach, rejecting the teachings of LDS prophets in the process.

Sorenson's innovation was re-interpreting the text to fit Mesoamerica (an audacious feat of circular reasoning) and then adding lots of footnotes to support his interpretation. This, we're told, constitutes "the high-water mark of scholarship on the Book of Mormon."

Regarding M2C scholarship, we have to agree with Brother Givens. But "high-water mark" is faint praise because Mormon's Codex was already underwater in the sense that it specifically and intentionally repudiates the teachings of the prophets, as we'll see below.

Second, for all of his scholarly work (Mormon's Codex alone is 714 pages, plus Bibliography, Index, and Preface, with hundreds (thousands?) of footnotes, professional maps, etc.), the only debate Brother Sorenson has shifted is away from the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

No non-LDS Mesoamerican scholar thinks the Book of Mormon describes Mesoamerican culture. M2C is completely unpersuasive to the experts.

Worse, fewer and fewer LDS members are convinced by M2C.

The Next Mormons contains survey data that show a rapidly declining belief in the historicity of the Book of Mormon among LDS Millennials that corresponds with the increasing prevalence of M2C.

Let's be clear: thanks to the work of Brother Sorenson and his fellow M2C advocates at Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, BYU Studies, CES, COB, and their various other outlets, fewer and fewer members of the Church believe the Book of Mormon is "anything other than a nineteenth-century cultural artifact."  

M2C cannot stand on its own merits. 

To keep the M2C hoax on life support, the M2C intellectuals depend on censoring the teachings of the prophets and the evidence that supports those teachings.

The M2C intellectuals raise millions of dollars from unsuspecting Church members and pay fine young scholars to promote M2C on social media. 

These tactics reveal the weakness of their M2C theory even among LDS who want to believe the Book of Mormon is an authentic history. 

BYU fantasy map portraying
the Book of Mormon as a myth
Nevertheless, because of their positions of influence at BYU, these M2C intellectuals have persuaded BYU and CES to teach the Book of Mormon with the infamous fantasy map (derived from Sorenson's M2C interpretation of the text) that reinforces the very problem Givens claimed Brother Sorenson was addressing.

To slightly paraphrase Brother Givens, thanks to M2C and these fantasy maps, "no one can expect LDS youth to consider the book as anything other than a nineteenth-century cultural artifact."

It is an unmitigated disaster.

And yet, since the inflection point in the 1980s, M2C has replaced the teachings of the prophets.

The M2C intellectuals justify this because of "scholarship." In upcoming posts, we'll examine the scholarship to see whether it deserves to be elevated above the teachings of the prophets.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Partial truth

In his new book, A Case for the Book of Mormon, Elder Tad R. Callister wrote,
Suffice it to say, a partial truth, when intentionally presented as the whole truth, is an untruth. Unfortunately, there are some who are so concerned about winning an argument or promoting an ideology that they present only a partial truth, perhaps afraid that if they presented the whole truth it would dilute or even negate their argument. When they do so, that partial truth becomes an untruth. (pp. 70–71)
Brother Callister's insightful comment deserves more attention.

Partial truth is part of the long-established pattern we've seen from the M2C citation cartel. Some Church employees have also resorted to partial truths to promote their private agendas.

In my experience, when presented with the whole truth, members of the Church usually side with the teachings of the prophets instead of the teachings of the intellectuals.

On the topic of Cumorah, the whole truth dilutes or negates the arguments of the intellectuals.

This is why the intellectuals, along with their followers and employees, continue to resort to censorship, both full and partial. Here, of course, I'm referring to Book of Mormon Central, FairMormon, the Interpreter, BYU Studies, and much of the Church History Department.

Let's consider two examples.

Sometimes censorship is achieved by completely erasing some historical facts from the record, while leaving others intact--a form of partial truth. We saw this with the Saints book, which censored all references to Cumorah while purporting to be "the standard of truth." People reading Saints have no idea that Joseph Smith and all his contemporaries and successors taught that there was one hill Cumorah and it was in New York.

The editors of Saints justified changing Church history because they wanted to accommodate the modern M2C hoax, as we saw here:


That form of censorship works because people never know what they are missing. Consequently, the youth in the Church and the rising generation will never know what the prophets have taught about Cumorah--unless they seek information from sources other than Saints, the Ensign, the New Era, the Friend, CES, BYU, and the M2C citation cartel.

Of course, the situation should be just the opposite. Members of the Church should be able to rely on these sources for good information and complete information and accurate information.

But we can't, because M2C drives the editorial decisions.

To be sure, Saints and all of these sources also include good information and lots of truth. That is what makes it all the more challenging when they promote partial truth.

Another fascinating example of partial truth is the Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Geography.

The first version, released in January 2019, included this quotation from President Anthony W. Ivins:

Anthony W. Ivins, a Counselor in the First Presidency, stated: “There has never been anything yet set forth that definitely settles that question [of Book of Mormon geography]. So the Church says we are just waiting until we discover the truth.”3

I pointed out that this was a partial truth for two reasons.

First, because the quotation is taken out of context and misleadingly paraphrased. Note what precedes the excerpt and bracketed paraphrase. "There is a great deal of talk about the geography of the Book of Mormon. Where was the land of Zarahemla? Where was the City of Zarahemla? and other geographic matters. It does not make any difference to us. There has never been anything yet set forth that definitely settles that question. So the Church says we are just waiting until we discover the truth. All kinds of theories have been advanced. I have talked with at least half a dozen men that have found the very place where the City of Zarahemla stood, and notwithstanding the fact that they profess to be Book of Mormon students, they vary a thousand miles apart in the places they have located. We do not offer any definite solution."

In 1929, President Ivins was not casting doubt on the location of Cumorah, as the Gospel Topics essay implied. Instead, he was reaffirming the two separate elements of the long-held position of the Church that (i) Cumorah is in New York and (ii) we don't know for sure where the other events took place.

Second, the essay was a partial truth because President Ivins endorsed the long-held, firm, and clear position on the New York Cumorah, a position that the Gospel Topics Essay seeks to repudiate without even acknowledging the teachings of the prophets, except by misstating them and conflating the two separate elements.

On April 6, 1928, President spoke in General Conference about the Hill Cumorah in New York, which the Church had recently purchased. After discussing the Hill Cumorah in New York and explaining it was the location for the final battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites, President Ivins said,

"All of these incidents to which I have referred, my brethren and sisters, are very closely associated with this particular spot in the state of New York. Therefore I feel, as I said in the beginning of my remarks, that the acquisition of that spot of ground is more than an incident in the history of the Church; it is an epoch—an epoch which in my opinion is fraught with that which may become of greater interest to the Latter-day Saints than that which has already occurred. We know that all of these records, all the sacred records of the Nephite people, were deposited by Mormon in that hill. That incident alone is sufficient to make it the sacred and hallowed spot that it is to us.... Those additional records will come forth, they will be published to the world, that the children of our Father may be converted to faith in Christ, our Lord and Redeemer, through obedience to the doctrines which he taught."

To avoid conveying a partial truth, the Gospel Topics essay should have included both of his talks (1928 and 1929); simply omitting one (and quoting the other out of context with a misleading paraphrase) uses partial truth to create a false impression of what President Ivins actually taught.

After I pointed out the problem with this partial truth, the essay was revised. But instead of revising it to teach the entire truth, the authors/editors simply erased President Ivins altogether!

There remain other partial truths in the essay, but in the treatment of President Ivins, we see a partial truth replaced by complete censorship.

You can read about the revisions here, along with my comments:

The lesson from all of this is what Brother Callister wrote, which bears repeating:
Suffice it to say, a partial truth, when intentionally presented as the whole truth, is an untruth. Unfortunately, there are some who are so concerned about winning an argument or promoting an ideology that they present only a partial truth, perhaps afraid that if they presented the whole truth it would dilute or even negate their argument. When they do so, that partial truth becomes an untruth. (pp. 70–71)