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 17, 2019

The illusion of scholarship

For decades, I was perplexed that so few people found LDS scholarship persuasive.

Now that I realize M2C is a hoax, though, I can see why it is so unconvincing to most people.

M2C scholarship looks like the real thing, but it is only an illusion. It is pure M2C confirmation bias, supported by censorship.

I've given examples in my reviews of selected Interpreter articles and Kno-Whys, which I refer to as "no-wise." You can see some examples here:


Readers frequently send me comments and materials pointing out other logical and factual fallacies in the work of the M2C citation cartel. I can't possibly put them all on this blog or anywhere else. But I can remind readers of what to be aware of when you are faced with the M2C arguments that rely on the intellectuals instead of the prophets.

I encourage everyone to study the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets from General Conference. With those as a firm foundation, we can proceed to consider additional information.

Don't start with the M2C intellectuals, because they are trying to persuade you to disbelieve the prophets.

What prompted this post was another fine article by an employee of Book of Mormon Central titled "7 Ways to Recognize Bad Gospel Research." You can see it here:

This is one of the best explanations of the M2C citation cartel's editorial approach I've seen yet. It is well-written, interesting, and practical--and it focuses entirely on assessing the qualifications of experts. Not once does the article suggest considering the teachings of the prophets and apostles.

Of course, Book of Mormon Central and its employees cannot encourage people to consider the teachings of the prophets and apostles in General Conference as conclusive or even relevant because M2C specifically repudiates what they have taught in General Conference about the New York Cumorah. 

Instead, Book of Mormon Central and its employees want members of the Church to rely on the "experts," as defined by Book of Mormon Central. It's unbelievably self-serving, but it's on full display every day at Book of Mormon Central.

They'll throw in a few quotations from the prophets from time to time, but they don't want members of the Church to even know what the prophets have taught to the extent it contradicts M2C. And they are just as adamant about censoring information that supports the teachings of the prophets.

(And I reiterate again that I really like, respect and admire every one of the scholars involved, even though I disagree with their approach to these issues, their conclusions, and most of all, their continuing practice of censorship.)

Here are the article's 7 ways "to help you navigate the murky waters of religion on the internet."
1. Know WHO wrote it
2. Know what STANDARDS they are expected to meet
3. Know WHY they wrote it
4. Pay attention to the TONE
5. Know how it stacks up to WHAT is already out there
6. Pay attention to the CONTEXT they are offering
7. You must end with the CORRECT SOURCE

With all this focus on credentials and experts, let's look at the illusion of scholarship.
M2C logo of FARMS and
Book of Mormon Central
In the 1980s and 1990s, FARMS published all kinds of scholarly books and articles. When that organization disintegrated, the participants formed the Interpreter Foundation and Book of Mormon Central (BMC) and continued publishing scholarly material.

The BMC and FairMormon websites collected and organized the material by topics and FAQs to make it more accessible.

At first glance, the scholarly material looks impressive.

It has the appearance of scholarship. There are credentials (PhD, JD, MS, etc.). There are citations. There is "peer review." There is source checking and editing and all the other elements of publication that confer an illusion of scholarship.

But underlying much of it is a shared assumption that was never challenged: the assumption that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah, because the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and there are Two Cumorahs (M2C).

Everyone involved believed in M2C.

No views that challenged M2C were expressed in these publications, except as targets of attack and ridicule.

These groups were citing one another, over and over.

It was a citation cartel.

And it still is.

The M2C citation cartel does produce some great research on topics related to the Book of Mormon separate from M2C, but the overriding editorial stance is M2C. And as a hoax, M2C cannot survive except through censorship and repudiation of the teachings of the prophets.

Many members of the Church (me included) wanted to believe and trust these LDS intellectuals because we thought they were supporting our faith in the Book of Mormon. I accepted their teachings for decades, just like the employees at Book of Mormon Central today do.

Once I realized M2C was merely hoax, with the fundamental premise being that the prophets are wrong, I took another look. I soon noticed that, to sustain the hoax, these groups were engaging in all kinds of logical thinking errors.

Some of these are matters of debate. It's normal, even expected, for people to interpret facts differently, make a variety of inferences, reach opposite conclusions, etc. All of that is fine. Even healthy.

What's not fine, and what is not healthy, is the ongoing practice of censorship.

The M2C citation cartel has deluded itself, and its readers, into thinking scholarship justifies censorship. They don't trust their readers to make informed decisions. You'll know that changes when they allow even a modicum of faithful intellectual diversity in their publications.

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