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, May 31, 2019

More history of M2C

Some readers have wondered why I included Stebbins and Hills on my Memorial Day comparison chart. https://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2019/05/memorial-day-2019.html

As we've discussed, M2C originated with Stebbins and Hills, two RLDS scholars. Their work was adopted by LDS intellectuals over the objection of LDS leaders.

Weston map
In the late 1800s, the RLDS Committee on American Archaeology arranged for G.F. Weston to prepare six maps of Book of Mormon lands. The Committee reported that "Although the church never officially endorsed the maps, the proposed geographical locations of Book of Mormon cities and lands on the maps made a lasting impression which has been difficult to correct."

To find this quotation, go to
https://stepbystep.alancminer.com/node/2268 and search for "lasting impression."

You can see that this map Weston prepared depicts the land of Zarahemla in northern South America, basically Colombia and Ecuador, with Panama as the "narrow neck."

Later, RLDS and LDS intellectuals decided that Panama was not the "narrow neck" and moved their geography into Mesoamerica.

Now, thanks to the work of employees at BYU, CES, and COB, most members of the Church have had Mesoamerica imprinted on their minds from a young age.

For example, right on its home page, BYU Studies still links to maps that show Cumorah in Mesoamerica, along with other Book of Mormon sites.


This map is a specific, intentional repudiation of the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah.

Such maps have "made a lasting impression which has been difficult to correct."

BYU fantasy map
As bad as the maps of Mesoamerica have been, the situation is getting worse all the time, now that CES and BYU both require students to learn the Book of Mormon using fantasy maps.

These fantasy maps portray the Book of Mormon itself as fiction. It's not surprising that half of Millennial members of the Church don't believe the Book of Mormon is an actual history.

Regarding these fantasy maps, we should reiterate what the committee said in 1898:

"Although the church never officially endorsed the maps, the proposed geographical locations of Book of Mormon cities and lands on the maps made a lasting impression which has been difficult to correct."

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Travel: temples and evidence

Philadelphia temple at night

This web page has a nice temple counter:


In the last two weeks we visited 10 temples, some of them for the first time. That makes 87 total, just a little over half of the operating temples. We have visited temples in Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia/NZ, and North America.

(When we visited Antarctica there were no temples, only a small Chilean military base.)

It's always inspiring to visit these temples and the missionaries and members who serve there. Last week we met a missionary from Mongolia. Almost everywhere we go, we meet people we know, who know us, or who are related one way or another.

The Latter-day Saints are awesome everywhere in the world.

Me at an awesome,
undisclosed location
Evidence. I've been doing a lot of traveling lately, partly to accumulate evidence about the Book of Mormon and Church history.

Sadly, thanks to M2C, many Church members (especially the youth) have been taught to reject the teachings of the prophets and instead rely on the teachings of intellectuals, based on what they deem to be "evidence."

Once a person sets aside the teachings of the prophets, he/she is "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:14). This is the situation in the Church today regarding Book of Mormon historicity.

Church members don't know what to think because they have rejected the teachings of the prophets, often without even realizing it.

While I think members of the Church ought to exercise faith and simply accept the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, especially when the prophets have consistently, persistently, and uniformly taught the same thing, people cannot believe in something they have never been taught.

Paul expressed it this way: "how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14).

We have reached the tipping point on this topic because most members of the Church today do not even know what the prophets have taught.

Decades of traveling around the world meeting members of the Church of all ages on every continent have shown me a sharp distinction between two groups of members.

1. Most members who know what the prophets have taught accept the New York Cumorah. 

2. Most members who accept M2C don’t know what the prophets have taught.

The exceptions, of course, are the intellectuals (and their followers) who know what the prophets have taught but reject those teachings.

Those who study on their own, or who were educated before the 1980s, usually fall into category 1. This group is aging, of course, so there are fewer and fewer members in this category.

Because M2C is currently being taught by CES, BYU, Visitors Centers, and Church media, while the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah are completely censored, young and new members of the Church fall into category 2.

The youth in the Church today are being trained to rely not on the teachings of the prophets, but instead on the opinions of intellectuals, based (as they claim) on evidence.

Fortunately, the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah are fully corroborated by evidence, so even by the standards of the M2C intellectuals, those teachings will ultimately prevail. 

It's just a shame that, in the meantime, so many members of the Church are being deprived of the teachings of the prophets.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Come follow me: Luke 20 and the New York Cumorah

I've been traveling a lot lately, accumulating evidence that I'll discuss soon, but in the process, we've visited different wards and enjoyed a variety of lessons.

Baptism of John
The readings for last week's Come Follow Me lesson included Luke 20, although that chapter was not actually cited in the lesson materials.

Luke 20:1-18 relates the parable of Cumorah. 

Here is the text in blue, along with my comments in red.

1 And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,

These are the M2C intellectuals confronting all the prophets who have taught that Cumorah is in New York.

2 And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?

The M2C intellectuals teach their followers that President Oliver Cowdery and all the other prophets and apostles had no authority to teach the New York Cumorah.

3 And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me:

Those Church members who still believe the prophets ask the M2C intellectuals this same question.

4 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?

The New York Cumorah, was it from heaven, or of men?

5 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?

The M2C intellectuals reason among themselves, saying "If we shall say the prophets are inspired, Church members will ask, why don't you believe them?" 

6 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.

The M2C intellectuals think, "If we say those prophets who taught the New York Cumorah were speaking as men, Church members will reject us because they believe the prophets."

7 And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.

Our M2C intellectuals answer by saying, "we cannot say where the teaching of Cumorah came from."

But today's M2C intellectuals are more clever than the scribes of old. They avoid answering the question about the prophets with two techniques:

1. They censor the teachings of the prophets (e.g., the Saints book), but when members discover those teachings on their own, they resort to their second tactic.

2. They confuse members of the Church by mixing up two separate teachings; i.e., the prophets have taught that (i) Cumorah is in New York and (ii) we don't know the locations of other events. The M2C intellectuals quote the second teaching and claim it applies to the first. 

8 And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

After observing how intellectuals in the Church have repudiated the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, current Church leaders have left it to each member of the Church to decide for ourselves whether to believe the prophets or the intellectuals.

I won't take the time to go through verses 9-18, but as you read them, think of the parable of the tenants (vineyard) in the context of the New York Cumorah.

The Lord sent his prophets to teach the New York Cumorah, starting with Moroni teaching Joseph Smith, President Oliver Cowdery teaching the Church, and all the subsequent prophets and apostles reaffirming these teachings.

Intellectuals in the Church have cast out these prophets, one after the other. 

Their followers likewise cast out the prophets, preferring the wisdom of men as taught by CES and BYU.

Those members of the Church who still believe the prophets can be confident that soon enough, "the stone which the builders rejected, the same will become the head of the corner."

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

We love Book of Mormon Central (90%)

From time to time, we want to clarify our position regarding Book of Mormon Central and the rest of the M2C citation cartel (FairMormon, BYU Studies, Interpreter, etc.).

On a personal level, I like everyone I've met who participates in the M2C citation cartel.

Most of the Church members I know who still believe the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah feel the same way about the people in the M2C citation cartel. We stipulate that everyone involved with the cartel is faithful, devoted, educated, intelligent, loving, wonderful, etc.

If we didn't love them, we wouldn't care enough to offer constructive criticism. None of our criticisms are personal in nature.

We appreciate much, maybe most, of what they do. I'll put the figure of 90% on it. IOW, we like 90% of the material they publish.

I think that, if not for M2C (Mesomania), I'd like 98% of what they do. (There remain lingering problems from revisionist Church history, most of which are attributable to M2C.)

For example, here are some of the truly great things Book of Mormon Central provides. I'm grateful to have them available, and I recommend these resources all the time.

1. The Royal Skousen material on the earliest manuscripts of the Book of Mormon.

2. Bookofmormononline.net.

3. Some of the material in the archives.

The problem is, M2C taints almost everything the citation cartel produces. 

FairMormon has a lot of good material, but M2C is woven throughout.

The Interpreter and BYU Studies have some good articles, but anything touching on Church history and/or Book of Mormon is edited to promote, or at least accommodate, M2C.

For those of us who still believe the teachings of the prophets, we can't recommend that our friends (aka investigators) or less active members seek answers from Book of Mormon Central, FairMormon, the Interpreter, BYU Studies, etc., because M2C undermines their faith.

These resources actively teach that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah and other issues. Teaching aids such as the CES and BYU fantasy maps depict the Book of Mormon as fictional. 

Sending people to the M2C citation cartel is akin to sending them to CES Letter, except that CES Letter is more open about its opposition to the teachings of the prophets.

We think the M2C citation cartel is worse, actually, because the M2C advocates claim the support of the prophets and the Church for their teachings--even when they say the prophets are wrong.

This is not to say that we expect the M2C citation cartel to suddenly accept the teachings of the prophets.

Instead, all we ask is that they cease their monolithic opposition to the teachings of the prophets.

The situation would be different if the M2C citation cartel (including employees at BYU, CES and COB) followed the Church's position on neutrality.

That's what we do on this blog. We frequently refer readers directly to the M2C citation cartel so they can see for themselves what is being taught.

We want our readers to make informed decisions and trust them to do so.

We don't care what people decide. We just want them to make informed decisions.

That's not the case with the M2C citation cartel.

M2C depends on censorship and sophistry to undermine faith in the teachings of the prophets.

If the cartel trusted their readers, listeners, and viewers to make informed decisions, cartel members would not insist on M2C exclusively. They would present, or allow others to present, the information that corroborates and supports the prophets, instead of censoring that information.

We think the psychology of bias confirmation is too strong to allow members of the M2C citation cartel to change their minds, or even to inform their readers and followers of alternative perspectives.

Plus, the M2C citation cartel has a tremendous investment in M2C, including professional, financial, and psychological investments. 

IOW, even though sunk costs are sunk and should not be considered going forward, we don't think the situation is going to change.

Soon, we will announce an alternative to the M2C citation cartel that people can refer to without the M2C barriers to faith. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

The Hill Cumorah is the ultimate war memorial. It is the site of the final battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites.

As a military veteran myself, I pause to remember all those who have served in the military, both those alive today and those who have passed on.

As a blogger here, I pause to remember all those who have participated in the discussion about the Hill Cumorah, including those who have spoken, written or taught about the location of Cumorah, both those alive today and those who have passed on.

Below is a list of some of those involved, grouped by where they taught the real Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is located. Their credentials are indicated. 

western New York
southern Mexico (M2C)
Joseph Smith (President of the Church)
H. A. Stebbins (RLDS scholar)
Oliver Cowdery (President of the Church)
L. E. Hills (RLDS scholar)
David Whitmer (3 Witnesses)
David A. Palmer (LDS author)
Brigham Young (President of the Church)
John Sorenson (BYU professor)
Heber C. Kimball (First Presidency)
John W. (Jack) Welch (BYU professor)
Wilford Woodruff (President of the Church)
Dan Peterson (BYU professor)
Parley P. Pratt (Quorum of the Twelve)
Kirk Magleby (LDS author)
Orson Pratt (Quorum of the Twelve)
Brant Gardner (LDS author)
Joseph F. Smith (President of the Church)
Noel Reynolds (BYU professor)
Joseph Fielding Smith (President of the Church)
Shirley Heater (CofC author)
Anthony W. Ivins (First Presidency)
Jerry Ainsworth (LDS author)
James E. Talmage (Quorum of the Twelve)
Joseph Allen (LDS author)
LeGrand Richards (Quorum of the Twelve)
Garth Norman (LDS author)
Marion G. Romney (First Presidency)
Louis C. Midgley (BYU professor)
Mark E. Petersen (Quorum of the Twelve)
John L. Lund (LDS author)
Ezra Taft Benson, Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson (Presidents of the Church)
Tyler Griffin (BYU professor), Matt Roper (LDS author) and others affiliated with Book of Mormon Central

Everyone on the list is an exemplary individual, faithful, devoted, educated, well-intentioned, etc. They have made their respective positions crystal clear for everyone to see, as plain as words can be in all cases.

And there is no overlap between these two groups. They are as distinct as it gets.

Every member of the Church is free to choose which group to believe and follow when making a decision about the location of the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6.

I think this table is completely fair and accurate, but I know there are some individuals in the Mexico column who object to this classification.

However, they know as well as everyone else that the teachings about Cumorah in each column of the table are specific and clear. These are facts easily found and verified.

The most common rationalization among those in the Mexico column is that the people in the New York column were merely stating their opinions as men.

Everyone is welcome to accept that interpretation.

Of course, that interpretation would apply to anything the prophets teach that one wants to reject.

Some of those in the Mexico column have persuaded themselves that the New York Cumorah is inconsistent with a Mesoamerican setting for most of the events in the Book of Mormon, which they take as a given.

But we all see the logical fallacy there.

The Mesoamerican setting is a mere assumption, based on a subjective interpretation of the text designed to fit the assumption. It's pure circular reasoning.

And, everyone is welcome to accept logical fallacies, including circular reasoning.

But at the same time, everyone is welcome to accept the teachings of the prophets.

No one is bound by the teachings of the intellectuals, except those who don't know what the prophets have taught.

Which students at CES and BYU never learn.

But they can learn it here:


Saturday, May 25, 2019

M2C citation cartel vs free speech

This weekend's interview on the Wall St. Journal involves the President of Bard College who still protects and encourages free speech.

I found the following comment interesting because some time ago, I asked Book of Mormon Central why they don't invite me to speak at their conferences. (They host a mediocre conference with a handful of M2C proponents and just a couple of hundred attendees. If you ever get a chance to attend, you ought to just to see it for yourselves.)

The answer I got: "We don't agree with you."

That's precisely the approach taken by leftists on college campuses everywhere.

This occurred about the time when Book of Mormon Central censored my Letter VII book from their archive.

Here's how the President of Bard College explained the problem of the doctrinaire approach, which is the approach taken by the M2C citation cartel.

What does distress Mr. Botstein is the absolutism of the doctrinaire. The doctrine Bard subscribes to, he says, “is the power of reason, the power of argument, the power of language, the power of critical inquiry, and the willingness to try stuff out, and to revise one’s point of view. It would be horrifying to think that I think exactly the same thing that I thought 20 years ago, or that one doesn’t consistently learn.”

One of the fundamental principles of M2C is that they already have the answers and they don't want to learn new things that corroborate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

Botstein also said this:

Mr. Botstein agrees. “I think that we live in a time when people are extremely intolerant of listening to things they don’t agree with,” he says. “There is the argument that allowing things you don’t believe in to be said is somehow legitimating it. I don’t believe that to be right, because in an academic community there’s no such thing as free speech without response. I can’t give a lecture at an academic institution and walk away and take no questions. I can’t present a scientific paper and not have someone get up and say, ‘Well how do you know that? And maybe you’re wrong. And what about this evidence?’ ”
The process of gathering evidence and formulating arguments, he says, is “the fundamental enterprise of the pursuit of knowledge.” A scholar must recognize “the fallibility of one’s own point of view. And one has to respect the ability of people to change their minds. It would be hard to teach and do research if there weren’t the ability to put ideas out there and have them scrutinized, and criticized.
This last statement, unfortunately, is partly a mistake. It's actually much easier to teach when there is no ability to have ideas scrutinized and criticized. Employees at BYU, CES, and COB, especially participants in the M2C citation cartel, know this. They depend on it.

At BYU, they teach M2C exclusively by teaching students that the prophet are wrong about the New York Cumorah. They handle potential scrutiny and criticism by simply censoring alternative views, especially including the teachings of the prophets.

BTW, when people ask me what I think of BYU, I explain that if they still believe the scriptures (including the Bible) and the prophets, they should probably not send their children to BYU. I think it's far more damaging to faith to be taught that the prophets are wrong at a university sponsored by the Church than to be taught that at a secular university.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Another fiasco from Book of Mormon Central

We have another example of how M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) causes its advocates to undermine.

Because the M2C citation cartel insists the "real" Cumorah is in Mexico, not New York, they consistently reject every historical account about the New York Cumorah. They also reject all the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

As we've seen, it's not only the M2C citation cartel but also the revisionist Church historians who are changing Church history to accommodate M2C, such as the Saints book.

BMC logo that incorporates Mayan language to
explicitly reject the New York Cumorah
In this case, we have another M2C no-wise from Book of Mormon Central about the sword of Laban.

The article points out that the sword of Laban was made of steel, a point that critics claimed was impossible. However, a steel sword has been found near Jericho that dates to about 620 B.C., which corroborates the account in the Book of Mormon.

This could be important evidence of the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

Actually, it is important evidence of the historicity of the Book of Mormon for those who still believe the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

But because of M2C, Book of Mormon Central frames the sword of Laban as a purely visionary item!

IOW, they want people to believe that because the "real" Cumorah is in Mexico, David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery must have seen the sword only "in vision."

As usual, Book of Mormon hands a gift to critics such as the CES Letter.

Here is the link to the no-wise.


I've discussed some of the sword of Laban issues before, here:


Let's look at a portion of the no-wise. Original in blue, my comments in red.
Finally, it is possible that the sword of Laban had words engraved on it. 
Possible? Oliver explicitly described the sword, which he saw during multiple visits with Joseph to the depository of Nephite records in the Hill Cumorah in New York. (See Mormon 6:6 and Letter VII.) M2C intellectuals reject what Oliver said, as well as the teachings of all the prophets who have affirmed the New York Cumorah.
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery once saw a large room which contained many plates. 
Notice how Book of Mormon Central censors the key point here: Joseph and Oliver saw the large room inside the Hill Cumorah in New York! 
M2C intellectuals always censor this information from their readers, followers, and financial supporters. Here, you can read about it in the linked footnotes, which are designed to undermine faith. This is typical of these intellectuals. They could (and should) have linked directly to what Brigham Young taught. David Whitmer also explained that Oliver told him about this experience. Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and others also corroborated it. 
But according to Book of Mormon Central, all these people were wrong.
Here is the excerpt they give their readers. 
“The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: ‘This sword will never be sheathed again until The Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God and his Christ’.”15
You can see the original statement in context in my post here, which also gives a link to the Journal of Discourses.
It is hard to know if this was a somewhat symbolic vision, a vision of a real location with real items, or an actual cave which they visited in upstate New York. In any case, if they were seeing the actual sword of Laban, either in vision or in person, then this gives us one more detail about its appearance.
This is my favorite paragraph. 
"It's hard to know" if the prophets have told us the truth.
Oliver referred to an "actual cave" that we already know was a man-made chamber in the Hill Cumorah.
They can't bring themselves to use the term "Cumorah" so they adopt the "hill in New York" meme that we see in the Saints book and the M2C-inspired displays in the visitors centers. 
BTW, the Church History Department has already approved a budget to remodel the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center in New York. Apparently it will be renamed as a Church History center that won't even use the name Hill Cumorah any longer.
When LDS intellectuals at CES, BYU and COB are undermining faith in what the prophets have taught, the youth of the Church will lose their faith even without reading CES Letter, which loves what Book of Mormon Central is doing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Waste of 1,000 Research Papers

A fascinating analysis explains how scientists have jumped on the wrong bandwagon regarding genetic research. There are so many parallels to M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) and revisionist Church history that I wanted to share the article, along with key excerpts (in blue) and my observations (in red). In this post, I focus only on M2C, but the comparison to revisionist Church history (such as the book Saints) are obvious.

The entire article is worth reading (the link is below).

For example, the article describes the operation of citation cartels, such as the M2C citation cartel of Book of Mormon Central, FairMormon, BYU Studies, the Interpreter, etc.

Many fields of science, from psychology to cancer biology, have been dealing with similar problems: Entire lines of research may be based on faulty results. The reasons for this so-called reproducibility crisis are manifold. Sometimes, researchers futz with their data until they get something interesting, or retrofit their questions to match their answers. 
This is the basic approach of M2C. The M2C intellectuals have reinterpreted the text to match Mesoamerica. Tapirs = horses. Towers = pyramids. 
Other times, they selectively publish positive results while sweeping negative ones under the rug, creating a false impression of building evidence.
The M2C intellectuals rely on exactly this type of censorship and selective evidence to support the M2C hoax.
Beyond a few cases of outright misconduct, these practices are rarely done to deceive. They’re an almost inevitable product of an academic world that rewards scientists, above all else, for publishing papers in high-profile journals—journals that prefer flashy studies that make new discoveries over duller ones that check existing work. 
This describes BYU Studies, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, and the rest of the M2C citation cartel. Within LDS culture, these are the "high-profile journals" that everyone assumes are correct because, as the M2C intellectuals and their employees have claimed, they have been hired by the modern prophets to guide the Church.
People are rewarded for being productive rather than being right, for building ever upward instead of checking the foundations. These incentives allow weak studies to be published. And once enough have amassed, they create a collective perception of strength that can be hard to pierce.
This is what makes the M2C citation cartel work. It's a "collective perception of strength that can be hard to pierce." For nearly 4 years I have offered an alternative to M2C, but the M2C intellectuals and their employees, especially the handful of employees at Book of Mormon Central, not only refuse to consider the possibility that the prophets are correct about the New York Cumorah, they refuse to even discuss the issue or allow their followers and readers to know what the prophets have taught.


A Waste of 1,000 Research Papers

In 1996, a group of European researchers found that a certain gene, called SLC6A4, might influence a person’s risk of depression.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a group of RLDS researchers reached the conclusion that the Hill Cumorah is in southern Mexico and that the entire narrative took place in a limited geographic area of Mesoamerica. This is M2C. 
Over the objections of LDS leaders, who reaffirmed the New York Cumorah in General Conference and purchased the hill in New York with Church funds, LDS scholars began adopting the RLDS theories. They taught it at BYU and CES for decades so that now, most members of the Church aged 60 or below have never learned anything different.
But a new study—the biggest and most comprehensive of its kind yet—shows that this seemingly sturdy mountain of research is actually a house of cards, built on nonexistent foundations.
Recent research on two fronts shows that M2C was built on a nonexistent foundation. 
M2C was based on the twin assumptions that (i) anonymous articles in the Times and Seasons about Nephites in Central America were correct and (ii)  the LDS prophets, starting with Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith, and continuing through Joseph F. Smith in the early 1900s, were wrong about the hill Cumorah in New York. Today's M2C intellectuals and their followers, including most employees at CES, BYU and COB (the Church office building), continue to believe these twin assumptions. 
But new research into Church history has discovered that the anonymous Times and Seasons articles had nothing to do with Joseph Smith and were never accepted or cited by him. Plus, of course, they had nothing to do with the New York Cumorah anyway. At the same time, new research has shown that Joseph, Oliver, and all their contemporaries and successors accepted the New York Cumorah.
On another front, new research into ancient North American civilizations demonstrates that the accounts in the Book of Mormon describe these civilizations, including their culture and locations, accurately and in detail. The New York Cumorah fits what anthropology, archaeology, geology and geography tell us.
Between them, these 18 genes have been the subject of more than 1,000 research papers, on depression alone. And for what? If the new study is right, these genes have nothing to do with depression. “This should be a real cautionary tale,” Keller adds. “How on Earth could we have spent 20 years and hundreds of millions of dollars studying pure noise?”
“What bothers me isn’t just that people said [the gene] mattered and it didn’t,” wrote the psychiatrist Scott Alexander in a widely shared blog post. “It’s that we built whole imaginary edifices on top of this idea of [it] mattering.” 
“There’s an unwillingness to part with a previous hypothesis,” he says. “It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that maybe you were on a wild goose chase for years.”  
This is precisely what is happening with the M2C intellectuals at BYU, CES, and COB right now.
Dorothy Bishop of the University of Oxford argues that institutions and funders that supported candidate-gene work in depression should also be asking themselves some hard questions. “They need to recognize that even those who think they are elite are not immune to poor reproducibility, which leads to a huge amount of waste,” she says.
“We have got to set up a system, or develop a culture, that rewards people for actually trying to do it right,” adds Keller. “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”
Let's hope that the M2C citation cartel can somehow develop a culture that does not continue to rely on censorship, academic bullying, and elitism to continue to repudiate the teachings of the prophets.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Starting over - C.S. Lewis

The oft-quoted C.S. Lewis provided a solution to the ongoing confusion/denial about Book of Mormon geography.

“I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. A sum can be put right: but only by going back til you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.”


For decades now, LDS intellectuals have been traveling down the road of the M2C hoax. Continuing along that road will lead only to further confusion and doubt.

The solution is to go back until we find the error; i.e., return to the origins of M2C among RLDS intellectuals who invented the two-Cumorahs theory in opposition to Joseph F. Smith and the other LDS prophets who reaffirmed the New York Cumorah.

These RLDS scholars rejected Letter VII and the teachings of the LDS prophets. Some LDS scholars in the early 1900s embraced the RLDS position over the objection of the LDS prophets. In the ensuing decades, through the academic cycle, these M2C intellectuals have persuaded generations of LDS members that the prophets were wrong about the New York Cumorah.

If, as Lewis suggests, we go back to this error and "work it afresh," we will see that:

1. The prophets have consistently and persistently taught that Cumorah is in New York.
2. We don't know for sure where other events in the Book of Mormon took place.

We can be sure that if people continue to repudiate the teachings of the prophets, and continue to conflate these two distinct teachings, confusion and doubt will continue to plague the Latter-day Saints--just as President Joseph Fielding Smith warned long ago.

But if we go back to the error and work it afresh, we will see that there is abundant physical and scientific evidence that supports the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. Confusion and doubt will evaporate. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Best 1830 replica Book of Mormon

Readers here know that I have lots of old books that I refer to from time to time. I also like replicas of old books.

When I taught at the LTM (MTC) years ago, I used to ask the missionaries for their favorite verse from the Book of Mormon. Then I photocopied that verse in a page from the original 1830 edition and laminated it for them as a bookmark for their scriptures. (No one had digital scriptures back then.)

I still prefer the original (pre-1879) editions of the Book of Mormon because they are easier to read, although certainly the verses make it easier to refer to specific passages. I think Orson Pratt made some mistakes when he created today's chapters and verses, but overall he did a fine job. However, it's always nice to read the text the way Joseph originally had it typeset.

Not long ago we visited Dartmouth, where the library has an original 1830 edition (with the Kirtland index at the back) that they let visitors handle. On another occasion, a friend of mine showed me his original 1830 edition. I opened the cover to see that his grandchildren had scribbled in crayon all over it. He said his grandchildren were more important than an old book, and of course I agreed with him.

Yesterday I saw the best replica of the 1830 Book of Mormon I've ever seen. If you're interested in this type of thing, you can check it out at this website:


I like this one best of all the ones I've seen because of its look and feel, and the people who created it pay a lot of attention to detail and authenticity.

They have replicas of other early LDS books that are worth considering, as well.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

two volcano movies

I didn't mention this yesterday, but one of the best examples of two movies on one screen is the ongoing discussion about volcanoes. (I discussed volcanoes last year here.)

Everyone can read the text of the Book of Mormon and see it never mentions volcanoes. 

In a rational world, everyone would look for an area that fits this description; i.e., a place where people could live for 1,000 years without experiencing or even knowing about an actual volcano, so they never wrote about them.
However, a core belief among M2C theorists is that the Book of Mormon does mention volcanoes. They must believe this to justify M2C; i.e., Mesoamerican cultures have lots of experience with volcanoes, so the Nephites/Lamanites must have also experienced volcanic activity.

Because they need volcanoes, the M2C intellectuals "see" them between the lines of the text. They infer that the text describes volcanoes. They have persuaded themselves that the natural events described in 3 Nephi 8 could only have been produced by volcanic activity.

Those who see a different movie recognize that those same identical events have actually occurred in the Mississippi River valleys as the result of massive earthquakes (mainly the New Madrid fault).

Here's a summary from comments on a recent blog:

I just checked 3 Nephi 8 and there is no mention of a volcano, as the authors of the Interpreter article contend. Also, it is not apparent that the author in the Book of Mormon was witness to the events described in the section, as the authors assert.

For a detailed analysis, see

In the Thirty and Fourth Year: A Geologist's View of the Great Destruction in 3 Nephi

For an even more detailed, book length analysis, see Jerry Grover, The Geology of the Book of Mormon
For another take on ice core evidence, see Benjamin Jordan in JBMS here:
The author of the 3 Nephi (Mormon)  had lots of records from eye witnesses to work with.

The cited references from M2C supporters offer enough evidence to confirm the biases of the authors and readers. That's one movie.

But those same references are entirely unpersuasive to those who don't accept M2C because the events described in the text can be explained by natural causes other than volcanic activity. 

My summary: The text doesn't mention volcanoes, so presumably there were no volcanoes throughout Nephite history. 

The one "movie on the screen" in this case is the text of the Book of Mormon.

One group (M2C) who views the film (reads the text) sees volcanoes, albeit not explicitly.

The second group (Moroni's America, Heartland, etc.) who views the film (reads the text) sees no volcanoes, but instead a nice eyewitness account of earthquakes along the Mississippi River.

Which movie do you see when you read the text?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Restating the two movies

I've previously explained how two people can look at the same facts and reach completely different conclusions.  Today I'll restate the concept giving some specific examples.

The idea has been explained by the metaphor of watching two movies on one screen. I discussed this previously here. I've also demonstrated it as analogous to watching a 3D movie, when each eye looks at the same screen but sees a different image because of the filters in the lenses of the glasses.

The red and blue lenses filter the two projected images so only one image enters each eye.

(Note: obviously in this case there are actually two different images on the screen. This is a conceptual metaphor, not a literal one.)

Because our physical perception is heavily influenced by our belief system and past experience, it is a common psychological phenomenon for two people to see the exact same image but interpret it completely differently.

One reason for this is cognitive blindness; i.e., the two people don't see the same facts the same way because each person is blind to what the other person sees.

Another term for this is perceptual or inattentive blindness, explained this way: "When it becomes impossible to attend to all the stimuli in a given situation, a temporary “blindness” effect can occur, as individuals fail to see unexpected but often salient objects or stimuli."

The mostly subconscious choice about what is salient is related to bias confirmation. People see what they expect and want to see.

Look at this BYU map of the Book of Mormon as an example. CES uses a similar map in Seminary and Institute classes.

Movie 1. This is an internal map that (i) matches the geography descriptions in the text as closely as possible, (ii) is neutral on questions of real-world geography, and (iii) helps students understand the relative locations of Book of Mormon events.

Movie 2. This is a fantasy map that (i) is based on a Mesoamerican interpretation of the text, (ii) represents a repudiation of the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, and (iii) teaches students to think of the Book of Mormon in a fictional fantasy context.

If you think one of these movies is "right" and the other is "wrong," you are experiencing cognitive blindness to the other movie.

This is the psychology behind different political parties, religious affiliations, beliefs about science, and much more.

It is very difficult to see both movies at the same time. We may not even be able to choose which movie to watch because we usually aren't aware there are two movies. We "can't unsee" our own movie, and we "can't understand" why other people see the movie they do.

I've explained many times that I'm not trying to persuade anyone of anything. All I do on this blog and in my books and presentations is explain how I understand the facts and how things make sense to me.

I've seen both movies regarding Book of Mormon geography. For decades I accepted the M2C movie. I can still see it if I make the effort, but because of what I've learned since I accepted M2C, it is more and more difficult to watch that movie.

At this point, I think most members of the Church accept the M2C movie only because they are blind to the other movie that's on the screen.

And the M2C citation cartel (Book of Mormon Central, BYU Studies, the Interpreter, FairMormon, etc.) continue to use censorship and obfuscation to keep members of the Church blind to the other movie.

Here are some examples.

1. Teachings about the New York Cumorah.

(you can see these here: http://www.lettervii.com/p/byu-packet-on-cumorah.html)

Movie 1. All these statements about the New York Cumorah consist of the sincere but mistaken beliefs of those involved. Even members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference can express their own opinions and testify of their truthfulness, yet be mistaken.

Movie 2. All of these statements about the New York Cumorah originated with Joseph and Oliver, who knew from personal experience that Cumorah was in New York. Repudiating their teachings, as well as the teachings of subsequent prophets, undermines faith.

2. Visit to the Nephite repository.

Movie 1. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, David Whitmer and others said Oliver told them about occasions when he (Oliver) and Joseph visited the repository of Nephite records inside the Hill Cumorah. Oliver must have been speaking of visionary experiences because the Hill Cumorah is a drumlin that could not contain a natural cave such as Oliver described.

Movie 2. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, David Whitmer and others said Oliver told them about occasions when he (Oliver) and Joseph visited the repository of Nephite records inside the Hill Cumorah. They were familiar with the area and emphasized the physical reality of Oliver's description. Kimball reported visiting Cumorah and seeing the embankments around it. Oliver never said it was a natural cave, and photos of an actual room in the hill show walls built up with cut stones.

3. Teachings about Central America.

Movie 1. In 1842, the Times and Seasons published articles about ruins in Central America and identified them as Nephite ruins, the site for Zarahemla, etc. Joseph Smith was identified as the editor, printer, and publisher of the Times and Seasons during 1842, so he wrote, edited, or at least approved of these articles.

Movie 2. In 1842, the Times and Seasons published anonymous articles about ruins in Central America and identified them as Nephite ruins, the site for Zarahemla, etc. Joseph was listed as the nominal editor, printer and publisher, but he didn't actually edit the paper any more than he actually printed it. Based on the content and prior practice, the articles were written and edited by Benjamin Winchester, W.W. Phelps, and William Smith; Joseph had nothing to do with them. At any rate, these articles said nothing about the New York Cumorah.

4. The golden plates.

Movie 1. Moroni put the golden plates into the stone box in the hill in New York. This was the only set of plates, and it included both the abridged records of the Nephites and Lamanites, and the original plates of Nephi (the small plates). Joseph translated part of the record in Harmony, and part in Fayette. The witnesses described the plates differently because of differences in their own perceptions.

Movie 2. Moroni put the "original" Book of Mormon into the stone box in the Hill Cumorah. This contained the abridged records of the Nephites and Lamanites as explained in the Title Page, but did not include any original plates of Nephi. Joseph translated these plates in Harmony. Before leaving Harmony, he returned these plates to a divine messenger, who took them back to the depository in Cumorah. From the depository, the messenger picked up the small plates of Nephi and took them to Fayette, where Joseph translated them. The witnesses described the plates differently because they saw different sets of plates; i.e., the 3 witnesses saw the original plates, while the 8 witnesses saw the small plates of Nephi.

There are many examples of the two movies, including different interpretations of passages in the text of the Book of Mormon and D&C, different explanations for the teachings of the prophets, etc.

Most people want to know, how can we decide which movie is correct (or more likely to be correct)?

Appeals to authority and other logical fallacies are useful mainly to confirm one's bias.

Citing additional facts is not persuasive because of cognitive blindness.

One solution is to use the different movies as predictors and then see which is more accurate. For example, does the BYU map help persuade students that the Book of Mormon is a literal history, or does it help persuade students that the Book of Mormon is fictional (or allegorical)?

The book The Next Mormons includes data showing that younger generations are less likely to believe the Book of Mormon is a literal history. Causation and correlation are not the same thing, of course, but it seems obvious that teaching the Book of Mormon using a fictional map would lead students, even if only subliminally, to conclude the book is fiction. More data could help determine causation here.

Overall, though, the best way for people to decide which movie is correct is for each person to have a chance to see each movie.

This is why the ongoing censorship by the M2C citation cartel is so corrosive and, ultimately, counterproductive.