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, April 29, 2022


Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter has brought out the differences of opinion about "free speech." Here's an summary from a Twitter user:

Perhaps what is happening here is that the left doesn’t want to engage in any debate because they know that they can’t win the argument if the other side is allowed to speak.

The parallels to the M2C and SITH citation cartels are apparent. 

Consequently, I keep hearing the same tired, ridiculous arguments from M2Cers:


Q. The Book of Mormon doesn't mention snow (except as a metaphor), so how could it have taken place in the Midwestern states through New York where it snows annually?

A. The New Testament doesn't mention snow (except as a metaphor), so how could it have taken place in Israel, Turkey, etc., where it snows annually?

Neither the Book of Mormon nor the New Testament related weather reports.


Q. There are no volcanoes in New York or the Midwestern states, so how could Book of Mormon events have taken place there?

A. There are no volcanoes in the Book of Mormon, so why is anyone looking for volcanoes in Book of Mormon lands?


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Friday, April 22, 2022

Why the cartels resist multiple working hypotheses

The concepts of "free speech" and access to information is in the news a lot lately, for good reason. People cannot make informed decisions without good information. President Nelson has taught that "good inspiration is based upon good information."

Yet the twin citation cartels deprive people of good information.

The M2C/SITH citation cartel, led by Jack Welch, Dan Peterson, and Scott Gordon, continues to demand allegiance to their particular interpretations of Church history and Book of Mormon historicity. They and their followers not only don't want people to know about alternative faithful interpretations, but they treat fellow Latter-day Saints as apostates if they don't swear allegiance to M2C and SITH. 

The critical citation cartel, led by John Dehlin and Jeremy Runnels, also continues to demand allegiance to their particular interpretation of Church history and Book of Mormon historicity. They and their followers also don't want people to know about alternative faithful interpretations. 

In both cases, the cartels cannot tolerate alternative interpretations, even (especially) when those alternatives both (i) explain the evidence and (ii) corroborate the teachings of the prophets.

Both cartels resort to censorship and logical fallacies to maintain their control over their respective followers. On this blog we've looked at many examples over the years.

Everyone interested in these issues, whether faithful Latter-day Saint, former Latter-day Saint, or never Latter-day Saint, deserves to know about (i) all the relevant facts and (ii) multiple working hypotheses based on those facts.

You'd never know it by reading or listening to either of the cartels, but people can be faithful Latter-day Saints regardless of what they believe about Book of Mormon historicity/geography and the translation of the Book of Mormon.

This graphic, which I use frequently, demonstrates the concept.

On this blog, we encourage readers to consider all the relevant facts and multiple interpretations of those facts (multiple working hypotheses). We freely cite and refer to the twin citation cartels because we think the best way for people to make enduring decisions is to make informed decisions.

Yet Jack Welch, Dan Peterson, and Scott Gordon, along with John Dehlin and Jeremy Runnels, all insist on intellectual conformity and compliance. We think it's an enormous mistake for Book of Mormon Central, in particular, to demand allegiance to the personal opinions of Jack Welch, to the exclusion of alternative faithful interpretations.  

The worst offender is undoubtedly Book of Mormon Central. They directly violate their own purported mandate by insisting on M2C and SITH. They've raised and spent over $8 million from faithful Latter-day Saints by claiming "neutrality" on these issues while censoring alternative faithful views and by teaching only one permissible interpretation of the Book of Mormon historicity/geography.

If I was a donor to Book of Mormon Central, I'd be furious that my donations were misused and squandered this way. 

Actually, had I donated to any of these cartel members, I'd be furious.


The Church is, or should be, a big tent that accommodates a variety of interpretations, interests, and areas of emphasis. 

Paul and Moroni explained this a long time ago:

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

 14 For the body is not one member, but many.

 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

(1 Corinthians 12:4–27)

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Why write about Cumorah?

I write about the New York Cumorah on this blog to remind independent-minded people (engaged learners) who often feel outnumbered that they're not alone. 

Independent-minded people seek truth. They want information to make informed decisions. They know, as President Nelson has taught, that good inspiration comes from good information.

They seek to corroborate, not repudiate, the teachings of the prophets. The Cumorah issue is fundamental to understanding not only Church history, but the context and implications of the Book of Mormon.


By contrast, neither the M2C citation cartel nor the critical citation cartel considers evidence that contradicts their parallel belief systems, both based on the premise that the prophets were wrong.

We all know there is no chance that our M2C and SITH scholars will change--or even open==their minds, no matter what information is available. The citation cartel (Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, FAIRLDS, Meridian Magazine, etc.) is too deeply invested to consider the possibility that the prophets were correct after all. After decades of trying to persuade the Latter-day Saints that the prophets were wrong about Cumorah and the translation of the Book of Mormon, they can hardly change course now.

They are the mirror image of the critical citation cartel (MormonStories, CES Letter, etc.) who are equally invested in their narrative that the prophets were wrong.


Thursday, April 14, 2022

False dilemmas: year 1900 Book of Mormon geography debates

The logical fallacies behind M2C (the Mesoamerican/two Cumorahs theory) are nothing new. Book of Mormon scholars have been resorting to logical fallacies for over 100 years. 

The January 1900 issue of Autumn Leaves reported on a debate about Limhi's explorers that involved this question: "Did Ether take the plates to the land Desolation, or did Limhi's party go to New York State?"

The assumption behind the question is that the final battles of the Jaredites took place in New York, but that the "land of Desolation" was in Mexico. 

This is the logical fallacy of false dilemma or false dichotomy that our M2C friends engage in. In this case, the false dilemma is that they don't consider a third option; i.e., that the land of Desolation was not far from New York.

These early debates eventually compared only two alternatives: a hemispheric model vs a limited model in Mesoamerica. When only those two alternatives are considered, the limited model makes more sense. 

But the limited model only works if Cumorah is in Mexico, despite what Joseph, Oliver, and their contemporaries and successors taught about Cumorah in New York. Hence the development, by a process of reasoning, of M2C.

The debates in the early 1900s never considered the possibility of a limited geography based on the New York Cumorah.

Our current M2C citation cartel likewise rejects the possibility of a limited geography based on the New York Cumorah.

That's why so much confusion exists, even though Joseph and Oliver explained the facts in words as plain as words can be.

Those interested should read an awesome blog that is documenting the origins of M2C.



Definition: A false dilemma, also referred to as false dichotomy, is an informal fallacy based on a premise that erroneously limits what options are available. The source of the fallacy lies not in an invalid form of inference but in a false premise.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

My video review of the Book of Mormon Evidence conference

Steven Pynakker asked me to do a quick overview of the recent conference.


One of the fun and educational aspects of these conferences is the diversity of thought and sharing of ideas. People come with open minds and enthusiasm about the Gospel. 

Kudos again to Mormon Book Reviews for helping people make informed decisions by giving a forum for multiple perspectives!

Monday, April 11, 2022

M2C citation cartel: Hanna Seriac and Brant Gardner

The article in the Salt Lake Tribune about the Heartlanders that we discussed recently is a useful example of how the M2C citation cartel works. I was reluctant to mention this further, but the ongoing efforts of the M2C citation cartel requires some pushback.

Every Latter-day Saint, particularly those affiliated with Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, and FAIRLDS, should denounce these efforts to falsely accuse their fellow Latter-day Saints. In particular, leaders such as Dan Peterson, Scott Gordon and Jack Welch should disavow the accusations made in this article. 

If they don't, we'll revisit this problem more specifically.

In a way, it's unthinkable that faithful Latter-day Saints would resort to deceitful statements to the media to demean and falsely accuse their fellow faithful Latter-day Saints 

But sadly, this is merely a continuation of the efforts of the M2C citation cartel. And the silence of the cartel constitutes condoning what Hanna Seriac and Brant Gardner have done.

The problem would be immediately alleviated if the cartel would simply recognize that many faithful Latter-day Saints still accept the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah and seek to corroborate those teachings. Why the cartel feels threatened by those teachings is another topic, but as we'll see below, their envy of the rising popularity of the "Heartland" ideas does not justify their actions.

The cartel does immense harm to the Restoration by insisting that only their own private interpretations are legitimate and acceptable, even when their interpretations expressly repudiate the teachings of the prophets, as everyone can see. 

But because the cartel and its members persist, we see Hanna Seriac and Brant Gardner, both of whom contribute to FAIRLDS, providing outrageous, deceitful comments about the "Heartlanders" they disdain, such as this one:

“Christian nationalism,” Seariac said, “fuels their interpretation of everything.”

We have to wonder why Hanna would lie to the media like this. She knows perfectly well that the only thing that defines "Heartlanders" is their belief in what the prophets have taught about the Hill Cumorah in New York and their belief in the latter-day scriptures. 

So-called Heartlanders" are found throughout the world in a variety of nationalities, few of whom know or care about U.S. politics.

American Heartlanders live throughout the country and have a variety of political views and backgrounds. Even if, as Hanna insists, some "Heartlanders" separately express some elements of "Christian nationalism" (which she uses as a pejorative epithet), that certainly doesn't "fuel their interpretation of everything." To be clear, I disavow any racism, jingoism, or other un-Christian ideas and behavior, regardless of who advocates it. But I also deplore the efforts of Hanna and Brant to falsely attach these labels to their fellow Latter-day Saints.

To repeat: the only thing that defines "Heartlanders" is their belief in what the prophets have taught about the Hill Cumorah in New York. They have a variety of views about Book of Mormon geography and other topics, just like everyone else. 

But the New York Cumorah is the one thing the M2Cers cannot tolerate.

Hanna, Brant, and their fellow associates at FairLDS have expressly repudiated the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. They don't like it when people draw attention to what they teach, so they resort to diversionary tactics to discredit Heartlanders. 

Here's another example of their blatant deception in this article:

Heartlanders also tend to be anti-immigration, Seariac and Gardner said. In fact, both agreed that, more than any other belief or concern, this appears to be the driving force behind the current surge in support for the theory — that is, a sense among backers that not only their country but also their sacred text must be reclaimed from foreigners, specifically Latinos.

The way Heartlanders see it, if the Book of Mormon took place in the United States and not, as many Latter-day Saint scholars including Gardner argue, in Central America, then the Native Americans — not Central Americans — are the descendants of the Lamanites.

[Note: we can't tell if this lie is the reporter's spin or something that Hanna and Brant said, but we can clarify that "Heartlanders" have no problem with Central Americans being descendants of the Lamanites. That has never been an issue, except among M2Cers who seek to discredit Heartlanders. While the Doctrine and Covenants (28, 30, 32) specifically identified the Native Americans in New York, Ohio, and Missouri as "Lamanites," that does not exclude any others from also being descendants of the Lamanites, whether during or after Book of Mormon time frames.]

Here is another deception that the M2C citation cartel has long promoted.

Seariac and Gardner explained that while this argument may seem nitpicky to outsiders, it has real-world consequences.

“It has allowed a very jingoistic, very racist approach to the Book of Mormon,” Gardner said. “And there are a lot of people that resonates with.”

It's not only unthinkable but appalling, really, that these members of the M2C citation cartel would spread such lies about fellow Latter-day Saints. But it's not new. They've been doing this for years. 

The article explains Brant's motivation.

Offline support [for the Heartlander ideas] also appears to be gaining ground, according to Brant Gardner, a Book of Mormon scholar who has written numerous books in defense of the Mesoamerican model.

“I see it frequently in wards and talking to people,” Gardner, who lives in New Mexico, said. “It’s a lot more prominent than it was.”

Exactly how popular the Heartland model has become is hard to say. As a reference, [Wayne] May points to the crowds he is able to draw when speaking at private events, estimating anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 might attend the lectures over three days.

“There are a lot of Saints out there that are very, very interested in what we’re doing,” May said, “and they’re paying close attention.”

To this, Gardner grudgingly agreed. “We can’t get that many people to any of our conferences,” he said, referring to his own community of supporters of the Mesoamerican model. “It’s a point of envy.”

I doubt many Latter-day Saints agree with Brant that his envy justifies his libelous efforts to mislead the public about what his brothers and sisters in the Gospel actually think and teach. 

Some readers here may be unfamiliar with Hanna and Brant. Below are examples of the way they work with the M2C citation cartel.

As you can see, FAIRLDS, Book of Mormon Central, and the Interpreter are merely fronts for the M2C citation cartel. They have interlocking contributors and management. They cite and promote one another's work. 

They uniformly repudiate the teachings of the prophets, thinking that they be more influential by presenting three "separate" organizations to the public. They can also solicit donations separately.

Naturally, they insist they are actually three separate organizations, which is technically true. But you don't have to look much past the facade to see how they coordinate their messages.

Now they're co-opting the Salt Lake Tribune to promote their deceitful message. 

To repeat: Everyone affiliated with these organizations, along with other members of the citation cartel, should denounce these efforts to falsely accuse their fellow Latter-day Saints.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

L. E. Hills

It's time for another annual posting about L.E. Hills.

As yet another example of how Book of Mormon Central dis-educates its readers, the only mention of RLDS scholar L.E. Hills, the inventor of M2C, on the website of book of Mormon Central is buried in John Sorenson's Source Book.


Readers of this blog know a bit about Hills.

L.E. Hills in Sorenson's Source Book