Was Nibley a Genius, Scholar, or Crackpot?

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Post by Coggins7 »

I used to have statements by James Charlesworth, Cyrus Gordon, Jacob Milgrom, I believe the late Bruce Metzger, and some others, lauding Hugh Nibley's learning and scholarly abilities. He was well known and considered little less than brilliant by most of his peers in the relevant fields.

The people here, most of whome do not even approximate Nibley's learning, intelligence, educational background, or experience, calling him a crackpot, for no other reason than that he is a Mormon (and this is the definition of bigotry) leaves one breathless.

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Post by harmony »

Coggins7 wrote:I used to have statements by James Charlesworth, Cyrus Gordon, Jacob Milgrom, I believe the late Bruce Metzger, and some others, lauding Hugh Nibley's learning and scholarly abilities. He was well known and considered little less than brilliant by most of his peers in the relevant fields.

The people here, most of whome do not even approximate Nibley's learning, intelligence, educational background, or experience, calling him a crackpot, for no other reason than that he is a Mormon (and this is the definition of bigotry) leaves one breathless.


I don't know anyone whose called him a crackpot because he was a Mormon. I think they're saying he was a genius, but that didn't keep him from having some off the wall ideas.

Ray A

Post by Ray A »

I recommend a reading of "Zeal Without Knowledge". This is one of Nibley best articles:

http://www.thereasonableman.com/wp-cont ... wledge.pdf (PDF file!)

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Post by Fortigurn »

Coggins7 wrote:The people here, most of whome do not even approximate Nibley's learning, intelligence, educational background, or experience, calling him a crackpot, for no other reason than that he is a Mormon (and this is the definition of bigotry) leaves one breathless.


Could you provide evidence that people are calling Nibley a crackpot 'for no other reason than that he is a Mormon'? Why do you think they're calling Newton a crackpot? He wasn't a Mormon.

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Post by grayskull »

Nibley was published in non-Mormon academic journals.


This post is in the direction I'm interested. But can you elaborate? Anyone with a Ph.D. and a post publishes something. I have a number of the FARMS collections of Nibley and some of the papers here and there were taken from journals. But of what lasting value? What works of Nibley's are standard to quote from by antiquarians? Remember, Nibley is the great genius of Mormonism. When textbooks are written and papers churned with hundreds of citatations litering the bibliographies, which works by Nibley are commonly referenced? I'm familiar with the "Nibley was feared" stories that FARMS includes in say, the Timely and the Timeless. I don't doubt them. But what was his net contribution to real scholarship as acknowledged by the academic world?

I realize newton possibly did more pseudoscience than real science. But the little solid thinking he did revolutionized the world. Now, I picked the names I did because they'd be known to everyone. I don't expect Nibley to have revolutionsized the world, few do. My question is fairly simple, did Nibley do anything - anything - that is memerable to anyone but Mormons (or those who debate the church)?

Someone with FAIR privileges might want to ask this question over at their official message board, MAD, to see if they have any ideas. From what I can tell, Nibley's contribution to the real world is a big.....0.

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Post by gramps »

Ray A wrote:I recommend a reading of "Zeal Without Knowledge". This is one of Nibley best articles:

http://www.thereasonableman.com/wp-cont ... wledge.pdf (PDF file!)


Hey Ray A, thanks for that link. I remember reading this essay back in the 80's, and have wanted to read it again. Now, I can.

Cheers. gramps.
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Post by Fortigurn »

grayskull wrote:I realize newton possibly did more pseudoscience than real science.


I wouldn't say that. He has been called the first scientist, and the last alchemist, but I don't think he was either. He was one of those remarkable men like Boyle, who are able to discern the usefulness and truth among the dross. His science was inextricable from his theology, and his alchemy drove his chemistry (just like Boyle).

But the little solid thinking he did revolutionized the world.


I believe he did a lot of solid thinking.

Now, I picked the names I did because they'd be known to everyone. I don't expect Nibley to have revolutionsized the world, few do. My question is fairly simple, did Nibley do anything - anything - that is memerable to anyone but Mormons (or those who debate the church)?

Someone with FAIR privileges might want to ask this question over at their official message board, MAD, to see if they have any ideas. From what I can tell, Nibley's contribution to the real world is a big.....0.


Good questions.

Ray A

Post by Ray A »

grayskull wrote:
Nibley was published in non-Mormon academic journals.


This post is in the direction I'm interested. But can you elaborate? Anyone with a Ph.D. and a post publishes something. I have a number of the FARMS collections of Nibley and some of the papers here and there were taken from journals. But of what lasting value? What works of Nibley's are standard to quote from by antiquarians? Remember, Nibley is the great genius of Mormonism. When textbooks are written and papers churned with hundreds of citatations litering the bibliographies, which works by Nibley are commonly referenced? I'm familiar with the "Nibley was feared" stories that FARMS includes in say, the Timely and the Timeless. I don't doubt them. But what was his net contribution to real scholarship as acknowledged by the academic world?

I realize newton possibly did more pseudoscience than real science. But the little solid thinking he did revolutionized the world. Now, I picked the names I did because they'd be known to everyone. I don't expect Nibley to have revolutionsized the world, few do. My question is fairly simple, did Nibley do anything - anything - that is memerable to anyone but Mormons (or those who debate the church)?

Someone with FAIR privileges might want to ask this question over at their official message board, MAD, to see if they have any ideas. From what I can tell, Nibley's contribution to the real world is a big.....0.


How many scholars contribute to the "real world"? Have you ever been involved in academia? Why should Nibley be expected to be involved in "revolutionary discoveries" when most of his academic peers have not? I have not heard that Nibley was "feared". He doesn't (never did) scare me, at any rate. He has pointed out some very interesting evidences for the linguistic aspects of the Book of Mormon, and he was a specialist in that field, but I remain unconvinced of Book of Mormon historicity. The symbology Nibley has documented is impressive, the "how could Joseph have known this?" And one thing he has convinced me of is that Joseph could not have written the Book of Mormon with his sketchy knowledge. I have other theories about this. But par for par, he was very gifted, a genius, if not a recognised one by the international community. Nibley's importance (or lack of importance) seems only relevant to those who wish to denigrate Mormonism. So what if he had some "wacky" ideas in regard to his personal beliefs, don't we all? Defence of Mormonism was his priority, but beyond his personal beliefs, I think the most unbiased person would say that his IQ was higher than most. What does that prove? Nothing. But why attack this ebullient mind merely because he was a believer?

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Post by Mercury »

maklelan wrote:
VegasRefugee wrote:To say I do not have a grasp on reality is immature and based on your interpretation of my interpretations, you cult peddling numb nutz.


You misunderstand. I was being facetious by saying that I must not have a grip on reality because everyone else seems to think your opinions are rational, but they seem utterly ludicrous to me.

VegasRefugee wrote:Ignorant generalizations concerning Monolinguists, pot smokers and those with potty mouths. Gawd man, Do you think you can come up with an argument based on my argument instead of this jerk-off BS we have to put up with every time you open your mouth?


I forget that your posts are so much more mature and intellectual than mine.

VegasRefugee wrote:I for once would like you to concisely break apart any of my arguments instead of the hohum form letter character assassination that is your stock and trade?


Every time I show that your arguments are ludicrous you just stop posting. Then I have to insult you to get you to respond, but then you never engage the evidence. I was making a general observation and rather hoped that others would respond concerning the board's general approval of your idiotic posts. How do I get under your skin so much that you have to resort to quoting something i never said just to make yourself feel better? Is your life that pathetic?


You know what I hate is posters who can't seem to get an argument together. Once again the issue is my credibility instead of the discussion centering about nibleys lack of credibility.

Wheres your argument mac? I don't see one. What I DO see are irrational gushings about nibley followed by your typical apologist logical fallacy.
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Post by Mercury »

Coggins7 wrote:I used to have statements by James Charlesworth, Cyrus Gordon, Jacob Milgrom, I believe the late Bruce Metzger, and some others, lauding Hugh Nibley's learning and scholarly abilities. He was well known and considered little less than brilliant by most of his peers in the relevant fields.


Then ante up and provide them. Also provide their information concerning their tenure, publishing history, etc.

Coggins7 wrote:The people here, most of whome do not even approximate Nibley's learning, intelligence, educational background, or experience, calling him a crackpot, for no other reason than that he is a Mormon (and this is the definition of bigotry) leaves one breathless.


Yahyahyah, I think he's a crackpot because he's a Mormon. Sure.

No, I think he's a crackpot because he took dissimilar ceremony and belief from any culture he could find in a vain attempt to satisfy his paymasters who tasked him with the impossible goal of legitemizing the kooky, unbelievable farce that is Mormonism.
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Post by Mercury »

Ray A wrote:I recommend a reading of "Zeal Without Knowledge". This is one of Nibley best articles:

http://www.thereasonableman.com/wp-cont ... wledge.pdf (PDF file!)


And I reccomend those who read nibley and have joygazms to read Carl Sagans "Demon haunted World".
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Post by Fortigurn »

VegasRefugee wrote:And I reccomend those who read nibley and have joygazms to read Carl Sagans "Demon haunted World".


Sagan's book isn't bad, but it does suffer from outdated research and mild polemic. It's also a little simplistic. I could write you a better article for much the same purpose, if you wished.

Incidentally, he borrowed the phrase 'a candle in the dark' from the title of a book by a brilliant 16th century Christian (Thomas Ady), who wrote a masterpiece debunking numerous forms of superstition, especially witchcraft. I have a copy of Ady's work, if you want one.

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Post by Mercury »

Fortigurn wrote:
VegasRefugee wrote:And I reccomend those who read nibley and have joygazms to read Carl Sagans "Demon haunted World".


Sagan's book isn't bad, but it does suffer from outdated research and mild polemic. It's also a little simplistic. I could write you a better article for much the same purpose, if you wished.

Incidentally, he borrowed the phrase 'a candle in the dark' from the title of a book by a brilliant 16th century Christian (Thomas Ady), who wrote a masterpiece debunking numerous forms of superstition, especially witchcraft. I have a copy of Ady's work, if you want one.


DHW is aimed at a very general audience. It does a very good job at furthering the teapot/FSM/invisible-dragon thought experiment.

But if you think you can do better then lets see what you have.
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Post by Fortigurn »

VegasRefugee wrote:DHW is aimed at a very general audience. It does a very good job at furthering the teapot/FSM/invisible-dragon thought experiment.


Yeah, it's a popularized version of what could have been expressed in a more sophisticated and therefore more convincing manner.

But if you think you can do better then lets see what you have.


I would start by suggesting you read Thomas Ady's work, to which I referred earlier. It anticipates just about every single argument Sagan raises, using them centuries before Sagan did. In fact it is so far ahead of its time that Ady's contemporaries accused him of being an atheist (which he wasn't, he was a devout Christian), and modern day atheists refer to Ady approvingly as one of the earliest rationalist skeptics. His arguments preceded the rationalist arguments of the Enlightenment by at least a century.

If you want a copy, I can send you one, no drama. You should also read Reginald Scot's work along the same lines (modern skeptics have as much praise for him as for Ady, and he was likewise condemned for atheism by his contemporaries), which was written even earlier than Ady's. I can send you a copy of this also.

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Post by Mercury »

Fortigurn wrote:
VegasRefugee wrote:DHW is aimed at a very general audience. It does a very good job at furthering the teapot/FSM/invisible-dragon thought experiment.


Yeah, it's a popularized version of what could have been expressed in a more sophisticated and therefore more convincing manner.

But if you think you can do better then lets see what you have.


I would start by suggesting you read Thomas Ady's work, to which I referred earlier. It anticipates just about every single argument Sagan raises, using them centuries before Sagan did. In fact it is so far ahead of its time that Ady's contemporaries accused him of being an atheist (which he wasn't, he was a devout Christian), and modern day atheists refer to Ady approvingly as one of the earliest rationalist skeptics. His arguments preceded the rationalist arguments of the Enlightenment by at least a century.

If you want a copy, I can send you one, no drama. You should also read Reginald Scot's work along the same lines (modern skeptics have as much praise for him as for Ady, and he was likewise condemned for atheism by his contemporaries), which was written even earlier than Ady's. I can send you a copy of this also.


Sounds interesting. I'd like a copy.
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Post by Coggins7 »

harmony wrote:
Gazelam wrote:Noah was born around 2944 B.C., putting the Flood at roughly 2344 B.C. This according to W. Cleon Skousen's fold out chart in the back of his book "The First 2,000 years". I'm not a big Skousen fan, but that was the first source I could think of to answer your question.


Psst. Gazelam. I hate to break it to ya, but he's not going to accept Skousen as an expert either. He's not going to accept anyone except a verifiable source, like an ancient relic or papyrus with Noah's name and address on it, and the museum in which said relic is kept. Noah's kinda like Adam... there doesn't seem to be any non-religious mention of him. That's the trouble with ancient myths. They just don't stand up to the glaring light of substantive sources.


You'd better stop sleeping with Richard Dawkins Harmony, or you'll very likely loose your Temple recommend. Leaving aside the question begging nature of your claims here (that both Adam and Noah are nothing more than "ancient myths"), I thought you were a Mormon? A Temple recommend holding, active Mormon? And you don't believe in the historicity of Adam or Noah. And you think Joseph Smith was a fraud and lecher, and the BofM the creation of Joseph's fevered imaginatin? Still willing to continue the game?

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Post by Mercury »

Coggins7 wrote:
harmony wrote:
Gazelam wrote:Noah was born around 2944 B.C., putting the Flood at roughly 2344 B.C. This according to W. Cleon Skousen's fold out chart in the back of his book "The First 2,000 years". I'm not a big Skousen fan, but that was the first source I could think of to answer your question.


Psst. Gazelam. I hate to break it to ya, but he's not going to accept Skousen as an expert either. He's not going to accept anyone except a verifiable source, like an ancient relic or papyrus with Noah's name and address on it, and the museum in which said relic is kept. Noah's kinda like Adam... there doesn't seem to be any non-religious mention of him. That's the trouble with ancient myths. They just don't stand up to the glaring light of substantive sources.


You'd better stop sleeping with Richard Dawkins Harmony, or you'll very likely loose your Temple recommend. Leaving aside the question begging nature of your claims here (that both Adam and Noah are nothing more than "ancient myths"), I thought you were a Mormon? A Temple recommend holding, active Mormon? And you don't believe in the historicity of Adam or Noah. And you think Joseph Smith was a fraud and lecher, and the BofM the creation of Joseph's fevered imaginatin? Still willing to continue the game?


Oh shut up coggy. Her TR should be outside the bounds of discussion. Your not her bishop so its none of your goddamned business.
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Post by grayskull »

Ray,

How many scholars contribute to the "real world"?


When I say "real world" I mean the real academic world however real that may or may not be.

Why should Nibley be expected to be involved in "revolutionary discoveries" when most of his academic peers have not?


Nibley has plenty of peers (?what's his field anyway?) whose work makes up the core literature on the topics he's writing. Notice his extensive footnotes, hundreds sometimes for a paper just a few pages long. Nibley cites Giorgio De Santillana, Edward Meyer, Karl Popper, and hundreds of others who have made important or at least notable contributions to their respective fields. What important contributions did Nibley make, and who is quoting him - outside of Mormon apologists?

I think the most unbiased person would say that his IQ was higher than most. What does that prove? Nothing. But why attack this ebullient mind merely because he was a believer?


Nibley was far higher than average. I'm not attacking his mind. I'm saying exactly what you are, that all those gifts in and of themselves prove nothing. I'm raising a question about his scholarship - something many Mormons think he's notable for. I'm suggesting that, unlike Giorgio De Santillana or Edward Meyer, despite how is IQ compares, Nibley didn't come up with anything significant in his entire career as a scholar who read 5 billion books that anyone outside Mormonism will ever cite.

I'm willing to be proven wrong. A lot of apologists on the web, someone must know what Nibely was known for outside of Mormonism.

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Post by grayskull »

lauding Hugh Nibley's learning and scholarly abilities. He was well known and considered little less than brilliant by most of his peers in the relevant fields.


Yawwn. Now, can you tell us what he contributed? Every year there's a child prodigy who breaks into the media because of some crazy mental feat. Often that's about the last anyone will ever hear of them inside or outside a university. Very few people would doubt that Nibley was brilliant. Now, what essay or book or thesis, produced by Nibley, do other researchers quote from?

The people here, most of whome do not even approximate Nibley's learning, intelligence, educational background, or experience, calling him a crackpot, for no other reason than that he is a Mormon (and this is the definition of bigotry) leaves one breathless.


He wasn't called a crackpot for merely being Mormon. The greater number of Mormon professors at BYU aren't crackpots. As a shout out to Gazelam (I think it was), there are plenty of Mormon professors at BYU who are downright embarrassed by works of crackpottery such as Skousen's "First 2000 Years". I think Nibley was a crackpot based on his output as a researcher, and unfortunately I'm not getting the feeling he contributed much real scholarship to redeem himself from that.

Ray A

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grayskull wrote:Nibley has plenty of peers (?what's his field anyway?) whose work makes up the core literature on the topics he's writing. Notice his extensive footnotes, hundreds sometimes for a paper just a few pages long. Nibley cites Giorgio De Santillana, Edward Meyer, Karl Popper, and hundreds of others who have made important or at least notable contributions to their respective fields. What important contributions did Nibley make, and who is quoting him - outside of Mormon apologists?


Nibley's focus was obviously Mormonism. If he had concentrated on another field I think his contributions may have been more notable. Here, anyway, is a bibliography:

http://maxwellinstitute.BYU.edu/publica ... graphy.php

Which includes contributions to:

APSR The American Political Science Review
BYUS Brigham Young University Studies
CJ The Classical Journal
CH Church History
DJMT Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought
JQR Jewish Quarterly Review
RQ Revue de Qumran
TH The Historian
VC Vigiliae Christianae
WS Western Speech
WPQ Western Political Quarterly


His linguistic studies of the Book of Mormon are, in my opinion, notable. Reading his commentary on that is one of the reasons I find it impossible to believe Joseph Smith created the Book of Mormon from his imagination. Of course none of this is groundbreaking in the academic world, but should/when the "academic world" takes the Book of Mormon more seriously, Nibley will be viewed as the Plato of Mormonism, and someone once remarked that all philosophy is footnotes to Plato.

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Post by Fortigurn »

VegasRefugee wrote:Sounds interesting. I'd like a copy.


* Reginald Scot: Discoverie of Witchcraft

* Thomas Ady: A Candle In The Dark

* Thomas Ady: Perfect Discovery of Witchcraft

* Balthasar Bekker: The World Bewitched

Thomas Ady is particularly witty. Here the Skeptic Wiki quotes approvingly Ady's swift and effective methods of dealing with various logical fallacies used to support the idea of witchcraft:

Besides these, the skeptics were faced with the usual nonsense which is scraped together when people wish to provide evidence for things which don’t actually exist. Here is Ady on unverifiable anecdotal evidence:

“[They] betake themselves to their leggs, runing into some vain story taken out of Bodinus or Bat. Spineus, or some such popish vain writer, and report that it was done in Lancashier, or in Westmerland, or in some remote place farre off; and that they heard it credibly reported from men of worth and quality, and so they ingage me to answer to a story, which they would compell me to beleeve, or else to goe see where it was done..."

Here he deals with the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy:

“Some men will Object, and say, If Witches have not power to afflict, and torment, and kill People and Cattel, how cometh it to pass that after the angring of such an old man or woman, or such a lame man, or woman, that came to my House and desired relief, and I rated her away, and gave her no relief, or did not give her that which she desired; such and such crosses and losses came upon me, or such a Childe was taken in such a manner, with such a Sickness, presently after, or within few days after his or her coming to my door?

They that make this Objection must dwell very remote from Neighbours, or else must be known to give very little, or no relief to the poor, if it can be said at any time when a cross cometh upon them, that one poor body or other hath not been at their door that day, or not many days before, let it happen at any time whatsoever; shall this then be laid to the charge of him, or her that came last begging to their door? then by that reason no man in England can at any time be afflicted but he must accuse some poor body or other to have bewitched him; for Christ saith, The poor ye shall have always; and I think no man of ability is long free from poor coming to his door.”

Here, he answers the argumentum ad populum:

“What though there be no murthering, nor afflicting Witch mentioned in the Scripture, nor any command given to put Witches to death for Murthers, may not this common opinion of all men go for current, unless we can prove it by Scriptures? what shall one or two mens opinions be preferred before the common tenent of all men?

To this I answer, It was the common tenent of all the Heathen, that Idols were gods, and ought to be worshipped; it was the common opinion of all the Scribes and Pharisees that it was a sin to eat with unwashen hands, and yet the Scripture telleth us that these things were false.”

And here he deals briskly with a complete non sequitur:

“Oh gallant! as the Wheel-Barrow goeth ramble the Ramble; so Peter Sherk owes me Five shillings.”

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