The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Lemmie »

honorentheos wrote:Given the other evidence I've seen for self-awareness on the part of Dr. Dale, I'd say your lack of comfort is justified. :)

You're not kidding. Wow, that probability explanation by Dale you quoted is so amateur it is embarrassing. Given his engineering background, it is beyond professionally embarrassing. I am stunned calmer heads didn't prevail and talk him out of leaving that comment up.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by DrW »

Dr. Bruce Dale wrote:Take comfort…at least it is not one in a hundred billion billion or so.

DrW commenting on Bruce Dale's statement wrote:My first thought when I saw this last evening - 'Could it be, finally, that Dr. Dale Sr. is tacitly acknowledging how ridiculous his originally stated hundred billion billion:1 probability estimate in favor of Book of Mormon historicity actually was?'

(Didn't take much comfort though.)

honorentheos, responding to DrW wrote:Given the other evidence I've seen for self-awareness on the part of Dr. Dale, I'd say your lack of comfort is justified. :)

Lemmie, responding to honorentheos wrote:You're not kidding. Wow, that probability explanation by Dale you quoted is so amateur it is embarrassing. Given his engineering background, it is beyond professionally embarrassing. I am stunned calmer heads didn't prevail and talk him out of leaving that comment up.

Rule #1 when you are in over your head: Stop digging!
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Lemmie »

DrW wrote:Rule #1 when you are in over your head: Stop digging!

DrW, truer words were never spoken. I often have older graduate students (lawyers, politicians, bankers, historians, etc.) who have had established and successful careers, but who are, nonetheless, somewhat new to certain aspects of the technicalities of statistical analysis. The smart ones get themselves into a project group with at least one savvy millennial (or an old woman like me :cool: )with the math and stats background, and they LISTEN and LEARN. They contribute ttheir best, but they never stop the math geeks from contributing their best.Those groups succeed.

But when I see an older student insisting that their way works and yes of course they understand probability, but there's NO WAY their common sense is wrong, then I know I have a group that's going to have trouble.

I'm sensing that the Elder Dale might fit that category.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by honorentheos »

My personal favorite statement from that latest round was this assertion, from Dr. Bruce Dale speaking to Billy, Jared and myself in reference to critics of the Book of Mormon who have claimed alternative explanations for the Book of Mormon other than Smith was given golden plates to translate by an angel -

First, they/you are assuming that the probability that Joseph Smith actually knew something that he might have known is 100%. How naïve is that?

Why do I like that statement? Because the manner in which the Dales used the likelihood ratios dances around the question if each of their correspondences is an assertion Smith was given the information that he didn't personally know or guessed at it. In some of their statements it seems like they are treating the ratios like probabilities that sum to 1 where the opposite evidence, reflected in one of their so-called controls, is determined based on the analogous positive likelihood ratio that Smith "knew" the thing being asserted. But in most cases they seem to view the correspondences more like posterior results where the likelihood ratio is meant to reflect how likely his inclusion of some detail in the Book of Mormon was just due to a guess. Like a roll of a dice seeking a particular result or flip of a coin, they treat the outcome as a hit where the purpose of the LRs is assessing how likely it was that result would have been obtained v. not obtained.

What they never actually do is question how likely it is that the thing being described in the Book of Mormon is actually describing the Maya. It's assumed, 100%, that each correspondence is a posterior "hit" that needs explained rather than information that needs assessed against a background of possible sources.

In other words, they seem to imagine that critics are doing what they did when a correspondence is questioned as either invalid or potentially arrived at by something other than an attempt to describe the Maya.

I don't think Bruce Dale is in a headspace where he is able to comprehend that the assessment is supposed to be about how likely it is that Smith is describing the Maya according to the stated purpose of their paper.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by EAllusion »

It seems like they are incapable of grasping that a major alternative hypothesis is that the book is a 19th century fictional history based on contemporary mound-builder myths and local religious beliefs written in the genre biblical pseudoepigraphia. Nothing that fits well within this context is comparatively compelling evidence of it being an ancient Mesoamerican document.

I remember a discussion years ago where Book of Mormon apologists were attempting to argue that the existence of elaborate stone thrones in Olmec civilization is compelling evidence of Book of Mormon historicity. Because how could have Joseph known that that they built beautiful thrones? Local native Americans didn't do that. He's not an archaeologist!

Yes, how could a 19th century author writing in the genre of Old Testament-fiction invent a story where a king wants a beautiful throne? Unthinkable.

What struck me about these exchanges was the apologists' total inability to think in these terms. They could only conceptualize it as Joseph playing a historical guessing game where any detail of even loose correspondence was treated as a historical prediction. How could Joseph Smith have known about Olmec throne construction?!

He didn't?

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Analytics »

EAllusion wrote:It seems like they are incapable of grasping that a major alternative hypothesis is that the book is a 19th century fictional history based on contemporary mound-builder myths and local religious beliefs written in the genre biblical pseudoepigraphia….

Bingo. My favorite "correspondence" illustrates this perfectly:

Dr. Dale & Dr. Dale wrote: 3.2 Strong Christian elements in Maya religion

Coe’s standard: “Many Colonial-period Maya identified the risen Christ with the Maize God” (p. 71). “The raised wooden standard shall come! … Our lord comes, Itza! Our elder brother comes. … Receive your guests, the bearded men, the men of the east, the bearers of the sign of God, lord!” (p. 227). “There was … a great deal of … blending between Spanish and Maya religious institutions and beliefs, since in many respects they were so similar” (p. 289).

Book of Mormon correspondence: From the title page to the last chapter, the Book of Mormon is, as it claims to be, another witness that Jesus is the Christ.
[Page 126]

Analysis of correspondence: In both books, the correspondence is specific, detailed and very unusual. Why would Joseph Smith have “guessed” that the ancient Mesoamericans had strong elements of Christianity in their religious practices? View of the Hebrews claims to find ancient Hebrew elements among American Indian tribes, but not Christian elements. So this is specific, detailed and unusual.

Likelihood = 0.02

:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by DrW »

Lemmie wrote:DrW, truer words were never spoken. I often have older graduate students (lawyers, politicians, bankers, historians, etc.) who have had established and successful careers, but who are, nonetheless, somewhat new to certain aspects of the technicalities of statistical analysis. The smart ones get themselves into a project group with at least one savvy millennial (or an old woman like me :cool: )with the math and stats background, and they LISTEN and LEARN. They contribute their best, but they never stop the math geeks from contributing their best.Those groups succeed.

But when I see an older student insisting that their way works and yes of course they understand probability, but there's NO WAY their common sense is wrong, then I know I have a group that's going to have trouble.

I'm sensing that the Elder Dale might fit that category.

Regarding problems with certain Elders, this morning our team is putting the finishing touches on two documents that will be used to publicly and professionally refute a paper and a blog post written by an overzealous elder environmentalist who claims to be a Ph.D. engineer - and whose published conclusions and claims are demonstrably dead wrong.

This old guy appears to be experienced but has clearly failed to keep up with the literature. As a consequence, he has made a fool of himself in public with these two publications. This would be of little interest to us except that his nonsense directly contradicts the existence of environmentally beneficial technology that we have invented, developed and are commercializing.

When our staff saw the offending blog post, they were concerned. When we saw the associated paper, we considered that clients or potential stakeholders may see his published nonsense and decide to act accordingly. Realizing that this author's misinformation and false claims could be in the literature for time and all eternity (or at least a few billion years), we decided to expend the effort to refute his sloppy work. We did so because we understand the damage that apparently credible but uninformed or misguided "professionals" can do to the reputation of emerging technologies. We needed to do what we could to prevent or minimize such damage.

The Interpreter should do no less. Like our other Ph.D. engineer friend on the internet, Dr. Bruce Dale has made a fool of himself. He should voluntarily withdraw the Interpreter paper.

Alternatively, if the Interpreter is truly the organ of scholarship that it claims to be, then it should be willing to publish a properly peer reviewed paper, authored by qualified and credentialled individual(s) who can set the record straight with regard to the false claims made by Dr. Dale.

As a faithful Mormon on the MAD Board has stated, sloppy work, falsehoods and misrepresentations, even if intended to help strengthen the faith of believers, do more harm than good in the long run.
Last edited by DrW on Fri Jun 28, 2019 10:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by honorentheos »

Helpful new comment from Canopy -

Canopy
on June 27, 2019 at 3:26 pm said:
“Let’s try another explicit, open analysis, using very optimistic probabilities of both steps, this time 95% for each step: 1) Joseph Smith did know what you assume he knew, and 2) he knew he should include that fact in the Book of Mormon. (To be clear, I think the probability that Joseph Smith did know what you assume he knew was actually very, very small…not 95%)

Calculate 0.95 x 0.95 = 0.90. Raise 0.90 to the 131st power equals about 1 in a million.”


I wish you were this explicit when estimating the probabilities that make up the Bayes factors in your paper, because your above calculation exhibits the same kind of problem that several of us have been pointing out:

1) The 131 items that you included in your calculation were chosen by you specifically because they were included in both the Book of Mormon and The Maya.
2) You propose, optimistically, that each item had a 95% chance of being included in the Book of Mormon (assuming Joseph Smith knew about them).
3) You find significance in the fact that all 131 items were included in the Book of Mormon, considering the low probability (1/1000) of this happening.

I trust you see the problem. As is typical with statistical analyses, yours was done on a sample of the overall corpus. What is not typical is that your sample was selected deterministically, and you’ve made no attempt to show that your selection criterion didn’t introduce bias.

I would bet good money that you (the authors) are quite intelligent and honest. But, like all of us, you have blind spots. If I were involved with The Interpreter, I would be disturbed that the reviewers didn’t catch this particular blind spot.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Arc »

Canopy on the Interpreter comment page wrote:
I would bet good money that you (the authors) are quite intelligent and honest. But, like all of us, you have blind spots. If I were involved with The Interpreter, I would be disturbed that the reviewers didn’t catch this particular blind spot.

As Canopy was too polite to point out, this particular blind spot, plus a number of other problems described by Canopy, honorentheos, Billy Shears and others on the Interpreter comments pages, completely invalidate the conclusions of the Dale & Dale paper, rendering it, as Dr. Bruce Dale exclaimed in one of his responses, "nonsense".

DP (DCP, who is involved with the Interpreter) should take some responsibility for the reputation and integrity of the journal and find some kind of fix here.

Leaving the paper as it is shows a great disrespect for Interpreter readers who don't know any better. The Dale & Dale paper has become a standing joke for those who do. At more than 22,900 page views on this critical thread alone, it seems to be providing a lot of entertainment, and no doubt some enlightenment, for the latter.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Gadianton »

The problem is, Arc, a falsehood like this one, so transparently so and epic that it is rightfully called a lie, was forged in the blindest of good intentions, and therefore becomes a kind of sacrifice that makes for a strong rallying point. An apologist with a bit of math sense who gets behind it demonstrates loyalty in a way that is difficult to match by any other means. When I was a freshman at BYU, I had a book of Mormon teacher with a theology degree from Harvard, a big jolly guy with a boatload of charisma, who taught us point blank -- in the context of the Laban story -- that if the prophet were to tell us to kill someone, we should do it, and be blessed for it, independent of whether the request was founded in a real command from God.

Now thinking about that scenario in a way that I'm sure my teacher wouldn't have considered: is it not true that the greater loyalty is demonstrated when the command is false, and quite obviously so?
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Physics Guy »

If one pea in ten is really a green pebble, then the chance of getting 131 random peas without a single pebble among them is low, but if the cook picks out all the pebbles before serving your peas then the odds of getting a plate with no pebbles are not low.

That's Canopy's point, but I think it might be optimistic to expect Dale to see it, because I think Canopy muffed it a bit. This time Dale's fallacy isn't even about how the Dales carefully selected supposedly Mayan-related features from the Book of Mormon.

This time Dale's mistake is to take no account of how Joseph Smith carefully picked out of the Book of Mormon all the Mayan factoids that he either didn't know or didn't want to use, before serving the Book of Mormon to us. This was a lot easier for him than picking out greenish pebbles from peas, because things that aren't included in the Book of Mormon are by definition not included in the Book of Mormon.

Speaking for myself in my own field at least, I have to admit that even experts can sometimes make mistakes that, like this last one by Dale, are so superfluidly dumb that you can't even realize right away how absurdly dumb they are. If you can avoid noticing that level of dumbness over a year of peer review, though, that's a whole other story.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by DrW »

DrW on June 26, 2019 wrote:Rule #1 when you are in over your head: Stop digging!

Bruce Dale on June 28 after promising to return to the discussion on the Interpreter comment pages after July 4 wrote: Please be patient…I have some good stuff to add. :smile:

Sigh

I can hardly wait.

Until the entire problem statement, hypotheses generation, and mathematical operations applied are done properly, anything added (with the exception of a notice of retraction) would just be more nonsense in the context of the paper.
Last edited by DrW on Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by I have a question »

DrW wrote:
DrW on June 26, 2019 wrote:Rule #1 when you are in over your head: Stop digging!

Bruce Dale on June 28 after promising to return to the discussion on the Interpreter comment pages after July 4 wrote: Please be patient…I have some good stuff to add. :smile:

Sigh

I can hardly wait.

Until the entire problem statement, hypotheses, and mathematical operations applied are somehow fixed, anything added (with the exception of a retraction) would just be more nonsense in the context of the paper.

I’m currently pondering which was the bigger self-inflicted calamity - the Dales paper, or Hamblin/Jenkins...it’s a dilemma. FTR, I hope Interpreter steadfastly keeps the paper up, and that the Dales keep responding.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Arc »

I have a question wrote:I’m currently pondering which was the bigger self-inflicted calamity - the Dales paper, or Hamblin/Jenkins...it’s a dilemma. FTR, I hope Interpreter steadfastly keeps the paper up, and that the Dales keep responding.

The Mopologetic equivalent of an unexploded 500 pound bomb from WWII under the streets of London.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by I have a question »

Arc wrote:
I have a question wrote:I’m currently pondering which was the bigger self-inflicted calamity - the Dales paper, or Hamblin/Jenkins...it’s a dilemma. FTR, I hope Interpreter steadfastly keeps the paper up, and that the Dales keep responding.

The Mopologetic equivalent of an unexploded 500 pound bomb from WWII under the streets of London.
...that they keep jumping up and down on.
“When we are confronted with evidence that challenges our deeply held beliefs we are more likely to reframe the evidence than we are to alter our beliefs. We simply invent new reasons, new justifications, new explanations. Sometimes we ignore the evidence altogether.” (Mathew Syed 'Black Box Thinking')

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by aussieguy55 »

It is interesting to compare the response and viewing stats on the two boards Mormon Discussions and Mormon Dialogue. On Mormondialogue there were 233 replies and 6144 views while on this board there were 749 replies and 24,220 views. On the Interpreter page I would hazard a guess that the most comments were made by folks from Mormondiscussions. On Dan Peterson's blog there were 118 responses. The comments on the Interpreter blog were civil.
Last edited by aussieguy55 on Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Arc »

aussieguy55 wrote:It is interesting to compare the response and viewing stats on the two boards Mormon Discussions and Mormon Dialogue. On Mormondialogue there were 233 replies and 6144 views while on this board there were 749 replies and 6144 views. On the Interpreter page I would hazard a guess that the most comments were made by folks from Mormondiscussions. On Dan Peterson's blog there were 118 responses. The comments on the Interpreter blog were civil.

The second "6144" in the above post (views on this board) should be 24,220 and counting.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by aussieguy55 »

Thanks for pointing that out. I wonder how many of those views were "guests" from the other board?
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Jersey Girl »

A ton of those views are from bots. They read the forums.

Behold.

beefcalf
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by DrW »

Could it be that Dr. Bruce Dale has finally stopped digging? It's been a week since the 4th of July, after which Dr. Dale stated that he would return with some good stuff to add. Instead- crickets.

If digging has indeed stopped - congratulations and well done.

Now, what is to be done with that gaping deep hole of an article that is (or will be) such an embarrassment to faithful Mormons? The Interpreter article is a source of unnecessary and self-inflicted damage to the credibility of Mopologetics and the Church itself.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by honorentheos »

I expect he'll be back. He mentioned they are moving back to Michigan and I expect he will want to take some time to prepare his next response as well as layout the next correspondence. Maybe if we haven't seen something by early August it may be worth wondering if the strategy has shifted to letting the dust fully settle on the paper. But I think this is more of a summer recess than a retreat.
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