RFM explicitly stated numerous times the hat was an essential part of Joseph Smith's magic trick. I don't disagree with that. The changeable stone (seer stone or U&T) was the misdirection. Where am I not understanding RFM's reasoning?
I’ve explained it twice. This is the last time. The magic box is essential for the magician to appear as if he can cut a person in half and then restore them. However, if he really had powers to do that, he wouldn’t need a box. RFM mentions this principle as part of his argument that the trick was in the hat. Have you bothered to go back and listen?
I'm not sure why you assume Joseph couldn't be hiding notes in his hat during his treasure digging days. Clearly, that's where he learned his tricks. Given he had his head in a hat for long periods, it's easy to imagine him one day realising "Hey, I can see in here. I could hide detailed notes on the layout of Hyrum Gullible's farm and wow them with my intimate knowledge of where their lost hammer is." You acknowledge he was a conman and he was conning farmers for years. It's not a huge leap to connect his treasure digging trick with his translation trick
This is all too fast and loose for me. He may have pretended to see treasure maps written in Spanish or Hebrew or hieroglyphics. But this doesn’t lead to a theory that he had to have notes in his hat as a treasure seer. You have a theory that Joseph Smith used this method to produce the Book of Mormon, then you argue that one cannot disprove he also did it as a treasure seer. My argument was that the hat and stone went together naturally, before there was a need to hide documents. You agreed with that observation. It doesn’t matter if he discovered another use later. My point was that the hat wasn’t like a magician’s box.
I think you are exaggerating the risks. These people had implicit faith in him. If he had brief notes concealed in his hat at the beginning of the day he probably only needed to shuffle their order maybe 4 or 5 times a day. If his hat wasn't on the table it would have been on his head. They took regular breaks for lunch, morning and afternoon tea (legal then), a walk, the loo etc. In my view you are underestimating his skill as a conman.
Yet, this would be a significant risk if this was the method he relied on. The average dictation was about eight first edition Book of Mormon pages per day.
What I meant was that he could have had brief notes that he used as a guide for his narrative for much of the Book of Mormon. He could have changed them a few times each day
I see this as an unnecessary hypothesis. How helpful could notes be, especially when he didn’t know Jesus was going to appear in America until late in the dictation? This shows he was making it up as he went. I have suggested that Joseph Smith worked out the translation in his mind, and then dictated what he worked out. There’s no need to have notes. Your theory has made the solution unnecessarily more complex.
To me this introduces an avoidable risk. From my recollection the Isaiah quotes are not identical to the Bible verses. People could have wondered how he could have come up with these supposedly inspired changes without the aid of his seer stone. If he didn't need the seer stone then they might suspect he was tricking them.
I have suggested that the wholesale borrowing from the KJV was done in the open similar to what he later did for his Bible revision, which has the same kind of variant readings. He could have read the Isaiah passages making changes along the way, or he could have written changes in a Bible and then had someone read them while he was away in Palmyra arranging for the printing in June 1829.
OK. I will be clearer. Martin Harris was afraid to stick his head in the hat to look at the stone. That was the act Joseph Smith warned him about. Everyone knew what the stone looked like because they all saw it. I would not be surprised if they had all handled it. But they were clearly instructed not to stick their face into the hat and look at the stone. Again, this clearly implies Smith didn't want them to discover they could actually see with their head in his hat
You don’t know that Joseph Smith didn’t want them to look at the stone in the hat for that reason. Nor do you know what kind of white top hat it was. The reasons I gave make more sense.
I thought RFM was fairly clear. He said he could have used "manuscript notes" in the bottom of the hat.
He wasn’t clear about how much Joseph Smith relied on this method, although he implied Joseph Smith couldn’t perform without it. Nor did he say how these notes could have helped, or why written notes were necessary.
I agree that he knew his bible very well and could have memorised large parts of it. He also could easily have concealed notes in the bottom of his hat to help create the Book of Mormon. The bottom line is he was a conman. He was treasure-digging to make money for little effort. It seems to me that a conman is far more likely to take the easy route to creating the Book of Mormon.
I would argue that Joseph Smith was both a con man and a religious fanatic who already knew his Bible.
I think the fact that it was an "old white stovepipe hat" is significant for a number of reasons.
It's easy to imagine a conman coming up with all kinds of ways to allow enough light into the hat. He would have been aiming for just enough light to allow him to read after taking a little while for his eyes to adjust but not enough light to allow someone to notice the trick straight after putting their head in his hat. If it was old and made of beaver fur it could have been worn thin in parts to allow enough light through. Since he had his head in the hat for long periods, he needed the hat to breath. He could have made small holes to allow air movement like they do with many hats these days. These could have been obscured by the fur.
Its also interesting that he chose a stovepipe hat, which was taller than regular top hats of the period. Its extremely hard to focus the eyes in a short hat, but it gets easier as the hat gets taller.
This just seems too convenient and ad hoc to me.