Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

The catch-all forum for general topics and debates. Minimal moderation. Rated PG to PG-13.
Post Reply
User avatar
consiglieri
God
Posts: 6083
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:47 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by consiglieri »

Thanks for weighing in, Dan!

I think you make a fair point about the digressions in the text being a sign of oral transmission. But what about those parts that evince a complexity beyond the normal ability to dictate without some sort of written preparation? Like my analysis of 3 Nephi 11-27? I think something more than pure dictation is going on in places like this. I think we have oral dictation. I think we have reading from prewritten texts like the Bible. And I think there was something in between in some places. The use of or reference to unpublished writings.

I think the text suggests at least these three methods.

User avatar
moksha
God
Posts: 21845
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by moksha »

Do oral ramblings lend themselves to chiasmus or real-world bullseyes like Nahom*, Moroni, Cumorah, the extensive quotations from Isaiah, or the place names from the Vern Holley maps?

* :wink:

User avatar
Shulem
Son of Perdition
Posts: 11262
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Shulem »

consiglieri wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 10:20 pm
Thanks for weighing in, Dan!

I think you make a fair point about the digressions in the text being a sign of oral transmission. But what about those parts that evince a complexity beyond the normal ability to dictate without some sort of written preparation? Like my analysis of 3 Nephi 11-27? I think something more than pure dictation is going on in places like this. I think we have oral dictation. I think we have reading from prewritten texts like the Bible. And I think there was something in between in some places. The use of or reference to unpublished writings.

I think the text suggests at least these three methods.


Many thanks to Dan the man, too. And you are certainly welcome to say more, as much as you like. I'll be watching your videos with keen interest and am slowly digesting your book -- reading some sentences/paragraphs over and over.

BUT, I have to second consiglieri's point about there being more than dictation going on with the Book of Mormon narrative. The first thing that popped in my mind was the Nephite money system of coins and weights. I no longer have my notes on that particular but as I recall it would be hard to make that up out of thin air by simply dictating through the terminology and math. Isaiah is another example whereby script was copied and slightly altered. The fact that there is a running calendar internal to the Book of Mormon also suggests that at a minimum the scribal manuscript was carefully maintained and reviewed in order to keep the story consistent and on track.

I think there is more than just oral dictation going on with the makings of the Book of Mormon. Perhaps a combination whereby Smith did invent stories throughout his novel but carefully crafted prewritten script was used to fill in other areas.

Let's keep this matter an open book. More discoveries pertaining the making of the Book of Mormon will be realized as we combine our efforts in wanting to understand and know what really happened. It's inevitable that realization will unfold before our eyes in our day of enlightenment and as the human race shifts into new understandings. Covid 19, I suppose, is going to be a blessing in disguise as it helps the human race come together and be more AS ONE.

Great job on your podcasts, RFM! Woohooo!!!

User avatar
Shulem
Son of Perdition
Posts: 11262
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Shulem »

Dan Vogel wrote:He pointed out that “a tell-tale sign that Joseph Smith was dictating is ‘backtracking,’ as he needed to correct/modify/clarify what he had previously stated.”
Yes, that is something to consider. There are several glaring cases throughout the Book of Mormon that make this case in point. As an apologist, I used to think that they were proof in showing that the ancient prophet was etching his words in gold and was kind of stumbling over what he was saying and correcting it with his sharp point scribbling into gold leaf. It does indicate a thought process in action wherein modification was taking place in real time and that the original was repeated by Joseph Smith in translation.

User avatar
Chap
God
Posts: 13953
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:23 am

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Chap »

Dan Vogel wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 8:25 pm
...
The text of the Book of Mormon bears evidence that it was an oral text, rather than a written one. Dan Wees and I talked about this aspect of the Book of Mormon on Facebook a couple of years ago. He pointed out that “a tell-tale sign that Joseph Smith was dictating is ‘backtracking,’ as he needed to correct/modify/clarify what he had previously stated.” One example:
...
Joseph Smith had a penchant for digression as he groped for words and a thread of thought for his largely impromptu dictation of the Book of Mormon. In this example, when he finally gets back to the original thought it doesn’t quite fit.
That kind of thing leapt out at me when as a Nevermo I began to read parts of the Book of Mormon.

Earlier on in this thread we discussed the evidence of the 'in other words ...' passages, which also point to Smith having to get himself out of a mess created by having dictated stuff that either did not make sense or conveyed a wrong impression and had to be corrected:

http://mormondiscussions.com/viewtopic. ... 0#p1223740

Remember these words from Fitzgerald's not very literal translation of Omar Khayyam's poem ?
The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.
Well, Smith often tried his best to find a way round that ...

User avatar
Shulem
Son of Perdition
Posts: 11262
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Shulem »

Hey Chap baby, get a load of the fact that even when Jesus Christ speaks directly through Joseph Smith he can't quite get it right and stumbles over himself:
D&C 42:37 wrote:And it shall come to pass, that he that sinneth and repenteth not shall be cast out of the church, and shall not receive again that which he has consecrated unto the poor and the needy of my church, or in other words, unto me
The phrase "in other words" happens multiple times in the Doctrine and Covenants and in the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith's writings which is an indicator that it was Smith's wording (not Jesus) babbling and correcting himself. Think about it. Why would perfect Jesus speaking through the Divine Holy Ghost need to say "in other words" as if to self correct and clarify because he failed to express it perfectly in the first place? Why does God even need to say "in other words" if he is supposedly perfect? It doesn't make sense. Joseph Smith is caught in the act trying to play God.

User avatar
Chap
God
Posts: 13953
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:23 am

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Chap »

Shulem wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 1:29 pm
Hey Chap baby, get a load of the fact that even when Jesus Christ speaks directly through Joseph Smith he can't quite get it right and stumbles over himself:
Wondrous, Shulem boy!

I confess that I have never given D&C the attention it deserves, apart from the lovely bit where the Lord goes on about the terms of a stock issue like a 2-bit small town lawyer.

So (pardon my ignorance) was D&C dictated too? Presumably under direct divine inspiration, though with no magic rock involved?

User avatar
Shulem
Son of Perdition
Posts: 11262
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Shulem »

Chap wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 2:56 pm
So (pardon my ignorance) was D&C dictated too? Presumably under direct divine inspiration, though with no magic rock involved?
You know, Smith was not an accomplished writer at all and hardly any of his revelations are in his own hand. I'm thinking that virtually all if not all of the D&C was dictated to scribes as was virtually all of the material Smith rambled off during his prophet pretending career. Only a very small amount of material is actually in Smith's handwriting and as RFM noted in his latest podcast about Smith's polygamous marriage to a minor child, signatures were particularly rare.

User avatar
Simon Southerton
Stake President
Posts: 590
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:09 am

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Simon Southerton »

Dan Vogel wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 8:25 pm
I understand RFM’s logic about the hat being unnecessary because it is an unnecessary element in the trick. If a magician could really cut a person in half, he/she wouldn’t need a box.
I don't understand this comment at all. The stone and the hat were both essential elements of the trick. Everyone back then believed the stone was the magical element. It was the diversion, an essential part of the trick. The hat was essential, because it convinced those around him that it helped the conman see the writing on the stone.
However, RFM also understands that magicians don’t like repeating their tricks because then the observer(s) will know what to look for. I believe this applies to the speculated text-in-hat-theory.
RFM gave an excellent response to this criticism in his second podcast. Nobody even suspected there was a magic trick happening so they weren't looking. When we watch a magic trick these days that's all we are looking for.
Dan Vogel wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 8:25 pm
I’m not saying that it could never happen the way RFM suggests, but I seriously doubt it could be the method Joseph Smith relied on. Too many angles; sometimes the room was full of people moving about in the room. Smuggling the tiny text into the hat and changing pages constantly is a problem.

There were obviously long periods when there weren't many people around. He didn't need to constantly change his notes. He didn't have the entire text in the hat. All he needed were notes for most of it. For the brief parts of the "translation" where he may have needed full text (Isaiah, Matthew etc) he could easily have ensured others were not around.
Dan Vogel wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 8:25 pm
The hat wasn’t introduced as part of the translation trick, but was part of his practice as a treasure seer. So it wasn’t superfluous like a magic box.
I don't understand this point. This sounds like an argument FOR the hat being used in the same way he used it for his treasure digging. The hat was used to make people think he could see the glow from the stone. There was no glow so the hat wasn't necessary to see it. But the hat was essential for making people believe the stones had magic properties and that Smith was a seer.

Dan Vogel wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 8:25 pm
The text of the Book of Mormon bears evidence that it was an oral text, rather than a written one.

Example...

As far as the fear of being destroyed kept people from looking into the hat because the stone was in it: David Whitmer said he looked but couldn’t see anything. Harris said he was afraid to look because he would want to see God, and no man could see God and live. Nevertheless, he switched the stone in the hat to test Joseph Smith. So I don’t think that would have kept people from looking into the hat.
There is no doubt Harris was scared that he would be struck dead if he looked at the stone in the hat. He stated this several times. He didn't need to look at the stone in the hat to change it. He could have been looking in the other direction or had his eyes closed at the time.

Dan appears to be assuming that RFM's argument was that Smith used the hat trick so he could simply read the entire text of the Book of Mormon in the bottom of the hat. That is not what RFM claimed. It's clear that for large parts of the Book of Mormon, it was an oral story made up as he went along. But surely, brief notes at the bottom of the hat would have been extremely helpful for him to create a consistent story and to help him pick up from where he left off. Its hard to believe that he was that motivated and hard working that he memorised swathes of Isaiah and Matthew. There are also hundreds of examples where he quotes or closely quotes other verses from the bible. Again, brief cheat sheets would have helped.

Was it just a coincidence that the hat was white? White top hats were uncommon. In fact I had never seen a white stovepipe hat before the RFM episode. I had seen plenty of black ones. If the purpose of the hat was to shut out light why would he not choose a black hat?

Why did Joseph trick people into believing that if they pressed their face into the hat and looked at the stone, they would be struck dead? Did he just do this for sport? Of course not. It was essential that people continued to believe that the hat's job was to keep light out. If he hadn't warned people off, it would have been inevitable that someone would have stuck their face in his hat. If they did that for long enough, and their eyes adjusted, the jig would have been up.

User avatar
Shulem
Son of Perdition
Posts: 11262
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Shulem »

DAN!

You're going to have to think about this some more and provide additional commentary. I have to agree with Simon Southerton in that your statements above don't seem fleshed out -- or make sense from a stone cold sober perspective. Maybe you had a few glasses of wine that night with dinner? lol

Anyway, I would love to hear more. Your response reminds me (long time ago) of a console TV and switching channels (via dial) trying to find a clear channel to watch.

Well. Yeah.

:neutral:

User avatar
Dan Vogel
Prophet
Posts: 873
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2007 7:26 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Dan Vogel »

Hi Simon!

Sorry for the delay, but I’m a busy guy.
I don't understand this comment at all. The stone and the hat were both essential elements of the trick. Everyone back then believed the stone was the magical element. It was the diversion, an essential part of the trick. The hat was essential, because it convinced those around him that it helped the conman see the writing on the stone.
You misunderstand my response because you probably didn’t understand RFM’s reasoning from magic. RFM the trick is in the hat because the hat was an unnecessary element in the performance—like the magician’s box. I disagreed with that on the same grounds you name. The stone in hat come together from Joseph Smith’s treasure seeking days, long before Joseph Smith ever thought that it could be used to hide some sort of text. Similarly, the hat Joseph Smith used was the same as a treasure seer and translator.
RFM gave an excellent response to this criticism in his second podcast. Nobody even suspected there was a magic trick happening so they weren't looking. When we watch a magic trick these days that's all we are looking for.
No one has to suspect a trick. It’s the repetition of loading the gimmick in close quarters over and over, all day long, day after day that increases the chance for discovery. But this is where the analogy to magic breaks down.
There were obviously long periods when there weren't many people around.
This is an unknown to us, but, more importantly, it was unknown to him who could come in at any time: Emma, one of the Whimters. Emma said, “when acting as his scribe he would dictate to me hour after hour ... O[liver]. Cowdery and J[oseph]. S[mith]. wrote in the room where I was at work.”
He didn't need to constantly change his notes. He didn't have the entire text in the hat. All he needed were notes for most of it.
This seems confused to me. He has notes for most of it, but doesn’t have to change notes? How is this different than what I said?

“I’m not saying that it could never happen the way RFM suggests, but I seriously doubt it could be the method Joseph Smith relied on.”

If he had notes and not a complete text, why couldn’t he refresh his memory before he sits to dictate?
For the brief parts of the "translation" where he may have needed full text (Isaiah, Matthew etc) he could easily have ensured others were not around.
Cowdery was still there. You are talking about several pages in one instance and many pages in another, perhaps torn from a very small Bible.

I think these kinds of wholesale borrowings from the KJV were done in the open as an aid to translation. Joseph Smith perhaps read from the KJV while making changes as he went or simply marking a Bible with his inspired corrections, as he would subsequently do with the entire Bible.
I don't understand this point. This sounds like an argument FOR the hat being used in the same way he used it for his treasure digging. The hat was used to make people think he could see the glow from the stone. There was no glow so the hat wasn't necessary to see it. But the hat was essential for making people believe the stones had magic properties and that Smith was a seer.
Sure, the hat was part of Joseph Smith claim of how the stone worked. Not all seers used a hat. Some just held the stone to their eyes. Joseph Smith put the stone in the hat before he supposedly needed the hat to conceal papers. The hat belongs independent of its possible use in a trick. However, the magic box isn’t needed to cut a person in half, but without it the magician couldn’t create the illusion. The point is that RFM’s analogy doesn’t fit. Joseph Smith may very well have used the hat as RFM suggests (albeit in a limited way), but using the analogy to magic doesn’t make it more so.

We also know Joseph Smith could do the trick without the hat. Even you have concluded that there wasn’t always something in the hat, but when there was something in the hat, it was only notes. The dictated text was supplied by Joseph Smith’s talent and imagination. In such case, the hat was only a minimal aid and doesn’t really offer a viable explanation to how Joseph Smith was able to produce his text. Hence, I said: “I’m not saying that it could never happen the way RFM suggests, but I seriously doubt it could be the method Joseph Smith relied on.”
There is no doubt Harris was scared that he would be struck dead if he looked at the stone in the hat. He stated this several times. He didn't need to look at the stone in the hat to change it. He could have been looking in the other direction or had his eyes closed at the time.
If Harris didn’t look at the stone, how did he find one that he thought looked like Joseph Smith’s stone? He looked at the stone very closely, but he didn’t put his face into the hat and try to see in the darkness.
Dan appears to be assuming that RFM's argument was that Smith used the hat trick so he could simply read the entire text of the Book of Mormon in the bottom of the hat. That is not what RFM claimed. It's clear that for large parts of the Book of Mormon, it was an oral story made up as he went along. But surely, brief notes at the bottom of the hat would have been extremely helpful for him to create a consistent story and to help him pick up from where he left off.
I’m not sure exactly what RFM believes. He didn’t state it clearly. He mentioned notes being used. However, in making an extended argument that it was a trick that depended on the hat, and suggesting that Joseph Smith stressed the danger of looking into the stone as a means of insuring that no one looked into the hat, RFM seems to imply that it was the method Joseph Smith heavily relied on.
Its hard to believe that he was that motivated and hard working that he memorised swathes of Isaiah and Matthew. There are also hundreds of examples where he quotes or closely quotes other verses from the bible. Again, brief cheat sheets would have helped.
Or, it could show that Joseph Smith was intimately familiar with the KJV, which is borne out in his revelations and letters. As a missionary, any missionary for that matter, I had hundreds of passages memorized. Joseph Smith only had the Bible to memorize, we had four standard works. Not to mention the missionary lessons word-for-word, which included Joseph Smith’s first vision account. For the fun of it, I memorized Genesis 1-2, while tracting. We were 19-21, but Joseph Smith was 23 when he was dictating the Book of Mormon and he was even more immersed in a Bible culture than we were.
Was it just a coincidence that the hat was white? White top hats were uncommon. In fact I had never seen a white stovepipe hat before the RFM episode. I had seen plenty of black ones. If the purpose of the hat was to shut out light why would he not choose a black hat?
The darkness in the hat is determined by what material the hat is made from: silk, wool, straw, white beaver-fur. I doubt Joseph Smith’s was silk. Here is a photo of Lewis C. Bidamon, apparently wearing a white beaver-fur top hat.

Image

Why did Joseph trick people into believing that if they pressed their face into the hat and looked at the stone, they would be struck dead? Did he just do this for sport? Of course not. It was essential that people continued to believe that the hat's job was to keep light out. If he hadn't warned people off, it would have been inevitable that someone would have stuck their face in his hat. If they did that for long enough, and their eyes adjusted, the jig would have been up.
Perhaps they would see that it did not work. Or, maybe they might see something that he didn’t like, as when Samuel Lawrence saw the spectacles with the plates. Martin Harris gave the reason he didn’t look, and Whitmer said he looked but didn’t see anything.

User avatar
Shulem
Son of Perdition
Posts: 11262
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Shulem »

Okay, thanks for the clarifications DAN. I was able to better tune into what you where thinking.

Okay, I admit it wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear but the bottom line is that I needed to hear what you wanted to say. So with that, I'm more educated than ever. I will continue to keep an open mind on these matters and think about things.

Key to what you stressed was that young Joseph (teen boy) had his stone and magic hat for treasure seeking years before he ever learned to dictate/translate ancient text from gold plates. It was part of his persona -- his act or the way he thought to connect with spiritual realms. The stone in the hat was used for his treasure seeking and in that the idea of reading notes therein to perform some kind of trick to find treasure simply wouldn't be conducive or needful in order to perform the act. The reading of notes or torn pages from a small bible would have been a later invention for the Book of Mormon.

Memorize whole chapters of the KJV of Isaiah? That may be stretching things but it is possible. One thing is for sure, Joseph did NOT dictate wholesale chapters of KJV Isaiah from the hat through the so-called gift of God because those things were actually written on gold plates. It's not possible that the KJV was on the so-called plates. It's impossible. Isaiah in the Book of Mormon is THERE because Joseph Smith somehow transposed it from the KJV whether by memorization or by biblical pages conveniently contained in his hat for easy reading -- or as you say, an open aid with a KJV on the table in plain view.

Are there any references to Joseph Smith reciting whole chapters of the bible during his younger years? I know the Smith family read the bible and that was a major part of their life but were memorization skills pertaining to the bible ever discussed or mentioned?

User avatar
Shulem
Son of Perdition
Posts: 11262
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon

Post by Shulem »

FINDING THE LOST PIN IN THE HAY
Shulem wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 2:58 pm
It was NOT real magic!

It was not the Spirit of God!

Tricky Joe had means whereby he could see through the white hat into the grass. Perhaps a trick flap or a hole in the top of the hat in which he could open and see as clear as day.
According to Harris the stone in the hat was the means by which Smith found the pin and he couldn't have done it any other way.
Harris wrote:I watched him closely to see that he did not look to one side
Harris was watching like a hawk to make sure Joseph kept his face in the hat and didn't peek out to look with his actual eyes.
Harris wrote:He reached out his hand beyond me on the right, and moved a little stick, and there I saw the pin, which he picked up and gave to me. I know he did not look out of the hat until after he had picked up the pin.
So, how did Joseph do it? There has to be a logical explanation. It wasn't by real magic. It wasn't by the Spirit of God because we all know that the Spirit of God can't spell "Shulem" and wrongfully identifies a mortal king's name from that of an immortal goddess. So if it wasn't real magic and if it wasn't the dumb Spirit, then what was it? Did Joseph just luckily reach out into the grass and pick that pin up out of sheer luck? Hell no, that's not going to fly either.

He had to be peeking, somehow. That WAS the trick. RFM, where are you?! There is no other logical explanation. Joseph somehow used his natural eyes to find that pin and pick it up out of the grass. There is simply no other logical explanation. Either he looked with his natural eyes or he used a divine gift as a real seer. Those are the choices! Now, you ____ better decide which one you want to go with because I'm telling you right now you have no other choice!

Dan?
RFM?

What say ye, boys.

:wink:

User avatar
Shulem
Son of Perdition
Posts: 11262
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Shulem »

Finding your stupid pin in a pile of hay and shavings is easy compared to having to re-translate what you've lost! That was the only copy!

Image

User avatar
Simon Southerton
Stake President
Posts: 590
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:09 am

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Simon Southerton »

Dan Vogel wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 7:48 pm
Hi Dan,

Thanks for your responses.

I don't understand this comment at all. The stone and the hat were both essential elements of the trick. Everyone back then believed the stone was the magical element. It was the diversion, an essential part of the trick. The hat was essential, because it convinced those around him that it helped the conman see the writing on the stone.
You misunderstand my response because you probably didn’t understand RFM’s reasoning from magic. RFM the trick is in the hat because the hat was an unnecessary element in the performance—like the magician’s box. I disagreed with that on the same grounds you name. The stone in hat come together from Joseph Smith’s treasure seeking days, long before Joseph Smith ever thought that it could be used to hide some sort of text. Similarly, the hat Joseph Smith used was the same as a treasure seer and translator.

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'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

RFM gave an excellent response to this criticism in his second podcast. Nobody even suspected there was a magic trick happening so they weren't looking. When we watch a magic trick these days that's all we are looking for.
No one has to suspect a trick. It’s the repetition of loading the gimmick in close quarters over and over, all day long, day after day that increases the chance for discovery. But this is where the analogy to magic breaks down.

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.
There were obviously long periods when there weren't many people around.
This is an unknown to us, but, more importantly, it was unknown to him who could come in at any time: Emma, one of the Whimters. Emma said, “when acting as his scribe he would dictate to me hour after hour ... O[liver]. Cowdery and J[oseph]. S[mith]. wrote in the room where I was at work.”

As implied above, he would have had plenty of opportunities to shift the notes around, the few times a day that he needed to
He didn't need to constantly change his notes. He didn't have the entire text in the hat. All he needed were notes for most of it.
This seems confused to me. He has notes for most of it, but doesn’t have to change notes? How is this different than what I said?

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’m not saying that it could never happen the way RFM suggests, but I seriously doubt it could be the method Joseph Smith relied on.”
If he had notes and not a complete text, why couldn’t he refresh his memory before he sits to dictate?
I guess Smith could have found it easier to have his notes on hand the entire time he was making up his story. It certainly helps explain how he was able to pick up from exactly where he left off.
For the brief parts of the "translation" where he may have needed full text (Isaiah, Matthew etc) he could easily have ensured others were not around.
Cowdery was still there. You are talking about several pages in one instance and many pages in another, perhaps torn from a very small Bible.

I think these kinds of wholesale borrowings from the KJV were done in the open as an aid to translation. Joseph Smith perhaps read from the KJV while making changes as he went or simply marking a Bible with his inspired corrections, as he would subsequently do with the entire Bible.

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 don't understand this point. This sounds like an argument FOR the hat being used in the same way he used it for his treasure digging. The hat was used to make people think he could see the glow from the stone. There was no glow so the hat wasn't necessary to see it. But the hat was essential for making people believe the stones had magic properties and that Smith was a seer.
Sure, the hat was part of Joseph Smith claim of how the stone worked. Not all seers used a hat. Some just held the stone to their eyes. Joseph Smith put the stone in the hat before he supposedly needed the hat to conceal papers. The hat belongs independent of its possible use in a trick. However, the magic box isn’t needed to cut a person in half, but without it the magician couldn’t create the illusion. The point is that RFM’s analogy doesn’t fit. Joseph Smith may very well have used the hat as RFM suggests (albeit in a limited way), but using the analogy to magic doesn’t make it more so.
I believe that if he ever used hidden notes in his hat, it was most likely during both his treasure-digging and translation days.

We also know Joseph Smith could do the trick without the hat. Even you have concluded that there wasn’t always something in the hat, but when there was something in the hat, it was only notes. The dictated text was supplied by Joseph Smith’s talent and imagination. In such case, the hat was only a minimal aid and doesn’t really offer a viable explanation to how Joseph Smith was able to produce his text. Hence, I said: “I’m not saying that it could never happen the way RFM suggests, but I seriously doubt it could be the method Joseph Smith relied on.”
We'll just have to agree to disagree. I think he could have easily concealed the notes in a hidden sleeve inside his hat.
There is no doubt Harris was scared that he would be struck dead if he looked at the stone in the hat. He stated this several times. He didn't need to look at the stone in the hat to change it. He could have been looking in the other direction or had his eyes closed at the time.
If Harris didn’t look at the stone, how did he find one that he thought looked like Joseph Smith’s stone? He looked at the stone very closely, but he didn’t put his face into the hat and try to see in the darkness.
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
Dan appears to be assuming that RFM's argument was that Smith used the hat trick so he could simply read the entire text of the Book of Mormon in the bottom of the hat. That is not what RFM claimed. It's clear that for large parts of the Book of Mormon, it was an oral story made up as he went along. But surely, brief notes at the bottom of the hat would have been extremely helpful for him to create a consistent story and to help him pick up from where he left off.
I’m not sure exactly what RFM believes. He didn’t state it clearly. He mentioned notes being used. However, in making an extended argument that it was a trick that depended on the hat, and suggesting that Joseph Smith stressed the danger of looking into the stone as a means of insuring that no one looked into the hat, RFM seems to imply that it was the method Joseph Smith heavily relied on.
I thought RFM was fairly clear. He said he could have used "manuscript notes" in the bottom of the hat.
Its hard to believe that he was that motivated and hard working that he memorised swathes of Isaiah and Matthew. There are also hundreds of examples where he quotes or closely quotes other verses from the bible. Again, brief cheat sheets would have helped.
Or, it could show that Joseph Smith was intimately familiar with the KJV, which is borne out in his revelations and letters. As a missionary, any missionary for that matter, I had hundreds of passages memorized. Joseph Smith only had the Bible to memorize, we had four standard works. Not to mention the missionary lessons word-for-word, which included Joseph Smith’s first vision account. For the fun of it, I memorized Genesis 1-2, while tracting. We were 19-21, but Joseph Smith was 23 when he was dictating the Book of Mormon and he was even more immersed in a Bible culture than we were.
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.
Was it just a coincidence that the hat was white? White top hats were uncommon. In fact I had never seen a white stovepipe hat before the RFM episode. I had seen plenty of black ones. If the purpose of the hat was to shut out light why would he not choose a black hat?
The darkness in the hat is determined by what material the hat is made from: silk, wool, straw, white beaver-fur. I doubt Joseph Smith’s was silk. Here is a photo of Lewis C. Bidamon, apparently wearing a white beaver-fur top hat.
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.


One thing I am interested in finding out is whether Joseph Smith used his hat outside when they were treasure-digging. Virtually all of these digs were at night. If there are reports of him using his hat in the dark then he would not have been reading anything. But from the reports I have seen so far it appears he was inside the Smith house when he was giving instructions about where to dig.

User avatar
huckelberry
God
Posts: 4427
Joined: Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:29 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by huckelberry »

I am puzzled by the sense that some of this discussion is being undertaken with the view that indoors in the 1820 there was lots of light to penetrate a hat for reading the interior. I will point out that there were no 100 watt bulbs or 40 watt bulbs. There was either a window or an oil type lamp or candle. These were not the modern propane lamps which produce a bright light. We are considering conditions which we would consider dark before the hat blocked the limited available light.

I think the idea of reading notes at the bottom of a hat is absurd.

User avatar
Simon Southerton
Stake President
Posts: 590
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:09 am

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Simon Southerton »

huckelberry wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:53 pm
I am puzzled by the sense that some of this discussion is being undertaken with the view that indoors in the 1820 there was lots of light to penetrate a hat for reading the interior. I will point out that there were no 100 watt bulbs or 40 watt bulbs. There was either a window or an oil type lamp or candle. These were not the modern propane lamps which produce a bright light. We are considering conditions which we would consider dark before the hat blocked the limited available light.

I think the idea of reading notes at the bottom of a hat is absurd.
If they were translating near a window there would be plenty of light and if the hat was positioned close enough to a candle I suspect there would be enough light too. I am operating on the assumption that Joseph Smith was a conman. Where there is a will, there is a way. Since he was in control I don't think it absurd to think he could manipulate his surroundings, or the thickness of the walls of his hat, in order to read notes at the bottom of his hat.

I don't think it's absurd. Jerald Tanner has experimented with slits in the crown of a top hat to allow in light and the exchange of notes. In fact, I'm saving up to buy a genuine 19th century white stovepipe hat to test out these theories. I've saved $1000 USD. All I need is another $35,865 USD and I can start my experiment. :lol: https://ipropertymedia.com/oliver-brown ... irca-1840/

Image

User avatar
Physics Guy
God
Posts: 1162
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:38 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Physics Guy »

It's true that lighting was poorer in the 1830's, but people's eyes weren't any better. They did still somehow produce enough light to read. And daylight hasn't gotten any stronger. It's always been really bright. Even today it's quite hard to get artificial lighting that's as bright as daylight even through a window on a cloudy day.

I think it's a good point, though, that a typical 1830's room would not have been brightly floodlit. Its brightly lit spots might have been bright enough to shine through into a hat, but its darker corners would likely have been pretty dark, and since Smith wasn't supposed to be reading anything in there but the glowing stone, he wouldn't have had much excuse to sit close to a light source.

Maybe his scribe needed strong light to write, and Smith sat close to his scribe so that he could save his voice, over hours of dictation, by speaking softly?

I don't know. As I said earlier in this thread, I don't think we should put much faith in any particular reconstruction of how Smith faked his revelation. The real point is, first of all, that nothing he claimed was especially difficult. There are lots of ways he could have faked it.

And secondly, Smith's story has a number of odd elements that ought to have been quite unnecessary if Smith was really receiving revelation from God, but that are precisely the kinds of gimmick that illusionists need to use. Smith wasn't even operating at the spectacular level of some of David Copperfield's large-scale tricks; this wasn't stage magic, in fact, so much as parlor magic. Smith wasn't even pretending to be a Joshua telling the sun to stand still and having it obey him. This was a prophet with a rock in a hat, and his only miracle was to tell a story.

User avatar
Shulem
Son of Perdition
Posts: 11262
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Shulem »

Image

This is an incredible find and really helps to enliven a sense of imagining Joseph Smith in my mind as he may have actually lived. I believe that everything that ever happened is ever in time-space waves and can be channeled. Can these events be channeled and actually sense the past wherein we can see with our mind's eye what really happened? We are living in a day of enlightenment and the advancing evolution of the human race. Maybe, just maybe, things can be brought to light and the narrative discussed in such a way as the bell goes "ding" and things start to resonate with everyone. I'm optimistic about it. Why shouldn't I be?

Image

Link to view underside of hat:

https://cdn.webshopapp.com/shops/267873 ... 1590160248

User avatar
Shulem
Son of Perdition
Posts: 11262
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by Shulem »

Worn Stovepipe Top Hat seen below:

Image
Dan Vogel wrote:The darkness in the hat is determined by what material the hat is made from: silk, wool, straw, white beaver-fur. I doubt Joseph Smith’s was silk. Here is a photo of Lewis C. Bidamon, apparently wearing a white beaver-fur top hat.
What particular reason(s) do you doubt Smith had a silk hat of perhaps finer quality?

WHITE GOLD BEAVER FUR TOP HAT:

Image
Last edited by Shulem on Fri May 22, 2020 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
huckelberry
God
Posts: 4427
Joined: Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:29 pm

Re: Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon (We Need Dan Vogel's Help!)

Post by huckelberry »

White hats. I am sure that except perhaps in thin fabrics the color of the hat would have no difference in its ability to block light and create the desired darkness. Perhaps a single layer thin fabric would allow enough light but that is much different than above pictured hats. Would not a hat made thin enough to allow light to go through attract attention as suspicious and strange?

I am so far sticking with my view that the only connected person with the mind and talent to create the book of Mormon was Joseph Smith. I think verbal dictation aided by looking into a dark hat is the easiest mode of production. I think he may have reviewed other materials but did not have to memorize. He had a talent to reproduce loosely and with invention. He had no need to invent these stories all at once. He may have been inventing stories for years and could have created a flexible outline to be reviewed at leisure,perhaps existing only in his mind.

Not long ago on this board there was review of a theory that Joseph's older brother with more education could have helped. That struck me as the most likely assistant if there was one. It is possible that that assistance came by being a conduit of usable material without being aware of helping to form material which became part of the Book of Mormon.

Post Reply