I appreciate the fact that RFM has focused on a strategy for examining the problem, instead of claiming that he has definitely solved the problem. Often in history one must rely on a model when one does not have all the evidence necessary to know, in precise details, exactly what happened. RFM's strategy for interpreting this material, in this instance, might be called "the magician model." The question is not whether he has definitively proven that Joseph Smith was a magician. The question is whether the model fits the evidence we have. If the model illuminates the extant evidence in ways that other explanations and models do not, then it is a useful model.Physics Guy wrote: ↑Wed May 06, 2020 6:40 amIn general it seems to me that one should be pretty agnostic about reconstructing tricks and illusions from the past. Taking any reconstructed trick too seriously may play into the Mormon apologists' hand by accepting the burden of demonstrating exactly how Smith could have faked everything. The point I see in theories like this translucent white hat trick is not to be sure that we've pinned down how Smith faked things, but just to show another one of the many ways the things could have been faked.
The apologists are always going to insist that we must go strictly by what Joseph Smith said and what the witnesses attest to. To limit ourselves to those statements, however, is to ignore all of the evidence and the possibility that what people at the time believe to be the case is not necessarily accurate. Any good historian will not just take the sources at face value. She or he will look at the motivations, rhetoric, and biases of the source. She or he will look at the larger context. Apologists insist on a very narrow treatment of the evidence because they are perpetuating the original narrative of the deception. As RFM points out, eyewitnesses to a magic trick can be some of the worst sources for what happened.
All great stuff. Thanks for posting that!Physics Guy wrote: ↑Wed May 06, 2020 6:40 amWith that said, it would indeed be pretty suspicious if the hat with the seer stone should turn out to have been white. A white hat can work a bit like a one-way mirror or mirror sunglasses. From outside the material seems to be obviously opaque because you can't see into it at all, if the room is bright; but that's just because it reflects much more light from the bright outside than it allows through from the dark inside. If you sit with a light in a dark room and cover the light with a white hat, though, you see how brightly the light will glow through the hat. That much light will also come into the hat from outside . . .
Indeed! As I noted above:Physics Guy wrote: ↑Wed May 06, 2020 6:40 amI think if I myself were using a translucent hat to conceal the fact that I was consulting written notes, I would not try to read my whole story word-for-word from the notes. Instead I would only use jotted point-form notes to remind myself of the outline of my story, and make up the precise wording on the fly. The outline notes would allow me to reel off a tale that was long and complicated enough to be impressive for an improvised yarn, while the improvised wording would allow me to produce much more text than I could possibly read without it being obvious that I was reading from pages of text.
But it may have been a small manuscript bearing a shorthand outline. An outline, in other words, written in a code or symbolic mnemonic device. This could be where we get the "caractors." So Reformed Egyptian is nothing more or less than Smith's shorthand system used to write an outline of the content of the Book of Mormon. He can fill in the details from memory. This is why the end product reads so much like an oral composition. To a large extent it was, but the amazing structure was worked out in advance, and it was committed to paper in chunks to keep Smith on track.