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

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

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Physics Guy wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 6:40 am
In 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.
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.

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.
Physics Guy wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 6:40 am
With 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 . . .
All great stuff. Thanks for posting that!
Physics Guy wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 6:40 am
I 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.
Indeed! As I noted above:
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.

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

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Physics Guy wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 6:40 am
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.
One of the features of the Book of Mormon text that has always suggested to me that Smith was, at least part of the time, dictating on the fly from at most a rough outline rather than reading a prepared text are the passages where 'in other words' occur, of which this is a typical example:

1 Nephi 19:
7 For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.
Smith has got a bit carried away, and spoken of God being 'trample[d] under their feet' which (after having said it) he realises sounds bizarre. He can't say 'Oh sorry, scratch that, I got it wrong', because he wants his scribe, or at least the bystanders, to think he is dictating from a miraculous translation appearing in shining letters on a seer stone in the hat. So he quickly corrects it into something more appropriate with the 'in other words' link.

We may note that no similar phrase occurs anywhere in the KJV Old or New Testament - which were of course not dictated by someone pretending to read from a miraculous translation appearing on a stone in a hat.

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

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Excellent example, Chap. That one really sticks out.

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

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Kishkumen wrote: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.
I overlooked that; thanks for the reminder. Heh. It would indeed be cute if Smith had used made-up glyphs as his mnemonics instead of notes in English. It would have been a wise move, because if anyone had happened to find English crib notes for the Book of Mormon in Smith's hat, it would have been hard to explain, but if they only found some alien characters then that might actually make Smith's story look better.

I'm not sure that I'd want to use such odd little glyphs for my notes, though. Maybe it would work, but maybe by the time I was peering around in the hat two hours later I'd forget exactly what I'd had in mind with that little squiggle. On the other hand Smith's official explanation of how he "translated" the Book of Abraham is precisely the kind of massively expanded text based on associations from a single glyph that one could have used very well to tell an improvised story from very compact notes.

There's a sense of appropriateness—am I hearing the ring of truth or just a snort from Smith's ghost?—in the possibility that Smith's later presentation of the Caractors, as well as his translation of the Book of Abraham, were both just ironical admissions of exactly what Smith had really been doing all along. Those really were the characters from which he translated the Book of Mormon! That really was how he made up whole stories by riffing off a few glyphs!

He wasn't a prophet instead of a con man—he was a prophet by being a con man! See, it makes sense, it's all true, even though it's all fake.

That's the sort of way I can imagine a con man starting to think, anyway, after he'd had enough success with his prophet gig that he'd begun to really like the role of prophet and want to keep playing it even when he wasn't on stage.

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

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The episode was very enjoyable. Just a couple of thoughts that came to me.

Joseph complained about his eyes being sore. I suppose if you are a scribe writing, breaks would come when the dictator needed breaks. Peering in a hat trying to see words, perhaps, sitting at the bottom would get tiring. It also gives Joseph good excuse to stop at the end of his notes, being able to pick up where he left off, or as they went out to throw rocks, as Martin once suggested, giving him a chance to switch out notes.

This does open up some more possibilities of what was going on. I think it is wise to be a little cautious about it explaining what really happened. And pieces do seem to fit nicely with the theory. With that said, it would be very hard for Joseph to pull this off without someone catching something. It makes you wonder about anyone else being in on it. IT also provides a good excuse to re-examine where the text came from. I don't know if I can swallow the Carmack points about EModE, but bringing that in it's perhaps culled from a long lost text or maybe Spalding's lost manuscript. The options here get really difficult to uncover though. Joseph writing it seems most reasonable, but with so much effort to say he couldn't have possibly done it, it remains, I think, a pretty high wall to climb over.

Absolutely peer genius to point out the props and how they could very well be used as diversions. The Church has at least one of Joseph's magic stones to this day, but that hat, likely disappeared just after the last words of the Book of Mormon were dictated. There's exactly zero chance we'll ever see someone examine it.

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

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Very interesting parallels between the props used in magic tricks and those used in translation!

At one point I did the time and motion analysis for the speaking and writing steps of translation. I will look that up and post the numbers again here. As I recall, the conclusion was that approx 75% of translation process consisted of the scribe writing while Joseph sat in silence.

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

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Image

Okay, I just listened to Radio Free Mormon: Magic and the Book of Mormon Part 2, AGAIN, and it really came to life the second time around.

RFM, you have Razzle Dazzled me!

Thanks for exposing the aported magic ring trick. It really put things in proper perspective. And I love the laugh!!

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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

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Chap wrote:
One of the features of the Book of Mormon text that has always suggested to me that Smith was, at least part of the time, dictating on the fly from at most a rough outline rather than reading a prepared text are the passages where 'in other words' occur, of which this is a typical example:

1 Nephi 19:
7 For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.
Smith has got a bit carried away, and spoken of God being 'trample[d] under their feet' which (after having said it) he realises sounds bizarre. He can't say 'Oh sorry, scratch that, I got it wrong', because he wants his scribe, or at least the bystanders, to think he is dictating from a miraculous translation appearing in shining letters on a seer stone in the hat. So he quickly corrects it into something more appropriate with the 'in other words' link.
If memory serves, there are several places in the Book of Mormon where this type of instance occurs. It's like Smith corrected himself after making the mistake of saying something he didn't quite mean to say. This however, flies in the face of the "HOLY" Spirit influencing the original Book of Mormon prophet who is supposed to be etching sacred scripture into fine leaves of gold plates. You'd think the writer and the Spirit would have said the correct thing the first time around. But it goes to show that the writer was sloppy and the Spirit was out to lunch. So who made the original mistake: Ancient prophet or modern translator?

:wink:

Joe did.

Just another example to show that the Book of Mormon was written by modern man.

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

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Shulem wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 10:38 am
If memory serves, there are several places in the Book of Mormon where this type of instance occurs. It's like Smith corrected himself after making the mistake of saying something he didn't quite mean to say.
Yup - in fact he did it quite a few times. You just have to go to the online Book of Mormon and type "in other words" in the search window. And that shows you a whole long list of them ...

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... m?lang=eng

I wonder how that distinctive 'correction feature' might relate to efforts to do statistical analysis of the possibility of different authorial voices being identified in the Book of Mormon?

Also, are we supposed to believe that people writing with difficulty on gold plates wrote so sloppily that they needed to do this kind of thing, while the biblical authors never did?

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

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Dan Vogel!

Where are you? We need you now more than ever.

Please.


:sad:

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

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What did Emma know? She was closer to Joseph than anyone (most of the time). Perhaps she was aware of the TRICK? Or perhaps she suspected not everything was on the up and up.

I wonder if Dan Vogel or other Book of Mormon scholars have new insight on Emma keeping secrets with Joseph about his translation magic?


Image

Note the broom in the painting as if everything is clean and tidy.

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

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Where the hell are you, Grindael?

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“The Palmyra Peeker” by grindael

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

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Mormon THINK
retired BYU professor and LDS historian Marvin S. Hill wrote:Now, most historians, Mormon or not, who work with the sources, accept as fact Joseph Smith's career as village magician. Too many of his closest friends and family admitted as much, and some of Joseph's own revelations support the contention.
Click the link to see what Dan Vogel has to say:

Was Joseph Smith a magician?


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

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RFM mentioned the tie pin in his podcast. Here is more information, courtesy of Dan Vogel:

Chapter 4 Slippery Treasures
Nevertheless, Harris also related an instance that occurred shortly after Joseph procured his stone and in which the young scryer demonstrated his abilities. While Harris was sitting on the top rail of one of the Smiths’ fences one day, picking at his teeth with a tie pin and talking with Joseph Jr. and Northrop Sweet, who had married one of Harris’s nieces, Harris accidentally dropped the pin among the straw and shavings on the ground below him. After the three searched for it unsuccessfully, Harris suggested that Joseph use his stone to find it. Joseph took the stone from his pocket, placed it in his “old white hat,” and put his face into the hat. “I watched him closely to see that he did not look to one side,” Harris said. “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.” These proofs separate Smith from the group of self-deluded treasure seers, for they were either true demonstrations of his seeric gift or evidence of his talent for deception. In any event, Harris was persuaded by Smith’s demonstration.

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. Such a device could also be used to sneak in notes to read the Book of Mormon while translating!

Folks, Joe Smith was a ____ fraudster.

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

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Or he found and palmed the pin earlier when the three of them were searching for it. Then, with the hat over his face, he reached down with the pin in hand, dropped it to "reveal" it, and then picked it back up. It's evidence for his being skilled in slight of hand tricks.

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

Post by Shulem »

honorentheos wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 3:26 pm
Or he found and palmed the pin earlier when the three of them were searching for it. Then, with the hat over his face, he reached down with the pin in hand, dropped it to "reveal" it, and then picked it back up. It's evidence for his being skilled in slight of hand tricks.
Yes, that is entirely possible.

:cool:

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

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I think a question that might be raised here is why? Why would Joseph try and fool his wife and the scribes into thinking he was translating, when as ready believers, he could have just produced the record without them? He could have taken the plates, demanded to sit by himself in a locked room or something, and write up the Book of Mormon himself. THe product could have been the same, and he could have gotten the believers to believe just the same, theoretically. He even could have done the same with the witnesses. Why the need to go through the trouble of making it appear he was looking at a stone rather than looking at notes on a page in his hat? It seems the notes themselves were already the story.

Did he need help writing the story since he couldn't compose a coherent letter himself? Since he needed that help did he trick his scribes into thinking he was dictating a story from God, rather than from his own notes or his own imagination?

In planning this ruse, I don't know what he thought he was gaining. You would think he could have conjured up the book, claiming the plates and magic tools inspired him, and credulous believers would have believed just the same. I'm just not sure it works very well.

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

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Stem wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 3:39 pm
He could have taken the plates, demanded to sit by himself in a locked room or something, and write up the Book of Mormon himself.
Yeah, he could have done that. But it seems he was more interested in creating a show whereby he could demonstrate his ability to perform miraculous things, woo his followers, and cement his reputation as a seer. Later, Smith, so it seems, did take an individual approach to translate and impress others with his ability to translate Egyptian:
Parley P Pratt, Millennial Star, July 1842 wrote:Mr. SMITH replied that he had, when Mr. CHANDER presented the fragment which had been partially interpreted. Mr. SMITH retired into his translating room and presently returned with a written translation in English, of the fragment, confirming the supposed meaning ascribed to it by the gentleman to whom it had been previously presented.
No hat. No stone. No tricks. Smith simply "retired" to his translating room and then came back with the info -- easy peasy lemon squeezy.

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

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honorentheos wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 11:05 pm
In principle, the entire process of translation is a misdirection of which the hat trick is merely a part if one assumes it was a con.

Assuming the purpose was not that of translating an ancient, divinely inspired text but a con, what was the purpose of the con? Obviously to make money. So why the trick? Because a fictional story about Israelites coming to the Americas has a limited market and might not get published while one sold as being a translation of a real historic record almost by definition commands the same market share plus more.

So why put on the trick? Because he needs backing... us(ing) trick after trick to reel in the needed mark who had the money needed for publication - Martin Harris, who was being lost as a gullible dupe after Smiths initial efforts fizzled out into quasi-failure. This includes Joseph, Oliver and David faking the visit of Moroni and the plates to get Harris to sign on after much urging and manipulation from Smith when he failed to be able to participate in the grand vision with them.
That was my point, too, stem. The entire act of translation is the trick, not the goal of the trick. Getting too caught up in the translation process itself is falling prey to the magician's game. It's following the cups to try and keep track of which one has the ball, not realizing the ball isn't in any cup because the conman palmed it. The game works only as long as people play by the rules set up by the magician. And I took that as the real point behind the podcasts. I just think getting hung up on the hat is not quite going far enough to really see the trick for what it was.

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

Post by honorentheos »

I think it's pretty straight forward. If one looks at the process as Smith essentially trying to win Harris over, with different attempts over time ultimately only becoming successful once he added Oliver and David Whitmer, it can be seen as a plan coming together, evolving to adjust to new circumstances, suffering setbacks, and ultimately succeeding when the chips were all down.

Even South Park saw through the BS to the core relationship being Smith-Harris.

DUM, DUM, DUM

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

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Physics Guy wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 6:40 am
With 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.
The hat was almost certainly white. This is an LDS wiki source with three references. Many are to Dan Vogel so he will be able to confirm it.
Smith's usual procedure was to place the stone in a white stovepipe hat, put his face over the hat to block the light, and "see" the necessary information in the stone's reflections.[8][9][10]
Physics Guy wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 6:40 am
The hat would still have been dim enough inside though, I guess, that it would have been easier to read in there once one's eyes had adapted to the dimness. That adaptation process would take many minutes—it's not just pupil dilation. Every time Smith raised his face from the hat and looked around in full daylight, the adaptation would be lost and would have to begin again. if Smith were to pop his head out of the hat frequently in order to recite, the whole process would be very slow. If on the other hand he kept his head in the hat and recited from inside there, or if he made a point of shutting his eyes tightly whenever he looked up from the hat, then he could probably have read a note hidden inside the hat easily enough that he would quickly have finished reading it. Then he would have had to insert or uncover a new note to read next.
As I mentioned earlier, it was a taller stovepipe hat. This would have had a greater surface area, allowing more transmission of light and air. Mormon apologist Clay L. Chandler argued that it was likely the hat may have been constructed from porous material to allow Smith to breath while his head was in the hat. (Scrying for the Lord: Magic, Mysticism, and the Origins of the Book of Mormon. Clay L. Chandler Dialogue 36/4 (2002): 43-78.

The hat appears to have been made by Edward Partridge. From reddit:
the hat that Joseph Smith used with the seer stone to translate The Book of Mormon was actually made by Edward Partridge several years before the church was organized and long before the two of them ever met. Edward Partridge was the first Bishop of the church.

Shortly after Edward Partridge met Joseph, or after Edward Partridge moved his family to kirtland, he saw Joseph either wearing the hat or noticed it in his home. He asked Joseph where he got it. Upon closer examination Edward discovered that it was a special hat that he had made several years earlier. There's a story behind that hat. Something to the effect that Edward Partridge had a dream to make this hat out of a different type of felt. It was a style and design that he was not currently selling in his hat shop in Ohio.
The frame of a top hat is very light. A sheet of cheesecloth coated in shellac (like resin) is allowed to harden over a wooded hat-shaped block. The rest is internal and external fabric (and pockets for notes). Evidently Lincoln kept his notes in his stovepipe hat so there was room for a party up there.

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