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

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

Post by Simon Southerton »

Stem wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 3:39 pm
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.
From the age of 14, when he obtained his first seer stone, he had used a stone in a hat to find buried treasure. Right up to, and including the night Joseph obtained the plates, he frequently was out and about on treasure digs using his seer stone. To me it makes perfect sense for him to stick with his modus operandus.

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

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honorentheos wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 6:23 pm
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.
I agree RFM has not uncovered the full extent of the trick and he isn't claiming that. But his podcast represents a significant conceptual advance. All eyes (critics and apologists) were on the stone, that never worked anyway. Its an important piece of the puzzle which suggests he was engaged in a greater level of deception. It also reveals how very clever Smith was. More importantly, I think, future researchers will look at the whole translation process with fresh eyes.

I tend to favor the possibility that he acted alone in the deception, purely because its cleaner. The more people involved in a scheme, the greater the odds one of them will rat on you later when things head south. All surviving witnesses had left the church by 1843. To my knowledge not one of them hinted that anything was dodgy about the translation process. The first people I would consider in any scheme would be Hyrum, and his parents. His father was actively involved in his dodgy treasure hunting and it supplemented the family's income. The whole family stood to benefit.

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

Post by honorentheos »

I suppose everyone has their preferred ideas, whether critic or believers. For me it comes down to the results - the book is clearly a product of the 19th century. After that it's choosing to take part in the magician's game. Your work in revealing the issues with DNA is an example of what successfully draws back the curtain and exposes the fraud for what it is. Word print and the likes? Hobbies.

Speaking of, why I don't think Smith acted alone is there is a marked difference in production pre-Cowdrey and post-Cowdery. Smith, working with Harris, Emma, and even her brother had a shot at going it alone. But what they produced in 6 months in the book of Lehi is lost, and essentially of unknown quality. What we have, absent a bit of Mosiah, all came about once Oliver was involved. I don't think the core story could have been changed (i.e. Oliver bringing a manuscript) that they adapted to the Lehi story. Instead, whatever his role it meant the Book was completed, he and David Whitmer were almost essential to convincing Harris to front the publication through playing along with the witness event...Oliver sat side-by-side in preparing what became sections of the D&C including the early proclamation Smith would have no other gift but that of translation...until he grabbed more...

It all has the look of power dynamic between Oliver and Joseph where they knew what was really up along with the Whitmers. The main players had a schism afterward,vwith Oliver and the Whitmers going to Missouri while Smith went with his new shiny toy in Rigdon to Ohio where he bankrupted everyone and got ran out of town which Oliver, David and John Whitmer resented...and within a short time they were out with all the power now in Smith's hands and a new quorum of the twelve in place. The Whitmers kept trying their hand at starting and leading their own movement. Cowdery was more complicated, it's hinted he did in fact deny his testimony as they say. But it seems his whole life was spent running away from his Mormon past where it was an albatross around his neck when found out. I don't know. It interesting, but it's sport.

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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
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.
Yes, why even bother with the charade of reciting the text as if being translated live under inspiration, when Smith could just as well have simply locked himself in a room, emerged with a stack of pages, and claimed to have produced them by poring over the plates with divine aid?

It's the same question people have asked about the plates themselves, of course. Why bother with the charade of claiming to have physical artifacts, let alone of actually producing some kind of prop, when Smith could just as well have simply written out his story and claimed that it had come to him in a divinely inspired dream?

The theory that Smith was a successful con man doesn't mean that he was a con-man genius who did everything according to a perfect plan. That's a straw man. The plausible theory is that he acted on hunch and instinct and whimsy and adapted his scheme as it grew.

I for one suspect that Mormonism really did all start with Smith getting some plates, in the sense that he found a bunch of lead shingles or something and got the idea to jigger them up into a bogus relic. The idea that the relic would specifically be a set of plates with ancient writing on them was probably there pretty much from the start, because plates by themselves are just plates, but Smith probably didn't end up really trying to cover all the plates with engraved symbols. If he started doing that he probably ran out of steam and found that it was too hard to make convincing ancient engraving or even just to keep on coming up with enough convincing ancient glyphs to cover his plates.

Smith probably found, in fact, that he couldn't produce a fake relic that would stand scrutiny well enough to stand on its own. So he couldn't just offer his stack of plates as something that he found in a field, Gee what could it be, and expect to get a lot of cash for the valuable artifact. It needed help. Well, if it was supposed to be plates with ancient writings, maybe he could play up the content of the ancient writings somehow. Marketing-wise the ideal content would be religious, and inventing a bunch of religious stories would be straightforward. So what I then see is a natural evolutionary process in which some kind of translation charade ends up being a crucial component in Smith's scam.

He had plates, but they weren't good enough fakes to be sold. He could make up a story about ancient Nephites and what-not, but the story by itself wasn't impressive enough to sell just as a revelation received in a dream, let alone as a novel. If the story could be written on the plates, it might sell as a recovered ancient text, and that would be great. I don't think Smith had to be a highly educated genius to tell, though, that unfortunately he couldn't quite get the two ends of his scam to meet each other. He was never going to be able to generate fake ancient engravings that would actually record his made-up story in some ancient language. The job of linking his plates to his story was a big one. Doing it would require a whole third component to his scam along with the plates and the Nephite story.

The third component was the translation schtick. It didn't much matter exactly what it was or how it worked, but it had to be something that served to connect the plates and the story, and it had to have enough substance of its own that it could compensate for the weaknesses of the other two elements. That is, it had to be something that drew attention and interest in its own right. It needed to have its own razzle-dazzle.

Smith clearly messed around with a number of things trying to put together a good enough act. He had magic spectacles, he had angelic visitation, he had visions of God(s); he had scribes, he had two different groups of witnesses; he had a seer stone; he had a hat trick. They were all about connecting his plates to his story. And in the end it paid off.

The shenanigans with the translation process itself were a vital component, I think. I don't think they were a pointless charade at all. Smith needed a humdinger of an act to connect his hokey story to his lousy plates, and he gradually put one together. And I think in the end he got more than just an adequate link between the two other parts of his scam. I think he got critical mass, he got synergy.

With plates, translation, and story he had the full three-card Monte. Look at the plates—what were they made of, who saw them? Now look at the text—is it authentic, are there Hebraisms? But no, now look at the translation process—were there notes, how did he do it? Well, and look back at the plates—didn't Emma feel them through cloth?

Round and round. Three is a lot more than two when you're trying to bamboozle folks. Three's a charm.

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

Post by Stem »

Physics Guy wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 4:56 am
Stem wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 3:39 pm
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.
Yes, why even bother with the charade of reciting the text as if being translated live under inspiration, when Smith could just as well have simply locked himself in a room, emerged with a stack of pages, and claimed to have produced them by poring over the plates with divine aid?

It's the same question people have asked about the plates themselves, of course. Why bother with the charade of claiming to have physical artifacts, let alone of actually producing some kind of prop, when Smith could just as well have simply written out his story and claimed that it had come to him in a divinely inspired dream?

The theory that Smith was a successful con man doesn't mean that he was a con-man genius who did everything according to a perfect plan. That's a straw man. The plausible theory is that he acted on hunch and instinct and whimsy and adapted his scheme as it grew.

I for one suspect that Mormonism really did all start with Smith getting some plates, in the sense that he found a bunch of lead shingles or something and got the idea to jigger them up into a bogus relic. The idea that the relic would specifically be a set of plates with ancient writing on them was probably there pretty much from the start, because plates by themselves are just plates, but Smith probably didn't end up really trying to cover all the plates with engraved symbols. If he started doing that he probably ran out of steam and found that it was too hard to make convincing ancient engraving or even just to keep on coming up with enough convincing ancient glyphs to cover his plates.

Smith probably found, in fact, that he couldn't produce a fake relic that would stand scrutiny well enough to stand on its own. So he couldn't just offer his stack of plates as something that he found in a field, Gee what could it be, and expect to get a lot of cash for the valuable artifact. It needed help. Well, if it was supposed to be plates with ancient writings, maybe he could play up the content of the ancient writings somehow. Marketing-wise the ideal content would be religious, and inventing a bunch of religious stories would be straightforward. So what I then see is a natural evolutionary process in which some kind of translation charade ends up being a crucial component in Smith's scam.

He had plates, but they weren't good enough fakes to be sold. He could make up a story about ancient Nephites and what-not, but the story by itself wasn't impressive enough to sell just as a revelation received in a dream, let alone as a novel. If the story could be written on the plates, it might sell as a recovered ancient text, and that would be great. I don't think Smith had to be a highly educated genius to tell, though, that unfortunately he couldn't quite get the two ends of his scam to meet each other. He was never going to be able to generate fake ancient engravings that would actually record his made-up story in some ancient language. The job of linking his plates to his story was a big one. Doing it would require a whole third component to his scam along with the plates and the Nephite story.

The third component was the translation schtick. It didn't much matter exactly what it was or how it worked, but it had to be something that served to connect the plates and the story, and it had to have enough substance of its own that it could compensate for the weaknesses of the other two elements. That is, it had to be something that drew attention and interest in its own right. It needed to have its own razzle-dazzle.

Smith clearly messed around with a number of things trying to put together a good enough act. He had magic spectacles, he had angelic visitation, he had visions of God(s); he had scribes, he had two different groups of witnesses; he had a seer stone; he had a hat trick. They were all about connecting his plates to his story. And in the end it paid off.

The shenanigans with the translation process itself were a vital component, I think. I don't think they were a pointless charade at all. Smith needed a humdinger of an act to connect his hokey story to his lousy plates, and he gradually put one together. And I think in the end he got more than just an adequate link between the two other parts of his scam. I think he got critical mass, he got synergy.

With plates, translation, and story he had the full three-card Monte. Look at the plates—what were they made of, who saw them? Now look at the text—is it authentic, are there Hebraisms? But no, now look at the translation process—were there notes, how did he do it? Well, and look back at the plates—didn't Emma feel them through cloth?

Round and round. Three is a lot more than two when you're trying to bamboozle folks. Three's a charm.
Sure, I think in hindsight it works to some extent. I just don't understand the mindset he must have been in in order to think he needed something more than his recorded story, as if it came from plates. "I need to trick certain people to think I'm seeing words in a hat, so I can complete the sham!" Doesn't mean a whole lot to me. He could have just produced the text and voila, tricked everyone just the same without risking someone catching his tells or his elaborate effort to keep hidden from people right before their eyes. It's as if a major part of the whole enterprise was to pull off a big trick for the sake of pulling off the big trick.

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

Post by Stem »

Simon Southerton wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 10:44 pm
Stem wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 3:39 pm
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.
From the age of 14, when he obtained his first seer stone, he had used a stone in a hat to find buried treasure. Right up to, and including the night Joseph obtained the plates, he frequently was out and about on treasure digs using his seer stone. To me it makes perfect sense for him to stick with his modus operandus.
Sure. Fair point.

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

Post by Stem »

honorentheos wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 11:43 pm
I suppose everyone has their preferred ideas, whether critic or believers. For me it comes down to the results - the book is clearly a product of the 19th century. After that it's choosing to take part in the magician's game. Your work in revealing the issues with DNA is an example of what successfully draws back the curtain and exposes the fraud for what it is. Word print and the likes? Hobbies.

Speaking of, why I don't think Smith acted alone is there is a marked difference in production pre-Cowdrey and post-Cowdery. Smith, working with Harris, Emma, and even her brother had a shot at going it alone. But what they produced in 6 months in the book of Lehi is lost, and essentially of unknown quality. What we have, absent a bit of Mosiah, all came about once Oliver was involved. I don't think the core story could have been changed (i.e. Oliver bringing a manuscript) that they adapted to the Lehi story. Instead, whatever his role it meant the Book was completed, he and David Whitmer were almost essential to convincing Harris to front the publication through playing along with the witness event...Oliver sat side-by-side in preparing what became sections of the D&C including the early proclamation Smith would have no other gift but that of translation...until he grabbed more...

It all has the look of power dynamic between Oliver and Joseph where they knew what was really up along with the Whitmers. The main players had a schism afterward,vwith Oliver and the Whitmers going to Missouri while Smith went with his new shiny toy in Rigdon to Ohio where he bankrupted everyone and got ran out of town which Oliver, David and John Whitmer resented...and within a short time they were out with all the power now in Smith's hands and a new quorum of the twelve in place. The Whitmers kept trying their hand at starting and leading their own movement. Cowdery was more complicated, it's hinted he did in fact deny his testimony as they say. But it seems his whole life was spent running away from his Mormon past where it was an albatross around his neck when found out. I don't know. It interesting, but it's sport.
I agree that it feels pretty difficult to say Smith acted alone. I think that's a good point. If he had others in on it, then why the need for a trick? In my mind, the people devoted early to the project, had to be convinced somehow. If Smith convinced them that he had spiritual prowess beyond others, then the tricking had to grow more and more elaborate, and it simply doesn't feel possible he wouldn't have been found out by someone. But if Smith convinced them he had scriptural story and needed help creating it, and they could all start a new religion with devoted followers and the like, then it feels possible.

I also still wonder if he truly felt the story in his head was scripture. It wasn't trick per se, but just him thinking he really was inspired by God and the words that came out of him, inspired-feeling as they were, were, as he saw it, God dictating scripture through him. There just happened to be people who felt impressed he was inspired. The whole magic trick stuff just feels way too sophisticated and elaborate. The level of scheming, plotting and then maintaining and covering it up in front of dozens of different people just feels impossible.

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

Post by Shulem »

Stem wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 8:28 am
I also still wonder if he truly felt the story in his head was scripture. It wasn't trick per se, but just him thinking he really was inspired by God and the words that came out of him, inspired-feeling as they were, were, as he saw it, God dictating scripture through him. There just happened to be people who felt impressed he was inspired. The whole magic trick stuff just feels way too sophisticated and elaborate. The level of scheming, plotting and then maintaining and covering it up in front of dozens of different people just feels impossible.
Hold on there.

Did Smith also truly feel the gold plates sitting under the cloth on the table were also real?

Did Smith really feel inspired by God to tell people he had real gold plates?

It's obvious that the conman was scheming and plotting his way through Mormonism and that included hat tricks and fake gold plates to fool those whom he specially selected to fool. Smith was cunning and sneaky all the way.

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

Post by Stem »

Shulem wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 8:41 am

Hold on there.

Did Smith also truly feel the gold plates sitting under the cloth on the table were also real?

Did Smith really feel inspired by God to tell people he had real gold plates?

It's obvious that the conman was scheming and plotting his way through Mormonism and that included hat tricks and fake gold plates to fool those whom he specially selected to fool. Smith was cunning and sneaky all the way.
Another fair point. I think there are possibilities here. He could have felt God told him he had to fashion plates. He could have fashioned them and convinced himself they were ancient full of scripture. And since the plates weren't used, it hardly seems all that material.

The added ploy was him pulling off the 3 witnesses trick. If he was not convinced it was scripture how did he get others to think God was telling them the plates were ancient and contained the words of scripture? In a sense people are convinced by sheer peer pressure if nothing else that God speaks to them. They close their eyes and strain real hard and see tons of things, and imagine many things. So it's possible. But if Joseph isn't convinced and is just lying himself, it seems harder to pull off.

The big problem with all of this is there are far too many questions no matter how you see it. But again, the magic tricks and being able to hide it from everyone, employing trick after trick for the rest of his life, feels impossible.

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

Post by honorentheos »

Stem wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 8:28 am
If he had others in on it, then why the need for a trick?
I don't think the original idea looked anything like the final outcome. I agree with Physics Guy that the one constant was the goal of profiting off the enterprise, and this required agility in adapting to changing circumstances. Once Harris became the most obvious potential source for profiting off the gold Bible, most events in the translation hoax seem to be aimed at accomplishing that purpose. I don't think there is any reason to believe Smith, Cowdery, or David Whitmer were attempting to start a church originally. It seems like some of the earliest Revelations were designed to keep Smith constrained, though, so maybe he was more eager to push that aspect of it. Who knows. Remember, he tried to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon in 1830 to get money, and there seem to be money motives throughout Smith's life.

Had he accomplished producing a book that actually described the Americas 2,000 years ago I think there'd be more reason to invest in attempting to explain how the book came to be. As it stands, I personally see it as the result of good luck and cunning that happened to survive to today where so many others failed. But it's clearly fiction. In evolutionary terms, it happened to occupy or create a niche that allowed the cultural ideas of Mormonism to grow and kinda flourish...in it's niche. But that's all it is. Like being able to wonder if humankind has some special place in the universe because we happen to exist and have the capacity to be aware of it IS special, but that doesn't demand we actually do have a unique place in an otherwise indifferent universe. Conditions just happen to be such we can speculated on it and there is fertile ground for feeding that speculation.

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

Post by Shulem »

I really wish that Dan Vogel would make an appearance on this thread and comment or start his own thread. We need him more than ever. He has already laid the ground work and through his passion and research he is the one to offer insight and start turning the key RFM so wonderfully stumbled upon. There is a whole new field now in which to move the puzzle pieces in order to form the picture of what really happened. Dan Vogel is the Anointed One -- he is the Chosen One to figure this out.

We know that Joseph Smith didn't translate golden plates while having his head in a hat with a magic rock. That did not happen anymore than Santa Clause rides down from the North Pole and going down millions of chimneys in a single night. There is no such thing as Santa Clause and there is no such thing as golden plates or the angel Moroni. It's all a tale!

I have to wonder if Joseph Smith had his so-called golden plates long before the translation process took place. What about father Smith, could he have crafted something to appear ancient in order to provide a prop for a future story or book his family was someday wanting to produce? Joseph had been telling tales about the native Indians for years and the Smith family had these things on their mind.

What about the idea that Joseph obtained a gold plate prop from his magician friend Luman Walters? Walters was known to have all kinds of props -- "trappings of a medieval magician" -- moreover a rusty sword. So why not gold looking plates?

Dan Vogel, where the hell are you? Thou art the man!

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

Post by Shulem »

Shulem wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 9:50 am
Dan Vogel, where the hell are you? Thou art the man!
And a good looking man too, so get your ass (no pun intended) over here.

:lol:

I thought that was ____ funny!

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

Post by Craig Paxton »

The Book of Mormon is either what it claims to be, a translation of an ancient record about founding immigrant populations to the American Continent, written in a yet to be discovered language, referred to as Reformed Egyptian, engraved on golden plates and delivered to Smith by a heavenly apparition, a once living ancient inhabitant of the American Continent named Moroni or it is a work of fiction, a fraud perpetrated by its actual author Joseph Smith. There are no other options.

Literally every known observable and testable means available to measure the authenticity of the book, save good feelings, leads one to conclude that the book is a 19th century fable created by the inventive mind of Joseph Smith. Which leads to the final question.

Q: If we know that the book is a work of fiction and not what it claims to be and therefore nothing more than a tool Joseph Smith used to perpetrate his fraud, then what do we make of the process Smith employed to produce his book?

A: We must conclude that literally everything that Smith did, every story he told, every instrument he used, every trick of deception he orchestrated was a conscience calculated design by Smith to delude those around him so that he could successfully commit his fraud. All of the means Smith employed, the rock in the hat, the production of plates, the deceiving of witnesses and scribes, the claims of heavenly messengers and the converting of gullible people hungry for the fabricated, make believe promises that Smith concocted were all done so that Smith could achieve his own selfish ends. The complete domination and god like power Smith achieved over the simple, desperate people who bought into his con.

RFM/consiglieri has furthered our understanding of the possible deceptive steps Smith used to achieve his fraud by parting the curtain on the processes magicians use to accomplish their tricks. By knowing that the Book of Mormon is a fictional work used by Smith to achieve his goals to achieve power and domination over gullible people also exposes Smith as an imposter who tricked his audience into believing he was something other than what he actually was, a complete and utter fraudulent illusionist.

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

Post by Shulem »

Craig Paxton wrote:. . . . or it is a work of fiction, a fraud perpetrated by its actual author Joseph Smith. There are no other options.

Indeed, it's either or:

1. Either a resurrected man by the name of Moroni really did appear in Joseph's bedroom or he did not.

2. Either Joseph Smith really did have ancient gold plates which he dug up on a hill or he did not.

3. Either God inspired Joseph to translate the gold plates through a seer stone in a hat or he did not.

The same can be said for Joseph's translation of the Book of Abraham papyrus:

1. Either Smith really did have papyrus rolls penned by Abraham & Joseph or he did not.

2. Either the Explanations of the Facsimiles are correct translations and interpretations or they are not.

3. Either there is a king's name in Facsimile No. 3 or there is not.

It's easy to prove that Smith was a false translator. He was a conman all the way. I so testify by my own heart and mind and all the intelligence within me that I know that Joseph Smith was a liar and a fraud -- so help me God, I know it, positively and absolutely, beyond a shadow of doubt.

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

Post by Chap »

Shulem wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 12:18 pm
Indeed, it's either or:

1. Either a resurrected man by the name of Moroni really did appear in Joseph's bedroom or he did not.

2. Either Joseph Smith really did have ancient gold plates which he dug up on a hill or he did not.

3. Either God inspired Joseph to translate the gold plates through a seer stone in a hat or he did not.

The same can be said for Joseph's translation of the Book of Abraham papyrus:

1. Either Smith really did have papyrus rolls penned by Abraham & Joseph or he did not.

2. Either the Explanations of the Facsimiles are correct translations and interpretations or they are not.

3. Either there is a king's name in Facsimile No. 3 or there is not.
And if every case, it is hugely less probable that the 'not' alternative is untrue than that the preceding positive claim is untrue.

Back to Hume ...

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

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Stem wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 7:01 am
Sure, I think in hindsight it works to some extent. I just don't understand the mindset he must have been in in order to think he needed something more than his recorded story, as if it came from plates. "I need to trick certain people to think I'm seeing words in a hat, so I can complete the sham!" Doesn't mean a whole lot to me. He could have just produced the text and voila, tricked everyone just the same without risking someone catching his tells or his elaborate effort to keep hidden from people right before their eyes. It's as if a major part of the whole enterprise was to pull off a big trick for the sake of pulling off the big trick.
The Book of Mormon translation was certainly a much bigger production than his later work. The Book of Moses and D&C revelations just involved him writing stuff down and saying it came from God. With the Book of Abraham, he actually had legit ancient documents. He didn't need to conceal them and make excuses for how only a few people could see them with their spiritual eyes. He proudly displayed them for anyone who wanted to take a look (for a fee of course). Plus, by that point he had established himself as a prophet with a relatively large group of credulous believers. I agree with others that Joseph was great at adapting his craft to the situation. With the Book of Mormon, he was at the stage of his career where he used his stone to find treasures which were not really there. So it makes sense that his first "translation" was a treasure he claimed to find in the ground that wasn't really there. He used different methods for his later scams, adapting to the situation.

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

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DarkHelmet wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 1:51 pm
With the Book of Mormon, he was at the stage of his career where he used his stone to find treasures which were not really there. So it makes sense that his first "translation" was a treasure he claimed to find in the ground that wasn't really there. He used different methods for his later scams, adapting to the situation.

Thanks for that! It just dawned on me that the gold plates were the answer to all the previous failures in treasure digging!

2 + 2 = 4

or

treasure digging + gold plates = Joseph finally found lost treasure

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I so need to get my facts straight. I'm over my head.

Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet

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

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Stem wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 7:01 am
Sure, I think in hindsight [the elaborate charade of translation with seer stone and dictation from hat] works to some extent. I just don't understand the mindset he must have been in in order to think he needed something more than his recorded story, as if it came from plates. "I need to trick certain people to think I'm seeing words in a hat, so I can complete the sham!" Doesn't mean a whole lot to me. He could have just produced the text and voila, tricked everyone just the same without risking someone catching his tells or his elaborate effort to keep hidden from people right before their eyes. It's as if a major part of the whole enterprise was to pull off a big trick for the sake of pulling off the big trick.
I think Smith definitely needed something more than his recorded story to trick people, and I think he must have known clearly that he needed that something more. He was an experienced treasure-finder, after all. He knew the kind of patter it took to hook people. I'm not an expert con artist, but it just seems clear to me that simply producing a stack of foolscap, and claiming to have translated it from ancient plates that no-one was allowed to see, was never going to fly.

There's just not enough of substance there for people to hang onto mentally. It's too obvious that the handwritten pages are the same kind of handwritten page that anyone can make. It's too obvious that the only reason to think those handwritten pages have anything to do with any ancient plates is Smith's naked say-so.

If Smith is standing there with a stack of scribbled foolscap swearing that it came from God, everyone's first reaction is going to be to push for something more from him, something more to the story. If all he can do is say, "Honest, ya gotta believe me!" then that just makes it all even lamer. He has to have a bone to throw people, to make them feel they've got something solid to go on. He needs a comeback to, "Is that all you've got?"

He can't let them see the plates. The plates suck. They're modern lead of the same kind everyone knows as roofing, he only even tried to engrave the top sheet, and the scratches he made there look childish. But he has to do something. Just saying, "I got this story from God, see" is going in naked.

In reality everything Smith did with the rock and the hat and dictating to scribes was so easily faked that it isn't worth an atom more as evidence than Smith's naked word that he got it from God. But look at us, even us. We're not just snorting the whole issue away as worthless flummery. We're fussing over whether the hat was white and how porous it was and whether it made sense for Smith to go through a routine like this. We're digging into the details he gave us, gnawing the bone he tossed our way. The translation schtick is still working on us.

I think Smith was shrewd enough to know it was the right kind of stuff.

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

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Physics Guy wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 2:54 pm
I think Smith definitely needed something more than his recorded story to trick people, and I think he must have known clearly that he needed that something more. He was an experienced treasure-finder, after all. He knew the kind of patter it took to hook people. I'm not an expert con artist, but it just seems clear to me that simply producing a stack of foolscap, and claiming to have translated it from ancient plates that no-one was allowed to see, was never going to fly.

There's just not enough of substance there for people to hang onto mentally. It's too obvious that the handwritten pages are the same kind of handwritten page that anyone can make. It's too obvious that the only reason to think those handwritten pages have anything to do with any ancient plates is Smith's naked say-so.

If Smith is standing there with a stack of scribbled foolscap swearing that it came from God, everyone's first reaction is going to be to push for something more from him, something more to the story. If all he can do is say, "Honest, ya gotta believe me!" then that just makes it all even lamer. He has to have a bone to throw people, to make them feel they've got something solid to go on. He needs a comeback to, "Is that all you've got?"

He can't let them see the plates. The plates suck. They're modern lead of the same kind everyone knows as roofing, he only even tried to engrave the top sheet, and the scratches he made there look childish. But he has to do something. Just saying, "I got this story from God, see" is going in naked.

In reality everything Smith did with the rock and the hat and dictating to scribes was so easily faked that it isn't worth an atom more as evidence than Smith's naked word that he got it from God. But look at us, even us. We're not just snorting the whole issue away as worthless flummery. We're fussing over whether the hat was white and how porous it was and whether it made sense for Smith to go through a routine like this. We're digging into the details he gave us, gnawing the bone he tossed our way. The translation schtick is still working on us.

I think Smith was shrewd enough to know it was the right kind of stuff.
I don't know, most who first encountered his gold bible story were put off by it anyway, even with his elaborate hoax. L Ron Hubbard and Mohammed had no magicians tricks. What was the guy thinking? "If I write a book and say it's scripture I'll be harangued and chased off every doorstep. But if I write it, and trick a person or two to be my scribes, as I use my magic tricks to make them think God's whispering lines to me, it'll be much more believable." I mean, maybe. I just don't think he was looking ahead like that. I guess I"m still preferring the story that he believed he was speaking scripture as he told the story line by line to a credulous follower. I guess I'm still feeling convinced he thought God was behind him every step of the way, with the one slip up.

He already convinced people before he put his head in his hat for something other than pretending to see hidden treasures. I don't know what convinced Martin Harris, Emma and Oliver Cowdery, but believing God hears millions of prayers simultaneously while also sticking his metaphorical finger into each individual's life so they face the correct adversities and feel the precise degree of peace, blessing, or attention when occasion permits, seems to put people in the right mindset. I also can't understand the degree of Chad Daybell and his wife's lunacy, but some people were drawn in.

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

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

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Starting today I am reading No Man Knows My History again. I want to see if anything pops out again. The other reason is that I haven't studied church history closely. So my claim that I believed Joseph Smith acted alone was based on gut instinct, not knowledge. So it's an opinion that deserves to be challenged.

At the risk of doing irreparable damage to RFM's currently inflated ego (well deserved I might add), I want to make a related point. Scientific progress mostly comes in many incremental steps. Even the major advances (e.g. double helix, evolution ec), when you look at them closely, there were many other contemporary discoveries that were leading other minds in that direction. Wallace was on the same track as Darwin, but gets little credit. In order for a discovery to be accepted widely, you almost need a significant number of people who hear about it to have almost reached the same conclusion. Many of the most spectacular scientific discoveries these days are not due to people being smarter, but the fact that the scientific tool box is so huge we make many small steps quickly.

It was well known before I stumbled on DNA that Native Americans were genetically far more closely related to Asians. A new tool came along that allowed us to put a number on that. I am not a genius by any stretch. Its more about being in the right place at the right time. I'm a pedestrian molecular geneticist who knew enough about the new tool's power. Comparing people's DNA these days is just mathematics with big numbers. It turns out that if there was Jewish DNA there it is below the level of detection which means Native Americans are at least 99.99% Asian. That is a huge jump from "closely related".

There is innocent beauty in the conceptual advance RFM has made. He's a very bright guy for sure, but he would be uncomfortable with being labelled a true genius (well maybe not after he gets used to the fame :wink: ). Its the stumbling upon it that I enjoy most. The fact that he was a bit surprised by the reception is what I find so utterly compelling. He was unaware of the full significance of his discovery.

What RFM did was to look at a problem from a different perspective; through the eyes of someone who has thought deeply about magic. This is one of the reasons scientists build teams of people with diverse skills. They look at problems differently and magic happens. By a fluke of history we have someone who is an expert in (1) using facts to support a case and (2) tricking peopling with magic. (:confused: I know that may not paint RFM in a good light - I'm just making a point!). He was probably as interested in entertaining us as he was educating us, which is why we love his podcasts. To me it also makes RFM more trustworthy. He was going for fireworks, not an explosion.

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