Subject:

Why doesn't anyone here think FARMS is reputable?  What is peer review?

Date:

Mar 04 23:40 2004 (Updated April 17, 2004, Aug 29, 2004, Aug 23, 2005 & Feb. 20, 2006)

Author:

Cougarette  


As a side note here is good information on what constitutes peer review linked to a post at the bottom of this thread.

 

I started e-mailing Matt Roper of FARMS. He sent me a lot about BoM animals, weapons, grains, and other anachronistic mentions...but he seems to really know his stuff and is answering very confidently.

Frankly, I'm a little scared. How do I know what I'm reading is true? I feel like I have to be a freaking expert and do the research myself to know what is real and what is projected from other sources and embellished.

It's not that I'm intimidated, they are really nice people and willing to spend hours discussing LDS topics with me. I just really don't want to fall back into the "well what if it IS true???" state of mind.

People on this board seem to think FARMS is weak and doesn't have much ground to stand on, but from my experience they are the opposite. Help set my perspective straight.


Subject:

On Apologetics

Date:

Feb 19, 2006

Author:

bob mccue


Introduction

"Apologetics" is the systematic defense of a position (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apologetics) regardless of its legitimacy. Apologetics usually start from the proposition that a truth has been found and must be defended. Hence, dogma (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogma) is found at the root of most apologetic enterprises.

Apologetics can also be understood as the opposite of real scholarly pursuit. Scholars seek understanding with regard to the real, the beautiful, the useful, etc. Science has proven to be the most reliable branch of scholarship in terms of its ability to help us understand what is real and how relationships between real things work by way of theory formation and testing by experiment. Not surprisingly, as the study of science and history progresses they often contradicts dogma. This brings scientists and other scholars into conflict with apologetists who generally masquerade as scholars since that enhances their credibility. Academic institutions like Brigham Young University regularly lose credibilty with their peers as a result of their so-called scholars participating in apolgetic endeavors. An apologist in academic robes wears a particularly offensive form of sheeps clothing.

When I read religious apologetics of any kind I am bothered by a vertiginous feeling. This is largely the result of the need apologists have to obscure the evidence scientists and other scholars unearth that contradicts the dogma that apologists must defend. The purpose of this essay is to outline how the apologetic enterprise works in this regard.

How Many Hills Named "Cumorah" Are There?

To understand what I mean, consider a Mormon classic - the so-called “two Cumorahs” theory. This explains why Joseph Smith received the golden plates at a hill he referred to as “Cumorah” in upstate New York which has been found to be an extremely unlikely candidate for the events that are believed by Mormons to have literally occurred there. Since the alternative to finding a second location for these events was to admit that the Book of Mormon is fictive, Mormon scholars have brought us the "two Cumorahs theory", as lucidly described at http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=jbms&id=98. This is closely connected to another masterpiece of logic, known as the “limited geography theory” of the Book of Mormon (see http://farms.byu.edu/publications/bomgeog.php).

Aside from contradicting nearly two centuries of Mormon prophetic statements, these theories would have us accept that the Book of Mormon events were played out in area of Central America that is small enough that it has not yet been discovered, and yet large and populous enough for battles that killed millions of people to have been fought there, and unusual in that it was the most scientifically and culturally advanced place in the Americas for most of about 1,000 years. And then, God moved the gold plates that told the history of this people to New York where Joseph Smith could find them without telling Joseph about on this, leaving him to believe that the epic described in the Book of Mormon was played out across the length and breadth of America and that all Amerindians as well as Polynesians were the literal descendents of the people the Book of Mormon says immigrated to the Americas from Jerusalem.

Are Mormon Apologists Unique?

Other religions do no better. Go read some Young Earth Creationist drivel (God put dinosaur bones in the Earth to test our faith), the Muslim apologists (Muslims own a toll booth on the only road to heaven and if you disagree they are justified in killing you), the Jehovah’s Witnesses explanation for their leaders numerous failed prophecies that Christ would return to Earth on specific dates (God is just testing them), etc. This stuff all comes from the same place – the desire to prevent ideas from changing and most importantly, to preserve the power that depends upon these ideas. And note the “God is just testing us” theme. When the going gets really tough, that argument is the last resort. Look for it to appear in Mormon apologetic discourse with increasing frequency.

The Worse the Alternatives Look, the Fewer Will Leave

Did I mention that I feel dizzy when I venture into any apologist's lair? This is because much of the apologetic effort is directed toward making any alternative to their cherished beliefs hard to understand, and fearful, so that people will not change their beliefs or behavior. Attachment theory explains why this strategy is a good idea for religious organizations who want to survive and prosper. That is, religion causes its believers to become dependant on its ideas and the social groups it sponsors, and then makes all alternatives look as risky and dangerous as possible. Things that are hard to understand are easy to make look risky and dangerous. The fear this causes triggers our attachment instinct, which drives us into the arms of the people and institutions to which we have become attached as a result of our life experience to that point. There are no evil gnomes sitting around and planning this stuff. It is just how humans in groups function. Nothing is clearer from a reading of religious and political history than this.

Evidence Gets in the Way

Another way to understand this process is to remember that science became what we think of as science when it began to test ideas against evidence. Tycho Brahe was one of the leaders in this regard. He measured the position of the planets and stars more carefully than anyone before laying the groundwork for the revolution of humanities understanding of their place in the universe. While carefully measurement of reality sounds like common sense to us, it was an Earth shaking innovation in his day. Until then, the unencumbered-by-evidence use of premises (basic ideas) assumed to be true and logic enabled the smartest people on the planet to reach pretty much any conclusion they wanted about religion, cosmology, or anything else. This caused questions like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin to occupy an amazing amount of serious scholarly time for centuries. And today, the Mormon belief system makes logical sense if you accept the basic ideas that there is a God of a particular kind who created us and had us come to Earth as the Mormon Plan of Salvation indicates. Accept those ideas (and they are drilled deep into young Mormons), and the rest makes a lot of sense.

Since modern apologists must persuade people who generally believe that the facts are important and we should compare the evidence to what the theory predicts, they need to find ways to minimize the importance of evidence that conflicts with their theory. The limited geography theory is a great example of how this works. Mormon apologists solve the evidence v. theory problem here in two ways.

Change the Theory


First, they change the theory without batting an eye. Two centuries of Mormon prophets, including Joseph Smith, simply misunderstood reality and what God had communicated them, and consistently misled their followers by statements about where Book of Mormon events occurred, who was literally descended from Book of Mormon peoples, etc. Opps. Why would God allow that to happen? To test us maybe?

The logic works like this. Prophets make mistakes. The Bible shows that. So, we should expect prophets to be wrong about some things. However, we must assume that in every case where a prophet has not been proven wrong that he was speaking God’s own truth, regardless of how many times we have found him to be unreliable or even flat out lying to us. Sounds like a sensible way to live, doesn’t it? Why would God put us in such a hard position? Life is full of such tests for the faithful, of all stripes it turns out when you start looking at how other religions work.

I bet people who think like this get taken advantage of a lot. Let’s check the data. Sure enough, Utah hosts more con artists per capita (as measured by rates of financial fraud and multi-level marketing companies) than any other US state.

Duck into a Post Modern Rabbit Hole

Second, Mormon apologists question the ability of scientific and historical analysis to tell us anything upon which we should rely if it contradicts Mormon beliefs. They resort to various versions of post-modern theory in this regard. History, science, etc. are not that reliable. No evidence of wheels, horses, steel, etc. in the Americas? How can anyone be certain about things like that? And maybe the “most correct of any book on Earth” (see http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=550&mp=T) used a kind of complicated code to communicate its sacred and all important message. “Steel” really meant “obsidian” or “copper”. “Horse” really meant “tapir”. Etc. Or maybe God is testing us?

I need to stop thinking about this for a minute. My head is starting to hurt.

And since some facts will be proved beyond doubt, what does a “fact” mean anyway? How can we ever know anything except what we experience in the moment? And what that experience means is a private experience. So if you feel good about your experience, you should not change it. Using this theory, it is possible to chase one's tail down any number of post-modern rabbit holes and find oneself having an earnest conversation with the Queen of Hearts, or Joseph Smith for that matter.

The use of extreme post-modernism is the friend of anyone who wants to resist the tide of evidence against her position. It was invented after all, by humanities profs who were sick and tired of the way the "hard" sciences were talking over the academic and cultural world. Alan Sokal showed those guys (see http://www.drizzle.com/~jwalsh/sokal/articles/weinberg.html).

Harness the Human Fear of Leaving the Dominant Social Group

Most people (even those who are abused) feel good enough about their social experience that they are not easily persuaded to leave their dominant social group. Humans seem to have been designed that way because our connection to a social group was so important to our survival. Hence, the "we can't really know what is going on - you'd better stay were you feel secure" approach plays nicely into the hands of social groups who are trying to slow down defections. Mormons use this approach against those who criticize them, as do other Christian groups against the marauding Mormon missionaries who seek converts wherever they can be found.

When the overall apologetic game comes into focus it would be pretty entertaining if it did not leave such carnage in its wake – retarded minds; broken marriages and families; damaged friendships; planes that fly into buildings; riots over cartoons published thousands of miles away; etc.

It is both comical and tragic to see science and history denying post-modern ideas walking arm in arm down the street with the Mormon position that Joseph Smith received God’s exclusive authority and absolute truth from God and all humankind who hears this message must either accept it, become Mormon and start to obey Mormon authority or miss countless blessings both while living and after death.

Sounds kind of complicated, doesn’t it. Are you feeling dizzy yet?

This Is Complicated Stuff


It is not easy to apologize for beliefs like the Mormon, Muslim, JW, young earth creationist in a fashion that will be acceptable to even a conservative community that badly wants to continue to believe. Hence, the nature of the task requires smart people with a taste for labyrinthine argument. And it is no surprise that apologists can be counted on to come at the most simple of concepts from odd angles in order to show how hard to understand they "really" are.

For example, take the proposition that the Book of Mormon, like so many other similar pieces of religious literature, was made up to look ancient so that it would be more persuasive. There is an extremely high probability, once all of the relevant evidence is considered, that this is the case. Non-Mormon scholars who study in this are believe that this is as incontrovertible as the idea that the Holocaust occurred more or less as the mainstream historians say it did, or that many well intentioned people are deluded in their belief that they have been visited by aliens.

What Would the Bishop of Occam Say?

I was reminded of the apologetic approach to life a short time ago while reading an entertaining piece in Sports Illustrated - a summary of a recent New York Friars Club roast of the fight promoter Don King. For King, it was said, the simplest truth requires no less than a three rail bank shot. I would say the same of Wieseltier and his ilk.

While Occam's Razor (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor) is not a hard and fast rule, I think it is fair to say that when you run across people who serially, flagrantly and consistently violate it, you should keep one hand on your wallet and use liberal amounts of salt before ingesting anything. Nowhere is this truer than around religious apologists of any stripe.

Best,

bob

 

Subject:

Two words: peer review

Date:

Mar 05 00:02

Author:

Cattle Mutilator


As soon FARMS "research" is peer reviewed by non-LDS experts in the area they are writing about, then I will take them seriously.

Amazingly enough, reputable scholars won't waste their time on this bunk.

No "horses" in America in the timeframe when the BoM supposedly took place. Well alrightly then, horses were really deer, or possibly tapirs.

No steel swords at the time? No problem, what the BoM really meant by "swords" were clubs with sharp rocks embedded in them. (according to FARMS)

FARMS has an answer for everything! Just not a very good answer.

 

Subject:

Outside of LDS circles, FARMS and FAIR have no credibility

Date:

Mar 05 01:32

Author:

The Magus


because of two things:

First, FARMS and FAIR write articles intended not to be scholarly, but to reassure the believers so it does not use the peer review process. This is the overwhelmingly accepted academic practice of having anonymous peer academics review your articles and reviews of books before they are accepted for publication. This ensures that scholarship is adequate with painstaking and repeatable research, sound sources, and logical conclusions.

Second, with some exceptions, the scholarship of FARMS and FAIR articles is substandard and not acceptable by other non LDS academics. Most FARMS and FAIR articles and reviews employ extensively personal attacks (ad hominem, one of the most pernicious logical fallacies); out-of-context quotations; illogical, unsupportable, and circular conclusions; and judge scholarly conclusions on the basis of conformity to LDS doctrine rather than as supported by the evidence and logic.

Also, with regard to support of the BoM, FARMS and FAIR articles jump to egregiously unwarranted conclusions. For example, the BoM says Lehi's group passed through a valley with a river and trees on its way through the middle eastern deserts to the ocean. Researchers have found several valleys with rivers and trees in the Arabian Peninsula so, concludes FARMS, this proves the BoM beyond a shadow of a doubt.

As far as I can tell, some of the FARMS and FAIR scholars have published scholarly works in peer-reviewed publications, but not one of them as been in defense of the LDS faith. I suspect that they know the typical FARMS or FAIR article submitted to a peer review publication would be rejected and make them the laughing stock of their profession and kill their careers

The Magus

 

Subject:

If things cannot be taken literally ...

Date:

Mar 05 13:49

Author:

Moablo


In other words, if horses doesn't mean horses, or swords doesn't mean swords, and on and on, then how could anyone pray about the BoM and get a confirmation from the Holy Ghost that it was true?

 

Subject:

And one FARMS member quoting another FARMS member is not Peer Review. (Caution, scatological language ahead!)

Date:

Mar 05 14:17

Author:

Geek who went to Law School


I am a scientist, an engineer, and a lawyer. I compose scientific/legal documents for a living. Peer review is the gate through which I must pass daily. If I mess up, it can be a multi-million dollar mistake. Tough on my clients 'eh? Yes, but tougher on me!

What do we call it in my line of work, when one "scholar" quotes another "scholar"?

EXPONENTIAL BULLSH*T!

(E.G., Welch quotes Nibley. Sorenson quotes Welch quoting Nibley. Gee quotes Sorenson ... etc.)

 

Subject:

They do not subject themselves to peer review

Date:

Mar 05 00:10

Author:

Sometime poster


and this makes what they claim dubious.

Any truly scholastic endeavor will subject themselves to peer review; by other organizations or universities that are highly regarded in that particular field, and can offer an informed, educated option.

FARMS does not do this, they ignore the archeology, cultural studies, linguistic studies, etc. of all other learned institutions.

Until they are willing to be scrutinized by other institutions, they are not worthy of being taken seriously.

 

Subject:

Be sure and ask the FARMS boys about the Book of Abraham

Date:

Mar 05 00:20

Author:

Cattle Mutilator


http://nowscape.com/mormon/papyrus/by_his_own_hand.htm

I think you'll find their dodges most amusing.

Please return and report.

 

Subject:

Apologetics requires a pseudo-academic posture as a bluff...

Date:

Mar 05 00:48

Author:

Brian B.


It's for those who don't worship faith but would rather think they aren't foolish for keeping their beliefs. But...

http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/exclus.php

This is like the handful of Christian fundie scientists who circulate rumors that evolution is false or unproven. Even a tenth-grader without hang-ups understands more than they are willing to consider.

 

Subject:

Re: Why doesn't anyone here think FARMS is reputable?

Date:

Mar 05 00:51

Author:

Rhema


I don't know of a single scientist in the DNA field who believes the BoM is a true account, except those 2 guys at FARMS.

 

Subject:

when I had questions about B of M archaeology . . . (long)

Date:

Mar 05 01:21

Author:

imaworkinonit


I settled my questions by going to Barnes and Noble bookstore. I went to the section that had information on South American archeology and stuff and started opening books to find out what sorts of things existed during the supposed Book of Mormon times. I realized that it wasn't the same picture I got in the Book of Mormon. I deliberately chose books that had NOTHING to do with Mormonism, so I could be sure it wasn't "anti-mormon" or pro-mormon stuff. It was just scholarly stuff.

I don't think it's a matter of who to trust. That puts you under a lot of pressure to guess who's honest. Go with the evidence. If the majority of unbiased evidence is against the Book of Mormon, then your best bet is that it's fiction (yeah, I know I'm biased now . . . so don't trust me either).

I subscribed to FARMS for at least a year, hoping that they would come up with some convincing evidence. Actually, they brought up more questions, and they just kind of danced around the issues, said a few things that showed they knew a few things about ancient languages and customs, and then they'd come to some vague conclusion like "it seems likely that . . . [mormon beliefs] fit nicely into this historical setting". Many times it was more like, "so, you see that blah blah blah isn't really as ridiculous as it sounds".

I think it might be useful for you, because when you see it in print, it's easier to go back, reread, and see how they dance around the issues and never prove anything. It's all conjecture, and they expect the reader to stretch their imagination to believe that there is strong evidence to back up the church.

I remember one issue, when they were trying to prove that the word "synagogue" in the Book of Mormon was NOT an anachronism (as the term wasn't in general use when Nephi supposedly left Jerusalem). So they started talking about very old pottery fragments that were found in old sites in Judea that refer to a place of prayer or something, and you see, a synagogue is a place of worship, too, so THERE YOU HAVE IT. (Yeah, but I thought the whole argument was about the specific word "synagogue).

I finally got so disgusted that I just stopped subscribing.

Just remember, just because someone talks a lot and acts like they know better than you doesn't mean they are right. Use your brain, trust yourself, and keep your BS detector turned on at all times.

That said, after all my research into the Book of Mormon I felt that I still had to have a "smoking gun" to prove the church false for absolutely sure. Because I was still worried that maybe somewhere there was still some archeological evidence that just hadn't been discovered yet and I didn't want to be wrong.

So I turned to the Book of Abraham. We have facsimiles and we have JS's notated translations of them (Don't bother with the text, because LDS scholars claim we don't have the correct papyri fragments . . .since the ones we DO have don't match the B of A text at all). He either translated those facsimiles correctly or he didn't.

He didn't translate them correctly. There are translations by reputable Egyptologists. That was how I finally resolved the question of whether JS could translate ancient records.

 

Subject:

You have answered your own question

Date:

Mar 05 01:27

Author:

mikemgc


>>I feel like I have to be a freakin expert and do the research myself to know what is real and what is projected from other sources and embellished.


Yes. Your feeling is correct. You do have to do the research yourself. If you want to know the truth of something that is debatable you need to look at all the angles. And then you decide for yourself. The people at farms are not there to help you find the truth. They are there to explain away anything that differs from their belief. How many questions does Farms raise? They don't. They are there to give answers.

You often see a prosecutor fixate on someone they feel is guilty. They will search and search exclusively for every piece of evidence that confirms their belief and then discard anything that doesn't. Meanwhile, the true criminal remains at large.

So what are you going to focus on with this stuff? Are you going to revert back to a state of mind that accepts everything as it is told to you in one big lump sum because a few things seem rational or true? That is the point and the foundation of Mormonism. Take a little good, mix in some bad and then tell you to ignore the bad because the good is there. They want you to swallow it whole. They don't want you to think for yourself.

Recovery from Mormonism for me is discovering new truths, one at a time. You've started a journey for truth. Shutting out the rest of the world and all other ideas is to stop searching.

Someone asked me once, do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? I didn't really get what it meant at the time. But now I understand it well. I lived Mormonism because I thought it was "right." But I wasn't happy. So I quit being a good mormon. And the longer and longer I was away from it, I learned the truth. That the reason I wasn't happy was because it wasn't right. Follow your heart, not someone's studies or proof or evidence. I think there's a lot of folks in the morg that aren't truly happy. They just believe they're right. Utah's not the Prozac and teen suicide capitol for nothing....

 

Subject:

Outside reading.

Date:

Mar 05 02:30

Author:

Dagny


The more you learn about other subjects, the more sense everything makes...except for church apologetics.

For example, pick up a copy of Germs Guns and Steel By Jared Diamond, and you will see the BoM claims are impossible without the BoM even being mentioned.

Getting enough information from all sources tends to crystallize what we know, and the only piece that doesn't fit as factual is religious mythology.

Compare the scholarship by someone like Diamond with LDS apologists. Learn to spot "junk science" by reading from scientific sources and comparing evidence and research with apologetics.

The bulk of science does not have a religious agenda to protect and tends to be self correcting and refining over time.

The biggest problem with apologetics is what they IGNORE...usually the big things, while dwelling on "could be" and "maybe" details.

I wasn't convinced until I hit the books and checked the fine print for myself.

 

Subject:

FAIR and FARMS are pseudo-scientific

Date:

Mar 05 05:58

Author:

Curiouser


they use just enough jargon to make it appear they know what they are talking about. As others have pointed out, they take extra effort to ensure their work is confined to the circle of believers.

You'll never read of a FARMS product being presented to a professional scientific society or at serious conferences organized by universities [regarding the Book of Mormon or Book of Abraham].

If you read enough, you'll find their stuff is even self-contradictory. Not to mention that much of their explanation surrounding the BOM and DNA runs contrary to what presidents of the Church from JS to Hinckley have said.

 

Subject:

They lost credibility for me after I read their review of a book I actually read myself

Date:

Mar 05 09:01

Author:

The Wonderer


The book was "In Sacred Loneliness" by Todd Compton. They barely even touched the material Todd wrote about. Instead, they attacked Compton. See Compton's own response to these FARMs reviews:

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/7207/rev.html

 

Subject:

yes, the review of Compton of especially shameless n/t

 

Subject:

There's an old saying in the business world that applies to this.

Date:

Mar 05 09:29

Author:

Stray Mutt


"If you can't win them with logic, dazzle them with bullsh*t."

FARMS and FAIR are masters of piling on academic-sounding nonsense. Most people think, gee, there's a lot of dense stuff here I don't quite understand, so these guys must know what they're talking about. But when you boil it all down, there's nothing there.

 

Subject:

Erich von Däniken like FARMS lacks objectivity in his "research."

Date:

Mar 05 13:09

Author:

Seeker


I liked Carl Sagan's remark in a TV show on von Däniken's stuff. He basically said that there was not on shred of scientific evidence to substantiate von Däniken's claims. FARMS doesn't do much better.

 

Subject:

FARMS places the chariot before the tapir...

Date:

Mar 05 09:47

Author:

Sparky


FARMS bases all of their research on the pre-conceived notion that the BOM, JS and the COJCOLDS are true.

Therefore, they are in the business of providing evidences for a foregone conclusion. How can you lose?

A true scientific institution would use the scientific method of investigation....

Question: Is the COJCOLDS true?

Hypothesis: The COJCOLDS is true!

Experiment, procedure, results, conclusion, etc.

Any third grader doing their science fair project realizes this.

Steve

 

Subject:

If someone has a stake in the outcome, don't take their explanation at face value...

Date:

Mar 05 10:01

Author:

xtbm


That's my view and I apply it to both Apologetic and "anti" positions. Everyone has an agenda, so be aware of that and take a harder look at what someone is telling you. The fact of the matter is, there's a lot of poor scholarship out there on both sides of the fence.

I agree with what many of the posters here have said - neutral scholarship is a wonderful thing. I read "Mapping Human History" by Steve Olson (often quoted by Mormon Apologetics to support their positions) and the DNA issue became much clearer. He has no agenda in regards to Mormonism, so he's not going to try and distort the facts to try and support one position or another.

Take Roper's writings, put them under the microscope of scrutiny, and see how well they hold up. If need be, post some of them here and you will probably get some fantastic insights - though I wouldn't take everything you read here at face value, either...

 

Subject:

They have NO authority

Date:

Mar 05 10:09

Author:

alex


BTW I am a card-carrying member of FARMS. A few years ago I signed up for membership. Then I let my membership expire. Eventually my mom renewed my membership herself and I got an unsolicited membership card in the mail. So watch out all of you who speak evil words about this beloved organization I now belong (at least until my membership expires) - grin ;o)

FARMS has NO authority to speak definitively on any church matter. They are just guessing on everything and the Brethren can always ignore/refute anything they say. In addition the academians don't do real peer reviews on their material. Ever seen FARMS or any apologist give much thought to real critical thinking reviews of their publications? That's why I think for anyone who gives it much thought that is not too deeply invested, FARMS is an academic joke.

However we must never ever underestimate the power that money/loyalty can buy. If the Morgbots keep popping out babies en masse and carefully raise them in the carefully correlated programs then many of them can be molded into lifelong fiercely loyal hardworking cash cows trapped in the mire of Mormonism. Many church sheep will continue to invest resources towards helping groups like FARMS do their research and they'll find plenty of information to muddy the waters for those seeking truth with the purpose of keeping the sheep loyal. A lot of money/resources/commitment can put together hundreds of thousands of pages of writings full of all sorts of trivia information and hypotheticals.

Such writings can certainly overwhelm almost any member going through a crisis of faith with deceiving thoughts of "hmmm I'm just not smart enough to understand all these things" when the truths are pretty simple. (1) Nobody has EVER found any trace of anyone or anything in the New World that is accepted as being part of the Nephite, Lamanite, Jaredite, Mulekite, Zoramite, etc. civilizations and nobody knows anything about the whereabouts of any of their descendants. (2) Explanations for the Book of Abraham facsimiles and papyri translation are bogus for anyone who takes the time to honestly look at the vignettes and all of JS's materials on this. (3) The PR spin on polygamy history is still bogus. (4) The plagiarism of Masonic ceremonies and ever-changing temple ordinances is still a big problem. (5) 19th century teachings about Adam/God, blood atonement, blacks/priesthood, Second coming & Jackson county, etc. Thinking of Zion & Jackson county - what does hundreds of millions of dollars investment in downtown SLC have to do with building the New Jerusalem?

The capstone of it all for me being in Mormonism was that I wanted to become a god someday in the Celestial kingdom. The costs/benefits for Mormonism in mortality alone weigh heavily against involvement in LDS, inc. as a social club. But I was in it for godhood and exaltation. I knew this was possible because god was once a man and men could become gods. Is this true? I don't know. It's more a couplet than anything. Next time I want to live for a couplet I'll enroll in a poetry class at a local community college or public library.

 

Subject:

Awesome quote Alex

Date:

Mar 05 13:48

Author:

Tyler


"I knew this was possible because god was once a man and men could become gods. Is this true? I don't know. It's more a couplet than anything. Next time I want to live for a couplet I'll enroll in a poetry class at a local community college or public library"

That was an excellent insight into the morphing world of mormon dogma, and so succinctly put!

Tyler

 

Subject:

Scientific researchers can't lock up the conclusion before the search.

Date:

Mar 05 10:24

Author:

Cheryl


FARMS and the Mormon Church generally choose their conclusions and find some distorted path to that end.

Real researchers accept logical conclusions without manipulating facts to reach contrived ends.

 

Subject:

Re: Why doesn't anyone here think FARMS is reputable?

Date:

Mar 05 10:34

Author:

Wil


Cougarette wrote:
> I started e-mailing Matt Roper of FARMS. He sent me a lot about BoM animals, weapons, grains, and other anachronistic mentions...but he seems to really know his stuff and is answering very confidently.


Of course he will answer confidently. He believes in the crap he is shoveling out. I'm an anthropologist and have worked as an archaeologist in the Palmyra area and also in the southwest US. I can say with quite a bit of confidence that the BoM is not a history of the American indigenous peoples and that it was put forward by an adulterous con-man.

> Frankly, I'm a little scared. How do I know what I'm reading is true? I feel like I have to be a freakin expert and do the research myself to know what is real and what is projected from other sources and embellished.

Note that no, and I repeat no, peers from sister institutions agree with the findings from FARMS. If I tried to give the crap as they shovel out at the University I work at I would be laughed out of the department.

> It's not that I'm intimidated, they are really nice people and willing to spend hours discussing LDS topics with me. I just really don't want to fall back into the "well what if it IS true???" state of mind.


Yep. Nice people. Yet deluded into following a cult that is well known for its deceptive practices.

> People on this board seem to think FARMS is weak and doesn't have much ground to stand on, but from my experience they are the opposite. Help set my perspective straight.


They use circular logic and spurious information. Their arguments are weak at best and are stretching it as far as I am concerned. Go to www.lds-mormon and look around. The BoM is just one of the problems with the Mormon church. You can also visit my site at www.geocities.com/westwil2000/lds.html

 

Subject:

Re: Why doesn't anyone here think FARMS is reputable?

Date:

Mar 05 11:43

Author:

leroy


Here's the text to an email I got from FARMS explaining their peer review process. Now I need someone to interpret it for me!

From: Alison Coutts
To:
Sent: 3/4/2004 11:49 AM
Subject: Peer Reviewers

Dear Leroy (name changed),

Thanks for your enquiry about peer reviewers. Obviously this depends on
the
material being reviewed. If there is a strong LDS viewpoint, then we
usually
approach LDS scholars both in and outside BYU campuses. If there is a
general bias, we go outside of LDS sources to scholars with whom the
author/editors work in the field being treated. Since our peer reviews
are
almost always conducted blind, I would be reluctant to make any lists
available . However, if you have a specific work you are considering, we
could perhaps make some suggestions for you.

Thanks for writing.

Alison
--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Alison Coutts
Assistant Executive Director
Institute for the Study
and Preservation of Ancient
Religious Texts
Brigham Young University
P O Box 7112
Provo, Utah 84602

 

Subject:

True scholars disagree more and debate with each other ...

Date:

Mar 05 12:23

Author:

My View


Now and then I watch BYU's cable channel. I especially enjoy the round table discussions from the religion department. These folks really are well-educated and smart.

BUT they are always nodding at each other, making complementary remarks, reinforcing the other guy, supporting the church's "conventional wisdom". It's always a love fest.

True scholars frequently argue different points of view and evidence when they are around each other. There's a wide spectrum of ideas and possibilities. Quite often they are careful to say that what their points are subject to a great number of qualifications. There is honest disagreement and true debate.

Do you see this at FARMS?

 

Subject:

My list of reasons why FARMS is full of it.

Date:

Mar 05 12:34

Author:

MySongAngel


1. They're extremely biased. Their whole sense of self and purpose is riding on their 'findings'. They're very likely to twist things.

2. No peer review. Try asking any scientist that is not LDS about FARMS 'findings'. It's all a bunch of crap. Anyone can sound smart when no one is challenging them.

3. I already know, through other modes of research, that the church is false. The church's own history contradicts itself many times. (i.e. changes in BoM, Adam is God, Blood Atonement, Kinderhook Plates, Masonry...) To me, this is all the proof I need. FARMS ignores these huge problems in doctrine. Even if everything FARMS says is true, it still doesn't make the church any more credible.

 

Subject:

Cougarette, you don't need to be an expert all on your own...

Date:

Mar 05 12:42

Author:

EOTC


The world is too complicated to know everything about everything. If you listen to one side you're almost sure to get swamped with information and nice personalities.

The test is what happens when experts on one side of an issue are confronted by experts on another side and when impartial experts form a public opinion. This is your best resource.

Think of it like an academic football game. FARMS pretends to have a great team, but they never show up to play any GAMES! What does this tell you? The answer doesn't require an expert, just a simple observer who always sees an empty field.

PEER REVIEW - PEER REVIEW - PEER REVIEW

 

Subject:

About peer review: also consider...

Date:

Mar 05 14:02

Author:

Dagny


If the amazing findings of FARMS held any weight, you would be reading about them in Scientific American, and not some obscure church research group paper.

Note from exmormon.org:  FARMS is now part of BYU and FARMS employees are paid by the Mormon church.



Subject:

You want peer review? Here's peer review: The Smithsonian statement on the Book of Mormon and FARMS' yarns about it.

Date:

Mar 18 22:00

 

anon


The Smithsonian releases a statement rejecting the Book of Mormon as having any meaningful scientific value. (This letter has been provided over the decades by the Smithsonian, in response to various inquiries):

http://www.irr.org/mit/smithson.html

_____

FARMS complains and--through its designated juggler, John Sorenson--attempts to discredit the Smithsonian's analysis:

http://www.lightplanet.com/response/smithsonian.htm

_____

Mormon apologist Kerry Shirts likewise offers his own spin in support of FARMS' attempted, but failed, rescue:

http://www2.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/smithson.htm

____


The Smithsonian stands by its original statement:

http://www.answeringlds.org/index.html?artSmithsonian.html

 


The last time I compared FARMS to Erich von Daniken, I got complaints from von Daniken fans. LOL!

 

Subject:

National Geographic-related links

Date:

Mar 19 16:47

Author:

anon


The National Geographic not only has said that archaelogical and other sources have not substantiated the Book of Mormon, it has referred inquirers to the Smithsonian's 1982 statement on the Book of Mormon.

http://www.irr.org/mit/natgeo.html

For more about National Geographic scientific dismissals of the Book of Mormon, see:

http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/nationalgeographicletter.htm

http://www.bible.ca/mor-Archaeology.htm

 

Subject:

Boy, howdy, must be true, since FARMS says so . . .

Date:

Mar 18 22:25

Author:

anon


From its own mouth, FARMS solemnly testifies that its work is "peer-reviewed:"

Work Done in the Name of FARMS

Since it was established in 1979, the name FARMS has become synonymous with encouraging and supporting "faithful scholarship" on the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, the Bible, other ancient scriptures and on related subjects. The reputation of these undertakings rests on supporting scholars whose work reflects a characteristic approach to the study of scriptures and on producing solid, reliable studies which not only support the Book of Mormon and other ancient LDS scriptures but upon which interested members of the church and others can rely in their individual study of the scriptures. . . .

Work done in the name of FARMS rests on the conviction that the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and other ancient scripture such as the Book of Abraham and the Book of Moses are all the word of God, written by prophets of God, and that they are authentic, historical texts. Other than this, the Institute takes no official position on these ancient scriptures. It defines its task as supporting "faithful scholarship," meaning that in the research projects it undertakes and supports and in its publication and distribution efforts, the Institute deals, for the most part, with scholars who not only approach their study of the scriptures from an LDS perspective but, more importantly, insure that their work is informed by and is done in terms of adherence to and reliance upon the distinctive teachings of the Restoration.

The insights of studies such as those produced in the name of FARMS are of secondary importance when compared with the eternal truths that can be learned by a careful reading and study of these revealed texts, guided by the Spirit. Still, solid research and a faithful academic perspective on the scriptures can supply certain kinds of useful information and can answer questions, even if only tentatively, concerning many significant and interesting issues dealing with the ancient backgrounds, origins, composition, and meanings of scripture.

Our hope is that this material will be of help to interested members of the church, particularly to a growing number of new members and others, and that it will be an added means of better understanding and appreciating these ancient witnesses of the mission and teachings of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Finally, reflecting its long established association with the academic community, first FARMS and now the Institute has built its reputation on supporting and publishing high quality, peer-reviewed work, according to established standards of scholarship. . . .
(emphasis added)

http://farms.byu.edu/aboutfarms.php

_____

From another pro-FARMS website:

The Foundation works to make interim and final reports about [its Book of Mormon] research available widely, promptly, and economically. These publications are peer reviewed to ensure scholarly standards are met. (emphasis added)

http://www.cometozarahemla.org/farms-f.html

____

With FARMS having thus made the bold claim that its papers are actually peer-reviewed, I did some research and, sure enough, found a FARMS report that was both peer-reviewed and accepted.

The paper dealt with "manure output":


Nutrient cycle on organic farms: stall balance of a suckler herd and beef bulls . . .

When budgeting mixed farming systems, a substantial lack of nutrients can be detected in the nutrient flow chain "forage and straw input - stable - manure output." . . . At the experimental farm for organic agriculture . . . in Hennef, Germany, all solid mass flows for a suckler herd and a herd of beef bulls were measured. . . . Balances are very sensitive to variations in mass flow and nutrient content for components with high nutrient contents and/or a large contribution to total mass flow (e.g. manure, silage).
(emphasis added)


http://orgprints.org/00001165/

There you have it, brothers and sisters: The straight, peer-reviewed poop from FARMS.

 

Subject:

How FARMS actually submits its papers and research to "peer review"

Date:

Mar 19 01:02

Author:

anon


I have a very reliable source who is familiar with how FARMS goes about the process of having its papers and research "peer reviewed."

That process does not meet what is regarded in mainstream academia as generally accepted and credible standards for peer review.

The way FARMS handles its "peer reviewing" is as follows:

1. FARMS does not submit its papers and research to academic journals for peer review. The publications to which FARMS does submit its work are not highly regarded in mainstream academic and scientific circles.

2. FARMS does not submit its papers and research to non-Mormon scholars for peer review. FARMS would not dare do so, out of fear of what the non-Mormon reviewers would conclude about its work.

3. FARMS submits its papers and research to a so-called "in-group" for peer review.

4. This "in-group" consists of people who FARMS trusts and who are chosen by FARMS to do its peer reviewing.

5. FARMS submits its research and papers to only those it is confident will not challenge the basic assumptions that underlie FARMS papers and research.

6. These "in-group" reviewers either belong to FARMS, are professionally related to FARMS or are sympathetic to FARMS.

7. FARMS idea of a "peer" review is to submit its works for review to like-minded peers.

8. While these reviewers can be academically critical in their own right, they do not review FARMS materials outside the FARMS framework of mission and belief. FARMS submits its papers and research to only those whose basic conclusions it knows beforehand will be in line with the goals and beliefs of FARMS.

9. In the end, FARMS is a pseudo-academic outfit that is isolated from mainstream academia. It serves as a propaganda arm of the Mormon Church, with its mission and purpose being to produce faith-promoting material for Mormon believers. Outside Mormonism, neither FARMS--nor its peer-reviewing process--are taken seriously.

 

Subject:

FARMS is an absolute joke but are the "go-to-guys" for GAs who couldn't punch their way out of a paper bag . . .

Date:

Mar 19 13:55

Author:

anon


in any kind of intellectual or evidentiary defense of the Mormon Church.

So, they rely on the clown town at FARMS--because FARMS is all they've got--and all they think they need.

And the flock bleats in agreement, not knowing any different.

 

Subject:

More on FARMS, Peer Review, and Peterson from the perspective of an experienced academic

Date:

Apr 17 01:18

Author:

Mojo Jojo


Added by elee Aug 2004: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer_review

And some tasty excerpts:

A rationale for peer review is that it is rare for an individual author or research team to spot every mistake or flaw in a complicated piece of work. This is not because deficiencies represent needles in a haystack, but because in a new and perhaps eclectic intellectual product, an opportunity for improvement may stand out only to someone with special expertise or experience. Therefore showing work to others increases the probability that weaknesses will be identified, and with advice and encouragement, fixed. The anonymity and independence of reviewers is intended to foster unvarnished criticism and discourage cronyism in funding and publication decisions.
...
Typically referees are not selected from among the authors' close colleagues, relatives, or friends. Referees are supposed to inform the editor of any conflict of interests that might arise. Journals or individual editors often invite a manuscript's authors to name people whom they consider qualified to referee their work. Authors are sometimes also invited to name natural candidates who should be disqualified, in which case they may be asked to provide justification (typically expressed in terms of conflict of interest).

...

I wanted to give my input on the Daniel Peterson’s claim that the FARMS review process is as rigorous as that of mainline academic journals. 

In his very sarcastic and condescending response to the original RfM thread on this topic, Peterson attempts to buttress his arguments by stating his bonifides. So in the same spirit, please allow me to state my bonifides, so that you might make appropriate comparisons between his observations and mine. I worked for several years in academics. I have published dozens of articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, I have reviewed dozens of articles on behalf of several peer-reviewed journals, and I was editor of a peer-reviewed journal for several years. (One might not ever guess I was an editor judging by the sloppy spelling and grammar in my posts; however, when I write posts, I write very fast, and I never proof read—I don’t have the time. As an academic, I was an obsessive proofreader, typically taking my manuscripts through well over 15 drafts before submitting them for publication.)

So, with this in mind, here’s my response to Peterson.

What Peterson describes is not “peer” review, it is “editor” review. The peer review process is anonymous. An editor sends out a manuscript to, typically, 1-3 “blind” reviewers. The reviewers do not know whose manuscript they are reviewing, and the author does not know the identity of the reviewers. This is done expressly for the purpose of ensuring objectivity in the review, reflecting the very reasonable concern that knowledge of the identity of the author might compromise the objectivity of the review, plus it protects the reviewer from retaliation by the author, again helping to ensure greater objectivity. The system is not perfect. Frequently reviewers can guess who the author is (particularly if it is a narrow field or subfield) and the author can guess the reviewers. There is also a good ol’ boy system that ensures that established scholars get easier treatment than Assistant Professors who lack reputations. (This is similar to the NBA, in which, say, Greg Ostertag gets called for traveling while Shaquille O’Neal almost never does, regardless of how blatantly he actually travels.) But, all in all, the system works reasonably well.

The above is distinguished from “editor” review, in which the manuscript is reviewed by the editorial board. In an editor review, there is no pretence of anonymity, and the standards in editor reviewed journals tend to be significantly lower than peer reviewed journals. In a top tier research university, editor reviewed publications count almost zip, and in some cases less than zip, towards tenure and promotion, precisely because they are known to have lower standards, generally speaking, than peer reviewed publications. In my case, I might have had 20 editor reviewed publications when I came up for tenure, and I still would have been denied tenure. (As it was, I had several publications, many in top rated journals, so I earned tenure.) So, as rigorous as Peterson claims his review process is, if the same rigorous process were used by other editor reviewed journals, it still wouldn’t matter worth shit to a top tier research university. Why? Because what matters is that manuscripts be OBJECTIVELY reviewed according to rigorous standards, but also rigorous standards applied by PEERS, who are presumed to be the foremost experts on the “state of the art” in the discipline.

Peterson also proudly points to the rigorous proofing of texts and checking of citations. What Peterson describes is “copy editing” and “source editing.” These are editorial functions, not review functions. Few reviewers take the time to nitpick over spelling and grammar (unless really poor) but focus more on issues such as the soundness of theoretical constructs, methodology, interpretation, and conclusions. It is the editor’s job to do the copy and source editing. Yet in my opinion these functions, while important, are subsidiary to the peer review, which focuses on substantive issues. Peterson can rightly be proud about the rigor of his copy and source editing, but this is a Red Herring, it has little to do with whether the conclusions, methodology, or theoretical framework, of the manuscript is any good.

In a post on the topic, Brian B. quoted something from an online source of the peer review process. If I remember correctly, the gist of the quote was the peer review is inherently conservative and stifles innovative thinking or challenges to orthodoxy. In my experience, this is a gross overstatement. True, there is at times a tendency for reviewers to be resistant to new arguments and evidence that challenge received wisdom, but this fails to explain the often radical evolution in theory that one finds over time in virtually every academic field. Take economics for example. Decades ago, Keynesian economics dominated academics; today Keynesianism is an anachronism having been succeeded by monetarism and several other “isms” in their time. There has been significant change in organization and behavioral theory over time. In the social sciences and humanities, Post Modernism, Feminist Critique, and several other challenges to the orthodoxy have arisen, gained substantial credibility and followings, and are now being challenged by other theories. In international development it seems there is a new theory of underdeveloped that gains precedence every few years only to fade out after awhile to be replaced by another theory. In my case, I wrote an article that challenged a predominant theoretical framework in my own field—the framework made famous at the school where I earned my Ph.D.—and my article was published by the #1 journal in the field. In sum, I see little evidence that the peer review process has stymied innovation and new ideas in academics. The competitive marketplace of ideas is alive and well in academics.

What Peterson avoids mentioning, and this is in my opinion the central point, is how FARMS publications would be evaluated in a true peer review, that is anonymous, objective reviewers who are experts in their fields, and who do not have a vested interest in proving Mormonism to be true. He fails to answer the most fundamental criticism of FARMS research—that it is not truly peer reviewed. I think we all know the answer why it is not. Any article submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal that posited a civilization numbered in the millions that live in MesoAmerica, worshiped Jesus Christ, wrote in Reformed Egyptian, drove in Chariots, wielding steel swords, rode horses, domesticated oxen, etc. would be summarily rejected by any competent, knowledgeable peer. Any article arguing that an ordinary funerary text contains writings by an ancient prophet of God (whom scholars doubt existed anyway) would be summarily rejected by any competent, knowledgeable peer. Few FARMS publications would survive a true peer review process, regardless of how carefully and well argued, because they reside within a totally invalid theoretical or empirical framework. One can craft the most tightly reasoned defense of the Book of Mormon, with every single conclusion following logically from the underlying assumptions, impeccably copy and source edited, and it would still be rejected summarily by a true peer, because the foundational assumptions have no basis in known reality. FARMS, and those who write in its employ, would quickly become a laughing stock in the field. No wonder they do not risk the rigors of true peer review.

One final comment. The nature of the FARMS review process guarantees no real innovations in learning, because it holds as inviolable the foundational assumptions underlying the research—that the Mormon church is, ex ante and prima facie, and therefore so are the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, etc., etc. There can be innovations within this framework, (e.g., limited geography theory), but the framework itself cannot successfully be challenged, as happens all the time in academic research submitted through a true peer review process. FARMS engages in counterfeit scholarship; counterfeit in that the conclusions are predetermined. It is one massive exercise in circular reasoning, where every argument, every bit of evidence circles back around to support the foundational assumptions. If there were such thing as a truth in labeling law for research, FARMS, and by extension Peterson, would be guilty of breaking the law. They label their work as scholarly, and claim to use a peer review process, but their work is neither scholarly nor is it subject to true peer review in any legitimately understood sense of the word.

 

Subject:

Good post. I challenged Peterson and Hamblin...

Date:

Apr 17 02:00

Author:

Calculus Crusader of the Fringe


on another board concerning the lack of peer review for one of Hamblin's papers (concerning "Secret Mark" and the Mormon temple) and I received a run-around.

 

Subject:

Excellent post. The bottom line is:

Date:

Apr 17 02:20

Author:

KesslerSyndrome

Mail Address:


Anyone involved in academia knows what "peer review" means and what it involves. Peterson's attempt to redefine "peer review" in his own way is nothing more than "I don't know that we teach that"-style obfuscation.

KS, a nevermo

 

Subject:

FARMS avoids peer review because all they do is suggest that a theory *may* be right, all the while...

Date:

Apr 17 03:20

Author:

BornUnderPunches


... never stating what their cadre sees as being the true answer to questions raised.

I could be wrong, but I have not seen any FARMS writings that state matter of factly that X=X. It's usually "Given the circumstances of the discovery of evidence against X, it is obvious that X may have been in fact Y if Y was A, but this is only if the stars aligned properly on the third Thursday in October of 2B.C. and X was inspired to write the word 'horse' on a tablet for lack of a better word. Otherwise it may have been..."

It's never a solid theory or stance to be reviewed. Merely suggestions to keep flagging church members in check.

That is what FARMS is paid by the church to do. That is what they do. They provide a small bit of light for teetering members, and a smoke screen for critics to stumble through. There's so much intellectual flotsam in the pool of FARMS work, you're likely to never find any convincing evidence of doctrine, yet it is substance of a sort. This is what matters to FARMS and the members it targets.

A peer review in FARMS' circles very well may be submitting it to your coworker and having it endorsed as an enthusiastic "MAYBE!" during lunch at Wendy's. The "maybe" is enough to convince flagging members that FARMS is onto something, and enough to keep FARMS from standing by it's writings and theories therein.

A review of DNA theories by members of the scientific community accredited in the proper fields would be catastrophic for FARMS. They are paid to keep the heat off of the church.

They will never have the devil at their doorstep asking to borrow a cup of Postum if he can never figure out where the Hell they live.

 

Subject:

Daniel Peterson claims the peer review standards for 'FARMS Review' are more rigorous than others

Date:

Apr 15 17:37

Author:

Joe

Mail Address:


Here is Daniel Peterson's description of the peer review process at FARMS, posted at the FAIR message board here:

Peer review processes differ across FARMS, depending on the publication. Peer review for the FARMS Review is at least comparable, so far as I can tell, to peer review for academic book reviews elsewhere. In fact, I suspect that it is more rigorous. At a minimum, each review is read carefully by the editor (me), my two associate editors (Louis Midgley and George Mitton), our production editor (Shirley Ricks), and the FARMS/Institute director of publications (Alison V. P. Coutts). (These individuals have varying backgrounds, with graduate degrees in such fields as social science, Near Eastern studies, philosophy and theology, government and politics.) Every reader makes suggestions, demands clarifications, etc. Any one of those readers can object to a piece as a whole, and raise the issue of whether it ought to be rejected. (We have rejected more than a few manuscripts.) Depending on the nature of the piece, we may decide to send it out for expert external advice (e.g., in the case of the recent DNA articles, to a statistician, a geneticist, a philosopher, and a biochemist). Each piece is then worked over by at least one in-house editor, and source-checked by a member of our staff to make sure that quotations and citations are both accurate and taken in proper context. Each piece is also made available to all members of the FARMS board and administration, should they wish to have input. (Most don't; some occasionally do.)

I very much doubt that book reviews at other academic journals are subjected to a process so complex and many-layered. I'm fully confident that the source-checking to which we subject all of our publications is seldom paralleled elsewhere.

 

Subject:

Let me get this straight

Date:

Apr 15 17:47

Author:

E.L. Joe


The FARMS peer review process goes like this:

1) "each review is read carefully by the editor" (a FARMS member)
2) "[each review is read by] my two associate editors (Louis Midgley and George Mitton), our production editor (Shirley Ricks), and the FARMS/Institute director of publications (Alison V. P. Coutts). (all FARMS members)
3) "we may decide to send it out for expert external advice (e.g., in the case of the recent DNA articles, to a statistician, a geneticist, a philosopher, and a biochemist) - undoubtedly all BYU TBM FARMS flunkies
4) "Each piece is then worked over by at least one in-house editor, and source-checked by a member of our staff to make sure that quotations and citations are both accurate and taken in proper context. (all FARMS members)
5) "Each piece is also made available to all members of the FARMS board and administration, should they wish to have input. (all FARMS members)

So what it boils down to is this: a FARMS member writes an article which is reviewed by other FARMS members? Where is the outside objective peer review by a third party? Oh wait... they can't do that, they'd be the laughing stock of the American scientific community.

 

Subject:

His last sentence is very telling

Date:

Apr 16 14:26

Author:

Joe


"It simply won't do, in the case of most FARMS publications, to hand a treatment of, say, archaeological data relevant to 1 Nephi to somebody who knows nothing about the Book of Mormon. And most such people would, quite appropriately, decline to do such a review anyway." (Petersen from another post)

Why is that. Why would a non-mormon be disinterested in archeological data relevant to the Book of Mormon. It seems to me if you have a text that first appeared in 1830 that supports archeological findings today, there would be tremendous interest in the archeological community, mormon or not.

 

Subject:

Perhaps the same reason credible psychologists distance themselves from psychic research. 

 

Subject:

Wow I have been quoted by the great mormon apologist!

Date:

Apr 16 16:38

Author:

CLee


Who still knows NOTHING about peer review.

What Mr. Peterson considers to be peer review from his description is more appropriately called “Hierarchical review”. The FARMS/FAIR review process is in fact a hierarchical system in which only those with a vested interest in the outcome of the review are allowed to participate in a review panel.

The peer review process is designed to safeguard and improve the scientific and academic process. However, Mr. Peterson and FARMS would like to hijack the peer review process with his counterfeit reviews and thereby gain credibility for their apologetic work.

In fact "Source checking" is not always a part of the peer review process, more often it is done by an editor not a peer. Issues such as clarity, scope limitations, writing style and “source checking” are to be addressed before submission to a peer review panel.

To a large extent the peer review process relies on the integrity of the participants since a peer who is also under the threat of “publish or perish” is too busy to pursue the miniscule details of “source checking”. The ideal peer review process is constrained to the evaluation of method, and distinguishing facts from conjecture or hypothesis.

As for Mr. Peterson's reply to my statement

"What Daniel Peterson knows about peer review can be summed up in one word ................... NOTHING"

which follows:

"Which, if true, worries me a great deal, since I'm the editor-in-chief of four translation series distributed by the University of Chicago Press. If they find out, I'm toast.)"

Don't worry Daniel your secret's safe with me.

 

Subject:

Great answer, and one of my own...

Date:

Apr 16 17:23

Author:

Yep


The review process Daniel Peterson describes is like that of an editor, as opposed to a qualified independent reviewer of the subject matter.

The FARMS backslapping of a review process isn't meant to challenge potential errors in thinking, only give the veneer of intellectual integrity. Saying no one else is qualified to review because no one knows the subject is rot. What DP means is that no one else would accept their writings as factual because they aren't blindly led to find the same illogical defenses based on their faith-first approach to the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, etc.

How can a rational person respond to scholarship that refuses the simplest answers in order to adopt convolution after convolution, none of which are required to make sense as a whole? Their efforts are blind trails that lead nowhere, which is the point. It buys them time through confusion, with the hope that those questioning will give up because it all *sounds* almost scientific.

Little wonder that they fear true peer review. They would be exposed for the frauds they are.

 

Subject:

Touchy, aren't they?

Date:

Apr 16 16:44

Author:

Asimov


Really, if you think about it, handing a paper on "Nephite archaeology" to a reviewer who doesn't believe in the Book of Mormon would be just like handing a Vinland archaeology paper to a reviewer who doesn't believe in Odin, or handing a Troy archaology paper to a reviewer who doesn't believe in Zeus.

In other words, it's the sort of thing that reputable archaeologists do all the time. There's no conspiracy to discredit Vinland archaeology by people who don't take Viking sagas as gospel, and the discovery of Troy wasn't hampered by the fact that nobody believes in a literal Iliad. Many scientists are capable of separating any objective basis for a story (which is what scientific papers are supposed to talk about: objective facts) from later religious embellishment.

The problem with FARMS papers isn't that their topic has religious implications, it's that many of the papers themselves are religious embellishment, and an external reviewer would see right through it.

 

Subject:

Have Daniel Peterson stick this in his pipe and smoke it! ...

Date:

Apr 16 18:00

Author:

makeitadouble


The Church still sells, for a profit, the Book "The Articles of Faith." And here is the First Presidency's position of how Book of Mormon research should be conducted:

[The Book of Mormon] is entitled to the MOST THOROUGH AND IMPARTIAL EXAMINATION. Not only does the Book of Mormon merit such consideration, it claims, EVEN DEMANDS THE SAME . . . . The question of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon is therefore one IN WHICH THE WORLD IS CONCERNED. . . . The Latter-day Saints base their belief in the authenticity of the book on the following proofs . . . 5. Corroborative testimony furnished by archeology and ethnology. (James E. Talmage "The Articles of Faith", Chapter 15, p. 273).

 

Subject:

Peterson uses typical Mopologist flawed reasoning....

Date:

Apr 16 19:08

Author:

Randy J.


....in this statement, for one:

"It simply won't do, in the case of most FARMS publications, to hand a treatment of, say, archaeological data relevant to 1 Nephi to somebody who knows nothing about the Book of Mormon."

A potential peer-reviewer need not be an expert on the BOM to be able to adequately peer-review FARMS' publications concerning the BOM. The BOM claims to be an authentic record of people and events somewhere in ancient America. Thus, any scholar who is schooled in ancient American archaelogy or anthropology would be able to peer-review articles concerning the BOM, if those articles regard archaelogical or anthropological claims.

For instance, such non-Mormon scholars as the Smithsonian Institute and the late Michael Coe have examined the BOM and declared that it has no relation to any real places or events in ancient America. And even some LDS scholars have admitted as much, one example being LDS anthropologist Dee Green's statement "The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaelogy exists."

The Mopologists' position is damaged even more by the fact that so many of the items they once proclaimed to be "Book of Mormon evidence" over the years have been refuted, such as the "Lehi Stone," the Bat Creek Stone, etc.

I also chuckled at Peterson's statement:

"What Daniel Peterson knows about peer review can be summed up in one word ................... NOTHING." Which, if true, worries me a great deal, since I'm the editor-in-chief of four translation series distributed by the University of Chicago Press. If they find out, I'm toast.)"

When I read that, I thought of U. of Chicago chief Egyptologist Robert Ritner's recent scathing review of modern Mopologists' defenses of Joseph Smith's "translations" of his papyrus. In his paper, Ritner remarked:

"With the regard to the articles by my former student John Gee, I am constrained to note than unlike the interaction between Baer and Nibley, and the practice of all my other Egyptology students, Gee never chose to share drafts of his publications with me to elicit scholarly criticism, so that I have encountered these only recently. It must be understood that in these apologetic writings, Gee's opinions do not necessarily reflect my own, nor the standards of Egyptological proof that I required at Yale or Chicago."---p. 167.

I find it amusingly ironic that while Peterson boasts of being an editor of U. of Chicago publications concerning "translations," the chief Egyptologist of the U. of Chicago relates how Peterson's fellow Mopologist John Gee circumvented the scholarly peer-review process by declining to submit his assertions regarding the papyrus to his own professor of Egyptology before publishing them in guess where---FARMS journals.

Ritner makes it clear that the efforts of such FARMites as Gee, Hugh Nibley, and Michael Rhodes to salvage Joseph Smith's "translations" were published only "in tracts circulated among the faithful", and reached "desperate levels" in trying to reconcile Smith's fanciful interpretations. I wonder if Ritner knows that Peterson and Gee are fellow travelers in their belief in the BOM and BOA.

Of course, Peterson and other LDS scholars are capable of publishing legitimate work in their fields; but it's obvious that some LDS scholars attempt to parlay their credentials in legitimate scholarship into giving credence to their assertions regarding exclusive Mormon claims. But that's not legitimate, especially when their assertions regarding the authenticity of exclusive Mormon claims are utterly refuted by the legitimate scientific data.

Contrary to their intentions, the Petersons, Nibleys, Gees, and Rhodes of Mormondumb actually damage their scholarly reputations when they use their credentials and positions to defend obviously bogus Mormon artifacts.

 

Subject:

Golden Brown Nuggets from the Mormon Barnyard: FARMS and "Peer Review"

Date:

Aug 24, 2005 18:51

Author:

steve benson

Mail Address:


Subject: Golden Brown Nuggets from the Mormon Barnyard: FARMS and "Peer Review"
Date: Aug 24 15:35
Author: steve benson
Mail Address:

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

Introduction: FARMS--for LDS Apostles, the Indispensable Tool for Defending Indefensible Mormonism

It is quite telling to see floundering Mormon Apostles--incapable of articulating any decent defense of Mormonism’s absurd and laughable claims--falling back on absurd and laughable FARMS to do it for them.

In September 1993, my wife Mary Ann and I met in private with LDS "apostle-ologists" Neal A. Maxwell and Dallin H. Oaks in Maxwell’s downtown Salt Lake City Church office. During the ensuing discussion, we directed to them several questions concerning LDS origins, history, doctrine, policy and practice.

At one point in our meeting, attention turned to the service role as bucket brigade played by FARMS for Mormonism’s tongue-tied, in-over-their-heads Special Witnesses for Christ.

Maxwell, in particular, was very appreciative of the work FARMS offered in bailing him out of tight places.
Indeed, Maxwell declared to us that, as far as the Mormon Apostles were concerned, "We're grateful for FARMS . . . because they protect us on the flank."

Maxwell told us that FARMS, in fact, had been given the express mission of not letting the Church become outflanked.

In expressing this sincere gratitude, it was obvious that what Maxwell meant by his observation that FARMS served to prevent the Mormon Church from defeated by end-arounds, was that FARMS kept the Apostles themselves from becoming outflanked.

Despite Maxwell's appreciation for the work FARMS did in covering his posterior, Oaks griped that FARMS sometimes gets "hyperactive" in trying to prove that the Book of Mormon is true. Oaks told us that he becomes concerned when FARMS "stops making shields and starts turning out swords" because, he said, "you cannot prove the Book of Mormon out of the realm of faith." Accepting the Book of Mormon, Oaks said, was ultimately a matter of faith.

Still, Maxwell was obviously thankful to have FARMS there as his go-to guy during times of scientific stess.
As they say, when the going gets tough, the Apostles get going to FARMS.

In fact, in defense of the junk translation of the Book of Abraham, Maxwell handed me a FARMS review, written by Michael D. Rhodes, of Charles M. Larson's book, . . . By His Own Hand upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri (Grand Rapids: Institute for Religious Research, 1992, p. 240 pp., illustrated).

On later, closer examination of the paper on which Rhodes review was photocopied, I was able to determine that the review had originated from the FARMS offices at BYU. It had been printed on fax paper bearing the acronym “F.A.R.M.S,” along with the “FAX” date of “09/09/93.” It also bore a dispatch time of "1:55" and a B.Y.U.-area phone number of "378 3724."
In short, Holy Ghost-impaired Apostle Maxwell had solicited the assistance of FARMS in preparing for our examination of Mormon scripture.

Well, if Neal A. Maxwell--Apostle of the Most High God--employs FARMS to defend the revealed truth of the Kingdom, then, hell, it must be good. :)

_____

FARMS Embarrasses (Not to Mention Exposes) Itself as the Unprincipled, Principal Water Boy for the Mormon Church in Claiming to be a Champion of Legitimate Peer Review

From its own mouth, FARMS has solemnly testified that its work is credibly "peer-reviewed:"

”Work Done in the Name of FARMS

"Since it was established in 1979, the name FARMS has become synonymous with encouraging and supporting 'faithful scholarship' on the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, the Bible, other ancient scriptures and on related subjects. The reputation of these undertakings rests on supporting scholars whose work reflects a characteristic approach to the study of scriptures and on producing solid, reliable studies which not only support the Book of Mormon and other ancient LDS scriptures but upon which interested members of the church and others can rely in their individual study of the scriptures. . . .

"Work done in the name of FARMS rests on the conviction that the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and other ancient scripture such as the Book of Abraham and the Book of Moses are all the word of God, written by prophets of God, and that they are authentic, historical texts. Other than this, the Institute takes no official position on these ancient scriptures. It defines its task as supporting ‘faithful scholarship,’ meaning that in the research projects it undertakes and supports and in its publication and distribution efforts, the Institute deals, for the most part, with scholars who not only approach their study of the scriptures from an LDS perspective but, more importantly, insure that their work is informed by and is done in terms of adherence to and reliance upon the distinctive teachings of the Restoration.

"The insights of studies such as those produced in the name of FARMS are of secondary importance when compared with the eternal truths that can be learned by a careful reading and study of these revealed texts, guided by the Spirit. Still, solid research and a faithful academic perspective on the scriptures can supply certain kinds of useful information and can answer questions, even if only tentatively, concerning many significant and interesting issues dealing with the ancient backgrounds, origins, composition, and meanings of scripture.

"Our hope is that this material will be of help to interested members of the Church, particularly to a growing number of new members and others, and that it will be an added means of better understanding and appreciating these ancient witnesses of the mission and teachings of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

"Finally, reflecting its long established association with the academic community, first FARMS and now the Institute has built its reputation on supporting and publishing high quality, peer-reviewed work, according to established standards of scholarship. . . ."
(emphasis added)

http://farms.byu.edu/aboutfarms.php
_____


And from another pro-FARMS website, more of the same ol' Brethren-backed, backwater bullpucky:

”The Foundation works to make interim and final reports about [its Book of Mormon] research available widely, promptly, and economically. These publications are peer reviewed to ensure scholarly standards are met.” (emphasis added)

http://www.cometozarahemla.org/farms-f.html


But wait! Hold your horse-drawn Nephite chariots there!
____

Proof That FARMS Research Has Been Scientifically Processed and Accepted Via the Bonafide, Professional Methodologies of Peer Review

With FARMS having made the bold claim that its papers are actually peer-reviewed, I did some research and, sure enough, found a FARMS report that was both peer-reviewed and accepted as such.

It had to do with the "[n]utrient cycle on organic farms: stall balance of a suckler herd and beef bulls," i.e., "manure output."

Read on:

"When budgeting mixed farming systems, a substantial lack of nutrients can be detected in the nutrient flow chain "forage and straw input—stable--manure output." . . . At the experimental farm for organic agriculture . . . in Hennef, Germany, all solid mass flows for a suckler herd and a herd of beef bulls were measured. . . . Balances are very sensitive to variations in mass flow and nutrient content for components with high nutrient contents and/or a large contribution to total mass flow (e.g. manure, silage).” (emphasis added)

http://orgprints.org/00001165/

Sorry, couldn't resist. :)
_____


Now, for REAL Examples of FARMS Peer Review

The premiere Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has, on more than one occasion and in answer to on-going inquiries, released a statement rejecting the Book of Mormon as having any meaningful scientific value. (This letter has been provided over the decades by the Smithsonian, in response to various inquiries):

http://www.irr.org/mit/smithson.html

Predictably, FARMS has cried foul and--through its designated juggler, John Sorenson—has attemped to discredit the Smithsonian's analysis:

http://www.lightplanet.com/response/smithsonian.htm


Likewise, Mormon apologist Kerry Shirts has offered his own spin in support of FARMS' attempted, but failed, ride to the rescue of the ridiculous:

http://www2.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/smithson.htm


Through it all, the Smithsonian has confidently stood by its original statement:

http://www.answeringlds.org/index.html?artSmithsonian.html


National Geographic magazine has also ash-canned the Book of Mormon as an example of pseudo-scientific bunk:

National Geographic not only has said that archaelogical and other sources have failed to substantiate the Book of Mormon, it has (well, what do you know?) referred inquirers to the Smithsonian's 1982 statement on the Book of Mormon.

http://www.irr.org/mit/natgeo.html


For more about National Geographic scientific dismissals of the Book of Mormon, see:

http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/nationalgeographicletter.htm

http://www.bible.ca/mor-Archaeology.htm
_____


Conclusion: An Inside Source at BYU Reveals How FARMS Actually Conducts Its Mr. Greenjeans "Peer Reviews"

I have a very reliable source (a former, tenured and highly-respected BYU professor trained in the hard sciences) who is quite familiar with how FARMS goes about the process of having its papers and research "peer reviewed." Perhaps some day this source will permit him/herself to be identified but, in the meantime, this is what actually occurs during the FARMS so-called "peer review process."

As you may have determined by now, the FARMS procedure for vetting its propaganda does not meet--in any way, shape or form--the professional standards regarded by mainstream academia as being necessary, accepted or credible for purposes of legitimate peer review.

According to my source, the manner in which FARMS handles its “peer reviewing” is as follows:

1. FARMS does not submit its papers and research to academic journals for peer review. The publications to which FARMS does submit its work are not highly regarded in mainstream academic and scientific circles.

2. FARMS does not submit its papers and research to non-Mormon scholars for peer review. FARMS would not dare do so, out of fear of what the non-Mormon reviewers would conclude about its work.

3. FARMS submits its papers and research to a so- called "in-group" for peer review.

4. This "in-group" consists of people who FARMS trusts and who are chosen by FARMS to do its peer reviewing.

5. FARMS submits its research and papers to only those it is confident will not challenge the basic assumptions that underlie FARMS papers and research.

6. These "in-group" reviewers either belong to FARMS, are professionally related to FARMS or are sympathetic to FARMS.

7. FARMS idea of a "peer" review is to submit its works for review to like-minded peers.

8. While these reviewers can be academically critical in their own right, they do not review FARMS materials outside the FARMS framework of mission and belief. FARMS submits its papers and research to only those whose basic conclusions it knows beforehand will be in line with the goals and beliefs of FARMS.

9. In the end, FARMS is a pseudo-academic outfit that is isolated from mainstream academia. It serves as a propaganda arm of the Mormon Church, with its mission and purpose being to produce faith-promoting material for Mormon believers. Outside Mormonism, neither FARMS--nor its peer-reviewing process--are taken seriously.

Related topics:  27. A Mormon Letter to FARMS     51. Horses, FARMS and BofM    54. Book of Abraham    

222    FARMS - Mormon Apologetics

 

 

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