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Review of Dehlin's "Truth Claims" Essays

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8 minutes ago, juliann said:

Oh, wow. I hadn't looked at the website to see the other stuff. This is like a time machine back to the 90s. I cannot believe he used the Nat'l Geo statement without cluing his readers into their follow up. That is just plain dishonest. Just wow. I'm stymied why Dehlin is going backwards. And there is something really offensive about randomly linking to pictures of uncontacted tribes to display them as proof of....something. This is no different than the article from the two EV scholars that said the evangelical anti-cultists had lost the debate because they refused to engage with LDS scholarship. 

 He might have more to lose than gain by opening the authors credentials to scrutiny. I will never forget how quickly they went dead silent on the DNA nonsense after three recognized experts in the direct area of expertise needed published a rebuttal to Murphy and those with more peripheral qualifications.  Few scholars are going to want to weigh in because of professional concerns which hurts the Dehlins more than LDS because we seem to always have a few who will. 

When he opened with the National Geographic stuff I laughed out lout and began typing a criticism, but then erased. I thought I might be personally piling on to such a really poorly researched, dishonest portrayal of Mormonism. It does make one pause to try and understand how this came about. I think I may have to join with a previous post - I am mystified by Dehlin's actions. 

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56 minutes ago, Storm Rider said:

I think it is even stronger than that - look at Mormon Stories website - it does not list an author.  If you can find it, please do, but skimming the article I saw nothing. 

My goodness, folks are straining at this fly - so it is his site, he chooses to advertise his "truth" claims about Mormonism, does not list the author(s) of the article - and we are supposed to make it clear that Dehlin was not the real author and that all the errors are someone else's or the fault of uncited authors and Dehlin should be left walking daintily about spouting "truth" claims about a topic of which he demonstrates he knows very little.

Hmm, ya gotta love it when critics bend so far over backwards to excuse him. And we are told that Mormons wear blinders.  

I agree that if an author isn't listed, then it's even more reasonable to refer to them as Dehlin's essays.

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29 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I agree that if an author isn't listed, then it's even more reasonable to refer to them as Dehlin's essays.

It is not a tenable argument that we should not criticize Dehlin for an uncited article on his own website. This is not a defensible position to take. It appears that the position has been abandoned with the additional information added....I hope.  

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2 hours ago, juliann said:

If it was used as a formal reference or something, of course. Otherwise I think it is unreasonable to expect to see essays that were announced by Dehlin as something he solicited, and put on his website called anything but his essays. I recall he was proud of his sources, none of which were academically sound.

Even when authors were identified on FM, it was consistently referred to as FM’s product even when a disclaimer was posted. 

Has Dehlin posted any disclaimer that the essay is the work of the author and may or may not reflect his views?

Wouldn't it be more accurate to refer to it as the "Mormon Stories Essays"?

After all, we don't refer to the Church essays as "Monson's Essays" even though he likely commissioned and approved them.

It should be noted that the Mormon Stories website has this to say regarding the essays:

Quote

While the framework of the core essays is largely complete, various editors remain actively engaged in the early stages of an ongoing work in progress; many updates and improvements will be made. We value your feedback on tone, content, length, sources, etc. as each topic develops.

Also, when John first introduced the essays on his podcast, he reiterated this point by mentioning they were drafted by an amateur historian and were essentially a work in progress and therefore needed the help of his listeners for feedback on tone, content, and sources.

John has now apparently received some feedback, lets see what he does with it.

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6 hours ago, Gray said:

I think we can agree that Dehlin is a sloppy interviewer without stooping to armchair psychoanalysis and attacks. I find his interview style frustrating, but that doesn't make him a sociopath. There's an art to interviewing people, and he's never really picked that up. It's not really anything to do with his field of study or his mental health.

I agree comments about mental health are inappropriate, but my degree was in clinical psychology and I was trained to interview and draw out the client as opposed to spending the time talking myself, so I do think he could have picked up some basic pointers at least in his field of study.  

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3 minutes ago, omni said:

Wouldn't it be more accurate to refer to it as the "Mormon Stories Essays"?

 

 

 

Who runs and controls MSE and is making all of the statements? Really, this is just getting silly and is looking like a way to avoid discussing the content. 

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I think it apropriate to call them Dehlin's essays because it appears he is overseeing the project.  At the very least he is one of the "we's" involved.  Otoh, I think given it is stated that the essays are collective works, it probably would be best when speaking of specific claims, to say "the authors" or "Mormonstories" or some other label that indicates it is a collective work, thus avoiding the possible inappropriate attachment of a belief to Dehlin himself.

Having said that, if there is no disclaimer attached, I would assume Dehlin has input and therefore if he disagreed could make changes easy enough, so if people label claims as his, it is his carelessness at not having a disclaimer that allows for that jump, imo.

Scanned the intro page and the treasure seeking page.  No disclaimer.

-----

Confusion may also arise when podcasts are included as part of the topic page, so it appears as a continuation of the essay section and Dehlin uses "I".

Quote

Recently I was fortunate enough to spend 8 hours with Dan, discussing: 1) his life story, 2) his research and perspectives on Joseph Smith’s participation in folk magic and treasure digging, and 3) his views on how the Book of Mormon was written. In conjunction with our new Mormon Stories Podcast “Truth Claims” initiative (which includes new web content and a new billboard along the I-15 corridor), I share with you today part 2 of my interview with Dan Vogel, focusing specifically on Joseph Smith’s treasure digging. I hope you will enjoy this as much as I did.

 

Edited by Calm
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13 minutes ago, juliann said:

Who runs and controls MSE and is making all of the statements? Really, this is just getting silly and is looking like a way to avoid discussing the content. 

Once again, the same criticism could be applied to the Church essays.  IMO, it's not a big deal either way,  I just feel it's more accurate to refer to them as "Mormon Stories Essays" as Dehlin has stated from the beginning they were not authored by him, but rather an "amateur historian".  

That being said, as John receives feedback on potential inaccuracies in the essays, it then becomes his responsibility to update accordingly.

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36 minutes ago, omni said:

Once again, the same criticism could be applied to the Church essays.

That they are wrongly referred to as "the church essays?" Said no one ever. He isn't being treated any differently than the church essays are so all that comparison does is support that it is all right to refer to his the same way. 

And, this is way beyond "updates." Of course, they could always exploit more recent pictures of hidden tribes people, I guess. This is a throw it all out and start over. There isn't even a foundation to build on this stuff is so old. 

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2 minutes ago, mapman said:

While your average ex-Mormon might be aware of more historical facts than your average church member,

I think you need to compare average exmormon who hangs out in online communities discussing Mormon topics with the average Saint who does the same.  Unless you are defining exmormon as having officially resigned as opposed to just not selfidentifying as part of the Church anymore.

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7 minutes ago, Calm said:

I think you need to compare average exmormon who hangs out in online communities discussing Mormon topics with the average Saint who does the same.  Unless you are defining exmormon as having officially resigned as opposed to just not selfidentifying as part of the Church anymore.

I was thinking of the people that buy into the escaping and recovering from Mormonism idea that congregate at places like the exmormon subreddit who join a community instead of just stop going to church like most people.

But you're right that's a more accurate comparison. There are communities of Latter-day Saints that are very knowledgeable about the history as well.

Edited by mapman
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4 hours ago, cinepro said:

I think the simplest explanation is that Dehlin really believes in what he is doing and is sincere, despite his mistakes and ineptitude. 

Kind of a "pious fraud", if you will.

Yes, but I recall Mark Hofmann making similar justifications:  

"My personal opinion is any man would do what he could to protect himself.  That is the moral thing to do, seems to me."  Office of Salt Lake County Attorney, Mark Hofmann Interviews: Interviews Conducted at Utah State Prison Between February 11 and May 27, 1987: Transcripts, Supplements, and Exhibits, 389.

". . . the documents I created could have been a part of Mormon history. . . . the questions I asked myself in deciding on a forgery, one of the questions was, what could have been?  I had a concept of Church history and I followed that concept."  Mark Hofmann Interviews, 113.

Quote

112, "There was some excitement involved, a feeling of duping them, I guess"; 130, "I wouldn't talk to a lot of people about what I thought about the History of the Church, just because . . , I guess, my version of the history is not sympathetic with the teachings of the Church"; 133, " . . . partially it had to do with my rewriting of Mormon history"; 426-427, "It is true that I wrote the documents according to how I felt the actual events took place.  In other words, I believe that Joseph Smith was involved with folk magic, . . ." (22 April 1987); 455, ". . . amusement for the whole idea.  As far as the embarrassment to the Church, it is true that it was embarrassing but I was also interested to see how the Church would react to the situation" (30 April 1987); 474, ". . . again somewhat of an experiment to see the Church's reaction as far as, that always interested me"

 

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8 hours ago, Gray said:

I think we can agree that Dehlin is a sloppy interviewer without stooping to armchair psychoanalysis and attacks. I find his interview style frustrating, but that doesn't make him a sociopath. There's an art to interviewing people, and he's never really picked that up. It's not really anything to do with his field of study or his mental health.

Mark Hofmann, who is a sociopath, is an excellent example of what I have in mind.  The irony is what gets me.

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33 minutes ago, juliann said:

That they are wrongly referred to as "the church essays?" Said no one ever. He isn't being treated any differently than the church essays are so all that comparison does is support that it is all right to refer to his the same way. 

This wasn’t the point I was making.  Referring to these essays as “Dehlin’s essays” is equivalent to referring to the church essays as “President Monson’s essays”.

Anyways, this really isn’t important to the OP. 

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5 hours ago, bluebell said:

Probably because proving that your theological and doctrinal critique of a religious doctrine, item, or church, is valid is really really hard.  Science can't really do it.

It's not too hard to demonstrate that Christianity started in the mid-first century, rather than hundreds of years earlier.

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7 hours ago, ALarson said:

Thanks for posting these, bluebell....I'll look into them!

Is anyone going to correct this author though with his continual usage of "Dehlin's Essay"?  Maybe that's already been addressed, but as far as I can find, Dehlin is not the author of the essay.

If not the author, then arguably the publisher. As such he might appropriately be regarded as having ownership of them; ergo they are his essays as much as the author’s. 

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2 hours ago, omni said:

This wasn’t the point I was making.  Referring to these essays as “Dehlin’s essays” is equivalent to referring to the church essays as “President Monson’s essays”.

Anyways, this really isn’t important to the OP. 

No, President Monson was not the publisher of them, the Church of Jesus Christ is. 

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1 minute ago, Scott Lloyd said:

No, President Monson was not the publisher of them, the Church of Jesus Christ is. 

And Dehlin uses “we”, not “I” in describing the publishing and promotion of the essay project. 

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Just now, Calm said:

And Dehlin uses “we”, not “I” in describing the publishing and promotion of the essay project. 

Good point. 

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9 hours ago, ALarson said:

I went over on his site and it's confusing....poorly presented, IMO.  I agree that since he doesn't seem to want to list the authors (and it appears this is his project), it makes sense now to term them "Dehlin's essays".  

I agree.  I think it is really bad form to post an essay and not list the author(s).  

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4 hours ago, Calm said:

And Dehlin uses “we”, not “I” in describing the publishing and promotion of the essay project. 

Is that the royal "we" or the humble "we" or is he really being precise in this use of language. Based on what I am seeing I don't think that you or anyone else can really tell what he means. I am past giving him the benefit of the doubt. 

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4 minutes ago, sunstoned said:

I agree.  I think it is really bad form to post an essay and not list the author(s).  

I think that depends on the purpose of the essay.  There are tons of government info pages out there and authors aren't listed.  When someone is functioning as a representative of an organization rather than an individual, I don't see a need.

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