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Spot-checking Book of Mormon Word-prints


Uncle Dale

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Mormon critics such as Leff Lindsay have argued that the 2008

Stanford University word-print study was "rigged for Rigdon," and set up in such

a way that some Book of Mormon chapters would appear to have a probable

Sidney Rigdon authorship -- while other chapters would appear to have

a probable Solomon Spalding authorship.

2008LLC4.jpg

If this is truly the way in which Jockers, Criddle and Witten crafted

their 2008 computerized analysis, they did not do a very thorough job in

fabricating the Solomon Spalding "voice" in their word-print study

results. According to my own textual spot-checking, that is.

In the last 1/3 of the book of Alma, the Jockers team evidently

missed "rigging" for Spalding their study results for chapter 55.

Here my own inspection of the 1830 Book of Mormon text shows

a relatively poor correlation with Solomon Spalding's phraseology.

While an average page of Alma exhibits between nine and ten

significant shared word-strings with Spalding's writings, pages

for Alma chapter 55 display considerably less than that average,

with two-thirds of those pages dipping down as low as seven.

So, when the Stanford team attributed this chapter's authorship

to Solomon Spalding, they obviously did not craft their "rigging"

very carefully:

http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/MEDIA/phrchrt2.gif

Examples of even worse correlation with Spalding's phraseology

and vocabulary can be seen when we chart out the text for

Mosiah and Ether in the 1830 Book of Mormon:

http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/MEDIA/phrchrtM2.gif

http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/MEDIA/phrchrtE2.gif

The Stanford team attribute Mosiah chapter 8 to Spalding's

authorship -- but my own inspection of that chapter shows

that its shared phraseology with Spalding dips far below

the average 9.2 significant word-strings per page, while

its shared vocabulary with Spalding registers far below

the average of 93.3 % exhibited on the average Mosiah page.

Likewise the Stanford team attributes Ether chapter 1 to

Spalding's pen -- but two of its pages are below average

on phraseology overlap and one of its pages is below

average on shared vocabulary with Spalding.

But I've saved the worst examples for the last. In the 1830

Book of Alma text, many, many of the pages that the

Stanford team attribute to Spalding's authorship fall

far short of the average 9.3 shared significant word-strings

for Alma's text, in general:

http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/MEDIA/phrchrtA2.gif

To sum up -- While the Stanford team may have indeed

"rigged" their word-print results to show a high authorship

probability for Sidney Rigdon in some parts of our

Book of Mormon (I've never checked for Rigdon's language),

their "rigging" for matches with Solomon Spalding's

demonstrated use of language came out rather imperfect.

Perhaps they need to tweak their computer programs, to

turn out a better set of matches with Spalding's use of

language, as discernible in this master chart of his

shared phraseology in the 1830 Mosiah, Alma and Ether:

http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/MEDIA/phrchrt3.gif

Uncle Dale

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I guess that Joseph Smith was not the author of the BOM after all.

It was Rigdon that plagiarized it - or was it Solomon Spalding?

It was Parley Pratt who introduced Rigdon to the LDS faith BTW...

Parley taught his former religious mentor, Sidney Rigdon.

...within weeks, Rigdon and more than 100 others in the region had converted.

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Fret not. Jeff Lindsay's criticisms will soon be the least of your worries.

To me, the astounding thing is that, in the face of so much evidence to the contrary, there are actually still people--ostensibly "in the know" about Mormon historical matters--who are capable of believing even in the thesis of a Spaulding/Rigdon nexus for Book of Mormon authorship, let alone its fact.

Alas, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest ...

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I guess that Joseph Smith was not the author of the BOM after all.

...

Well, note that I only "spot-checked" Mosiah, Alma and Ether.

The latest (unpublished) Jockers reporting credits Joseph Smith

as the writer of Mosiah 13, as well as Alma 20, 29, 37, 38 and 41:

http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/MEDIA/phrchrt3.gif

I'll not summarize here the Stanford team's recent findings for

Smith's contributions to 1Nephi, 2Nephi, Jacob, Helaman, etc.

Those 2009 computer study results remain preliminary, provisional

and unpublished.

Of course the LDS scholars will doubtless dispute Jockers' choice

of Joseph Smith base-texts, from which to derive his "word-print."

This is exactly why the Stanford team DID NOT include any mapping

of Smith's "voice" in their 2008 reporting.

As I understand it, this more recent round of computer analysis

(generalized in the color-coded chapter divisions atop my chart)

included a Smith "word-print" based primarily upon the texts of

his handwritten letters to Emma. Even with all of those documents

added together, the base-text for this recently derived "word-print"

for Smith is evidently too short to be relied upon.

Until the LDS scholars make available a verified base-text for

deriving a Joseph Smith word-print, I suppose things are at a

standstill, as far as our talking about any Smith BoM authorship.

But, IIRC, Louis Midgely suggested in the "Common Consent" blog,

that we simply make use of several thousand contiguous words

from "History of the Church," or some other Joseph Smith book.

What do the LDS textual scholars have to say about such suggestions?

UD

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Until the LDS scholars make available a verified base-text for

deriving a Joseph Smith word-print, I suppose things are at a

standstill, as far as our talking about any Smith BoM authorship.

Remind me of the requirements for a usable "base text."

Also, can you explain why anyone should take the relative probability of these results seriously in light of the lack of supporting historical evidence?

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UD,

Thanks for an knowledgeable and independent assessment.

Spaulding/Rigdon authorship contributions to the BoM have always been of interest to me, and it is nice to see yet more objective data on the subject.

We keep hearing the overoptimistic predictions of apologists that new and game-changing data and findings are just around the corner on a number of issues that are controversial (at least to apologists). These generally turn out to be tangled re-syntheses and re-interpretations of available information intended to further obscure or cast "reasonable doubt" on data unfavorable to the desired conclusion.

It is hard to argue with hard data.

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Remind me of the requirements for a usable "base text."

I do not know the exact current consensus on the subject,

but I've heard it said that 10,000 contiguous words from

a 100% verified source would be adequate.

One of the problems with the 2008 Stanford team's selection

of a base-text for word-printing Sidney Rigdon, is that they

amalgamated several texts attributed to Rigdon, without

supplying 100% verification that he was their author.

Joining texts together like that, is a less reliable

method than using a single, 100% verified text for an author.

Also, can you explain why anyone should take the relative probability

of these results seriously in light of the lack of supporting historical evidence?

That is exactly the sort of opening question that should be stated in

some future journal paper, addressing the topic of authorship determination.

Ron Dawbarn and Margie Miller are currently working on a book which

attempts to detect a non-religious ur-text for the Book of Mormon. While

it will be interesting to see what whittled-down version of the

"Nephite Record" they come up with, for citation in their reporting,

I suppose that the same question will be asked of their hypothesis:

"...why anyone should take the relative probability of these results seriously?"

I expect some sort of reply to the Dawbarn-Miller book in a JWHA Journal

review in 2011 --- perhaps that will be the logical time and place for a

knowledgeable scholar to address the Stanford team's computer analysis

as well, since Dawbarn and Miller will also attempt to point out the

Spalding (and perhaps Rigdon) sections of the BoM.

I'm content to wait and see what the peer-reviewed scholarly response is.

UD

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...

It is hard to argue with hard data.

Well, some folks will say: "Garbage in -- garbage out," when it comes

to superimposing authorship attributions on top of latter day scriptures.

All I've managed to do, is to take the three "hot spots" (as Criddle calls them)

for Book of Mormon/Spalding shared language, and measure the degree of that

shared vocabulary and shared phraseology.

Theoretically, my results should not correlate with the computerized

determinations for "frequently used non-contextual words" distributions

in the Book of Mormon, unless those correlations are due to common authorship.

That is to say, Spalding's "word-print" should not necessarily line up

with examples of his vocabulary and phraseology, unless some factor beyond

pure coincidence is the "culprit" in causing such matching.

My critics might well suggest that I carry out the same experiment for

a couple of hundred other pre-1830 books written in English, and only then

come back into an on-line forum such as this one, with my reporting.

In fact, Ryan Larsen is considering just such a computerized project

of multi-text examination, to supply "control data" for my own results,

(see his new "Delving Deep" blog on matters Mormon):

http://ryanlarsen.blogspot.com/2009/11/book-of-mormon-authenticity.html

We shall see...

UD

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Good luck with that!

That is why I'm asking whether we can simply excerpt 10,000 words from

the LDS "History of the Church" (supposedly written by Smith) and

rely upon such a base-text, in order to derive a "word-print" for him?

UD

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In the words of Mark Twain, there are lies, damned lies, and statistical word-print studies.

Which is exactly why I went to the trouble of actually

counting up the number of shared words in the 1830 Book of Mormon

and in Spalding's writings --- so that we could consult something

other than statistical interpretations.

The BoM pages (color-coded for shared language with Spalding) are here:

http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/MEDIA/BookMos1.htm (Mosiah)

http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/MEDIA/BookAlm1.htm (Alma first part)

http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/MEDIA/BookSol0.htm (Alma second part)

http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/MEDIA/BookEth1.htm (Ether)

Spalding's writings (color coded for shared language with the BoM) are here:

http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/ColorSMS.htm

UD

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UD,

Thanks for an knowledgeable and independent assessment.

Spaulding/Rigdon authorship contributions to the BoM have always been of interest to me, and it is nice to see yet more objective data on the subject.

We keep hearing the overoptimistic predictions of apologists that new and game-changing data and findings are just around the corner on a number of issues that are controversial (at least to apologists). These generally turn out to be tangled re-syntheses and re-interpretations of available information intended to further obscure or cast "reasonable doubt" on data unfavorable to the desired conclusion.

It is hard to argue with hard data.

Please Arc, there really is no call for poisoning the well. :P

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Uncle Dale I used to read your post often now rarely do I. I just want to say the reason I don't anymore is because you have a trend to go into a psudohistory and base much of your reasoning on pure speculation. You will find an obscure passage from someones journal and then read into that even more.

Not saying Orson Pratt isn't a good source and I am not using this thread as the example but just saying to me that seems to be your MO.

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That is why I'm asking whether we can simply excerpt 10,000 words from

the LDS "History of the Church" (supposedly written by Smith) and

rely upon such a base-text, in order to derive a "word-print" for him?

Ah #$%!@#$%!!

Who cares who really wrote it. We only care about who supposedly wrote it. :P

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...

Not saying Orson Pratt isn't a good source

...

Too bad Orson isn't with us today. He might even take an interest

in this recent research -- since it points to his brother Parley as

being one of the four latter day contributors to the Book of Mormon.

Notice that, on my combined chart, Parley outranks Sidney as a

major contributor to the BoM text in Mosiah-Alma.

Maybe we should stop calling it the Spalding-Rigdon theory, and

start calling it something else (with Pratt & Cowdery included).

Can't please all of the people all of the time, I suppose --

so I won't try.

I will try to put my historical interpretations into some context

that is evidence-based, however.

Anybody uncovering better/more evidence than I have on hand, please

let me know, and I'll be sure to add your discoveries to the pile.

UD

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Please Arc, there really is no call for poisoning the well. blink.gif

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

No "poisoning" was intended.

My comment regarding apologist optimism was intended as a response to the William Schryver post #3 on this thread.

Since I assumed that post #3 would be directly above mine when I started writing it, I did not quote Schryver directly.

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You might have something but it is well attested that Parley met Joseph after the publishing of the BoM. I do not see how that could even be a possibility. I can get a word print study to say I am the creator/author of Green Eggs and Ham but it wouldn't make it so. Like I said before you seem to be attracted to anything that takes away actual history. Just my 2 cents

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Ah #$%!@#$%!!

Who cares who really wrote it. We only care about who supposedly wrote it. :P

Dan Vogel was supposed to be working on an in-depth study of authorship

of "History of the Church," by consulting the original "Times & Seasons"

serialized episodes, as well as their continuation in the "Millennial Star"

and the 1850s "Deseret News." I wonder how far he got with that study?

The problem is, that HC is a "documentary" history, and thus contains all

sorts of original "documents," from various sources. A blind-stab at

extracting an excerpt from that set of volumes might well end up being

a lengthy quotation from Thomas Ford or some other non-Smith worthy.

The Joseph Smith Papers scholars would do us all a profound service,

by simply identifying the 1820s and 1830s "papers" we can be absolutely

certain came from Smith's mind alone, without external contributions.

UD

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You might have something but it is well attested that Parley met Joseph after

the publishing of the BoM....

Can we find some non-Mormon sources for that attestation?

The Scientologists can supply all sorts of references in regard

to their various historical/philosophical/religious claims, but

most of their attestations come from their own internal sources.

If I really wanted to learn when H. Ron Hubbard met somebody or

another for the first time, I'd probably also want to consult

some non-Scientology sources.

Same goes for documenting Joseph Smith's chronology. I don't think

it would be a good idea to depend 100% on LDS sources alone.

I've begun to build a web-page on Parley's 1820s activities, here:

http://sidneyrigdon.com/criddle/PrattTin.htm

Perhaps somebody can supply me with some non-LDS sources to add there.

UD

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Dan Vogel was supposed to be working on an in-depth study of authorship

of "History of the Church," by consulting the original "Times & Seasons"

serialized episodes, as well as their continuation in the "Millennial Star"

and the 1850s "Deseret News."

Oh great! Now I feel all warm and fuzzy, knowing that there won't be any prejudges involved in this effort. :P

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Oh great! Now I feel all warm and fuzzy, knowing that there won't be any prejudges involved in this effort. :P

Would be nice if the 1840s and 1850s LDS newspaper texts for HC

matched very closely with the modern, multi-volume LDS edition.

Sandra Tanner says there are problems.

Uncle "then again, the last time I relied upon Mrs. Tanner was in 1977" Dale

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Right! Because we all KNOW that LDS sources are not to be trusted. :P

Well, I began several decades back, by trusting all the Reorganized LDS sources,

and look at where that got me...

UD

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