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Of Ignorance Militant


Daniel Peterson

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LOL. On another thread, now locked, I posted the following:

I would love to have lived in Salem, too. . . .

Virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. We should indulge with caution the notion that morality can be maintained without religion. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. A person who works to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, the firmest props of human and civic duty, can scarcely be termed a patriot.

My Malevolent Stalker, whose sole raison d'etre seems to be to paint me in as dark a hue as possible, has now announced to his joyful Sycophant and the rest of his very tiny coterie of disciples that, in the words of the Sycophant, I was declaring my endorsement of "a hardcore patriarchal leadership enforcing 'morality' through terror" -- a rather curious characterization of the place associated with the biblical Melchizedek, whom I've never previously seen described as a terror-wielding theocrat. (Another disciple volunteers that I would love to have played the role of Albert Speer in Hitler's Third Reich. Which would have been a very odd thing for a quasi-libertarian or Jeffersonian such as I actually am.)

But the funniest part, from my point of view, is the Stalker's mocking dismissal of my "stupefying" claim, above, that "no religion = social and moral anarchy."

The Stalker and his Sycophant plainly don't realize that the passage from me quoted above (commencing "Virtue or morality is a necessary spring" and concluding "can scarcely be termed a patriot") isn't really mine at all, but, rather, is an extremely close paraphrase of a famous passage from George Washington's "Farewell Address." (Incidentally, some of Washington's contemporaries believed that he knew something about statecraft, and some more recent scholars have agreed with them.)

I had hoped to catch somebody with that carefully baited hook, but nobody bit, the thread was closed, and all I ended up getting was this pair of small fry on another, rather low-volume, board. Catch and release. Not worth the effort of cleaning them.

While I'm at it, though:

Early on, the Stalker constantly announced that "Mormon Scholars Testify" was dying, that its rate of growth, which has been steady at one new entry every other day since its founding back in December, was visibly in decline. It would never, he confidently predicted, reach a number that, in fact, it has now long passed. If it did not reach two hundred entries by the end of 2010, he then announced, it would definitely be a failure. (On what basis he issued that edict, he never explained. Two hundred entries by the end of 2010 was certainly never a goal that I had set for the project.) Now that the site is moving steadily toward two hundred entries, however, he has announced that numbers don't matter, since everything on "Mormon Scholars Testify" is just "trash."

The classic book on this particular aspect of the Stalker's psychology is When Prophecy Fails, presciently published in 1956 -- an important clue to the Stalker's age that will clearly discomfit those who, admittedly with good reason, believe him to be an adolescent -- by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter. Not wishing to embarrass the Stalker, they pretended to be writing about a UFO cult that believed the end of the world to be at hand and that experienced "cognitive dissonance" (a term that comes from the book) when the prophecy proved inaccurate.

The "UFO cult" (nod nod wink wink) was and is of very little importance. But the book is quite interesting, and I recommend it.

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Early on, the Stalker constantly announced that "Mormon Scholars Testify" was dying, that its rate of growth, which has been steady at one new entry every other day since its founding back in December, was visibly in decline. It would never, he confidently predicted, reach a number that, in fact, it has now long passed. If it did not reach two hundred entries by the end of 2010, he then announced, it would definitely be a failure. (On what basis he issued that edict, he never explained. Two hundred entries by the end of 2010 was certainly never a goal that I had set for the project.) Now that the site is moving steadily toward two hundred entries, however, he has announced that numbers don't matter, since everything on "Mormon Scholars Testify" is just "trash."

You'd think that he would stop making predictions when they keep failing. If i make predictions that fail, (predictions by deduction, not the Spirit), I tend to take a step back and look at what went wrong, rather than move forward and not even admit error.

I am starting to learn that God has alot of things prepared for us that aren't deducible at the time. But even the bad things turn out to be pretty darn amazing:)

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Had I lived in Salem, the conversation there continues, I would have spent most of my time in the stocks. The Stalker and the Toady (Sycophant is too long and too upscale a word) and the other minnows know, of course, that I was referring to the biblical Salem, and not to the Salem in Massachusetts.

One could deduce from their comments that, though they've probably graduated from high school (where they perhaps once skimmed the Cliff's Notes version of The Crucible for a test in Miss Jones's English class), they've never opened a Bible. (Stocks? In Melchizedek's Salem?) But that wouldn't be nice.

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Had I lived in Salem, the conversation there continues, I would have spent most of my time in the stocks. The Stalker and the Toady (Sycophant is too long and too upscale a word) and the other minnows know, of course, that I was referring to the biblical Salem, and not to the Salem in Massachusetts.

One could deduce from their comments that, though they've probably graduated from high school (where they perhaps once skimmed the Cliff's Notes version of The Crucible for a test in Miss Jones's English class), they've never opened a Bible. (Stocks? In Melchizedek's Salem?) But that wouldn't be nice.

In all honesty, I thought you were talking about living in Salem Mass, at which point I thought that was quite the odd thing to say... I also became slightly more confused when you started mentioning Melchizedek in the same breath. I now know what you were talking about and how it all fit together, but I just had that mental brain fart today--you know?

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The classic book on this particular aspect of the Stalker's psychology is When Prophecy Fails, presciently published in 1956 (...) by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter. (...) about a UFO cult that believed the end of the world to be at hand and that experienced "cognitive dissonance" (a term that comes from the book) when the prophecy proved inaccurate. (...) the book is quite interesting, and I recommend it.

I haven't read it but saw some references to it in other books on human psychology. It's often claimed on the internet that Mormons suffer from cognitive dissonance. Did you read anything in the book that fits failed LDS enterprises, such as building Zion in Missouri, the Kirtland Safety Society, etc.? Or more modern "failed prophecies" (although I can't think of one at the moment, I'm sure the critics can come up with a few)?

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I haven't read it but saw some references to it in other books on human psychology. It's often claimed on the internet that Mormons suffer from cognitive dissonance. Did you read anything in the book that fits failed LDS enterprises, such as building Zion in Missouri, the Kirtland Safety Society, etc.? Or more modern "failed prophecies" (although I can't think of one at the moment, I'm sure the critics can come up with a few)?

No. It was all about the "UFO cult" (wink wink, nod nod).

It's true that certain critics of the Church with intellectual pretensions are inclined to accuse Latter-day Saints of "cognitive dissonance," but I often think that the term does not mean what they think it means.

All of the issues that you raise could be discussed, of course. And have been.

***

Incidentally, on the Stalker/Toady board, one of the even less substantive minnows has now chimed in, chortling at the incredible stupidity of George Washington's comment about religion and morality, which, of course, being a historical illiterate, he thinks is mine:

Just when you thought Danny boy couldn't be a bigger d_mb_ss ...

I wonder how he'd feel about the comment, "We should indulge with caution the notion that intelligence can be maintained with religion."

[Quotation edited slightly to remove his characteristic crudity for this more refined board]

My office window overlooks the playground of the BYU preschool or nursery. It can be pretty amusing. But the Stalker/Toady board runs a close second sometimes.

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My office window overlooks the playground of the BYU preschool or nursery. It can be pretty amusing. But the Stalker/Toady board runs a close second sometimes.

I presume the quality of the amusement differs immensely from any similarities in quantity. Otherwise, this is an insult to preschoolers everywhere.

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In all honesty, I thought you were talking about living in Salem Mass, at which point I thought that was quite the odd thing to say... I also became slightly more confused when you started mentioning Melchizedek in the same breath. I now know what you were talking about and how it all fit together, but I just had that mental brain fart today--you know?

I, on the other hand, was never thinking about colonial Salem. When the original poster mentioned Sodom and Salem in the same sentence, I immediately went into biblical or ancient Near Eastern mode. I could certainly understand not wanting to live in Sodom, but I couldn't imagine why a Latter-day Saint wouldn't want to live in Melchizedek's Salem.

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Not enough books there!

An excellent point.

Although there is at least this: The vast majority of the lost books of the ancient world hadn't been lost yet. They hadn't been written, either. But they hadn't been lost.

Several millennia before the invention of green Jell-O?

Okay. That's it. That's definitive.

I take it back. I wouldn't have liked living there.

Though I assume that they did have Krispy Kremes, right?

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An excellent point.

Although there is at least this: The vast majority of the lost books of the ancient world hadn't been lost yet. They hadn't been written, either. But they hadn't been lost.

Okay. That's it. That's definitive.

I take it back. I wouldn't have liked living there.

Though I assume that they did have Krispy Kremes, right?

Negative ghost rider. They were all vegans and vegetarians.

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Negative ghost rider. They were all vegans and vegetarians.

Mav, with Goose in tow: "Tower, this is Ghostrider, requesting a fly-by."

Tower: "Negative, Ghostrider, the pattern is full."

Whereupon, the next thing the ATC knows, all of the pretty ribbons on the front of his chest sadly have been soiled by the coffee he had been drinking when Mav and Goose inexplicably disregarded his previous radio transmission. :P

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By the way, Professor Peterson, how is it that a thread upon which you were participating has been locked? :P I thought, at least if some sources are to be believed, that your power here on the Board is infinite and absolute, so as to prevent that from happening ... ? ;)

P.S.: Or is it only Scott Lloyd with that sort of power?

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By the way, Professor Peterson, how is it that a thread upon which you were participating has been locked? :P I thought, at least if some sources are to be believed, that your power here on the Board is infinite and absolute, so as to prevent that from happening ... ? ;)

P.S.: Or is it only Scott Lloyd with that sort of power?

It must be only Scott Lloyd. It's happened to me more than a few times, and often very much to my disappointment. And it's been quite frustrating when I've just finished an exceptionally witty, brilliant, and devastating response to some wicked villain or other who dares to dissent from my views, only to be told that the thread has been locked. Ironically, I'm informed that I typically have the threads locked because (craven and incompetent coward that I am) I seek the protection of the moderators.

But now (see above) it turns out that, more than just a craven coward, I'm a wannabe fascist with a hankering for patriarchal theocracy based upon torture. (Good thing my wife doesn't realize this. I don't think she'd be happy with it.) And, of course (see the thread on the recent Jewish-Mormon accord), a vicious anti-Semite. Among other very bad things.

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It must be only Scott Lloyd. It's happened to me more than a few times, and often very much to my disappointment. And it's been quite frustrating when I've just finished an exceptionally witty, brilliant, and devastating response to some wicked villain or other who dares to dissent from my views, only to be told that the thread has been locked. Ironically, I'm informed that I typically have the threads locked because (craven and incompetent coward that I am) I seek the protection of the moderators.

But now (see above) it turns out that, more than just a craven coward, I'm a wannabe fascist with a hankering for patriarchal theocracy based upon torture. (Good thing my wife doesn't realize this. I don't think she'd be happy with it.) And, of course (see the thread on the recent Jewish-Mormon accord), a vicious anti-Semite. Among other very bad things.

Sounds like, as you should know by now, it always has to be something.

I'm surprised that I haven't seen any theories linking the Church to Al Queda. Just a matter of time I suppose.

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Sounds like, as you should know by now, it always has to be something.

I'm surprised that I haven't seen any theories linking the Church to Al Queda. Just a matter of time I suppose.

Oh, I've seen such theories proposed.

Because LDS Charities partnered with Islamic Relief (e.g., after earthquakes and floods in Pakistan, and following the tsunami in Indonesia), for example, the Church is allied with al-Qa

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