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Is the Book of Mormon Homogeneous?


Uncle Dale

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The silence (from my LDS friends) has become deafening in the other

thread I recently started here -- so, I'll go back to a point Ahab

made, that I found interesting:

...If the Book of Mormon came to us as we (LDS) believe it did, the final result

is mainly the work of one man who wrote in his own vernacular as he received

inspiration from God, along with some minor input from the few men who wrote

as scribes for Joseph.

Perhaps so -- but, if so, then we can use the instance of the

Book's reproducing Isaiah and Malachi texts as a starting point.

In those cases, it might be argued that Joseph Smith purposefully

avoided translating the Nephite characters in front of him on

the plates, and resorted to copying KJV English for his dictation.

This would prove his lack of interest in preserving "Nephite" in

the text he was dictating.

Or --- it could be equally argued that Smith was faithful to

his source material, and that his very minor changes to Isaiah

and Malachi demonstrate how careful he was, not to interject

much of his own verbiage.

So, which possibility seems more reasonable to us modern readers --

1. The BoM has internal structure, and we can learn something about

the vocabulary and expressions of Nephi, Jacob, Mosiah, Zeniff,

Helaman, General Moroni, Mormon, Ether and Moroni the son of Mormon,

by carefully examining the texts.

or

2. Because Joseph Smith so altered the Nephite language, in his

production of the Book of Mormon, it is useless for us to try

and examine its internal structure. It is impossible, for example,

to derive a "word-print" for Moroni, because we do not have his

actual words and expressions to consult.

Your thoughts?

???

UD

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I think it's a bit of both, personally. If we're really dealing with a translation of course we're going to have to question the degree of translator influence. At the same time, we can look for structural, thematic patterns, styles of address, etc. within the text to see if we find different perspectives. Grant Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon is a good start. Brant Gardner's article on "Mormon's Editorial Method and Meta-Message" is really good as well, freer and shorter.

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I think it's a bit of both, personally. If we're really dealing with a translation of course we're going to have to question the degree of translator influence. At the same time, we can look for structural, thematic patterns, styles of address, etc. within the text to see if we find different perspectives. Grant Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon is a good start. Brant Gardner's article on "Mormon's Editorial Method and Meta-Message" is really good as well, freer and shorter.

Thanks for the links.

Being of the older generation, I'm more inclined

to resort to Reynolds (and that new kid, Sperry)

when I think about such stuff.

I keep forgetting about Brant and associates.

UD

...

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UD,

Just because folks were not commenting on your companion thread does not mean they are not interested or were not reading it.

I, for one, am fascinated by these PCA analysis. I went back and listened to the Craig Criddle presentation again just to be sure I understood how your PCA analyses might help confirm or refute his work on BoM, D&C and PoGP authorship attribution.

Having done some data mining and having worked in the past with statisticians and epidemiologists, I am pretty comfortable as to where the weight of evidence stands.

However, I am with you that new data are always of interest, even if they are derivative or meta data.

Please carry on.

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...

Please carry on.

Right now, I'm trying to get a handle upon what folks say

about Ether. More exactly, which parts of Ether are by

Moroni -- which parts are paraphrases -- and which parts

are from the Prophet Ether himself.

If I have to contend with the idea that the entirety is

in the words of Joseph Smith, perhaps it's a lost cause.

At any rate, I have a pca chart of Ether-Moroni and am

pondering how best to develop that data -- regardless of

whether "Moroni" was a Nephite, or a modern; a single

writer, or an amalgam of writers.

It's giving me headaches. I didn't learn any of this stuff

in Book of Mormon class!

UD

.

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If I have to contend with the idea that the entirety is

in the words of Joseph Smith, perhaps it's a lost cause.

That's a negative slant toward something that could be seen in a positive light, instead.

Fact is, the entirety of the Book of Mormon is in the words of Joseph Smith, with some minor input from a few of his scribes.

Go ahead and think you're reading the words of Ether or Nephi, or Moroni, or Mormon (etc) when you're reading the Book of Mormon, though, and don't worry about being totally wrong about that, because you actually are, even though all of their words are coming through to you through the words and language of Joseph Smith, and the words and language of his own scribes, as well.

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...

Go ahead and think you're reading the words of Ether or Nephi, or Moroni,

or Mormon (etc) when you're reading the Book of Mormon

...

That is my "default" position -- I suppose, from habit.

But I'm still worried that it will be impossible to "word-print"

Moroni, and thus search for his BoM contributions by computerized

analysis.

For one thing, the first few Moroni chapters are so short as to

be practically useless in computerized word-printing. They might

chart out anywhere on a map of all the texts, since their shortness

of text will inevitably give unreliable readings in a pca chart, etc.

However, having one foot in the door, I might at least share the

chart I worked up.

Some of the Ether chapters cluster together in a tight little knot

at the bottom of the chart -- others are spread out something more

like the Moroni chapter plots (but without discernible overlap,

other than at Moroni 5 -- and maybe at Moroni 4).

Ether-Mor3.gif

What (if anything) are we to conclude from seeing such results?

UD

.

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...

What (if anything) are we to conclude from seeing such results?

...

Well, for one thing, it seems that in this instance, at least,

the Book of Mormon is NOT homogeneous. Both Ether and Moroni's

chapters are spread out over a large portion of the chart -- which

is not what we might expect of a fairly uniform text, presenting

the words of a single author.

But there is something in the Ether/Moroni pca chart excerpt which

brings a measure of satisfaction to my own mind -- and it has to do

with a longstanding disagreement I've had with Matt Jockers.

You see, his authorship attribution for some of the Ether chapters

differs from mine, and that has been a thorn in my side for some

time now. To illustrate, let me superimpose the Ether-Moroni plots

atop the old Mosiah-Alma excerpt I've spoken of previously.

Here:

MosAlmEthMorPCA.gif

We now have identified the BoM chapter plots for Mosiah, Alma,

Ether and Moroni -- and in this messy chart we have all of that

brought together at last.

What has me pleased, is that several of the Ether chapters fall

smack dab in the middle of the "Spalding cluster" inside of the

Book of Mormon, which I've been talking about for a couple of

days now.

Most significantly, we see Ether 1, 9, 14 and 15 falling in

the midst of all the reddish "Spalding attributed chapters"

Jockers identified for Alma and Mosiah. But there is more.

see also Ether 6, 10 and 11 ---> which the pca chart clusters

in with all the Spalding attributed texts.

I predicted this years ago, and disagreed with Jockers' alternative

attributions. See my graphic here:

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

I say "Spalding; " he says "Rigdon and Pratt." I say

eether -- he says iither -- "let's call the whole thing off."

If we can take the depictions in the pc1/pc2 chart of Jockers'

own data seriously, those three chapters fall in with the BoM's

Spalding cluster, and share textual elements with Spalding,

more so than with Pratt or Rigdon's writings.

So thank you, Bruce -- for giving me ammunition to use against Matt.

Score:

Mormon defenders = 1

Feuding Spalding advocates = 0

Ain't pca charts fun?

UD

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That's a negative slant toward something that could be seen in a positive light, instead.

Fact is, the entirety of the Book of Mormon is in the words of Joseph Smith, with some minor input from a few of his scribes.

Go ahead and think you're reading the words of Ether or Nephi, or Moroni, or Mormon (etc) when you're reading the Book of Mormon, though, and don't worry about being totally wrong about that, because you actually are, even though all of their words are coming through to you through the words and language of Joseph Smith, and the words and language of his own scribes, as well.

It is not a given that the Book of Mormon is in the words of Joseph Smith. None of the previous word print studies have come to that conclusion. And the description of the translation process also does not support that conclusion.

And to answer Dale's question, the Book of Mormon is hardly homogenous. Even books by the same author will often not be found homogenous because there are so many places where quotes and passages from other sources are included. To be able to test for any such uniformity, one would have to carefully analyse all of the texts porported to be by any one author and remove any portions that are claimed by the text to be from another source, then work with the remaining text. That should be fun.

glenn

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...To be able to test for any such uniformity, one would have to carefully

analyse all of the texts porported to be by any one author and remove any

portions that are claimed by the text to be from another source,

then work with the remaining text.

...

You know the old argument, over whether certain academic disciplines

are "an art" or "a science?"

I'm beginning to think of Book of Mormon studies in that light. Trying

to comprehend the structure of the text is neither an art nor a science;

it takes both methodologies, in order to appreciate what we have here.

Of course a large number of people will say that the scientific

appreciation of the text is a useless waste of time, and that what

we really should concentrate upon is the message of the book --

not its "nuts and bolts."

For us Spalding-Rigdon enthusiasts, the "nuts and bolts" of the

text matter very much. But we non-LDS should not be put into the

position of leading the way in scientific studies -- that should

be a Mormon task, set upon with vigor by Mormon scholars.

I feel embarrassed here -- like trying to sell ice to the Eskimos --

when the Eskimos are telling me they really don't want my ice.

Oh well...

UD

.

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...

I feel embarrassed here

...

While I'm not saying that Bruce's pca chart is a perfect guide

to our finding "Manuscript Found," its "Book of Mormon cloud"

of plot points can rather neatly be separated into two "islands,"

with all the stuff I'm really interested in falling conveniently

on the "South Island" -- somewhere past "Christchurch."

Much of the stuff we critics have been saying was added into

Spalding's original writings, falls closer to "Auckland," up

on "North Island" (a.k.a. small plates archipelago).

http://sidneyrigdon.com/criddle/BS/SGPlot1.png

Or, to plagiarize Walt Disney and Robert L. Stevenson...

TreasureMap.jpg

UD

.

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While I'm not saying that Bruce's pca chart is a perfect guide...

I finally have a large graphic of the ENTIRE "Book of Mormon cloud"

in that pca chart -- with all chapters labeled.

That is, if anybody is interested in seeing it...

UD

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I finally have a large graphic of the ENTIRE "Book of Mormon cloud"

in that pca chart -- with all chapters labeled.

That is, if anybody is interested in seeing it...

UD

you have to ask?

Anyone with a passing interest in the Book of Mormon beginnings would likely be interested in information that affirms or refutes their theories of origin. I'm interested .... maybe why me, too.

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you have to ask?

...

OK -- as soon as I get back from the beach...

UD

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OK -- as soon as I get back from the beach...

UD

I'm back --

Here's the labeled chart:

Whole1a.jpg

Larger version here:

http://sidneyrigdon.com/criddle/BS/Whole1a.gif

Original chart, here:

http://sidneyrigdon.com/criddle/BS/Whole1a.xls

Tabular data, here:

http://sidneyrigdon.com/criddle/BS/Whole1a.txt

Can somebody send a copy or link to Bruce, please?

UD

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While I'm not saying that Bruce's pca chart is a perfect guide

to our finding "Manuscript Found," its "Book of Mormon cloud"

of plot points can rather neatly be separated into two "islands,"

with all the stuff I'm really interested in falling conveniently

on the "South Island" -- somewhere past "Christchurch."

Much of the stuff we critics have been saying was added into

Spalding's original writings, falls closer to "Auckland," up

on "North Island" (a.k.a. small plates archipelago).

http://sidneyrigdon.com/criddle/BS/SGPlot1.png

UD

.

Dale, Do you know what the statistical significance is of those plots? I do not and would be hoping that someone qualified would pop in to help us out.

Glenn

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Dale, Do you know what the statistical significance is of those plots?

I do not and would be hoping that someone qualified would pop in to help us out.

Glenn

PCA charting was never meant to separate out the writings of

identified authors from a jumble of submitted texts -- that is

not the function of principal component analysis, in which we

are mostly looking for "deviations from the mean."

Thus, as "statistical significance," the internal structure of

Bruce's "Book of Mormon cloud" of chapter plots means very little.

What is striking about his chart, is that it shows a great

separation between Book of Mormon chapters and 19th century texts.

However, once we get inside the "BoM cloud" and look at distributions

represented there, we do see clearly that Matt Jockers has identified

SOMETHING with his NSC classification. The clusters of the BoM chapters

he attributes to Spalding do not occur in Bruce's chart due to the

NSC classification methodology, however. They occur there for some other reason.

For example, the dots for Alma 48-49-50-51-52-53 cluster very tightly

together in Bruce's chart. I predicted this years ago, without resorting

to NSC analysis -- purely on the basis of shared vocabulary with Spalding

and shared phraseology with Spalding. My early predictions had absolutely

nothing at all to do with the current pro and con controversy over NSC use.

If Bruce hopes to salvage his anti-S/R theory argument, using such

pca charts, his best bet is to concede that Jockers has indeed stumbled on to

some textual patterns in the Book of Mormon -- but that the red dots clustering

on the chart (see below) arise from some other phenomenon than the

hand of Solomon Spalding.

Whole2d.gif

UD

.

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Hi Bruce:

The original PCA plot shows that the 19th century candidates are completely separate stylometrically from the Book of Mormon chapters.

I can see the separate "clouds" on the chart, but how did the plots get where they are? What criteria was used to produce the results? From discussions with Dale I learned that the plots represent "distance from the mean" but what is "the mean"? An average or composite of something... all the writing samples put together? or all BOM chapters combined? or something else?

Thanks,

Roger

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Hi Bruce:

I can see the separate "clouds" on the chart, but how did the plots get where they are? What criteria was used to produce the results? From discussions with Dale I learned that the plots represent "distance from the mean" but what is "the mean"? An average or composite of something... all the writing samples put together? or all BOM chapters combined? or something else?

Thanks,

Roger

Roger,

Each of the texts has a number of measurements (say relative frequencies of 110 specific words) associated with it. Geometrically these values give the position of each text in 110-dimensional space (just like 175 W 2300 S give the 2-dimensional address of someone in Salt Lake City). Since we can

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...

I

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...

I'll dig it out and paste in your data...

OK -- that worked out fairly well.

Here's the results:

BruceReply4.gif

Of course, by removing the x-axis and replacing it with

a value scale, we rid ourselves of all those pesky

19th century authors and (I guess) we are now comparing

nothing to something, or something to nothing.

At least it works out that way for my purposes. As I said

previously, I wish to see rigorously derived definitive

data, on what parts of the BoM most resemble the known

writings of Solomon Spalding -- quantified, tabulated

and presented visually.

About the only thing I can discern of interest in this

new chart, is that it produces a cluster of Alma 48-53,

with distances between the plots roughly similar to the

same cluster, exhibited inside the "BoM cloud" by the

pca/pc2 blow-up I posted earlier.

The identification of these several Alma chapters as items

of interest in 19th century authorship studies pre-dates

Jockers' work by a few decades. I'm happy to see that they

keep popping up, as an observable group, in the results of

many different sorts of examinations.

So -- has the dust settled on all of this, -- so that I can

get back to contemplating seashells on the backyard beach?

UD

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Bruce,

I appreciate your work on this new chart. It appears to me to demonstrate that even the seemingly "non-contextual" word vectors you retained remain quite genre-biased. Would you agree? My argument has been that word-frequency-based authorship attribution of cross-genre texts is doomed almost from the outset by the fact that "non-contextual words" turn out to be mostly mythical beasts. Your chart would seem to confirm that.

You mentioned that you have detected patterns in the data after "correcting" for the genre differences. I am curious how this correction was accomplished.

You might also be interested in my response to Dale's ruminations, here.

Peace,

-Chris

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