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Richard Bushman: Evil?


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2 minutes ago, pogi said:

When I say that there is no way that he was a fraud if he believed, I am not speaking in generalities (because some people who believe certainly can be fraudsters), but I am speaking in relation to his actions.  I am looking at where the evidence points.   Fraudsters don't intentionally shoot themselves in the foot for $14/month. 

$14/month may not sound like much to us, but at the time that was making a living. Having studied, investigated and helped prosecute a number of fraudsters, the psychology behind their actions is complex. In some cases, fraudsters will take tremendous risks hoping that they get lucky and things will turn okay, all the while knowing that the chances are very low of such an outcome. Desperation and poverty can also be tremendous motivators.

Do I think JS believed in folk magic? Perhaps. It certainly wasn't uncommon in his day and environment. Do I think he knew it wasn't likely to work, but sold his services anyway because he and his family needed the money very much? I think that is very plausible.

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1 hour ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

There is a possibility that JS combined sincere belief and elements of deceit (Vogel’s general thesis). Meaning he could have acted deceptively in some ways to keep people motivated or believing, while believing himself he was really on the trail of treasure, truth, etc.

Vogel claims that Smith "essentially invented his religious claims for what he believed were noble, faith-promoting purposes".   Do you really believe Vogel?

Certainly, no human alive is perfectly honest and without deceit in their history, but I don't think that makes us all deserving of the title "fraud".  I have seen no evidence that would cause me to judge him as a fraud or charlatan. 

 

The original post I was responding to was that Joseph Smith was fraudulently claiming that he had a gift (charlatan) so that people would hire him (fraud).  I'm sorry, but if he believed that he could find treasure (which all the evidence suggests he did believe) then he was neither a charlatan or frauding people out of $14/month.   If there was some deceit in other ways, that has nothing to do with the original accusation, and it doesn't necessary make him a charlatan/fraud. 

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18 minutes ago, pogi said:

Vogel claims that Smith "essentially invented his religious claims for what he believed were noble, faith-promoting purposes".   Do you really believe Vogel?

Certainly, no human alive is perfectly honest and without deceit in their history, but I don't think that makes us all deserving of the title "fraud".  I have seen no evidence that would cause me to judge him as a fraud or charlatan. 

 

The original post I was responding to was that Joseph Smith was fraudulently claiming that he had a gift (charlatan) so that people would hire him (fraud).  I'm sorry, but if he believed that he could find treasure (which all the evidence suggests he did believe) then he was neither a charlatan or frauding people out of $14/month.   If there was some deceit in other ways, that has nothing to do with the original accusation, and it doesn't necessary make him a charlatan/fraud. 

I wouldn’t go as far as this summary of Vogel.  Also, I agree with you that JS sincerely believed in his gifts.

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1 hour ago, ttribe said:

$14/month may not sound like much to us, but at the time that was making a living. Having studied, investigated and helped prosecute a number of fraudsters, the psychology behind their actions is complex. In some cases, fraudsters will take tremendous risks hoping that they get lucky and things will turn okay, all the while knowing that the chances are very low of such an outcome. Desperation and poverty can also be tremendous motivators.

It sounds like it was dismissed as fairly meager earnings.  No one from the same time period seemed to object when he joked it:

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Was not Joseph Smith a money digger?
Yes, but it was never a very profitable job for him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.

—Joseph's tongue-in-cheek response to one of a list of questions that were asked of him during a visit at Elder Cahoon's home. (Elders' Journal 1/3 (July 1838): 43)

 

1 hour ago, ttribe said:

Do I think JS believed in folk magic? Perhaps. It certainly wasn't uncommon in his day and environment. Do I think he knew it wasn't likely to work, but sold his services anyway because he and his family needed the money very much? I think that is very plausible.

First, you are correct, that he and his family needed the money very much - they were on the verge of loosing their farm.  Joseph Sr. was also involved in the treasure hunt.   Question:  Why would a grown father of young children, who was on the verge of loosing his farm, engage in treasure seeking activities while knowing that the wages alone wouldn't save his farm?  Their only hope was that they find treasure.  That is not what fraudsters do.  I will repeat myself, fraudsters don't shoot themselves in the foot, for a meager income which wont save them from their debts.    All of their hope and belief was in that dig.   There is no other logical explanation.  Joseph Sr. would have been engaged in other means to save his farm if he didn't actually believe a treasure would be found. 

Second, is it truly fraudulent to hire out your work for something that has no guarantee?   Where is the fraud if he believed in magic, as you suggest is very plausible (I think it is undeniable), and hoped to find treasure (his farm was counting on it), but where there was no guarantee.  Charlatan?  Absolutely not.  Fraud?  No sir. No way.  It doesn't add up. 
 

Edited by pogi
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Once again, is it fraudulent to claim that you can find buried treasure, even though you have never found buried treasure? It is similar to taking financial advice on how to get rich from someone who is the opposite of rich. Are palm readers frauds? are tarot card readers frauds? Even if they themselves believe it? Did Joseph truly believe the treasure would slip away? 

Because someone believes they can see things in a stone, is that miraculous? Was Joseph unique in that ability? Or should we believe Sally Chase? 

The Smith family was never good with finances and always seemed to struggle. It is not like they had a robust income from their farm during Joseph Smith Jr's life. $14 a month plus room and board, and his father also getting paid was not nothing to him at age 18. But once again, if he had the ability to locate buried treasure, why did he have to take that deal in the first place? If he didn't claim to have that ability, would he have been hired? It is a bit like Bilbo the "Burglar", fake it until you make it... Joseph's family was within months of losing the family farm, again. They needed the money, desperately. 

One question is, did Joseph really believe that he could see things in his stones? 

 

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8 minutes ago, pogi said:

It sounds like it was dismissed as fairly meager earnings.  No one from the same time period seemed to object when he joked it:

Well, it is meager if you were allegedly going to make a lot more when you discovered the treasure. What income did Jr. and Sr. miss out on by accepting the contract? 

 

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 Question:  Why would a grown father of young children, who was on the verge of loosing his farm, engage in treasure seeking activities while knowing that the wages alone wouldn't save his farm?  Their only hope was that they find treasure.  That is not what fraudsters do.  I will repeat myself, fraudsters don't shoot themselves in the foot, for a meager income which wont save them from their debts.    All of their hope and belief was in that dig.   There is no other logical explanation.  Joseph Sr. would have been engaged in other means to save his farm if he didn't actually believe a treasure would be found. 

People struggling financially today make poor choices all the time. Once again, what income did the miss out on by accepting this opportunity? What if this was their best chance at having some money to put towards their next payment? Sr had a history of struggling financially. Some church publications claim that he passed the responsibility onto Alvin. Sr sounds like the kind of father/person who looks for opportunities to "get rich quick." I know many people who are the equivalent today. He wasn't a successful farmer, teacher, shopkeeper. It reeks of desperation, something fathers/breadwinners still feel to this day. To some, the deeper the hole you are in, the greater the risk/moonshot you are willing to take. Talking up Jr.'s abilities is almost the equivalent of a showbiz parent. 

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Second, is it truly fraudulent to higher out your work for something that has no guarantee?   Where is the fraud if he believed in magic, as you suggest is very plausible (I think it is undeniable), and hoped to find treasure (his farm was counting on it), but where there was no guarantee.  Charlatan?  Absolutely not.  Fraud?  No sir. No way.  It doesn't add up. 

I believe it is if it is done under false pretenses. If Jr and Sr were hired to be the muscle, that is one thing. But if the location of the digs was based on Jr. using his stone to identify the dig locations, and he didn't see anything in the stones, which I believe to be the case, then yes, that is fraud. If he told Stowell that he would try and identify locations, but they may be incorrect, then that is less fraudulent. But if you blame the lack of treasure at the dig locations on spirits moving them or on the group doing the digging, that is fraud.

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25 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

Once again, is it fraudulent to claim that you can find buried treasure, even though you have never found buried treasure?

I already answered this.  All folk magic treasure seekers knew that finding it wasn't enough - treasures were slippery.  There was never a guarantee that finding one would be enough to secure it.  There is testimony (not from Joseph, but from a digger) that they did discover a buried chest, only to sink deeper into the ground upon further digging.  This would boost ones confidence in their ability, no?

29 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

It is similar to taking financial advice on how to get rich from someone who is the opposite of rich.

Perhaps, but where is the fraud?   It is not fraudulent for a poor person to sell financial advice last I checked. 

29 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

Are palm readers frauds? are taItrot card readers frauds? Even if they themselves believe it?

No.  In fact police and the DOJ have been known to consult them in their investigations. 

29 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

Did Joseph truly believe the treasure would slip away? 

That was the common belief at the time and was taught in magic books.  It wasn't unique to Joseph Smith.  Why would he believe differently?

It is interesting to note that this idea actually found its way into the Book of Mormon:

“Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land” (Helaman 13:35).

I have no doubt that Book of Mormon is less a translation as much as it is an inspired document which also includes some of Joseph's language/interpretations/beliefs in there.  I think one would be hard pressed to suggest that Joseph didn't believe in slippery treasure and cursed land, etc. 

29 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

Because someone believes they can see things in a stone, is that miraculous? Was Joseph unique in that ability? Or should we believe Sally Chase? 

Joseph wasn't unique.   If it is miraculous or not, that is a matter of personal belief, I suppose. 

29 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

The Smith family was never good with finances and always seemed to struggle. It is not like they had a robust income from their farm during Joseph Smith Jr's life. $14 a month plus room and board, and his father also getting paid was not nothing to him at age 18. But once again, if he had the ability to locate buried treasure, why did he have to take that deal in the first place? If he didn't claim to have that ability, would he have been hired? It is a bit like Bilbo the "Burglar", fake it until you make it... Joseph's family was within months of losing the family farm, again. They needed the money, desperately. 

One question is, did Joseph really believe that he could see things in his stones? 

I have already answered all of this. Why don't you respond to my answers instead of re-asking them?

I have no doubt that Joseph saw things in his stone.  I myself have experienced visions/images during meditation that have meaning to me.  The question Joseph was learning is how much is my own imagination, and how much is inspired.   

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54 minutes ago, pogi said:

It sounds like it was dismissed as fairly meager earnings.  No one from the same time period seemed to object when he joked it:

 

First, you are correct, that he and his family needed the money very much - they were on the verge of loosing their farm.  Joseph Sr. was also involved in the treasure hunt.   Question:  Why would a grown father of young children, who was on the verge of loosing his farm, engage in treasure seeking activities while knowing that the wages alone wouldn't save his farm?  Their only hope was that they find treasure.  That is not what fraudsters do.  I will repeat myself, fraudsters don't shoot themselves in the foot, for a meager income which wont save them from their debts.    All of their hope and belief was in that dig.   There is no other logical explanation.  Joseph Sr. would have been engaged in other means to save his farm if he didn't actually believe a treasure would be found. 

Second, is it truly fraudulent to hire out your work for something that has no guarantee?   Where is the fraud if he believed in magic, as you suggest is very plausible (I think it is undeniable), and hoped to find treasure (his farm was counting on it), but where there was no guarantee.  Charlatan?  Absolutely not.  Fraud?  No sir. No way.  It doesn't add up. 
 

Well, again, I have a significant amount of practical experience dealing with actual fraudsters and your reasoning is a little too simplified, in my opinion. I've seen fraudsters do some really stupid things; desperation often breeds that.

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1 minute ago, ttribe said:

Well, again, I have a significant amount of practical experience dealing with actual fraudsters and your reasoning is a little too simplified, in my opinion. I've seen fraudsters do some really stupid things; desperation often breeds that.

JS has a lot going throughout his life for sincere belief in his gifts though. For example, he owned a number of seer stones held onto throughout his life. His preferred one when he was younger was taken from a neighbor’s property and not returned to the Chase’s despite them demanding its return. Why not just get a different prop to resolve the tension if he didn’t feel there was something special about the one he had. He also put his life on the line repeatedly, ending in his death. He devoted thousands and thousands of hours to revelations, translations, rituals, religious services, etc. If he didn’t have some kind of sincere belief, why not ease up on the time commitment to that stuff and spend even more time with the ladies? JS even shows self-doubt on occasion, which also speaks to an underlying belief. Anyways, there’s a beginning list of why i think it’s most probable that JS had a sincere belief in himself, even if he was also deceptive, and I would think that belief had a young genesis.

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20 minutes ago, ttribe said:

Well, again, I have a significant amount of practical experience dealing with actual fraudsters and your reasoning is a little too simplified, in my opinion. I've seen fraudsters do some really stupid things; desperation often breeds that.

It seems to me that some fraudsters get in over their heads and just keep digging a bigger hole because they can't see a way to stop. I'm not saying Joseph Smith was a fraud, as I have no idea what motivated him. However, a person going all the way in and spending massive amounts of time and efforts does not necessarily indicate sincerity. My guess is that you've seen this kind of stuff in your work.

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6 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

It seems to me that some fraudsters get in over their heads and just keep digging a bigger hole because they can't see a way to stop. I'm not saying Joseph Smith was a fraud, as I have no idea what motivated him. However, a person going all the way in and spending massive amounts of time and efforts does not necessarily indicate sincerity. My guess is that you've seen this kind of stuff in your work.

Dedication certainly can’t prove sincerity, but it does suggest it. 

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1 hour ago, ttribe said:

Well, again, I have a significant amount of practical experience dealing with actual fraudsters and your reasoning is a little too simplified, in my opinion. I've seen fraudsters do some really stupid things; desperation often breeds that.

I think the simplified reasoning is concluding that he was a fraudster based on the fact that you have seen other fraudsters do stupid things.   Everything I have read about Joseph has led me to conclude that he did believe in the magic and that he could find treasure.  If this was an isolated incident - maybe.  But as we see in D&C 111, Joseph again went on a treasure hunt when the church was in severe debt.  He didn't do this for hire.  Instead of investing his time in more productive ways to save the church, he gambled everything on finding this treasure.  There was no other financial incentive other than the treasure.   Same person, same behavior, same result.  This is the picture and behavior of someone who believed. 

 

Edited by pogi
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14 minutes ago, pogi said:

I think the simplified reasoning is concluding that he was a fraudster based on the fact that you have seen other fraudsters do stupid things.   Everything I have read about Joseph has led me to conclude that he did believe in the magic and that he could find treasure.  If this was an isolated incident - maybe.  But as we see in D&C 111, Joseph again went on a treasure hunt when the church was in severe debt.  He didn't do this for hire.  Instead of investing his time in more productive ways to save the church, he gambled everything on finding this treasure.  There was no other financial incentive other than the treasure.   Same person, same behavior, same result.  This is the picture and behavior of someone who believed. 

 

I thought section 111 related to Joseph having heard from a man that there was money in a certain house. Quoth Craig Ostler:
 

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Both the reminiscence of a disaffected former member of the Church, Ebenezer Robinson, and collaboration in a letter written by Joseph to his wife Emma indicate that a man named Burgess informed the Prophet that he knew of money available in Salem, Massachusetts. According to Robinson, Burgess “stated that a large amount of money had been secreted in the cellar of a certain house in Salem, Massachusetts, which had belonged to a widow, and he thought he was the only person now living, who had knowledge of it, or to the location of the house.” ...

According to Robinson, after arriving, “Brother Burgess met them in Salem, evidently according to appointment, but time had wrought such a change that he could not for a certainty point out the house, and soon left. They however, found a house which they felt was the right one, and hired it.” 

I'm not seeing anything here similar to his earlier treasure seeking with a peepstone. Sounds to me like he believed Burgess knew where some money was, and they went to find the location. That they didn't find any money doesn't tell us anything about seer stones or second sight. Just that Burgess apparently had mistaken information.

 

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1 hour ago, pogi said:

I think the simplified reasoning is concluding that he was a fraudster based on the fact that you have seen other fraudsters do stupid things.   Everything I have read about Joseph has led me to conclude that he did believe in the magic and that he could find treasure.  If this was an isolated incident - maybe.  But as we see in D&C 111, Joseph again went on a treasure hunt when the church was in severe debt.  He didn't do this for hire.  Instead of investing his time in more productive ways to save the church, he gambled everything on finding this treasure.  There was no other financial incentive other than the treasure.   Same person, same behavior, same result.  This is the picture and behavior of someone who believed. 

 

Except that I didn't conclude JS was a fraudster anywhere in this discussion. I simply commented on your reasoning; pointed out it was oversimplified. You may have many reasons for concluding JS wasn't a fraudster, but the one you were arguing here wasn't a good one.

Edited by ttribe
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2 hours ago, ttribe said:

Except that I didn't conclude JS was a fraudster anywhere in this discussion. I simply commented on your reasoning; pointed out it was oversimplified. You may have many reasons for concluding JS wasn't a fraudster, but the one you were arguing here wasn't a good one.

So, Joseph Smith Sr. would commit fraud in conspiracy with his own son, even though they knew it wouldn't help them save their farm (because they knew there was no treasure)...because why?  This makes sense to you, how?  I don't deny that fraudsters do stupid things, but usually they only do it when they believe it will pay off and be worth it. 

The whole situation seems to be more likely and explanatory that they actually believed in folk magic (based not on just this, but other supporting evidence too), and that they saw this as a hail-Mary shot in the craft to save their farm.  That makes so much more sense.  Given the milieu of evidence, it points to that most likely conclusion.   

I think they were both deeply invested in the hope that it would pay off.  I don't believe that Joseph Sr. would involve his son in fraud (or vice versa), especially for such a meager salary that gave them no hope of saving their farm...  I don't think that either of them would commit such a small scale fraud for no good reason, for wages they could have easily earned doing honest work.     You say that people do stupid stuff when they are desperate...this is true only when they believe that it will pay off and dig them out of their perceived hole.   Desperation doesn't typically lead people to do stupid things if they don't think it will pay off or be worth their effort and solve their problems.  No, really desperate people want out of their hole, that is why they do stupid desperate things!  Both Josephs knew this wouldn't get them out of their hole...unless they believed there was actually a treasure.  The stupidity of fraudsters often comes in how they try to resolve their problems.  It is clear to everyone that what they are being accused of fraud for, wouldn't have even remotely solved their problems.  That isn't a good explanation to me for that reason.   Why would they stoop that low unless they really believed it would help???    No, the better explanation is that they were indeed desperate...desperate enough to believe that they could find a buried treasure by implementing popular folk magic.  

 

Edited by pogi
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2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

I thought section 111 related to Joseph having heard from a man that there was money in a certain house. Quoth Craig Ostler:
 

I'm not seeing anything here similar to his earlier treasure seeking with a peepstone. Sounds to me like he believed Burgess knew where some money was, and they went to find the location. That they didn't find any money doesn't tell us anything about seer stones or second sight. Just that Burgess apparently had mistaken information.

 

It is the exact same pattern of seeking hidden treasure in desperation of debt and deep financial woe.  It shows that he was not out to scam anyone, but that he had a deep belief and draw in finding hidden treasures, and it shows that he sees it as a reasonable pursuit when guided by a magic rock or by the "second sight" of revelation to confirm such things.     If you read the section 111, it actually is an example of "second sight" directing the treasure hunt with promise of gold and silver and much treasure.  It is an undeniable pattern of behavior and draw to seek for hidden treasure when in trouble.  It is clear that in both circumstances desperation was the draw, and that his hope/belief in his ability to find these treasures was real - guided by mysticism or magic in both cases.

Edited by pogi
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14 minutes ago, pogi said:

It is the exact same pattern of seeking hidden treasure in desperation of debt and deep financial woe.  It shows that he was not out to scam anyone, but that he had a deep belief and draw in finding hidden treasures, and it shows that he sees it as a reasonable pursuit when guided by a magic rock or by the "second sight" of revelation to confirm such things.     If you read the section 111, it actually is an example of "second sight" directing the treasure hunt with promise of gold and silver and much treasure.  It is an undeniable pattern of behavior and draw to seek for hidden treasure when in trouble.  It is clear that in both circumstances desperation was the draw, and that his hope/belief in his ability to find these treasures was real - guided by mysticism or magic in each situation. 

I beg to differ. Saying that you have the gift of seeing buried treasure by looking into a stone is way different from having someone tell you they know where there's some money hidden. The comparison is kind of bizarre, IMO, and definitely not an undeniable pattern. That he was desperate for money, sure, but the method is much different. 

I don't read Section 111 that way at all, just as Joseph Smith providing validation for the journey, which presumably would have reassured those who were to go with him.

Edited by jkwilliams
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43 minutes ago, pogi said:

So, Joseph Smith Sr. would commit fraud in conspiracy with his own son, even though they knew it wouldn't help them save their farm (because they knew there was no treasure)...because why?  This makes sense to you, how?  I don't deny that fraudsters do stupid things, but usually they only do it when they believe it will pay off and be worth it.

You're putting a false element into my statements. I'm not saying that they knew they would fail. I said, very plainly, that they could just as easily have known their peep stone would do nothing, but still have hope that the rumors of the presence of treasure were true and that they might find it with some hard work. Notice, again, that I'm not actually saying they were fraudsters or that they behaved in the way I'm saying is possible. I'm simply pointing out that your argument about the psychology and behavior of fraudsters is not as black and white as you're attempting to portray.
 

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The whole situation seems to be more likely and explanatory that they actually believed in folk magic (based not on just this, but other supporting evidence too), and that they saw this as a hail-Mary shot in the craft to save their farm.  That makes so much more sense.  Given the milieu of evidence, it points to that most likely conclusion.   

I think this is the best part of your argument, actually, and I tend to agree with you that this the most likely thing they were doing. If you had limited your argument to this, I would have had no need to comment.

 

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I think they were both deeply invested in the hope that it would pay off.  I don't believe that Joseph Sr. would involve his son in fraud (or vice versa), especially for such a meager salary that gave them no hope of saving their farm...  I don't think that either of them would commit such a small scale fraud for no good reason, for wages they could have easily earned doing honest work.     You say that people do stupid stuff when they are desperate...this is true only when they believe that it will pay off and dig them out of their perceived hole.   Desperation doesn't typically lead people to do stupid things if they don't think it will pay off or be worth their effort and solve their problems.  No, really desperate people want out of their hole, that is why they do stupid desperate things!  Both Josephs knew this wouldn't get them out of their hole...unless they believed there was actually a treasure.  The stupidity of fraudsters often comes in how they try to resolve their problems.  It is clear to everyone that what they are being accused of fraud for, wouldn't have even remotely solved their problems.  That isn't a good explanation to me for that reason.   Why would they stoop that low unless they really believed it would help???    No, the better explanation is that they were indeed desperate...desperate enough to believe that they could find a buried treasure by implementing popular folk magic.  

You're assuming that the alleged fraudsters were only interested in the wage, and were not motivated by the rumor of treasure. I don't think that's a solid assumption. Moreover, you are still married to this idea that you can apply a wholly rational set of economic choices to people who commit fraud. I'm really just pointing out, as an actual expert in the field, that the "rational economic man" theory is often violated in very significant, and sometimes surprising, ways.


 

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23 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I beg to differ. Saying that you have the gift of seeing buried treasure by looking into stone is way different from having someone tell you they know where there's some money hidden. The comparison is kind of bizarre, IMO, and definitely not an undeniable pattern. 

I am not denying the different circumstances.  But to deny the identical pattern of seeking for hidden treasure when desperate in debt is "bizarre".  I mean, how often do grown men go hunting for hearsay roomers of buried treasure with no evidence to save their enterprise, instead of investing their time in reliably productive ways to save their farm/church?  No, It is bizarre not to recognize that desperation drive/belief in Joseph Smith to seek for treasure when in trouble.   The circumstances are almost identical.  

Story 1)

1) Stowell heard roomers of hidden treasure in an old Spanish silver mine and enlisted Joseph to help find/retrieve it. 

2) Extreme debt and the threat of loosing his farm influenced his search

3) Joseph used mysticism to guide him in recovering the treasure.

Story 2)

- Burgess heard roomers of hidden treasure and enlisted the help of Joseph to retrieve it.

2) Extreme debt and the threat of loosing his church influenced his search

3) Joseph used mysticism to guide him in recovering the treasure. 

 

In both cases, Joseph was partly guided by roomers of hidden treasure.   He was influenced by debt.  And he was guided by mysticism. 

The difference is that instead of using a stone to find the treasure, he relied on the spirit.  When Burgess couldn't find the home, they relied on guidance of the spirit.  The stone gave Joseph confidence in finding the treasure in the first story, and the revelation gave Joseph confidence of finding the treasure in the second story.   How one can dismiss this as a "bizarre" parallel is really beyond my ability to grasp.  

If I found out that my brother was seeking for a hidden treasure, knowing that he had a history of it in the past - even if he was utilizing different techniques, but still suggests that he is guided by mystic powers - ya, I would say straight to his face "can't you see the pattern that is happening here brother".  It's the same game, different players. 

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1 minute ago, pogi said:

I am not denying the different circumstances.  But to deny the identical pattern of seeking for hidden treasure when desperate in debt is "bizarre".  I mean, how often do grown men go hunting for hearsay roomers of buried treasure with no evidence to save their enterprise, instead of investing their time in reliably productive ways to save their farm/church?  No, It is bizarre not to recognize that desperation drive/belief in Joseph Smith to seek for treasure when in trouble.   The circumstances are almost identical.  

Story 1)

1) Stowell heard roomers of hidden treasure in an old Spanish silver mine and enlisted Joseph to help find/retrieve it. 

2) Extreme debt and the threat of loosing his farm influenced his search

3) Joseph used mysticism to guide him in recovering the treasure.

Story 2)

- Burgess heard roomers of hidden treasure and enlisted the help of Joseph to retrieve it.

2) Extreme debt and the threat of loosing his church influenced his search

3) Joseph used mysticism to guide him in recovering the treasure. 

 

In both cases, Joseph was partly guided by roomers of hidden treasure.   He was influenced by debt.  And he was guided by mysticism. 

The difference is that instead of using a stone to find the treasure, he relied on the spirit.  When Burgess couldn't find the home, they relied on guidance of the spirit.  The stone gave Joseph confidence in finding the treasure in the first story, and the revelation gave Joseph confidence of finding the treasure in the second story.   How one can dismiss this as a "bizarre" parallel is really beyond my ability to grasp.  

If I found out that my brother was seeking for a hidden treasure, knowing that he had a history of it in the past - even if he was utilizing different techniques, but still suggests that he is guided by mystic powers - ya, I would say straight to his face "can't you see the pattern that is happening here brother".  It's the same game, different players. 

A good resource is this:

https://rsc.byu.edu/you-shall-have-my-word/treasures-witches-ancient-inhabitants-dc-111#_edn3

As far as I can tell, it wasn't a rumor but Mr. Burgess saying he "had knowledge" of the house where a widow had secreted money:

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“A brother in the Church, by the name of Burgess, had come to Kirtland and stated that a large amount of money had been secreted in the cellar of a certain house in Salem, Massachusetts, which had belonged to a widow, and he thought he was the only person now living, who had knowledge of it, or to the location of the house.”

I don't see anything about second sight or folk magic at all. Maybe we'll just have to agree to disagree. The common denominator, of course, was a desperate need for money. 

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29 minutes ago, ttribe said:

I think this is the best part of your argument, actually, and I tend to agree with you that this the most likely thing they were doing. If you had limited your argument to this, I would have had no need to comment.

Ok, well that has been what I have been saying all along pretty much.  I'm not sure what your contention is then.  It seems you are trying to isolate pieces of evidence and say (that is a bad argument because I know fraudsters), but when you plug all the evidence together to form the most explanatory narrative, then what I am arguing actually makes sense.  Sure, it is not proof.  Sure, some fraudsters do stupid things.  But when you look at the big picture, that doesn't make sense in this context and this specific scenario.  That is all I am saying.  When you put al the pieces together, it makes sense that they weren't just being stupid without actually believing that they could find the treasure through the means of folk magic. 

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5 minutes ago, pogi said:

Ok, well that has been what I have been saying all along pretty much.  I'm not sure what your contention is then.  It seems you are trying to isolate pieces of evidence and say (that is a bad argument because I know fraudsters), but when you plug all the evidence together to form the most explanatory narrative, then what I am arguing actually makes sense.  Sure, it is not proof.  Sure, some fraudsters do stupid things.  But when you look at the big picture, that doesn't make sense in this context and this specific scenario.  That is all I am saying.  When you put al the pieces together, it makes sense that they weren't just being stupid without actually believing that they could find the treasure through the means of folk magic. 

That's all well and good. I just took exception to you following on with the "They weren't fraudsters because fraudsters wouldn't do that!" justification. That part just isn't true.

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6 minutes ago, ttribe said:

That's all well and good. I just took exception to you following on with the "They weren't fraudsters because fraudsters wouldn't do that!" justification. That part just isn't true.

Yep, for example, Pugachev certainly went to his death without ever admitting his fraudulent behavior.

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22 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

A good resource is this:

https://rsc.byu.edu/you-shall-have-my-word/treasures-witches-ancient-inhabitants-dc-111#_edn3

As far as I can tell, it wasn't a rumor but Mr. Burgess saying he "had knowledge" of the house where a widow had secreted money:

I don't see anything about second sight or folk magic at all. Maybe we'll just have to agree to disagree. The common denominator, of course, was a desperate need for money. 

I am familiar with the link.  I have read it and many other details/sites about this story too. 

Just want to point out that "Mr. Burgess saying he had knowledge" of hidden treasure without evidence, and that he apparently was the only person alive who knew about the treasure and where it was...ummmm, ya, that is what you call a big fat "roomer".   Clearly a false one at that.  The roomer wasn't that the widow was hiding the treasure, but that she didn't even know about it - it was buried in the cellar before her time.  Burgess accompanied them to show them where the house was.   Surprisingly (or not), he couldn't seem to remember where the house was when it came down to it...probably because he made the whole thing up, maybe???  After Burgess left, they followed their impression until they felt they found the right house (mystic guidance).   Joseph saw the promise of hidden treasure through mystic means (revelation aka "second sight") - is this really that much different?  I don't think so. 

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29 minutes ago, ttribe said:

That's all well and good. I just took exception to you following on with the "They weren't fraudsters because fraudsters wouldn't do that!" justification. That part just isn't true.

Let me rephrase it to say then that given all of the evidence, it doesn't make sense that Joseph would do that...

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