Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

FAIRblog on that Wild, Wild Wordprint Study

I've made a couple comments on a recent wordprint study claiming to support the wild, wild theory that Sidney Rigdon wrote the Book of Mormon with Solomon Spalding's help (first post, second post). One ex-Mormon who has long advocated the very puzzling Rigdon theory teamed up with a statistics student and a humanities professor at Stanford and came up with a wordprint test methodology that showed Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spaulding may have been somewhat closer in their writing style to the Book of Mormon than 19th century poets Longfellow and Barlow, in case you were wondering. But that's not quite how they worded their conclusions. They claimed that it provided information about who actually wrote the Book of Mormon, and said it supported - ta da - the theory that Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spalding were the actual authors, not Joseph Smith and certainly not ancient Semites (even though the "signal" from the style of Isaiah/Malachi was far stronger than that of Spalding in both of the two tests they ran, and stronger than Rigdon in one of the two tests, with far more chapters attributed to those ancient Semites than just the 20-something chapters directly borrowed from Isaiah or Malachi). Writings from Joseph Smith, interestingly, were left out of the study completely. Oh well. But he didn't produce the text which, you see, is just too complicated for an unlearned farmboy like Joseph to have produced. That's why we need someone like the more learned Rigdon to propose as the real author, even though he didn't meet Joseph until after the Book of Mormon was published.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I found a good discussion of this fascinating wordprint study over at the FAIRblog. See "Lies, [Expletive Deleted] Lies, and Statistics" by Steven Danderson. Good observations and lots of interesting comments. A great study of how bias can deceive and misinform your efforts. We are all biased - let's face it. Just because you're not Mormon doesn't remove your biases. I say that with all objectivity. Enjoy!

4 comments:

Mike said...

It never ceases to amaze me how many people invest their time and money into trying to disprove The Book of Mormon. When is enough going to be enough? When I read a religious book that contains information that I do not believe is true, I don't devote the rest of my life trying to disprove it. I simply set it aside and move to the next book.

Mark N. said...

Ah, but Mike, who can resist the opportunity to release millions of Mormons from their chains of superstition and ignorance, provided one can once and for all prove the earthly origins of the Book of Mormon?

andrew said...

You have my attention. I look forward to pursuing the topic further. This is my first posting but I freqently visit the site. I find it interesting and friendly. Many thanks. Andy Jensen

Anonymous said...

Could the approach at the following link be useful for a wordprint study? I notice they show the BofM in one of their charts.

http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2009/01/28_genomecomp.shtml

The last half of the above link didn't display in the preview. So here is the last half:

/2009/01/28_genomecomp.shtml