Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Picking cherries with Jonathan Neville

On September 21, 2019, Jonathan Neville published an updated version of an older blog post about David Whitmer. He begins:
Some people still dismiss David Whitmer’s account of the messenger taking the plates from Harmony to Cumorah before arriving in Fayette with the plates of Nephi.
Later in his post he tells us:
The rationale [some have] for rejecting David Whitmer’s testimony is that he supposedly never talked about it until 50 years after the fact, in interviews he gave to Edward Stevenson in 1877 and to Joseph F. Smith and Orson Pratt in 1878.
And:
It’s not a 50-year-old story related from a feeble and tainted memory. It’s a retelling of an account related by a missionary to his investigators just a few years after the event.

Other than to defend the M2C* ideology, there’s no reason to cast doubt on the testimony of the Three Witnesses.
Here we see Jonathan Neville (falsely) accusing believers in “M2C” of “cast[ing] doubt” on the statements of the Three Witnesses (Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris) because, supposedly, it contradicts their “ideology.”

Neville’s level of hypocrisy here is positively staggering. Less than two months ago, he wrote an entire series of blog posts (pt. 1, pt. 2, pt. 3) explaining why the eyewitness testimonies of David Whitmer, Martin Harris, and Emma Smith of Joseph Smith using a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon were untrustworthy or mistaken. Yet here we read Neville wholeheartedly accepting David Whitmer’s testimony of seeing an angel because Whitmer’s testimony supports Neville’s views on Book of Mormon geography.

Neville constantly accuses those who disagree with him of being the victims of confirmation bias. Yet here we see perhaps the gold standard for confirmation bias (a.k.a. cherry-picking): Selectively using evidence that supports one’s preferred theory and ignoring, dismissing, or explaining away anything that contradicts it.

Jonathan Neville is a hypocrite. Full stop.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

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