Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Jonathan Neville takes more swipes at John Sorenson and peer review

It’s been awfully quiet around here for a while. Jonathan Neville hasn’t been blogging much; when he does, it’s usually the same things he’s been saying for years, just with the words rearranged a bit.

Here are two brief comments on some of his recent posts:

First we have Neville (again) complaining about John Sorenson’s book Mormon’s Codex by (again) quoting Sorenson’s statement, “There remain Latter-day Saints who insist that the final destruction of the Nephites took place in New York, but any such idea is manifestly absurd.” This is, according to Google, the twenty-ninth time Neville has quoted that passage in a blog post. He also quotes Terryl Givens’ statement in the foreword that Sorenson’s book is “the high-water mark of scholarship on the Book of Mormon scholarship”; this would be the sixth time he’s repeated that.

At this point, I’m seriously wondering if Neville has actually read Mormon’s Codex. The book is a massive tome, with 714 pages of content and an 86-page bibliography, but Neville has never, to my knowledge, seriously addressed any of it. A few years back, he did a series of “reviews” of Sorenson’s book in which he utterly neglected to address a single claim or argument within it. He just keeps repeating the same “manifestly absurd” statement and taking repeated umbrage at it. It’s tiresome.

Second, here we see Neville once again attacking peer review in general and the peer review process at Interpreter in particular:
Peer approval serves to reinforce groupthink among like-minded academics and intellectuals. Students are enamored with their professors and mentors. They seek to please those who bestow credentials and can advance their careers.
I think Neville completely misunderstands what peer review is and how it works. The peer review at Interpreter is double-blind—the reviewers don’t know whose work they are reviewing, and the author doesn’t know the names of those who reviewed their work. That being the process, I’m not sure how the reviewers can seek to curry favor with anyone.

Giant human skeleton from Ireland I would be very interested to know if Digital Legend Press, which prints Neville’s books and much of the other content produced by Heartlanders, has anything like a peer review process or if they source-check the citations and references in their authors’ works (as Interpreter does). Based just on the fact that Digital Legend’s Annotated Edition of the Book of Mormon included a photograph of the skeleton of an eighteenth-century Irishman and implied that had a connection to ancient Jaredites, my guess is that they don’t do any peer review or source-checking.

Well, if they can’t be bothered to double-check the claims they publish, at least no one in the Heartland community is advancing their academic careers by pleasing professors and mentors. So they have that going for them, right?

—Peter Pan
 

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