Comments about ‘FAIR: Wordprint analysis and the Book of Mormon’

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Published: Monday, Aug. 8 2011 11:00 a.m. MDT

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Tooele, UT

While this is the first I have read about this particular research study, it does strike me as odd that these researchers did not include Joseph Smith himself as the supposed author of the Book of Mormon, especially when you consider the claims of other Book of Mormon critics.

Many LDS critics point to Lucy Mack Smith's writings, talking about how when Joseph was little he would rehearse stories to his family about the Ancient Americans.

Other critics point to so-called parallels between Joseph Smith's personal experiences growing up in 19th Century New York and stories from the Book of Mormon including King Benjamin's sermon.

One question I have for the critics is:

If Sidney Rigdon wrote the Book of Mormon, why did he not expose the truth after his time in Liberty Jail or after he lost his position in LDS leadership following Smith's death?

no fit in SG
St.George, Utah

Still fighting about religion, one way or another.

Weston Jurney
West Jordan, UT

...But for some reason, I still won't be surprised when the Deckers and Tanners of the world quote this "study" as gospel.

Coming soon to a "Christian" bookstore near you.

Lehi, UT

Now that BoM evidences

Lehi, UT

We know that BoM evidences are mountainous and inexplicable. And one witness to this is that anti-Mormons are forced to lie, alter historical documents, manipulate studies, etc.

I read the other wordprint study done by anti-Mormons, and their scientific method was to keep eliminating words and phrases until they got the desired result.

Someone should do a study on what motivates people to fight against a faith all day, every day. Are they trying to justify falling? Give reason for hate? Deny cowardice? I don't know : ) it's interesting though....

Maybe someone here can tell us???

sandy, ut

JM - this article prives nothing other than the study that the "anti's" (as you always classify anybody who doesn't agree with you on anything or believe what you believe) did on the spaulding theory was flawed. That is it. It proves nothing. If you think this is proof that the Book of Mormon is true, it isn't. You think it is more likely that an angel, who couldn't dig up the golden plates himself, told Joseph where to find them. God helped Joseph translate them through a special rock in a hat, and then after he was done that same angel took the plates that he couldn't help Joseph dig up into heaven with him. This is your belief, and you think that is a more logical explanation than Joseph and others writing it and trying to make a profit from the book? Yeah, seems more logical to me. Sarcastic of course.

Lehi, UT

MR Bull : )

The BoM is proven true daily, but I didn't say this article does it.....

Still, you and I know that you have been unable to refute the mountains of auxiliary evidence (which we have discussed at length). This failure is a point of interest. It reminds me of a basketball game I played with a younger boy in High School. We played to ten. He got an eight point lead. He only had to make 1 basket and game was over. If anyone, (including those who have spent their lives trying to prove the BoM false for 200 years) had even one valid proof against the BoM, game would have been over long ago....: ).

I'm somewhat sorry about my plainness of speech : ), but we have been discussing this for a long time, and I think your lifetime should be spent trying to help people, encouraging faith, etc.

You will never get that satisfaction of HONESTLY winning at this game.

I'm gong now, so let the strawman fly : ) : ) still luvya as always.....don't run anymore : ) it's true, we both know it...

Hayden, ID

Two men were walking down a path and they came upon a treasure chest. The first man opened the treasure chest and found wonderful spritual truths inside and rejoiced at what he found. The other man refused to look inside the chest but only wanted to debate theories of where the chest came from and therefore missed the wonderful blessings of the treasure! Which man was more logical?

Salt Lake City, UT

"We know that BoM evidences are mountainous and inexplicable."

I don't think inexplicable is the word you were looking for...

Besides, one can't prove negatives so rather than attempt to discount the book of mormon I will look for the evidence as to why it would be true and frankly I've found the evidence lacking which is why I left the church to be honest with myself (after all, if one doesn't believe in the covenants they took, then you should leave after seriously thinking about the issue, to maintain honesty).


The LDS church has misrepresented the "translation" of the BOM for a few generations. Pictures of Joseph Smith "translating" the Golden plates behind a cloth screen while Martin Harris scribes is down is a common picture.
He didn't translate anything, it was revealed to him through a seer stone he looked at in a hat while the Golden Plates laid under a cloth.
This is not "anti" and can easily looked up with little effort on lds.org.
JM - Religion is a power tool, and when someone feels lied to, it can blow their mind in not such a good way. The Church has enemies because some feel the church has wronged them. That simple.


Sorry to say but you can only defend the BOM with blind obedience and ignorance for so long. None of it can be truly defended and almost everything can be disputed. Even LDS authority comments on certain aspects or tough questions leave you with nothing to ponder. You'd think a prophet could answer ANY questions about the church, including it's history, but asking God right?

sandy, ut

Jm - I appreciate your response, but as you can imagine, I disagree with most of what you say. First, you say for me not to run away. I am right here, ready to discuss any facts that you would like. Never have ran, never will. Second, the book of mormon is only proven daily by those who choose to believe, not by those who look at factual evidence. Many people would say the Koran is proven daily, and that they know it is the word of god, but that doesn't make it so. There are many evidences against the book of mormon, probably as many as there are for it. No facts so far have been able to prove factually that is is 100% false, and for sure no facts have been able to prove it true %100. There are evidences for both sides, and I am being honest with myself when I say I am not sure if it is or isn't. But I tend to lean toward it is NOT when I carefully examine facts and use logic. That is my conclusion, you have your own, and I have mine. Still fund to discuss it though, for some.

New Yorker
Pleasant Grove, UT

What it all comes down to is that some who don't believe the Book of Mormon are compelled (obsessive-compulsive type compelled) to find an explanation for its existence that does not include any part played by God. These people are probably the best and most honest of all, because they recognize the moral obligations the Book of Mormon would place on them if it were from God. Most people in the world could care less. My take is that the people who are compelled to disprove the Book of Mormon are somehow locked in a relationship with what it says. People compelled to disprove LDS beliefs are hopelessly locked in a relationship with the Church. They have to prove that God did not do this, did not appear to Joseph. Again, this is probably because they are more honest and ethical that the millions who are apathetic over the whole thing. Hats off to you all! We're still going and growing after 180 years of criticism. Maybe we need you more than you need us. Obscurity would be worse, and you help us out of obscurity.

Salt Lake City, UT

Being a part of the Church means that you have to have faith. If you knew everything there was to know about the Church and had all the evidence in the world to prove that it was true, then why would you need faith..... The purpose of having faith in something is exactly that, having faith in it. As soon as someone finds actual evidence that the BoM is not true, and not just some theories (which won't happen) then I will reconsider my faith.

Farmington, UT

I guess the researchers think Oliver Cowdery lied when he said Spaulding didn't write the book. They don't seem to care what he said about it. Oh well.


The reason that Joseph Smith was not included is that the amount of material written by him (as opposed to dictated by him, which is what he mostly did) was too small. There have been several studies of this kind done and they all exclude Joseph for the same reason. The omission of him as a candidate is breathlessly report both by FAIR and the Desnews as though it shows a bias of some kind. Think about that for a second. If there really is a bias operating, wouldn't the authors of the study love nothing more than to show Joseph was the author? I'm not surprised that FAIR doesn't mention this. But shouldn't a competent report include a phone call to Ben Criddle to ask him about this issue? He's not exactly a recluse.


Another interesting aspect of this that was glossed over. How does each of the candidates compare when you break each of the books into different sections. While each book has its own personality, it is generally difficult to dramatically change style over a large section of text. So even comparing some of the larger books like 2 Ne, Mosiah, and Alma, should still generate a different authorship.

Provo, UT

DN Editorial Staff: Your censorship is frustrating.

LDS/BYU professors first used "word print analysis" to support LDS Church claims about authorship of the Book of Mormon.

Larsen, Rencher, and Layton (1980) concluded that the BOM authors were distinct from each other and Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith, Jr., and Solomon Spaulding.

Then came Croft, Hilton and "the Berkeley Group," and others. Even today, LDS apologists cite wordprint evidence supporting faithful BOM authorship claims.

Many LDS "wordprint" studies have not been published in peer-reviewed journals or subjected to the scholarly rigor required for such publication.

So, Jockers, Witten & Criddle (2008) employed a recognized and validated methodology (Nearest Shrunken Centroid classification, or NSC) to their wordprint study, and published it in a respectable peer-reviewed journal. It contradicts LDS beliefs about BOM authorship.

Jockers & Witten (2010) systematically validated the NSC method as superior to other known methods for authorship attribution.

So, Schaalje, Fields, Roper, & Snow (2011) _invented_ "A New Method For Open-Set Authorship Attribution" by "extending" the NSC method (this is in their title). But their method is unproven, has not been validated, and has produced results best described as incoherent and unclear.

Jockers & Witten will respond.


Ha. That should have been Craig Criddle. :)

Provo, UT

DN Editorial Staff: How can you publish Mountainman's parable but deny mine?

Here is another parable for you:

Two men were walking down a path and they came upon a box. The first man grabbed it, hid it and wouldn't show it to the second man, but claimed the box contained "a sacred record" written on gold plates, that proved that the first man was the one and only prophet of god", and that the second man must obey him and give him money, or else be shunned in this life and perish in damnation in the next life.

The second man ignored the first man, continued on his journey to his family's home, enjoyed a wonderful life, and read in the paper the horrible things people did to the first man for what he had done with the box.

Which man was more logical?

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