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Estimating the Evidence

Estimating the Evidence, Episode 3: On an Improbable Dictation

It seems unlikely that Joseph Smith could write the Book of Mormon through the dictation process described by witnesses, or that he could have written it in some other way without leaving a trail of evidence.

Many critics seem convinced that Joseph could dictate the Book of Mormon without much trouble, and those who recognize the difficulty of the dictation process rely on him authoring the manuscript in secret—without leaving any evidence of that process.


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Estimating the Evidence, Episode 1: On Ages and Pages

It seems unlikely that a young man of Joseph Smith’s limited education could produce a book the length of the Book of Mormon as a first-time author.

Joseph Smith is a definite outlier among the nineteenth-century’s great authors, even without considering the extraordinary content of the book itself. The estimated probability that someone of Joseph Smith’s age and education would publish a book the size of the Book of Mormon as their first work is p = .0006....

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Estimating the Evidence, Episode 2: On the Consistency of Visions

How can we expect to believe Joseph’s story when his accounts of the First Vision have so many inconsistencies?

In reality, even people who recount true stories will do so differently with each telling, and those stories aren’t much more consistent than for people who are telling lies. Taken as a whole, Joseph does add and omit a lot of material in his first-hand accounts, and there are some contradictions, but even if you stack the deck in favor of the critics, consistency just isn’t a great way to tell truth from error. ...

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