Talk:Archaeology and the Book of Mormon

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Concerns about the standards for quality of sources in this article[edit]

After seeing DougWheller revert an edit by Geneva11 with the message:

"Please read sources yourself first. Ray says "likely" and we would need more academic sources for such a claim, "Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of the High Plains and Rockies:" gives a later date for Ecke..." --->Did you pay to read the original article Doug?

DougWheller then adds the following message on the newbie's talk page: "Please don't add this again. The FARMS review[1] trashes the book as inaccurate and making the false claim that Nibley endorsed it, we should definitely not use it for anything"

Seriously Doug?

I am once again disappointed at the double standard that exists for this article. The standard is very low for any references that seem antagonistic towards the book of mormon, and yet very high for any references that may lend archeological support. As it stands, and as I mentioned above, this article is based on speculations from all perspectives. It is not a science article, I think we've thoroughly established that, and yet it is treated as such when the edit supports a specific POV. If articles from science fiction writers such as Robert Silverberg and the mound builders are considered appropriate then articles of an apologetic nature (i.e. FARMS) should be permitted. Dig Deeper (talk) 01:51, 31 October 2016 (UTC)

Again, the citation of Robert Silverberg in the article is not being related to a scientific issue. It is being related to the point that the Book of Mormon is seen by some people in the literary world as resembling 19th-century mound-builder fiction. Can we stop trotting this out as a supposed example of using a literary figure to prove a scientific point? That's clearly not how it's being used by the article. Repeatedly suggesting that Silverberg is being used as a supposed scientific source is undermining the otherwise potentially valid points that you are making. Good Ol’factory (talk) 00:38, 1 November 2016 (UTC
Any chance of spelling my name correctly? @Dig deeper: why are you asking me if I paid to read Ray's article? And yes, I was serious when I wrote that we shouldn't use Johnson, Stan, and Polly Johnson. "Translating the Anthon Transcript". It fails our criteria at WP:RS as well as WP:UNDUE. Sure, Wayne May mentions it, but we wouldn't use Wayne May either. Doug Weller talk 11:29, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
And I just read your comment on the newbies talk page. Why do you think I gave them a cookies welcome message rather than one of the other IMHO more informative ones? And I avoided giving them templated warnings. Doug Weller talk 11:33, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
@Good Olfactory Silverberg is used for footnotes 15, 18, 116 and well as a general reference. All of these footnotes are following a scientific statement, NOT following a statement like "The book of Mormon resembles other American fictional works". Look at the references, it's pretty clear.
@Doug Weller I wasn't referring to the Johnson, Stan, and Polly article. The comment I quoted was under "Horses" and you said "Ray says likely". I'm just curious where you got this? I tried to to get the original article to see this "likely" statement you found but it requires payment.
Just because a FARMS review "trashes" our favorite book as "inaccurate" (trash talk = "inaccurate"? really?) doesn't mean we should necessarily discount the entire review. I'm not saying it is a high quality source, I am questioning your stated rationale. Cookies aside, the statement's a little harsh (& potentially misleading) for a newbie editor, imho.
Tavio stated in earlier thread that "This not an archeology article, it is a religious article about archeology". Cogden stated above this is a pseudo-archeology article, due to lack of mainstream academic discussion/consensus. So if I'm understanding this right, this article is not a real science article. It is a collection of scriptures and apologetic opinions, with original research, primary sources, non-academic secondary sources giving opposing opinions. Just scroll through the references, it's quite obvious. As such, if not being held to Wikipedia standards, the referencing standards should at least be applied consistently to all POV's. Dig Deeper (talk) 21:02, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
Please learn how to spell the names of the other editors. You've now spelled two of our names incorrectly. Cut and paste if you are unable to match your finger movements with what your eyeballs see. This article, like many of the articles that were initially created to make the Book of Mormon look like it is on the same level of geographical and archeological verification as the Bible, has been proposed for deletion in the past (a deletion that I happen to agree with). It's not an article about archeology, it's not an article about history, it has grown into a schizophrenic piece, like all the other "and the Book of Mormon" articles. One part is a description of Mormon apologia that try to link American archeological data with the BOM text. The other part is a description of non-Mormon criticism that shows where American archeological data contradict the BOM text. The difficulty is balancing these two parts in the text. --Taivo (talk) 21:25, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
I still want to know why User:Dig deeper asked if I'd paid to read the Ray article. Doug Weller talk 21:36, 1 November 2016 (UTC)i
I find the whole question of "payment" to be rather silly. The words "paywall" and "payment" are often thrown around Wikipedia as some kind of flaw in the source, the implication being "I won't pay for anything online, so you can't either." --Taivo (talk) 21:43, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
User:Dig deeper writes: "Silverberg is used for footnotes 15, 18, 116 and well as a general reference. All of these footnotes are following a scientific statement, NOT following a statement like "The book of Mormon resembles other American fictional works". Look at the references, it's pretty clear."
Indeed, let's look at the references.
18 is placed after this sentence: "Numerous observers have suggested that the Book of Mormon appears to be a work of fiction that parallels others within the 19th-century 'mound-builder' genre that were pervasive at the time." Right off the bat, we have a contradiction in what User:Dig deeper claims above.
116 is placed after this sentence: "The LDS Church's view of the issue has shifted slightly over time, with Joseph Smith and early Mormon leaders taking the traditional stance [on the hemispheric geography model]." Nothing to do with science here, just a reporting of what the church's view has been.
15 follows a sentence that doesn't really make sense to me. Whatever the original intent of whoever wrote it, it seems to have been mangled to point that it's not clear what is being said. To me, it seems to be saying that some Mormon scholars have said that 19th-century scientific discoveries do not prove the divinity or historicity of the BOM. I don't see why we need a scientific source to point out what some Mormons have said about scientific discoveries not being sufficient to prove that the BOM is what it claims to be. Seems a rather pedestrian observation to me, if that is what is intended. It's not a commentary on the science itself, it's a commentary of what Mormons have said about the science, which doesn't require the observer to be a scientist or an expert. Good Ol’factory (talk) 23:52, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
Nice try. There is no contradiction. You aren't even using the references I listed. #16 is Kennedy. I wrote #15 which is Silverberg. This comes after "...native North American inscriptions, North American elephant remains etc.) are not interpreted by as proving the historicity or divinity of the Book of Mormon.". Sounds like a scientific statement to me.
Also #8 "the use of a plaster-like cement" Again, sounds like a scientific statement to me.
Good Olfactory, I kindly ask you assume good faith with my comments and spend a little more time investigating my criticisms.
Perhaps not scientific, but also not literary. Are you trying to tell me this science fiction author is an expert on church history? Is he a reliable source on what LDS church leaders have believed over 100 years ago? I don't think so, let's get real here.
Yes #15 probably should have beside #16. It's ironic that the only sensible spot for the Silverberg reference isn't even in the right place.Dig Deeper (talk) 01:10, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
Username typos are not intentional. My apologies to both. I agree the article looks like a dogs breakfast, I wouldn't want the talk page to match it with username typos.
The following was added by the newbie Geneva11 and reverted by Doug Weller
Peterson Daniel C. and Roper, Matthew "Ein Heldenleben? On Thomas Stuart Ferguson as an Elias for Cultural Mormons" FARMS Review: Volume - 16, Issue - 1 [1]ref A Pre-Columbian horse skeleton has been identified in Southwest Wyoming dated to 1426 – 1481 AD (one sigma calibrated dates) using AMS methods. ref David Eckles et al., "An Early Historic Period Horse Skeleton From Southwestern Wyoming" The Wyoming Archaeologist 38:55-68 (1994) [2] ref Other examples of Pre-Columbian horses have been found in the Yucatan Peninsula. ref C. E. Ray, “Pre-Columbian horses from Yucatan,” Journal of Mammalogy 38 (1957): 278 [3]
The reason given by Doug Weller was the following:
(Reverted good faith edits by Geneva11: Please read sources yourself first. Ray says "likely" and we would need more academic sources for such a claim, "Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of the High Plains and Rockies:" gives a later date for Ecke...).
If there's a way to see the rest of Doug Weller comments (was cut off), that would be greatly appreciated.
I would like more of an explanation as to why this entry (3 sentences & 3 references) was reverted in it's entirety. Because of this big revert, Doug's specific revert explanation (on just one of the 3 sources) was very confusing. Maybe the cut off part gives a more thorough explanation, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. After closer inspection, I now believe he was referring to the following (the second ref not one within the first).... (no payment required).

Dig Deeper (talk) 00:33, 2 November 2016 (UTC)

Payment is irrelevant for these discussions. If you don't have access to a source, then you either need to pay for access, find a copy in your local university library, or back out of the discussion about that source. There is no requirement in Wikipedia for sources to be free for all. In reference to the Ecke source, it's clear that it has been re-evaluated in "Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of the High Plains and Rockies". As for the Ray article, if you read it at no point does he make a definitive judgement that horses were co-existent with the Maya or their precursors. Indeed, he concludes that the horse teeth were already fossilized when they were used by the pre-Mayans (as decoration?). And the reference is hardly recent. It is from 1957. The fact that it has had no influence on the history of the horse in the Americas speaks volumes about its reliability in terms of using it for a BOM backup. --Taivo (talk) 01:16, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
I'm not going to argue whether or not these 3 reverted sentences and references are adequately reliable or recent. My contention is that...
1. these references seem to be of comparable quality to the references already in the article (including the tertiary source (textbook) you mentioned). Hence the title, a blatant double standard for quality of sources. and
2. Doug Weller's rationale to the newbie for reverting the 3 sentences and 3 sources (both on the users page and in the page history) was both inadequate and inappropriate. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dig deeper (talkcontribs)
@Dig deeper: Silverberg is referenced in footnote 18, as you noted. The sentence it is placed after is this sentence: "Numerous observers have suggested that the Book of Mormon appears to be a work of fiction that parallels others within the 19th-century 'mound-builder' genre that were pervasive at the time."
You stated that "All of these footnotes are following a scientific statement, NOT following a statement like 'The book of Mormon resembles other American fictional works'. Look at the references, it's pretty clear."
The evidence directly contradicts what you have written. If you want to be taken seriously, you can't make a statement that is false on its face. Good Ol’factory (talk) 04:41, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
@Dig deeper: Kind of you to give me the benefit of the doubt, but I don't see why I should respond to any more questions or explain myself while you are not responding to my questions about why you asked me if I paid to read a source. You're wrong about my rationale for the revert. You're also wrong about what I reverted. I did not revert "Peterson Daniel C. and Roper, Matthew "Ein Heldenleben? On Thomas Stuart Ferguson as an Elias for Cultural Mormons" FARMS Review: Volume - 16, Issue - 1 [1]ref " as that wasn't added by the new editor but was already in the article. I did revert " A Pre-Columbian horse skeleton has been identified in Southwest Wyoming dated to 1426 – 1481 AD (one sigma calibrated dates) using AMS methods. ref David Eckles et al., "An Early Historic Period Horse Skeleton From Southwestern Wyoming" The Wyoming Archaeologist 38:55-68 (1994) [2] ref Other examples of Pre-Columbian horses have been found in the Yucatan Peninsula. ref C. E. Ray, “Pre-Columbian horses from Yucatan,” Journal of Mammalogy 38 (1957): 278". I can't be sure but I suspect it was copied from somewhere else, and I hope we all agree that editors should read their sources. Wherever it came from, it's just plain dishonest. The source says "The range of dates suggested is between A.D. 1426-1481 (one standard deviation) and A.D. 1400-1633 (two standard deviations). These are the calibrated ages of the radiocarbon date converted into calendar years (Murray Tamers, written commu¬nication). The "modern" bone date suggests an age of less than 300 years (less than A.D. 1650) but bone tends to date younger compared to other materials (Tamers and Pearson 1965). Given the history of European exploration and settlement in North America after 1492, it is next to impossible to expect horses to have been present in Wyoming before the major Spanish exploration in the Southern Plains of the mid- 16th century or even the Spanish settlement in New Mexico in the early 17th century." That's a far cry from what the edit says that I removed. Ray says that pre-Columbian horses were found in the Yucatan Peninsula. Coupled with the misrepresentation of Eckles this is clearly meant to suggest that horses existed during BoM times, although we know that horses existed in the Americas in the Pleistocene, which of course is also pre-Columbian. Now I can't find a reliable source discussing everything in Ray, but he does mention Hatt, and I've found an interesting source analysing Hatt which is however not an RS.[4] It does however present text from a reliable source that the author found in a Google book search, which the website author says shows that Hatt was discussing Pleistocene horses. Doug Weller talk 09:42, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
@Good Olfactory I did not realize you set the standard for who shall or shall not be taken seriously on this thread. You made an error by saying "Right off the bat, we have a contradiction" and your first example is reference #16 which was not even on my list. Also, history is a social science. This is side stepping the issue and could possibly be considered by some as POV railroading. Let's stay on point, focus on improving the article and editing process, and making sure new editors are treated kindly.
I think we can agree that all of the references using Silverberg are inappropriate. If #15 is moved beside #16, then I agree with you on that point and think that would be fine. Silverberg is just one of the more obvious examples, there are others. Until the references are cleaned up in this article, I see it as inappropriate to quickly revert a good faith edit by a newbie. Any attempt to improve the article should be welcome.
@Doug Weller I would think that this more thorough explanation you provided here (with the exception of the strongly worded commentary) is much more appropriate than the one you provided on the newbie's talk page, especially considering this is one of a newbie first edits.
That being said, do all the other references currently in the article follow such a stringent inclusion criteria as you set here? Certainly not. There is an obvious double standard here.
With respect to newbies, let's follow the Wikipedia guidelines by not biting the newbie, assume no clue and make reverts only when necessary. Dig Deeper (talk) 19:44, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
I set standards only for myself, but I can also read the tea leaves, so my comments were just a suggestion to you as to credibility, which you can take or leave as you wish. My "right off the bat we have a contradiction" was in reference to note 18, not 16. Any reference to 16 was an error, and it's been corrected for awhile now. 16 is irrelevant to my point. You haven't addressed the issue of note 18, which is the source of the "right of the bat" contradiction. I won't quote that sentence and your comment again: they are above. If you can't acknowledge the obviousness that this directly contradicts your claimed position, we're done here, or at least I am. Good Ol’factory (talk) 23:39, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
When did reverting edits that misrepresent their sources become unnecessary? Possible problems with other sources are not a reason to leave misrepresentation of sources in an article. And you are still avoiding my question about why you want to know if I paid to read an article. Are you suggesting I haven't read it? Or that there's some sort of problem if you have to pay to read a source? Doug Weller talk 20:07, 3 November 2016 (UTC)
@Good Olfactory. It seems we've both made some typos, I meant to put #8 rather than #18. Obviously this has lead to some confusion on both sides here. I won't belabor the issue. We both presented our POV's. I'll make a few small changes to the article with respect to the Silverberg references. Makes the article slightly less "schizophrenic". There are still quite a few references that are inappropriate.
@Doug Weller. Regarding the issue about the payment, are we focusing on the editor rather than the edits and editing process? This has been addressed, your original revert explanation was unclear. You have since made your explanation more clear. Let's move on.
The claim that the sources have been misrepresented is highly subjective and not obvious, especially considering your original rationale for revert.
Misrepresentation: the action or offense of giving a false or misleading account of the nature of something. This seems to assume ill intent rather than assuming a mistake or ignorance.
Perhaps misrepresentation isn't the right word here. Misrepresentation would assume that you are 1. perfectly aware of the motives of the original author and/or the newbie Wikipedia editor and 2. your POV and the POV of your tertiary source is the right one. This is not obvious. You said so yourself that this was a good faith edit on the part of the newbie. This was also not vandalism. The policy to make reverts only when necessary clearly applies here. As always, I'm open to your hearing your POV.
Reverting is reversing a prior edit, in whole or in part. Revert vandalism upon sight but revert an edit made in good faith only after careful consideration. It is usually preferable to make an edit that retains at least some elements of a prior edit than to revert the prior edit. Furthermore, your bias should be toward keeping the entire edit.
I would think that from now on, editors on this article will not bite the newbies, assume no clue and make reverts only when necessary. The low quality nature of this article and its references should be taken into consideration when editors make small attempts at improvement. We should also bear in mind that no editor owns this article and stringent inclusion criteria for references (if used) should apply equally to all POV's and existing content. Is this an unreasonable expectation?Dig Deeper (talk) 00:42, 4 November 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Dig deeper, you ask "Regarding the issue about the payment, are we focusing on the editor rather than the edits and editing process?". Since your first post at the top of the page suggesting that Good Olfactory and I aren't familiar with or aren't following Wikipedia policies and standards to this section which starts with "After seeing DougWheller revert" you've been making this about editors as well as anything else. I note that your link is to the essay Pov railroadthat says it is about "the use of bullying tactics to discredit an editor with an opposing viewpoint or eliminate them from a discussion." Are you saying I'm bullying you?

"Misrepresentation" is a statement of fact, the edit misrepresented the sources. Motive would be implied if I said "lying" - I've had to deal with people who can't distinguish between lying and being mistaken, I know the difference and I certainly wasn't implying any dishonesty. We have no policy that states "revert only when necessary". That's just an essay, not even a guideline. Of course we should remove material that misrepresents the source. Are you really suggesting it should have been left in? That wouldn't be improving the article.

Seriously - too much of this page is taken up with discussions about behavior, and you started it. Even your comment about ownership is about editors. Maybe taking a different tack would help you make more progress. And you know what? Explaining why you asked about payment would be an act of good faith that might help make progress here. Doug Weller talk 14:08, 4 November 2016 (UTC)

@Doug Weller. My concern is and always has been the editing process and being consistent and fair, and following the policies and guidelines of Wikipedia, especially when it comes to newbies.
@Doug Weller. Misrepresentation implies dishonesty, but I will not dwell on semantics here. In this instance Doug, you made an error in judgement. Rather than come up with more poor excuses and continue to try to take this discussion off topic, why not do the right thing and admit that you did in fact bite the newbie, that your revert and original explanation was inappropriate and that there exists a double standard for inclusion given the poor quality of the article's existing references. Once I hear an acknowledgement of error from you, I would be more than happy to address your other questions.Dig Deeper (talk) 16:37, 4 November 2016 (UTC)
@Dig deeper. Demanding an apology is one of the poorest tactics on Wikipedia for building a consensus. If your only interest is in your personal honor, then you need to find another pastime. Wikipedia discussions are often blunt and hard-fought. Demanding apologies is counter-productive. If you're sincerely interested in improving an article, then work on that and leave soothing your hurt feelings to your dog. Don't ask for it here. Move on. --Taivo (talk) 17:53, 4 November 2016 (UTC)
And since my actions weren't "an error in judgment", I'm clearly never going to get a response. This is one of the most unproductive and editor-centred discussions I've had on a talk page, and a waste of my time. If Dig deeper is unhappy about my editing ANI is that way. Doug Weller talk 13:18, 5 November 2016 (UTC)
So after reading quite a few articles on wiki-etiquette, consensus-building, etc, as well as re-reading comments above, I've come to see that my approach has been a bit too bold. I've learned that being bold is fine for articles, less desirable for talk pages. So for that I apologize. I was also mistaken about essays being similar to guidelines and policies. I also learned about respecting the time of other editors and admin., so I apologize for not being more concise and for some erroneous statements & typos. I appreciate your engagement and answering questions.
With respect to the paid article, I thought Doug was referring to a different article, which required payment. My mistake. I assumed either Doug paid for the article or he knew of a site that held the same article for free (of which I was also hoping to see). I agree, I could have approached this with a little more tact. Ditto for the newbie comments. Rather than be critical, I could have simply extended a warm welcome to the newbie and tell them "don't sweat it". I apologize. I still have concerns about the article and its sources, I have no apologies for that. I'm not assuming "nefarious" intent or bullying towards me, everyone has biases and differing POV, I have no problem with that. Just because this is a religious article doesn't mean that everyone who wants to improve it is either a religious zealot or a staunch "antimormon". That being said, you 3 have been with the article much longer than I have and have probably seen more than your fair share of both, it isn't reasonable for me to expect fast changes and instant consensus. You have let me make some edits, which I appreciate. I apologize if my expectations for change were unrealistic.@Doug Weller:@TaivoLinguist:@Good Olfactory: Dig Deeper (talk) 23:27, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
@Dig deeper: Much appreciated. If I'd known the reason for your question I would have told you I got it from JSTOR (Yale alumni have free access to it) and offered to email it to you. I still will of course if you want it. I try hard to offer explanations to newbiews, even sometimes when I think it's a waste of time. I've even blocked a newbie, explained what was needed for an unblock, and been thanked by them. Maybe I should have spent more time on this one. No need to apologise for your views on the article. I don't care about the religion, just the archaeology, a main interest of mine. Doug Weller talk 10:13, 23 November 2016 (UTC)
@Dig deeper:. Thank you for taking the time to review policies, etc. to understand where we were coming from in our comments. And you are right that not everyone who comes here is either a religious crusader or an anti-religious zealot. (It's telling that both "zealot" and "crusader" have linguistic roots in religious extremism and intolerance.) But there are enough of both who drop in here that extra-caution and a "go-slow" approach is usually warranted. --Taivo (talk) 20:03, 23 November 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for understanding. If I hadn't gone to the wrong reference, I would take you up on that offer. The article of interest was free, my mistake, thanks though. Despite editing Wikipedia on and off for almost 10 years, I find there is still lots to learn (and relearn if forgotten). Going slow and avoiding extremes is fine with me.Dig Deeper (talk) 22:06, 23 November 2016 (UTC)

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