Friday, August 12, 2011

Dr. Michael Coe – An Outsider’s View of Book of Mormon Archaeology

Dr. Michael Coe – An Outsider’s View of Book of Mormon Archaeology (from Mormon Stories podcast).

I swear, Blogger's almost turning into my personal Reddit favorites.

Anyways, for those unfamiliar with Dr. Coe, here's a great description taken from the link i just gave you:

Dr. Michael Coe is the Charles J. MacCurdy professor emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University and curator emeritus of the Division of Anthropology at the school’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. He is an expert on the Maya, who inhabited the same part of Mexico and Central American where Mormon scholars say the events of the Book of Mormon took place.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Social pressures and false memories and Mormon miracles

From the lovely world of r/cogsci comes a link to ScienceDaily titled How Social Pressure Can Affect What We Remember: Scientists Track Brain Activity as False Memories Are Formed.

Turns out, social pressures can affect what we remember--to the point where a false memory becomes King.

The study went something like this:
1) volunteers watch a documentary
2) they return 3 days later to fill out a memory test and were told to rate their confidence in their memories
3) later, they were taken back to the lab to fill out the test while being scanned by an fMRI machine
3.1) While taking the test, they were given a "lifeline" in which they were given the supposed answers of their fellow viewers, alongside social-media-esque pics
3.2) the participants ended up answering incorrectly 70% of the time, even though they had previously answered correctly and with high confidence
4) to test whether this was due to social demands or no, they took the participants back to the lab
4.1) they were told to take the memory test yet again
4.2) they were also told that the answers they'd received from the "lifeline" were randomly generated by a computer

The grand finale: nearly half of the participants retained their false beliefs.

But just look at the fMRI results, summarized by the researchers:
An analysis of the fMRI data showed differences in brain activity between the persistent false memories and the temporary errors of social compliance. The most outstanding feature of the false memories was a strong co-activation and connectivity between two brain areas: the hippocampus and the amygdala. The hippocampus is known to play a role in long-term memory formation, while the amygdala, sometimes known as the emotion center of the brain, plays a role in social interaction. The scientists think that the amygdala may act as a gateway connecting the social and memory processing parts of our brain; its "stamp" may be needed for some types of memories, giving them approval to be uploaded to the memory banks. Thus social reinforcement could act on the amygdala to persuade our brains to replace a strong memory with a false one.

Does anyone else see the implications?

Want to revisit the evolution of a Mormon miracle?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oh my god, the antichrist (and Michelle Bachman's church)

It's not like an anti-Mormon, an anti-American, or "hostile towards" anything in that sense.

Anti, in the Greek, I just learned, can also mean "opposite, counterpart".

And that definition of the prefix, according to this article, is what Luther had in mind when he declared the Pope to be the "anti-Christ".

The church Michelle Bachman was a part of, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, holds this stance too.

Now, I'm probably more surprised at this definition because it's been over a year since I've cared to read what the Bible said about the anti-Christ (somewhere in... Thessalonians?).

Still, having lived in the Bible Belt where Obama usually upholds this title, I always thought it was something more menacing. Maybe it still is under that definition. I don't know.

It'd be interesting to hear the full history of that term though.

Hello, Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Live and Let Live: hypocrisy?

"Live and let live" was the general idea behind a recent post on r/atheism from a believer.

I mostly agree with this idea. But a comment from an atheist really appealed to why this idea is disagreeable:
"Live and let oppress I think you mean. Or live and let rape. Or live and let mutilate. Or live and let lie about aids. If you were just living, I'd be fucking fine with that."

Sure, he cites some of the more extreme examples of where "live and let live" go wrong. But here's the general issue: the believer from this post cited "live and let live" when his religion doesn't follow that same line of thought.

And obviously, Mormonism falls under this issue.

I'm not going to turn into some raging critic and share with every Mormon the history of their church, but if they ever brought the idea of "just letting people live" in some casual conversation about whatever, I'd have something to remind them of.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A post for my own records--"Evolution of a Mormon Miracle"

Also, it reminds me of how horrendous i leave the writing on my own blog.


Religion is like a Relationship, figuratively as well as physiologically

Dear god, I've been saying this ever since I realized how similar my relationship with people I loved was similar to how I "loved" God. Sure, there's no real "give and take" like a true human relationship, but I easily believed there was. I mean, God gave his one and only son to die for me!


Turns out there's scientific backing to this little musing:
"Scientists have so far identified about 20 hard-wired, evolved "adaptations" as the building blocks of religion. Like attachment, they are mechanisms that underlie human interactions: Brain-imaging studies at the National Institutes of Health showed that when test subjects were read statements about religion and asked to agree or disagree, the same brain networks that process human social behavior — our ability to negotiate relationships with others — were engaged."

This and other ways that science has shown how belief is embedded in the brain can be read at this link:,0,5682260.story.

The article has a fun title, too: "Science and religion: God didn't make man; man made gods"


Edit: another fun snippet--"Among the psychological adaptations related to religion are our need for reciprocity, our tendency to attribute unknown events to human agency, our capacity for romantic love, our fierce "out-group" hatreds and just as fierce loyalties to the in groups of kin and allies. Religion hijacks these traits. The rivalry between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, for example, or the doctrinal battles between Protestant and Catholic reflect our "groupish" tendencies."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Free Agency under fire (in case you missed it from USU Shaft's link bomb)

This article was linked from USU Shaft's link bomb #21, but the Neuroscientist who wrote the article made such a strong case for the following point that I had to re-post:

When your biology changes, so can your decision-making and your desires. The drives you take for granted (“I’m a heterosexual/homosexual,” “I’m attracted to children/adults,” “I’m aggressive/not aggressive,” and so on) depend on the intricate details of your neural machinery. Although acting on such drives is popularly thought to be a free choice, the most cursory examination of the evidence demonstrates the limits of that assumption.

Not true--just turn it off!

Like a liight switch, just go click!

it's a cool little Mormon trick

#couldntresist #parodyliveson #quotedfromBoMMusical

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I hated the Mormon church. In turn, it changed my life for the better

Back when I was an Evvie, it took me a year and a half to have a firm grasp of Mormonism. Its history, its belief system; how it's supported, why that it doesn't work. I was at my prime in a year and a half, and it was time. I sent a Facebook msg to a Mormon friend who was on a mission.

You know the Evvie drill: time to save a soul. Which was bullshit, I wanted revenge against the institution.

Who hasn't? There's no pretending that the main reason embittered people (read: mostly those with a big conflict with the church) like Mormonism is because we're virtuous and just "find it fascinating." I find psychology fascinating because it sometimes evidences that beliefs err on the delusional side. Not afraid to admit it.

What I am afraid to admit is that because of the church, I've become a better person.

Why? Because I shared my bitterness in the form of hatred for over two years?

Yes. That is entirely why I'm a better person.

Because from my bitterness, from my hatred for every logical delusion buried in the mind of a Mormon and because of what it meant for my life, I found my own logic to be delusional.

What makes the Bible any better than the BoM? And I don't mean qualitatively better. I mean what puts the Bible above the BoM in any logical sense?

I became a Universalist. I questioned my beliefs on Hell. I questioned my beliefs on gay marriage. I questioned the value of religion itself.

And not in a sense that religion is without value. I questioned it in a sense that Christianity is the only religion with "True" value, and everything else is "an abomination unto the Lord" (a founding Mormon concept that, honestly, Evvies like I once was believe just as wholeheartedly).

One year ago today, I sent that missionary my "I'd like to discuss some questions I have" message. And just yesterday,I had my discussion with that Mormon friend of mine. Met him at the local Mormon Institute, the only place I can currently see the girl who loves me (and I, her; for the past three years of god-dammmit-why-the-hell-is-there-a-temple-sealing pain).

I shared with him my experiences with Mormonism. An Evvie upbringing, a dance with Mormon criticism, a sudden insight from personal reflection, my Universalist upheaval...

and how I visited him today to share that I no longer think his religion is something I wish to deprive him of.

I was honest with him. I still disagree with some of the Mormon moral beliefs.

But I was also honest with myself:

Though I find Mormonism entirely false, with unjustifiable moral issues strengthened by (come on, guys) "spiritual" methods of fact-finding, I find that I can't still devote my time to defaming his beliefs.

I've found other things to do in my godless life that are meaningful and filled with a grand purpose. And they involve finding a way to get a long with the group of people I hold more contention for than any. other. group.

Throwing away my Christian beliefs--throwing away my selfish, Christian beliefs--I find that I can finally do as Christ commanded.

The most simple, remorseless command of all: to love thy neighbor.

And even, after all the pain and tears from a needlessly ended, Shakespearean of a three-year relationship...

to love my greatest enemy.

And that's how--after years of bitterness, hatred, and anger--I can say what, for years, I have found unthinkable:

Mormonism has changed my life.

And it has changed it for the better.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Israeli Research and Deutero-Isaiah

The header for an article published earlier today reads: "An Israeli algorithm sheds light on the Bible"; and yes, it's about the great author-attribution debate of the Bible. The researchers have had quite some success matching today's traditional scholars' views on who wrote what parts of the Bible using a computer-run algorithm of sorts, "'effectively recreating years of work by multiple scholars in minute,' said Moshe Koppel of Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, the computer science professor who headed the research team."

But what's weird and annoying and frustrating and WRONG is that it makes NO MENTION of Deutero-Isaiah. None!!

Ha, just kidding. The research supported Deutero-Isaiah:
"Similarly, the book of Isaiah is largely thought to have been written by two distinct authors, with the second author taking over after Chapter 39. The software's results agreed that the book might have two authors, but suggested the second author's section actually began six chapters earlier, in Chapter 33."

Google search "Deutero-Isaiah USU Shaft" if you're unfamiliar with the Mormon-critical implications.

But how credible is this method?

"Before applying the software to the Pentateuch and other books of the Bible, the researchers first needed a more objective test to prove the algorithm could correctly distinguish one author from another.

So they randomly jumbled the Hebrew Bible's books of Ezekiel and Jeremiah into one text and ran the software. It sorted the mixed-up text into its component parts "almost perfectly," the researchers announced."

Also, it's an extremely solid match with current scholars:
"When the new software was run on the Pentateuch, it found the same division, separating the "priestly" and "non-priestly" [authors]. It matched up with the traditional academic division at a rate of 90 percent...said Moshe Koppel of Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, the computer science professor who headed the research team."

I wait in somewhat-indifferent patience for Maxwell's response. Indifference, because seriously. If you are this far in the Mormon debate, you've either lost faith already or shelved half the information out there.

And patience, because who gives a damn? I'd rather hear a Maxwell statement that says something along the lines of "Mormon church changes morals concerning gay marriage, and here's why that's just goddamn fine," or any of the other outdated values they have (definitely not all of them are).

But if you're still pissed off at the church for violating you into a living Hell, and knowing how false they are isn't much help: just say hasa diga Eebowai! (from The Book of Mormon musical). But only in an ironic/satirical way. If that's not possible, then in your head.

Or on the rooftops.

I'd understand (unlike your neighbors).

Also, the Church could be true. But only if God's on their side.
Standard Mormon/non-Mormon caveats apply.

Have fun. I promise not to get this off-topic from the original post again.

Friday, June 3, 2011

And Paul Revere rang the bell to...warn the British!

Sarah Palin.

Did I say enough by stating her name? No more context than the title, her name, nothing more, and you know exactly what just happened in the world of Momma Grizzly?

Someone, tell me you can piece those two things together and have this wonderful 20/20 vision into what this article about Sarah Palin and Paul Revere is about:

This one is deserving of kuri's "The stupid, it burns!" posts. beat ya to it, mate!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coffee helps prevent prostate cancer

If you haven't heard, then check out the article covering the study:

So why is this a post and not a cool Stumbledupon link at the side of my blog?

Because, accd. to the article, "drinking six or more cups of coffee per day can lower a man's risk of fatal prostate cancer by up to 60 percent."

Sure, it's just an association. I'm no sucker for correlations.

But I like coffee anyways, so I'm at least going to psych myself into thinking this works (for a combined coffee + quasi-placebo effect).

Thank you, coffee.

And finally, Word of Wisdom correlated to prostate cancer? just saying.

That is all.

(Also, now that I have time, I'll get started on the NT challenge soon. But not too soon, because vacation is coming up. And I'm suffering from what I call Agnostic Apathy, though I'm still really interested in breaking down the BoM into separate parts through a program and etc.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The "Deep South" Response to Obama's speech

"I don't know why he's taking any credit, Obama was wanting to take troops out of Afghanistan! We never would've found him."


"How much did he meet with the Joint Chief of Staff? And the commander in Afghanistan? Only once, and a long time ago. He deserves no credit."

Dear Jesus...

"Obama sure can pronounce those Muslim words pretty well. Hmmm."


And then, a birther showed up.

She said: "I'm going to do what I always do when presented with facts: deny them."

Oops, misquoted a bit there.

Anyways. GO AMERICA!!! (and did anyone else catch how Adolph Hitler's death was announced in 1945 on the same day too? Wow.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Book of Mormon's New Testament plagiarism challenge!

When I first started this blog, I felt like most of the posts would be from comments I've left on other blogs.

Ironically, I think this is the first one.

Anyways, I'm sure you're familiar with the claim that the BoM plagiarizes from the Bible. More importantly, it contains KJV-styled NT verses in the BoM's OT times.

I brought this up in a debate against someone in Mormanity (viewable here; started with the post's topic being "Amlicites = Amalekites and Joseph = Translator, Not Author" and me presenting evidences that challenge the claim that Smith was a translator and not an author (where do we even begin on that one, I know)).

So aside from the other evidences of authorship I mentioned, I definitely included NT plagiarism in OT times. For support, I gave three quick and thorough citations of plagiarism.

In response, I was given a challenge:
CF:"You discovered a total of three verses in the BoM out of 6,604 which you claim were plagarized and you make the ridiculous assertion that your argument holds weight.

If you can show me a meager 10 percent of pre-3 Nephi text was copied, I'll admit you have a point. That's just 660 verses. If you cannot even do that, we'll call your claim debunked. Sound fair?"

Oh buddy. It was time to flex my critical thinking skills a bit, and I'm kinda proud of myself.

My reply:
"To be specific, I showed three verses that were repeated almost word-for-word from a KJV New Testament that appeared in pre-NT times in the BoM, and significantly so.

I'm going to call you out on the cop-out here. This is an obvious attempt to avoid having to answer why almost exact copies of NT verses appear in OT times in the BoM.

But you're right on one point: if Smith plagiarized, he surely did it more than just three times.

I can find you more plagiarized verses, no prob. but 10%? Let's fix something first: there are significant portions of Isaiah included in your number that needs to be subtracted.

There are also verses that just carry on the story and don't need to be plagiarized from the NT (we'll call them storyline verses. Ex: nearly all of Omni and Words of Mormon, and verses that go along the styles in there).

Why not storyline verses? Because they don't hold much (if any) theological substance. NT verses do, however. And we could agree that the majority of NT verses do, because aside from some parts the Gospels and Acts, the topics these books cover are almost purely theological (and correct me if I'm wrong). And considering that Smith wouldn't want to copy the storyline of the NT into the BoM (save for the visitation of Christ), it's safe to assume that he would only plagiarize from the NT when a line about theology was needed.

I think the best places to find NT verses will be in expositions of what God is saying, what Nephi says to himself, and really anything involving dialogue/monologue or interpretations of spiritual experiences (dreams, for instance).

Also, I would subtract any verses that are copied from the OT. That's mostly Isaiah, but I'm sure there are others.

And really, those are the only places we should expect NT verses in the OT times of the BoM to be in.

So in regards to your challenge, how bout we do this: agree on the number of verses that contain theological substance rather than just pure storyline, subtract verses that already come from the OT, and I'll bump the number of verses I need to find to 15% of the new number.

Then I think we could both properly see how much weight this argument holds.

If I lose, I'll shut up about NT plagiarism in OT times. If I win, then my argument holds substance. I'll be honorable and mention when I think a verse is somewhat disputable.


I'll let you know the results. I'm really eager to do this.

EDIT: to add to the utility of this challenge, I'm going to try and catch the theological points being made as well. It'd be interesting to see what the BoM is trying to say from a theological standpoint and how much it agrees or disagrees with the NT (ha, maybe I should leave out disagreement in case the Evvies attack..).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Brief moment of insight

Quick thought on why people discount atheists on the spot.

I mean, I'm sure people like me, who are debating a theist in some random blog somewhere, worry about mentioning this in an argument because, all of a sudden, the other side will think you're starting out with these preconceptions that all religion is false (and then you build all of your opinions from there).

But what about those of us who reached that conclusion rather than started out with it? Atheism was an end, not a means to an end. And still isn't (for me, at least).

I have no idea how to counter this, but after reading a comment on facebook to someone's irreligious status, I began to think.

Do people judge atheists this way because they, themselves, start out with a preconception about their religion and form opinions from there?*

(*disclaimer: probably happens everywhere.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Quotes that amaze me.

There was an article on the CNN Faith blog recently about how there isn't now and has never been a founding bible (accd. to the writer, who wrote a book on the matter).

Anyone who knows the history of the bible to some extent probably wouldn't be surprised about this. I definitely wasn't, and already believed this before reading the post.

Naturally, the surprise came from the comment section. This one followed a comment that was (loosely) about how the Bible caused white folk from back in the day to consider Native Americans to be heathens, and therefore killed them and took over their land by force (you know, "Manifest Destiny"):
"Native Americans were not living fine but were enslaved by their own barbarism. Sorry they could not sustain themselves like the people in Asia in encountering superior Europeans. Many of them died of diseases and also assimilated into the main population. The Bible enabled mankind establish freedom, human rights, civility and sane laws. No other, because Bible alone is the divinely inspired book in the entire world. We are more educated? Humans are more evil and stupid and more mass-destructive than ever. If you are trult [sic] sorry for Native Americans, please leave the continent and never come back so they can have more room. Hypocrites. Great nations such as USA were well-constructed by Christians but you guys are ruining it."


Thursday, February 10, 2011

He sure does.

God hates figs.

(from Reddit)

The Singularity

Remember that post where I said I replaced hope in God with hope that eventually, we'll reach the singularity?

Time recently published an article about it.

I think you'll find it worthwhile to understand what Ray Kurzweil has to say about the future. Also, if you're interested, the debate between him and PZ Myers about this is pretty interesting.

I don't think that all of Kurzweil's predictions will come true, but I think eventually, they will. I just feel like he doesn't factor in the human side of things: it takes people and knowledge to reach a result, not just accelerating returns on technology development.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Separation of church and state

So many backwards concepts are promoted by the politics of the overly faith-promoting.

One of them is the separation of church and state not being a part of the constitution.

And then, we see a legislative attempt to pass a bill that bans Sharia law, as if that's 1) a valid concern, and 2) not hypocritical.

Anyways. Opponents of the separation will sometimes say things like "separation of church and state can't be found at all in the constitution."

Here's one way to respond to this remark, as quoted in this article:

When Bradley and Mercer asked to identify where the words “separation of church and state” could be found in the Constitution, Frank Knaack of the American Civil Liberties Union shot back, “it probably is alongside right to privacy, separation of powers, [and] other understood concepts from the Constitution that do not exist in those words in the Constitution.”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Finding peace without the Lord

Obama talked about his faith recently. Holding the presidency has got to be one of the most stressful jobs imaginable, so hearing about how his faith plays a role is a big interest to me.

In his speech, he related a quote from Abe Lincoln: “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.”

It instantly reminded me of all the times I went to God back when I was a believer.

It also reminded me of the dilemma I saw myself facing once I realized I didn't believe anymore: how do you cope with life without believing God has your back? I used that idea so much I became nearly care-free with it. Still amazes me how incredibly calm I could get over a belief in something that didn't exist (at least, in the Biblical way I was taught He exists).

And sometimes, I honestly wish church was about the recent findings of social and behavioral psychologists and how we can use them to improve our lives. I'm sure there are tons of people out there, young and old, who could really benefit from the instruction.

But for now, I find faith in humanity and the self (as opposed to myself, in which case, I'd sound arrogant).

I find faith in humanity because the singularity is near, and eventually all these problems brought on by human discrimination and stupidity should disappear (namely, my own stupidity). I have faith in the self because, quite honestly, I have this goal in life (that I'll never tell you about, lest I risk my hopefully anonymous identity), and I feel "exceedingly" happy and euphoric whenever I make progress with it.

Honestly, I can't tell you how amazing life is when I pursue this goal. It's not spiritually amazing like worshiping God, but it's extremely uplifting.

So when I start to get down over life, I do one of two things. I either envision how things will be once the singularity comes, and we're all really advanced human cyborgs (and once we know basically everything, won't we be all play?); or, I do something meaningful with my life.

It all stems from acknowledging to myself when life isn't that great and saying "okay, can I do something about it? If so, what? If not, don't worry. Things will be incredibly amazing some day." And furthermore, I can be genuine with that last statement.

It's working really well so far. What do you think? And how do you cope?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Islam's Mormonism?

I found an article in my AP News app about a Palestinian couple who were divorced for being "apostates". I immediately thought of Mormonism, though the relation was loose (and I don't mean by religious affiliation).

But while I was reading the article, I felt more and more like the Islamic government took the place of the Southern Baptist/fundamentalist role and the Islamic sect taking Mormonism. It fell apart in a few ways, but there were some interesting similarities. I recommend reading the article to see what I mean, but here are a few contact points from the article (replace the words "Muslim" and "Islam" with the fundamentalist Christian denomination of your choice):

The sect is "rejected by many mainstream Muslims",
"Followers of the Islamic Ahmadi Community are shunned by many mainstream Muslims because they recognize a 19th-century cleric as their prophet",

and of course, "A central tenet of Islam is that the Muhammad was the last prophet sent by God."

This next part seems like a fusion of Christian fundamentalism and Mormon temple marriage:
"Then last year, a prosecutor in the local Islamic court, which regulates Muslim marriages, filed a complaint against them, accusing them of apostasy. They were found guilty in August, according to documents the couple showed The Associated Press." And so they were divorced.

The final parallel is one to Joseph Smith: the former wife was angry at her husband for attempting to marry another woman. It played out in the woman's favor this time (she was the one who made the complaint).

Anyways, I think it'd be interesting to look into this Ahmadi sect that rose from a 19th-century prophet. Wonder how similar it is to Mormonism's upbringing.

EDIT: you should check out the Wikipedia article for it.

Sneak peek, one of the distinct beliefs:
"The continuation of divine revelation. Although the Qur'an is the final message of God for mankind, He continues to communicate with his chosen individuals in the same way he is believed to have done in the past. All of God's attributes are eternal."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Social psychology and how you can be more persuasive

Ever since my last post, I've been looking around for a good source on how to be more persuasive.

And guess what! Stumbled into a treasure chest.

You can open it up for yourself at this link:

The article I found most useful was that balanced arguments tend to be the most persuasive. Actually, preempting criticism is half of what inoculation is all about (it's the refutational preemption part, remember? Only this time, you're trying to counter some of the other side's refutations, which helps to put their feelings of threat to the sideline via overwhelming reason). But that's the logical side of persuasion, and since when was pointing out the poor logic behind a belief system the only step to showing how your reasoning is more reasonable?

I can just hear the cries of the average TBM...
"You gave me a bad feeling, your thoughts must be from the devil!"
"I bear you my testimony!" (as the person has heard him/herself again, and again, and again...)
And my all-time favorite face-palmer:
"You should learn Mormonism from people who actually believe in it!"

Which, as you may read in the article about the 3 Universal Goals, is what you hear when you fail at likability, social proof, and authority (respectively. Also, these are not the three Universal Goals).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Inoculation and why you're not very persuasive

Inception was a really great movie to me. And the thought of influencing people at the dream level? Brilliant (for, you know, a Hollywood movie script). But ever since the movie, I always wanted to find a real-life way to perform an “Inception”. One that “planted an idea” that had the potential to influence a person to change a specific way, belief, or attitude.

I’ll play around with this idea every now and then, putting it away when it all seemed like speculation.

But then, during a research paper on the theory of inoculation, I found a piece to this puzzle. And now I’m beginning to see just not only how a real-life theory of inception might work, but also why people are so resistant to persuasion in the first place.

First, a little bit on the theory of inoculation. I did extensive research into what social psychologist scholars have found out about it through dozens of studies, and here’s what they say on it:
The theory of Inoculation has an analogy to biology: when a person is given a vaccine, they’re given a weakened form of a virus so their body can build up its defenses against it (without succumbing to the virus). In the theory of inoculation, a person is given a weakened argument and is allowed time to refute it in order to resist stronger arguments that may come later. So basically, it’s a method that increases resistance to persuasion.

There are two components that make up inoculation: the threat and the “refutational preemption”. Threat is exactly what it sounds like, and can be defined as a challenge to an existing attitude or belief. More on this part soon. Refutational preemption is a fancy term for ”the process of replying to counterarguments before they occur” (from The Handbook of Persuasion, written by Michael Pfau and James Dillard). This is the weakened argument’s refutation, which can either be provided by someone or found out on your own. Refutational preemption gets an honorable mention for being interesting (and necessary to confer resistance), but threat is where the real action takes place..

Threat is the more critical component to this theory. Providing counterarguments is important, yes, but what triggers the need to defend a belief? Threat. Threat motivates people to defend their beliefs; and once motivated, research has shown that people will strengthen their attitudes using information from the refutational preemption period as well as other material. In other words, not only will they have a defense for a weakened argument, they’ll find ways to refute other arguments as well (no one ever stopped at “horses in the Book of Mormon”, did they?).

But there’s more. How does one increase the level of threat? Well like beauty, threat is in the eye of the beholder. One major factor is how involved a person is in their attitude/belief. Involvement is defined as “the perceived importance of an attitude object to a receiver”, and is increased, of course, with continued involvement in the belief (scriptural study, prayer, sharing supportive testimonies with like-minded individuals, charity work, etc. would increase involvement for instance).

And here’s why involvement is such a big factor: when a highly-involved individual experiences threat, the individual experienced what is called “ego-involvement”. Ego-involvement enhances threat even more, and so high-involvement is continuously positively related to resistance.

Even more: when the person has a high “self-efficacy”, which means they are confident in their ability to—in this case—refute an argument that challenges their beliefs, they become angry! Superior resistance has been related to high self-efficacy due to the anger it produces. It’s worth noting, however, that a high self-efficacy also moderates emotional responses.

So what does this have to do with my inception theory? Well here’s the thing: much of the resistance to persuasion is how threatening the change in belief is (which has very unfortunate side effects). This is compacted by how involved the person may be, and especially how high their level of self-efficacy is. And this type of person is common in the realm of Mormon apologetics: most people defending their Mormon beliefs online have already gone through seminary classes, a two-year mission, are married in the temple, give 10% of their annual income to the church, etc. Furthermore, after being involved in apologetics after a while, they may feel confident in their ability to defend their beliefs. The inoculation has been very successful up to this point. This is, in large part, why your attempts to persuade someone into accepting your point of view end up nowhere.

It's all so threatening, to everything the person has ever believed in.

So what must inception do? Bypass the threat. Completely. Sure, there are ways of making the argument compelling by pointing to scholars and first-hand accounts and what not while discussing your topic. Cognitive dissonance is still an effective persuasion method. But for inception, there’s not even a hint that you’re trying to change the person’s beliefs. Or maybe, the person just lowered their defenses by approaching information with an “open mind”.

Case in point: this story about a guy who lost faith in apologetics (and eventually, his faith) over Star Wars. Also, this guy, whose Mormon friend's cry for help put things into perspective. And if someone were to read the book discussed here by Mormon Expressions (Guns, Germs, and Steel), then that’s exactly the kind of inception I’m talking about. As one of the commenters on that podcast posted, “this is one of those books that have nothing to do with the Book of Mormon, but have everything to do with the Book of Mormon” (loosely quoted). But both of those stories were from former Mormons who, after years of defending the Mormon faith, got caught off guard and collapsed.

For me, the turning point from being a biblical inerrantist was when I realized all this talk about plagiarism in the Book of Mormon from various sources could be applied to Noah’s Ark and the Epic of Gilgamesh. By the same standards that proved the Book of Mormon wrong to me, I was shown how the Bible was also errant.

It went all downhill from there, all because plagiarism was such a built-up argument that I used to discern "God-breathed" from "man-breathed".

Didn't even see it coming.