Saturday, May 30, 2015

Giving Up Pet Theories

It was written recently that a “pet theory,” is any theory whose creator (or anyone who has heard it) likes more than other theories, and this person usually wants the theory to be true, whether it is or it isn't. Scientists who have a pet theory (or pet theories) may be subject to loss of objectivity because of this "affection" towards their pet theory. A theory, of course, is just a theory. It is not a fact. And since there are often many theories about things, you can say that this particular one is my favorite, so that is often designated my pet theory on this particular subject. 
It is, in fact on a larger scale, just a theory that a scientist or a group of scientists, scholars, historians, etc., has/have a particular fondness for, regardless of validity. In many cases, such a theory has little foundation, but is still believed devoutly by a certain scientist, group, person, or historian, despite lack of proof.
    Not long ago I was sitting in my car in a parking lot when a deputy sheriff chanced by and glanced into the car at me. I was, at the time, working on one of my books about the location of the Land of Promise while waiting for my wife—he saw the title and immediately blurted out, “Oh, yeah, I know all about that. It’s in the eastern states, where the Nephites built all those mounds.”
    Now, that is a theory. There is nothing in the scriptural record, history, or mainstream discussions that can connect the Nephite nation to mounds, let alone such burial mounds as found in the eastern U.S. in the Mississippi Valley and northward.
While there are ancient mounds in numerous countries around the world, there are none in Israel, Mesopotamia or Egypt, and absolutely nothing to connect such mounds to the Nephite nation or its scriptural record
    It is not unlike the theory of dark matter, an idea of a substance thought to make up 85% of the Universe’s missing matter, though nothing has ever been found to verify such an idea, even after decades of searching at the cost of 6.4 billion dollars expenditure. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics lab near Geneva, Switzerland, is scheduled to restart in this month after a major upgrade. It is widely seen as the last chance in a generation to create—and thus confirm—theoretical particles known as WIMPs, or Weakly Interacting Massive Particles.
A super-sensitive ‘direct-detection’ experiment, which is designed to catch naturally occurring WIMPs streaming from the heavens, is also due to start this year. At least in this case, the failure so far to glimpse WIMPs at either the LHC or through direct-detection experiments, combined with surprise signals from others, is fueling suggestions that dark matter is made of something else. A range of alternatives that were previously considered underdog candidates now look “less exotic”, says Kevork Abazajian, a theorist who studies particle cosmology at the University of California, Irvine.
    The point being, while it may take some time, occasionally scientists recognize that failure to find what they thoroughly believed existed is leading them to perhaps look elsewhere for something else. We do not find that type of open-mindedness in Land of Promise theorists. No matter that their pet beliefs have been shown time and time again to not match the scriptural record, most doggedly and stubbornly hold on to that belief, though it cannot be shown to be correct without changing the scriptural record or its meaning.
As an example:
1. The Land of Promise was not a peninsula, it was an island (2 Nephi 10:20), yet Baja California and Malay theorists hold to their Land of Promise being a peninsula despite a scriptural description to the opposite;
2. No mountains in upstate western New York where theorists place their Land of Promise despite the fact that the scriptures talk about both the Land Southward and the Land Northward having mountains “whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23).
3. The narrow neck of land was narrow the distance in width that a Nephite could walk across in a day and a half, yet Mesoamerican theorists claim this narrow neck was the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, 140 miles across.
4. Jacob tells us that their Land of Promise was an island in the midst of the sea over which they traveled (2 Nephi 10:20), Mormon tell us that Lehi’s landing site, the place of their father’s first inheritance, was along that West Sea to the south (Alma 22:28), yet Heartland theorists place the landing site at the delta of the Mississippi River which only has the Gulf of Mexico as a connected sea, which is definitely in the south, not the west.
5.  Despite Mormon describing the Sea East to the east and the Sea West to the west, some Great Lake Theorists place the East Sea as Lake Ontario in the north and the West Sea as Lake Erie in the South
As one theorist shows it, (Red Arrow) Lake Ontario in the north as the East Sea, and (Blue Arrow) Lake Erie in the south as the West Sea, with the narrow neck of land in between running east and west, not north and south
6. Both Hugh Nibley and John L. Sorenson contend that the Jaredites survived the final battle illustrated in the scriptural record, saying “{Nibley} argued and the evidence is persuasive, that significant Jaredite elements persisted into Mulekite ande Nephite times, yet there is not a single indication in the scriptural record of any Jaredite survival. Ether made it clear, saying that “when they had all fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz” (Ether 15:29), Coriantumr “smote off the head of Shiz” (Ether 15:30), and that the Lord told Ether to “Go forth, and he went forth, and beheld that the words of the Lord had all been fulfilled” (Ether 33:33). What word? Earlier, the Lord told Ether to prophesy to Coriantumr, that unless he repented, and all his household, “his kingdom and the people should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself” (Ether 13:20-21).
7. Even though there were no glaciated areas along the path Nibley chooses for the Jaredite course when he states: “Now it is a fact that in ancient times the plains of Asia were covered with "many waters,” which have now disappeared but are recorded as existing well down into historic times” (p 177); however, he does not mention that those waters and receding glaciers were far to the north of the path he picks for the Jaredites to cross Asia.
Yellow Line: Nibley’s Jaredite travel course. Note it is through the green belt far below the glacial area of the Ice Age and north of the Snow covered mountains ranges of the Himalayas—there would have been no “many waters” along this path
    8. Another pet theory of Sorenson is that “the various descendants of the former kings Mosiah, Benjamin, and the younger Mosiah likely felt that their noble ancestry gave them the right to special privileges,” yet Benjamin’s character suggests just the opposite: “And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne -- and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day. Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day” (Mosiah 2:14-15).
   Thus, it should be obvious that these and numerous other pet theories that people have, when compared to the facts of the scriptural record, show they are in error. This does not, however, cause them to discard those erroneous theories.

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