Ep 200 – Cagelessbird


Posted August 2nd, 2015

Jake leads a discussion with Glenn, Tom, and Zach (aka “Cagelessbird” from reddit) about Zach’s interaction with several top Mesoamerican and Egyptian scholars, and their responses to his question about Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham historicity.





  • Woody

    Great episode, but considering the subject matter (academic credibility), it’s ironic how you committed a major academic sin. Specifically, in not crediting the extensive clips from John Dehlin interviews. I’m not talking about whether this falls under copyright or fair use; I’m talking about the professional courtesy of giving credit when you reference someone else’s work.

    • Glenn

      It’s not ironic at all, Woody. It is 100% consistent with the way we self-aware (and proud of it!) amateur podcasters do things on IOT. Jake’s intro was brilliant, and he pulled from a lot more sources than just John’s interview with Professor Coe. Could he have cited all his sources? Sure. But so what if he doesn’t? He’s not claiming it as his own work — aside from the work it took to compile all those sound bytes and create an artistic message. This podcast is not an academic work. It is performance art. And Jake creatively crafted a specific message from stuff in the public domain — a message that shouldn’t be sullied or criticized by your nitpickery. Jake doesn’t owe you or anyone else a damn thing. He put a ton of his own time into creating this intro and editing the episode that you freely consumed and felt compelled to nitpick. Why? Do you want to discourage Jake? We are not professional podcasters. We aren’t asking you for anything except to maybe contribute to the conversation here on the website if you want to. But yours was just a silly, pointless, thoughtless rebuke that adds nothing to the discussion at hand and shows zero appreciation to Jake for the “great episode” he created in his free time for you to listen to in yours. So how about thinking twice next time before making such an inconsiderate comment like that again.

      • Gtoda

        Great response to that smug ass clown. This is by far my favorite podcast and you have no idea how much I look forward to them. Thanks

      • Charles

        Great episode, Jake! I especially liked the intro. Glenn has taught you well, young padowan. Glenn is correct in that this is a creative work so the clips from mosto would be permitted under the fair use doctrine.

        Super impressed with Zach attack too. I don’t think I knew what half those words meant at his age.

      • Sker

        You really should quit bottling up your feelings. It isn’t good for you.

  • Jessica

    This episode is so great! My entire extended TBM family and I are going on a Disney cruise. My TBM family is planning to go on a “Book of Mormon Tour” during a port stop in Cozumel, Mexico. It is shocking that they can believe the ruins they are going to be touring are somehow related to the “inspired ancient text.” I am going to have to pass on this Cozumel, Mexico shore excursion Book of Mormon Tour.

    • Jaime

      Jessica, the ruins on Cozumel are smaller that some of the bigger sites on the peninsula, but still impressive. Is there anyway you could sign up for the tour and then wander the site yourself? If I remember the scale correctly you could keep the tour group within your line of sight from wherever you choose to wander.

  • “What’s the appeal of fundamentalism?”

    I think it’s power, the ability to shape outcomes.

    For an ambitious, charismatic person surrounded by people that take a cherished religion seriosly, it’s a clear path to power and status to use the fundamentals as a galvanizing “call to arms,” drawing lines in the sand that anyone who does not follow you is not a true believer.

    • Malachi

      I agree it has power, Craig, but are fundamentalists really consciously wielding that power as a weapon of mass conversion/retention?

      I always assumed the church sticks to it’s fundamentalist guns because a transition away from fundamentalism would require them to throw basically everyone under the bus, especially Joseph Smith. No matter how gently they were thrown under said bus, it would be extremely difficult to explain away hundreds of years of one hundred percent fundamental teachings.

  • This compilation is another great resource for the community. I don’t think it’s a competition though. There’s room for this, the CES Letter, and all that may be yet be revealed. 🙂

    • Malachi

      I’m most excited for the Lord to reveal the records from the ex-mormons in the lost ten tribes.

  • Flackerman

    I appreciate the work that Zach did. I did something similar a few years ago when I made a video investigating the claims of Kerry Muhlestein. I contacted the three professors of Egyptology at UCLA, where Kerry graduated from, and asked them their opinions about the claims Kerry was making. Two of them gave responses very much in line with what Zach experienced where the professors tried to be very political in their responses. The third, Kara Cooney, just ripped on Muhlestein mecilessly. The compilation that Zach has put together is a very eye opening look at how the claims of the church are viewed by experts in the field and I want to thank him for the time and effort he put into it.

    • Prickly Pete

      I’ve seen your youtube video, it is very good.

  • Pointless1492

    Is there a way you could post a link to this Zack’s project?

    • Tom Perry

      Should have added that link from the get go. It is now added in the show notes. Thanks!

  • I am not finished yet, but wanted to get on and comment. I am LOVING this episode. Zack did a great job on this. I would have NEVER done something like this at 17, I was such a good little TBM back them.

    Thanks to him for daring to do this and to share it. And thanks to you guys at IOT for doing the interview. Great stuff as always!

  • Daved6

    Cute stuff.
    So who is out there claiming proof of the historical accuracy of the book, concerning the Book of Mormon? I suppose a Mormon or two must be saying something and must have someone’s “scholarship” in mind, but what and who?
    Also whose claiming “primary” ancestors of Native Americans are Lamanites? Anyone doing that anymore? Who has claimed that the language of the Lamanites was Hebrew and that it changed and spread throughout the Americas?
    This is all interesting because that is the content that the professors were responding to.
    it is true, no, absolutely not one, scholar can possibly suggest evidence, nor possibility of BoM events because if they did, with their field as it is, they’d lose credibility. to those who want that to mean something, it means something. To others…probably not a lot. We simply can’t imagine not knowing something about someone or something that happened in the history of this world, when it comes to “scholarship”. If it’s unfindable, then it never happened. Sad part is there is so much that potentially happened in this world that we’ll never be able to uncover. We simply will never know. With that reality in mind, all believers and those nasty apologists are doing is suggesting there is possibility for belief, thus we have belief. They simply aren’t claiming proof. They may suggest something like, “with the state of archaeology in the new world, we simply can’t rule out possibilities” or something.
    Anyway it’s all very interesting to some, even if it falls flat to others. The Bible brings up some interesting ideas on this though. Much of what is the OT is myth borrowed from other people’s and culture. Thus, Noah’s flood, or the tower of babel are useful mythological features used in scripture. Perhaps there was someone nearly Moroni, who wrote scripture and made up a Lehi and Nephi as per myth. Perhaps this Lehi and Nephi as the myth would have had it, weren’t from Jerusalem at all, but were from, oh, say, Eastern Russia. Perhaps their journey happened 13000 years ago and not 2600. Perhaps in all this “historical accuracy” only pertains to today’s group of humans, and to many of them it matters not at all. If there’s no God, then who cares. if there is a God, then maybe He’s too wise to play the game that is often proposed. Because after all most of the humans came before and weren’t so proud as we are today.
    While to some it’s interesting that scholars of our day can’t find anything credible about the general BoM story, to others it’s interesting that the book and story carry depth and meaning somehow, someway impressing upon them a God. Seems the same with the BIble and other religious texts.

    • Heather_ME

      Please See: “Moving the Goalpost.”

      • Daved6

        moving the goalpost is often necessary. “well we thought this but upon further examination it appears we were wrong. We might need to readjust our thinking on this.” Think of this way if someone moves goalposts on ya, that means that took your points in consideration and retried, at the very least. That’s a good thing.

        • Heather_ME

          Move the goalpost enough times and you won’t need justification for anything you believe.

    • Malachi

      What a well-constructed comment!

  • Scott Pot

    Are you guys doing an episode on the forthcoming Ensign article about the Book of Mormon translation process?


    If so, I won’t complain if Randy uses the word “obfuscate” correctly, no matter how many times used. Please note that the preceding sentence does not apply to incorrect uses of the word. Please also note that I reserve the right to complain when Randy incorrectly identifies someone’s comment as a straw man fallacy.

    And please insert a few John-Hamer-says-no clips. I bust up laughing every time.

    • Randy_Snyder

      Based on this post I will personally make sure we never do this topic. I don’t want to rob you of your freedom to complain about me. 🙂

  • Tim

    Like many other listeners, I’m often frustrated with the willful ignorance of the general church membership. I don’t feel the need to convince members of the problems with their history and doctrines, but I can’t tolerate letting false ideas and unethical ideologies go unchallenged either. For those times when friends and family try to assert unethical beliefs and practices of the church (sexism, racism, homophobia) and to echo the sometimes deceptive and inaccurate history, it’s good to be prepared with straightforward facts and concise references. Zach’s compilation is a nice addition to the growing library of resources that dispassionately present relevant current opinion and facts from the leading experts.

    When I was in high school, I copied an anti-evolution essay from my seminary manual to share with a friend. When he returned it to me, his critique and commentary filled up all the spaces on the page. His criticism did not affect my belief at the time, and I didn’t really even feel the weight of it on my shelf. But when I had my crisis of faith, the memory of that commentary helped reassure me that I wasn’t rebelling against the LDS community that surrounded me — I was joining a larger community of people uninhibited to ask any question and unafraid to criticize beliefs and assumptions in pursuit of truth. While Zach’s compilation may cause a faith crisis in some, I think it will more often help reassure those already in a crisis that they are not crazy, they are not evil, and they are not alone.

    • Daved6

      Don’t get frustrated. religion begets dogma. Dogma often begets willful ignorance. Instead of banging your head against it, try and understand. if ya can’t understand it, which it seems to be your problem, then all you’ll ever do is get frustrated, I guess. terrible cycle when and if it involves your loved ones, I’m sure.

      • Malachi

        Transitioning away from faith is often a frustrating process, especially when having to deal with dogmatic friends and relatives. I think some better advice would be to take heart, because that frustration eventually fades (or lessens, at least).

  • texaridian

    I’m enjoying this episode and wanted to mention something almost totally off topic…when you named one of the experts, I was blown away to hear the name of someone I went to college with. It makes me wonder what I could have accomplished if I hadn’t chosen to have a large family and be a stay-at-home mom. And I’m not denigrating the choice I made, but little things like this make one wonder about their path in life.

  • Opens Jars

    I love this episode! What an interesting “wonder kid”–makes me proud to be a fellow Boisean. It was brilliant how the infantile repartee ( though there was a little less of it than usual) was juxtaposed (*wink *wink) with kid Zach’s more serious nature. Bravo guys!

  • Opens Jars

    Glenn — please tell me you have something creative brewing regarding the image of the seer stone. There is some funny stuff out there, but nothing to the caliber of IOT. Pleeeeease! (Unless John Hamer says no…)

  • Pink-lead

    To answer Jake’s question…Inside or outside the church it is difficult to cast off the foolish traditions of our fathers….The authoritarian regime in the church multiplies this difficulty….By the stones it does.

  • Voltaire

    My comments on this topic may never be read by anyone since I am late to the party and in the process of listening to IOT episodes in reverse chronological order, but here goes anyway. I like IOT because of the open, frank comments of the crew and their use of humor to shine a spotlight on the ridiculous. I am an advocate of calling a spade a spade and do not agree with tiptoeing around the facts to spare fragile egos or religious sensibilities. It is especially disappointing that many of the academic researchers Zach contacted felt they had to be so restrained in their comments and were so fearful of possible repercussions. Perhaps it was because they were dealing with a minor, but still, it is a dark day any time that academics must hesitate to openly share well-researched, expert findings for fear of disturbing sacred religious cows. Although she did not take the time to give the detailed explanation that Zach sought, I liked the short comment by the female professor. I think she was right to summarily dismiss the Book of Mormon as out of the realm of serious academic consideration and to declare it a product of Joseph Smith’s vivid imagination. There must needs be separation of church and state and a separation of church and academia. Knowledge based on facts and reason is not operating in the same realm as knowledge based on faith and emotions. Never the twain shall meet.

    • Ryan Gregson

      Much agreed, they’re willingness to argue with each other is this podcast’s best asset, along with their humor. Not only in their willingness to call out irrational TBM BS, but also to call each other out on their own post mormon above it all ridiculousness.

      • Voltaire

        Someone out there actually read this! Hurrah! Thanks for the response. Yes, the total candor and comic relief provided by IOT is very much needed by transitioning and ex Mo’s who have been taking their religion much too seriously for way too long.