Ben Park is Targeted by the Mopologists Yet Again

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Doctor Scratch
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Ben Park is Targeted by the Mopologists Yet Again

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Wow, at this point, I'm beginning to wonder if there is some memo circulating that has declared Dr. Ben Park to be "Public Enemy Number 1" amongst Mopologists. Park, as I'm sure you recall, is the well-educated academic known for writing opening post-eds on Mormon-related topics, and also someone who was affiliated with the "new" Maxwell Institute. At least, he was until his name was allegedly "scrubbed" from the MI's website: an act of "erasure" that supposedly happened as a result of Park's criticism of Elder Holland's recent BYU talk. Park--with his liberal-leaning political views and penchant for "Religious Studies"-style approaches to Mormon subject matter--is exactly the kind of person that the Mopologists would like to take down a notch or two. And indeed, you have to wonder if they are now targeting him in a campaign to get him excommunicated--not unlike what they've been up to with Jonathan Neville, or, prior to that, people like John Dehlin and David Twede.

In any case, "Sic et Non" rather excitedly linked to a pair of write-ups, noting wryly that "it's possible that you'll find these two (closely related) items of interest." The first comes from a Substack called "Worthless Thoughts," and is entitled, "An Attack of Mormon Mania." The blog proprietor, A&R Skabelund, quotes Park:
Park says that vaccine hesitancy in members “stems from Latter-day Saints’ embrace of political and religious conservatism in the wake of World War II,” and he holds past Church leadership heavily responsible for current Mormon opposition to vaccination.
And the rest of the piece goes on to explain how Park has misread statistics on Utah vaccination rates (i.e., that Park overlooked kids under twelve). Skabelund goes on to, essentially accuse Park of being an anti-Mormon:
Work attacking those of the LDS faith often doesn’t receive much needed scrutiny. Since Park’s patently false statistical claims portray Mormons in a negative light—something that most of the country’s intelligentsia is already eager to believe—it’s very likely these mistakes made it through without the rigorous journalistic standards reserved for other subjects.
Meanwhile, at the blog called (contrary to the dictates of Pres. Nelson, I guess) "Mormanity," Jeff Lindsay also aims his sights at Park in an entry entitled, "Zeal Without Data: Blaming the Church for Utah's Allegedly Low Vaccination Rates." In Park's defense--his argument is that Utahan's have too much vaccine skepticism thanks to old-school conservatism that prevails amongst the leadership. And he perhaps has a point: after all, aren't Utah schools forbidden from requiring kids to wear masks? But reading Lindsay's piece, you have to wonder what's gotten him so riled up: is he mad over a perceived attack on the Church and the Brethren? Or on "conservatism"? See for yourself:
Lindsay wrote:The subhead (line below the headline) declares that "LDS leaders stoked a far-right culture for decades. Now it might undermine their authority." Yep, that's the problem, all right. Utah's got some Republicans and it's the Church that foolishly "stoked" that. Now I suppose Utahans are going to be devastated by COVID as a result since those ignorant right-wingers aren't getting vaccinated.
Lindsay, apparently whipped up into a frenzy, lays down quite a challenge:
Scholars make mistakes all the time, just like medical experts do. The appropriate scholarly thing is to own up to it and make a retraction. The appropriate political thing, however, if your purpose is pure politics driven by data-free zeal, is to continue acting with zeal while ignoring the real data because the end justifies the means and "progress" is all that matters. I'm looking forward to seeing whether this particular professor will choose scholarship over politics, now that the blunder has been made known. Here's my wish that he and Washington Post will issue a correction that gets at least as much visibility as the error did, though such a thing is rare in the increasingly politicized media.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Lindsay the head editor at "Interpreter"? Do their errors get corrected with "at least as much visibility" as the original errors? Should we ask John Gee? Regardless, Lindsay's final paragraph (and he misspells Park's name yet again, as "Parks") is bizarre:
Parks is worried about fundamentalist, evangelical, and right-wing white Americans who seem to be the bogey man for COVID, failing to recognize that the data shows black Americans and some other minorities are among the most vaccine hesitant. And the reasons they have for not being super trustful of the US government should not be ridiculed. Ever heard of the Tuskegee experiment? Parks may have accepted the call of the politicians to demonize the vaccine hesitant, but his response is an unfortunate illustration of how some of our own members can harm the cause of Zion by acting in zeal without knowledge, or in this case, zeal without sound data.
Take careful note of that phrase: "some of our own members can harm the cause of Zion." Yes: that's what this is about in the end. The Mopologists smell blood in the water, and see this as an opportunity to bring the hammer down on Park. At this juncture, it seems quite clear that, from the perspective of the Mopologists, Park is a "marked man," and they are going to swing into overdrive in the hopes of getting him driven out of the Church.
"If, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14
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Re: Ben Park is Targeted by the Mopologists Yet Again

Post by drumdude »

It's like watching an airplane break up in slow motion. A few non-critical pieces of the aircraft have started to fall away from the main fuselage. Daniel is fervently denying any break-up is happening, while simultaneously using all of his energy to keep the pieces he can reach together. He had to let the Trump piece fall away, something he bitterly reminds us every week or so by vaguely referring to some political censorship that has been forced upon him.

I've lost count of the number of Mormon beliefs DCP has issues with, between Trump/Vaccines/Heartland/on and on and on...
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Re: Ben Park is Targeted by the Mopologists Yet Again

Post by Kishkumen »

The unfortunate thing for Park is that these “gentlemen” cannot take any criticism of their beloved Church, even when the criticism is true. These days, I would put the LDS Church’s response to the COVID crisis on the more responsible side of the spectrum of religious organizations’ reactions to the crisis, but I think the point Park is making—and it has merit—is that past leaders like Ezra Taft Benson, who was a fringe kook and a conspiracy theorist who thought Eisenhower was a communist (Ha!), and personalities like that racist crank W. Cleon Skousen had such a strong influence on LDS culture and far right politics in this country that one will always find some degree of overlap between the kooky conservativism and Mormonism. The two have such a long, strange relationship. Is the susceptibility of current Mormons to kooky conspiracy garbage partly the fault of people like Benson and Skousen? I’d say definitely yes. These folks were ripe for the picking, ready for QAnon, anti-masking nonsense to come into their lives, and some will choose that nuttiness over their own priesthood leaders.

Seems to me that some Mopologists just can’t handle that kind of truth.
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Re: Ben Park is Targeted by the Mopologists Yet Again

Post by Philo Sofee »

Kishkumen wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:03 am
The unfortunate thing for Park is that these “gentlemen” cannot take any criticism of their beloved Church, even when the criticism is true. These days, I would put the LDS Church’s response to the COVID crisis on the more responsible side of the spectrum of religious organizations’ reactions to the crisis, but I think the point Park is making—and it has merit—is that past leaders like Ezra Taft Benson, who was a fringe kook and a conspiracy theorist who thought Eisenhower was a communist (Ha!), and personalities like that racist crank W. Cleon Skousen had such a strong influence on LDS culture and far right politics in this country that one will always find some degree of overlap between the kooky conservativism and Mormonism. The two have such a long, strange relationship. Is the susceptibility of current Mormons to kooky conspiracy garbage partly the fault of people like Benson and Skousen? I’d say definitely yes. These folks were ripe for the picking, ready for QAnon, anti-masking nonsense to come into their lives, and some will choose that nuttiness over their own priesthood leaders.

Seems to me that some Mopologists just can’t handle that kind of truth.
Well said Reverend. Amen and Amen.
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Re: Ben Park is Targeted by the Mopologists Yet Again

Post by Moksha »

Many in the Church would like to more fervently embrace the teachings of Ezra Taft Benson and Cleon Skousen. Additionally, they would like to see Ammon Bundy lead the Church. If Dr. Peterson agrees, the hecklers at Sic et Non will give Ammon their blessing.

The only way this can be accomplished is to reduce Church membership to the truest one million.
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Re: Ben Park is Targeted by the Mopologists Yet Again

Post by IHAQ »

Doctor Scratch wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:53 am
Parks is worried about fundamentalist, evangelical, and right-wing white Americans who seem to be the bogey man for COVID, failing to recognize that the data shows black Americans and some other minorities are among the most vaccine hesitant. And the reasons they have for not being super trustful of the US government should not be ridiculed. Ever heard of the Tuskegee experiment? Parks may have accepted the call of the politicians to demonize the vaccine hesitant, but his response is an unfortunate illustration of how some of our own members can harm the cause of Zion by acting in zeal without knowledge, or in this case, zeal without sound data.
It's weird that he would go after Park for demonising the vaccine hesitant when both Peterson and law enforcement Fevre have done exactly that on Sic Et Non multiple times. Is Lindsay criticising those two in equal measure with Park?
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Re: Ben Park is Targeted by the Mopologists Yet Again

Post by Kishkumen »

IHAQ wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 8:33 am
It's weird that he would go after Park for demonising the vaccine hesitant when both Peterson and law enforcement Fevre have done exactly that on Sic Et Non multiple times. Is Lindsay criticising those two in equal measure with Park?
If Park lays any of the blame on any GA past or present, he will find himself in the crosshairs of the Mopologists.
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Lem
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Re: Ben Park is Targeted by the Mopologists Yet Again

Post by Lem »

Two comments by Lindsay that Scratch quotes stand out:
Doctor Scratch wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:53 am
...Lindsay, apparently whipped up into a frenzy, lays down quite a challenge:
Scholars make mistakes all the time, just like medical experts do. The appropriate scholarly thing is to own up to it and make a retraction.

And
Scratch wrote:
Lindsay wrote: ...to continue acting with zeal while ignoring the real data because the end justifies the means and "progress" is all that matters. I'm looking forward to seeing whether this particular professor will choose scholarship over politics, now that the blunder has been made known...
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Lindsay the head editor at "Interpreter"? Do their errors get corrected with "at least as much visibility" as the original errors?
I know Lindsay is talking about politics, but he is getting awfully close to undermining, in one blog entry, both Peterson's personal approach to publishing and the playground peer review process used by the Interpreter.
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Re: Ben Park is Targeted by the Mopologists Yet Again

Post by dastardly stem »

It is a problem if the data undermines Park's point. Utah isn't, apparently, so bad at getting it's people vaccinated. Other states are far worse. That says something about the political point he raises. We'd have to see far more data and something that relates to the point, in order to conclude some of what he does in terms of politics in Utah.

I will not deny that there is a huge hole in Lindsay's argument considering he is an editor at Interpreter. I mean, the garbage they've put out at various times is remarkably bad. But he has a point. Park's argument crumbled as soon as it is shown he either misused, misunderstood, or misrepresented the numbers.

Plus Utah is somewhere around 70% LDS (2.2 Million). Some 40% (some might say at best) of these are in any sense active (885,000, or 28% of Utah). We could say, I suppose, most unvaccinated qualified individuals in Utah are active Mormons. But we don't know that, and I doubt anyone does.

And using this whole pandemic mess for political moves is getting tiresome.

1. Yes. I will agree that some of the past leaders helped promote and establish a conservative political stronghold in the Church that will not be easily changed nor addressed.

2. Yes. Some of the views so associated, as awfully concerning.

Park's right to point that out. I just wish he used a better basis to his arguments. Its kind of embarrassing, I think.
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Re: Ben Park is Targeted by the Mopologists Yet Again

Post by Kishkumen »

I think the knee-jerk defenses issued by Mopologists are a little bit silly. First of all, Park is talking about the LDS Church's efforts to get people vaccinated. In other words, the LDS Church is doing something praiseworthy. The problem is not that the LDS Church is bad; the problem is that they have, much like Fox News, fed a beast over generations that threatens to undermine their authority. That this should even provoke criticism is pretty hilarious. Of course past and present leaders are culpable for stoking sentiments that feed conspiracy thinking. Of course certain past and present leaders are guilty of undermining members' trust in non-LDS systems of knowledge. Why is that even a question?

Even if Park's statistical read was flawed--and I think it probably was--that does not mean Utah does not have a problem with people refusing to wear masks and refusing to get vaccinated. The question is whether the Mormon community is worse off than other communities in this regard. I would tend to think not because LDS leaders have been relatively sensible in their response to the current pandemic. That does not mean, however, that the strong strain of conspiracy thinking in Mormonism is not a problem too. Good grief. I mean, look at the crap DCP has had to deal with over at SeN. He has had kooks taking him to task because he doesn't buy the latest QAnon conspiracy garbage, vel sim.

I really tire of all of these ideological battles dressed up in religious garb. I am tired of people saying that LDS leaders bear no responsibility for problems, just as I am tired of people laying too much responsibility at the feet of LDS leaders. Park's piece is open to criticism, but the critics he has attracted have offered pretty looney responses. In the end, they manage to make themselves look worse than Park does for being sloppy with his numbers.
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"Paganism is the other Old Testament of the Church." ~Nicolás Gómez Dávila
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