Reaching consensus is difficult because changing one's opinion is so difficult. It's one of the most greatest psychological challenges humans face. It seems especially difficult for people who consider themselves experts.
Facts are largely irrelevant because people don't base their opinions on facts in the first place. Instead, we form opinions for social and psychological reasons.
I appeal to everyone interested in Book of Mormon geography to set aside the social and psychological factors and consider the long-term implications of whatever you believe.
I've called this the 3D or 3 dimensional approach because too much of the discussion has focused on two-dimensional semantics, thereby skirting the fundamental issue of whether or not we support and sustain what Joseph and Oliver so clearly taught.
I expect my appeal to be rejected by the main promoters of the Mesoamerican theory, the unbelieving experts at FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, and the rest, but I hope other members of the Church who have been influenced by these experts can reconsider their opinions openly and as objectively as possible.
One of the most common questions people ask me is why the "BYU experts" won't look at the evidence. I frequently hear from readers that they've asked the experts questions, only to be rebuffed and dismissed. Our LDS scholars and educators, by and large, refuse to engage with the discussion about Cumorah for basic psychological reasons that are well known.
It's the same reason why they won't ever allow a straightforward comparison of their Mesoamerican ideology with what Joseph and Oliver taught about Cumorah, let alone with what I call Moroni's America.
I could write an entire book about the psychological issues involved. In fact, I did. It's called Mesomania. But that was a preliminary analysis, a brief overview, at best. There is a lot more going on here.
In this post, I'll touch on the "illusion of explanatory depth" and then propose a solution.
Here is an extract from an overview of some of the research in this area:
Now, what is the solution?
Yesterday in Sunday School in the Manhattan Ward, we had an outstanding lesson about Church history. D&C 107 specifies that three quorums are "equal in authority" to one another: The Presidency of the Church (now called the First Presidency), which consists of 3 members; the Quorum of the 12; and the Seventy.
Verse 27 provides: "And every decision made by either of these quorums must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other—"
As the numbers increase in any group, it is more difficult to get a unanimous decision. The First Presidency can reach a unanimous decision faster than the Quorum of the Twelve, which can reach a unanimous decision faster than an entire Quorum of the Seventy. Not that speed is the priority, but it's a practical reality in a fast-changing world.
So how do these groups of strong-willed, smart, and experienced people reach a consensus?
The revelation continues:
"30 The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity;
"31 Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord."
I think everyone involved with Book of Mormon geography would reach a consensus at least about the New York Cumorah if we could somehow follow the directions the Lord gave us in D&C 107. But that cannot happen when people are already convinced, because of the "illusion of explanatory depth," that Joseph and Oliver were mistaken about Cumorah.