Multi Level Mormon (MLM)


I have begun to think of Mr. Trimble as a bit of a nemesis today. Let me tell you why. It is because of my niece, I have written about her here before. She is on a mission right now for the Mormon church, she is a loving, kind, albeit somewhat gullible person. I hate it when people take advantage of her trusting loving way. So why does this guy bug me? Because he is the epitome of of this type of advantage-taking person. He reminds me of the guy selling Amway, Nuskin, Essential oils, Nutraceuticals, Monavie, Meleluka, Pampered chef, Avon, Cutco, Scentzy, Herbal life, Nature’s sunshine and about a dozen other MLMs that I have been approached about over the years. They are your best friend and have sooooo much in common with you and your beliefs so you are sure to trust them. They only want to help you build your downline. They want you to know they care about you. In short, they want you to buy in to their pyramid scheme.

Pyramid schemes are a family affair, not unlike the church. 1 You see you are taught that once you have the truth that you should be desirous to share it. That teaching runs so deep that when you discover the fraud the church has gotten away with that all us apostates want to share it. Big mistake, you quickly find out though, as the quickest way to alienate friends and family is to point out the faults of the thing they deeply believe in. (See number 1 from last weeks post.) People in the church have been taught to look at all counter evidence with a persecution complex, if you critique them then it is proof they are on the right track. This is possibly the biggest reason that those outside the church see it as cultish. It is a positive form of the double bind in psychology terms. What that means is you are trapped by the logic. If you are a believer consider this example, it might help you see my point. A Muslim declares to you that Allah is the one true god and that Mormonism is based on a false prophet. You point out that Allah commanded Muhammad to marry young girls and create a society that thinks it is ok to fly planes into buildings killing people to prove a point. The Muslim says your negativity and lack of praying hard enough only proves to him that Allah is the one.

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Can you see there is no way to counter his reasoning? It’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Either way by his logic he wins. The problem isn’t one of proof one way or the other, it is a problem of faulty logic. Since there is no way to negate the outcome, you can use that type of logic to prove anything. This happens all the time when a person is indoctrinated into a cult. Ironically many of the same methods are used to sell you really expensive fire alarms or time shares2 as well as getting you to buy into an MLM. A missionary learns these skills first hand. It could honestly be one reason there are so many successful entrepreneurs to come out of the mormon culture. You have to be able to sell your product after all. When it comes to selling a religion, the only product is a dream, a great afterlife. Not at all unlike the promise of wealth once you build your downline is it?

So why do these MLM types bug me? Because I see a person selling someone something they don’t really need. All in an effort to build their own business, caring about the actual person is not the primary reason for their efforts. So when my niece sends me a link from one of these super popular mormon blogger’s articles that are literally filled with falsehoods regurgitated as truth, it bugs me. When this much BS is sold as valid information, either A) this guy hasn’t a clue about what he is pontificating on or B) he is outright lying. And who is he taking advantage of with either his incompetence or fraud? Someone I care about and don’t like to see mislead. How far did he go? Well lets take a look. He gives us 11 reasons to believe him. Before he does so he sets an emotional stake in the ground with this statement.

One cannot deny the existence of that book. It is there for all to read and it survives any and every attack.”

First the book exists is a proof? If that is the case then the Fridge really is God, because… well look in your kitchen, it clearly exists. Same for the fact you can read it, but here comes the clincher, ‘it survives every attack.’ How so? By what measure does it survive anything? Does a false book immediately evaporate? Does fiction just disappear into nothingness? What is the Quran doing still hanging around with a couple billion followers if that idiotic statement is true? This is one of the biggest falsehoods I realized only after I looked past my own personal bias on the topic (yes, I was an idiot too:)). The real truth is, it doesn’t meet any critical examination but his last one. We will get to that in a minute, first lets look at the 10 things it ‘survives.’

1. An uneducated boy wrote it.
This is simply untrue. He wasn’t a boy when he published the Book of Mormon, he was 24. It was written over a two year time span before that. Check the dates, he was 14 in 1820 when he claimed the first vision happened, the book published in 1830. Maybe you thought he stayed 14 for a decade… Also the uneducated bit is misleading as well. Formal schooling not so much, but his father was a school teacher. They made sure that Joseph could read as is evident by his own testimony. His own mother bragged about how good he was at telling stories. Is it really that unlikely a book like that could have been made up? after all Christopher Paolini wrote the book Eragon when he was 15 .

2. But, but Chiasmus and stuff!!
Turns out there is a book called the late war with all that stuff that was used to teach school kids back then. In case you aren’t following links Joe did go to high school at age 20 with the Stowell kids, very reasonable chance this book was studied. Read The Late War side by side with your BoM, it is eye opening.

3. Middle east geography
This is saying that NHM=Nahom, I guess that might be the case if back then acronyms were all the rage like they are today! None the less even a slightly remotely critical assessment makes this an obvious grasping at straws.

4. Making up names
Well first see number 1 up above, look at all the names the author of Eragon made up. Second, just because you can’t make up names doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Also look at the maps here, there is some very obvious inspiration for names on old maps of the place he grew up. Also for the record, this map-name deal was the thing that finally collapsed my shelf after years of setting it all aside and endeavoring to have faith.

 5. If Joe didn’t do it it must be satan? 
Dude that was on saturday night live! Try to be a little more original! Besides Joe being totally capable of such a work there were others that could have contributed as well. Oliver Cowdrey among them. This type of argument is a fallacy known as a false dichotomy.

6. Other sheep
This is a good way to trigger a true believers reflex action, because this idea is drilled into you as proof of the BoM from day one. But think about it, if you believe the bible, why do the American indians have to be the other sheep? They could have been people in Africa or even Egypt, and remember the world was a much smaller place back then. This is yet another feel good argument that creates the idea of support, but is actually meaningless. Oh and if the book was made up in 1828, Isn’t is obvious it could be made up to fit the idea of other sheep.

7. Legends of the white God. 
Why pick and choose your evidence? The author referenced by the link says that this guy came over via boat…. not the supernatural description in the BoM. So you trust the author for only part of what she says, but she got the rest wrong? This effect is known as confirmation bias, and has been discussed here before. Just as there are reams of authors talking about this legend, there are reams of authors explaining it without the BoM. Including the example used.

8. Joe Smith got the stick of Judah right.
Ok I almost laughed out loud at this ‘proof’. Come on…. think! If he was making up a story in 1828 he could have easily worked in a prophecy after the fact. The only way this can seem miraculous at all is to first assume the text is not a 19th century work of fiction. Otherwise it is patently obvious how easy it would be to read the bible and then write a book that fulfills biblical prophecy. Besides, the whole lost tribe thing wasn’t a new idea in the early 1800s as you can see by these quotes.

9. All those witnesses. How could it be a hoax?!
I used to put a lot of faith in this as well, after all they are right there in the cover letter on the first page. But then I found out the 8 witnesses didn’t even sign their own name. Oliver Cowdrey did it for them, here take a look at it yourself on the JSP website. The three witnesses when you search the accounts yourself only saw the plates in vision, with their spiritual eyes. Kind of like a daydream if you will. As for the hoax not being exposed part, all you have to do is actually read the (aghast) anti mormon material from that time frame, where there are dozens of people exposing it. It only doesn’t seem that way because you are taught from day one that anything critical is a lie. Plus Joe called anyone that took him to task a liar and cheat, often lying himself as he did so. Just look at page 408 to 412 here in the History of the church volume 6. The self proclaimed prophet denies the polygamy that William Law is declaring he is doing and calls William all the scandalous names in the book for exposing him. Later Holy Joe orders William’s printing press destroyed for printing the facts about JS polyandrous liaisons. The truth of the matter, when all this went down JS was married to 20+ women.  You have to ask who was exposing who and who was doing the lying?

10. No contradictions
Again a flat out lie. There are a slew of contradictions in the BoM, some between the original 1830 printing and a later version, I am not just talking about grammar changes here, this is about things like the nature of the Godhead. The book is also full of anachronistic contradictions, things that hadn’t been invented yet or have been proven to not exist in the time and place setting of the book. There are impossible growth rates of populations and 2 million missing swords. The list of problems with the book goes on and on. All you have to do is actually read the book looking for these issues and they stand out like a sore thumb.

Finally, The spirit tells me it is true. Trust your feelings.
This is the only thing you can use to prove the book true, and it goes contrary to all the evidence to the otherwise. It is what is called a testimony. It is based entirely on feelings. I want to make a point here. Even after all 10 of the above issues totally collapsed for me and I was honest with myself that all those reasons were outright wrong in most cases and tenuous in the best possible light. I still clung to my testimony. I was sure I had felt something, sure I had had a witness. Just like he explained it happens. All the rest of the reasons collapse under honest examination and only this remains. My nemesis tells you to trust your feelings. I trusted mine. I also trusted them when my best missionary friend set up a time to hang out and it turned out he was selling Amway. Paul H Dunn sold me a different kind of lie. Turn’s out your heart can sell you things that your brain knows are a con job (HeartSell™). It’s how conmen make a living because they know this one thing…

BS till you sell
There will always be people selling you something by making you feel good. The question is, are you buying it?

  1. If you have been paying close attention you will notice that the MLM Natures sunshine indicted in the link above is on the list of MLMs that saturate UT
  2. My brother recently got a free stay in vegas to hear a time share spiel, the guy doing the selling talked about being Mormon outright, but seemed dejected when he found out my bro wasn’t your average mormon being married 6 years without kids, guess he wasn’t as easy of a mark as he was used to. They didn’t buy the share. Yay for a little skepticism! 🙂

14 Replies to “Multi Level Mormon (MLM)”

  1. Love the post. The stick of Judah! Well, I just blogged about it being in my blood because my dad was actually raised in the Jewish faith, his mother being Latvian Jew – but then Mormonism took over when I was 3. I know the “church” called us all as derived from the stick of Judah – but my grandmother’s Yiddish was more a part of it than some church deeming us of one “stick.” GREAT list. Love the blog.

  2. I realized the similarity between MLMs and Mormonism at the relatively early age of 18. After completing a week-long training sales seminar for Kirby vacuum cleaners the summer after high school graduation, I was surprised to discover how closely their sales methods (i.e. using referrals, getting and keeping the customers’ attention, and assuming the sale) resembled the teaching tactics missionaries would use to get baptisms. The level of zeal the trainers and salesmen displayed also astonished me: It all too eerily resembled the level of devotion to Church doctrine I observed in some of the TBMS I grew up with. That I felt uncomfortable with all the invasiveness and devotion only added to my anxiety, being the introvert I was and still am. I remember thinking to myself after one particularly stressful session: “Isn’t missionary work just like this, just selling the Gospel to people?” Being the active member I was at the time, I brushed the thought aside and attributed it to Satan. Now, only after suffering through several years working in both the retail sales and MLM industries and developing the capacity to rationally observe LDS Church practices from an outside perspective could I make the connection without any fear. Your observations of this phenomena are spot on, Mr. Fridge.

    1. Discussing this topic with a friend today he said MLM means Mormons Leveraging Mormons. Now I am not sure which version I like more!

  3. I was raised in a household where my father spent close to a decade being “led by the spirit” to seek wealth from multilevel marketing schemes. Amway was the big one for years. My parents both claimed that Amway was going to set them up for an early retirement and they spent money that could have gone toward retirement and time that they should have been spending with family pursuing that dream. My father is 61 and has no money saved toward retirement. At the same time, he spent most of his life (he converted to Mormonism at 23) giving his time and money to the LDS church believing that it will bring him eternal life with his family. Currently, three of his children aren’t members and he wasted time he could have spent with family on Earth devoted to helping a church that, like Amway, took his money and left him without anything for retirement.

    The irony is that the mentality that Amway was going to be his financial salvation was as firm of a belief as any religious belief until a decade had passed and the amount he had spent on it FAR exceeded the amount he earned from it. An analysis of the numbers would have shown him that it’s incredibly unlikely that Amway would have worked out, but it took the undeniable evidence of failing at it for ten years and then suffering a setback that pushed him back eight years to realize that the goal was really just a pipe dream. Unfortunately, he has no balance sheet that shows him that his spiritual efforts have gained him nothing and, in fact, prevented him from reaching many of his goals. Since the “numbers” are all in his head, his massive ego is able to imagine that he is really racking up the spiritual savings despite his narcissism and his focus on himself.

    Also, regarding the idea of the white god, View of the Hebrews focuses on the Legend of a white god, but implies that this white God is Moses. Considering the fact that the BoM stole View of the Hebrews’ plot, but changed the natives to being Christian instead of Jewish, it’s logical that Smith would have changed Moses to Jesus.

    1. Excellent point, I have read a bit of the view of hebrews and knew it is one of the many books that are suggested to have an influence on the BoM. I didn’t go as deep into each counter argument as I could have, the reader that wishes to explore this on her own will find a wealth of informative sights that are filled with well documented facts on the topics. You might have to get a bit uncorrelated though.

  4. To be fair–the boy who wrote Eragon took a LOT of ideas from other very popular authors in that genre. So to say he “wrote” the book on his own is not exactly correct. But, it also helps your point with the book that Joseph read and is very similar to the BOM…

  5. “You point out that Allah married young girls and created a society that thinks it is ok to fly planes into buildings killing people to prove a point. The Muslim says your negativity and lack of praying hard enough only proves to him that Allah is the one.”

    Small correction, which does no harm to your point: Allah is GOD, and never married young girls. The one who married young girls is Muhammad, the Messenger of God. Your argument is strengthened if you frame it properly.

    Kindest,
    ~J

    1. From someone who loved this post who has exited mormonism, I will point out one criticism: I will add that with the 9/11 issue, it is also not what it seems. The evidence may lead you to wonder if in fact 9/11 was an inside job. The rabbit whole goes deeper.

  6. The last reason was what I always clung to. I felt something anomalous at age 15 (after 4 hours of prayer in a dark room, copious fasting, and telling god I’d leave my family if they were mistaken) and I attributed it to god. It never mattered what I heard, because that one anomalous experience was enough for me. But then I had another experience just like it at age 26 that turned out to be flat wrong, bringing my rock of a testimony into question. Rereading the scriptures without any auto-justification made the contradictions, inelegance, and immorality apparent. It wasn’t of god.

    Many saints have tried to tell me I misunderstood the spirit. First, why would I have only felt it once in 26 years? Second, you claim to understand it, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that I can sing a hymn twice in a language you don’t understand and you wont be able to tell me which one had altered lyrics testifying that the church is a fraud. (yes, I’ve done this before. Mormons always feel the spirit, despite the lyrics I sing in Spanish or Italian)

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