Cognitive Dissonance & the LDS Faith — Rich Kelsey

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance:

“In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.” (Cognitive dissonance, Wikipedia)

Visits With the Elders:

(The following are accounts of meetings with LDS missionaries, documenting the mindset of the elders, who made it their mission to try to convince me that Joseph Smith never used or possessed a seer stone, one year before the LDS Church held a press conference & shared photos of Joseph Smith’s brown seer stone with the world)

(First Visit):

The LDS missionaries came over along with an older LDS man. All three men sat through me reading two articles from my LDS Series:

■ Book of Mormon Final Battles — Rich Kelsey

■ Book of Mormon Archeological Evidence? — Rich Kelsey

Then I asked the group if they had anything to share. The older LDS man was evidently the spokesman for the group. He talked for over an hour without addressing one point I made in my LDS articles.

When he was finished speaking, I asked the group if they knew who Josiah Stowell was. The older man said no. I asked if they knew who Joseph Knight was. The older man said no. I mentioned that those men were Joseph Smith’s close associates, who were both at the Smith house when Smith supposedly got the golden plates, and that Knight wrote a history (Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History) of the event which can be found @ the Maxwell Institute.

I mentioned that Knight claimed the plates went back into the box by some unseen power after Joseph Smith set the plates down, then I asked the group if they had ever heard of that? The older man said no.

I asked,

“Why is it that I know more about early LDS history than you?”

His response:

“If you want to begin a relationship with the Savior, then you should invite the elders over again, because they are emissaries of Christ.”

He then said that the elders held keys and had the Holy Spirit.

When I said,

“I am also an emissary of Christ and have received the Holy Spirit,”

the older man laughed.

I thanked the men for coming over and listening to me; I even told them I was proud of them for coming. It was kind of fun fellowshipping with the group; it wasn’t all lecture.

Cognitive Dissonance, Get the Runaround:

I did mention to the older LDS man that he did not address any of the problems I brought up in my article, Book of Mormon Archeological Evidence?, to which he replied:

“It was filled with supposition.”

Then, he tried to cast doubt on the points I made in the article by saying:

“We know where the City of Zarahemla is!”

So, I asked him:

“Where is the City of Zarahemla?”

His reply:

“I’m not going to tell you.”

I said,

“Why don’t you just tell me where it is?”

His answer:

“Do an Internet search and you will find it.”

So, I searched the Internet using the words,

“Where is the City of Zarahemla?”

This is what I found:

“The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists … no Book of Mormon location is known with reference to modern topography. Biblical archaeology can be studied because we do know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful were or are. It would seem then that a concentration on geography should be the first order of business, but we have already seen that twenty years of such an approach has left us empty-handed.” (BYU Publication, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1969, pp. 77-78)

Obviously, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not know where the Book of Mormon City of Zarahemla is![1]

Therefore, it appears that the older man’s challenge was just a diversion.

On the subject of Book of Mormon geography, renowned LDS archaeologist Thomas Stuart Ferguson spelled out: 

“… you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional …” (letter to Mr. & Mrs. H.W. Lawrence, dated Feb. 20, 1976)

My article: Book of Mormon Archeological Evidence? comes to the same conclusion.

The LDS Spokesman Calls Me a Liar:

As soon as I finished reading Book of Mormon Final Battles, the LDS spokesman said:

“You didn’t write that did you?”

I answered:

“Yes, I did.”

Then he said:

“You really didn’t write it; that’s not your article!”

This is a typical ad hominem tactic: 

“… genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided by instead attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument …” (ad hominem, Wikipedia)

By accusing me of taking credit for another man’s work, the man was clearly attacking my character. While there is no truth in what he said, it made for a great distraction. Yet, one might wonder if this accusation, along with his other behavior:

● rolling his eyes

● laughing out loud

● making false claims

● avoiding sincere questions


● refusing to participate in a search for supporting evidence,

is really an appropriate way to prove the LDS Church is true?

What I wanted to do was talk about the Book of Mormon’s final great battles of extinction.

A Few More Details:

For the last 30 minutes the older man continued on in a,

“if you (me) want to be useful in serving the Lord,”


He was saying that there were three levels of glory and I was on the lowest level because I was not,

“one of us.”

He said that while looking at the elders.

It was them vs. me: they had the glory and I didn’t. So, at that point I asked the group if they ever heard of Joseph Smith’s 1826 Glass Looking Trial? The older man answered,


I pointed out a few things brought out in witness testimony, such as the spirit of a dead Indian who was watching over the treasure and how Joseph Smith saw that by looking into a seer stone. And, how that was the same type of yarn from which Mormonism was born: early American folklore

The older man laughed.

When I asked him to go to and do a search for Joseph Smith’s seer stone, his reply was:

“I wouldn’t waste a moment of my time doing that!” 

He expressed those words in a sarcastic manner.

When I said,

“Joseph Smith used a seer stone to ‘translate’ the Book of Mormon,”

the older man rolled his eyes and again, laughed out loud!

Cognitive Dissonance, the Day the Laughter Stopped?

One year later, the LDS Church published images of Joseph Smith’s chocolate-colored seer stone and confirmed that it was used to translate the Book of Mormon:

(Joseph the Seer, Ensign Magazine, October 2015)
(Joseph the Seer, Ensign Magazine, October 2015)

(Second Visit):

In the first place, one elder was new. So, only one of the men was present during the last visit when the older LDS spokesman was running interference: rolling his eyes, laughing out loud, etc. That man, by his use of body language, laughter, and flat-out denials, tried to make it seem like everything I presented was a joke.

This time, the elders and I went through two more of my articles on the LDS faith which were chock-full of quotes about Joseph Smith’s seer stones, mostly from and the Church’s Ensign magazine, which verified everything I had previously said.

What I am / was wondering: Is the elder who was present during our first visit thinking:

“Wow, Rich was right all along?”

(Third Visit):

The LDS elders came back. These were not the same elders who came over the first time a few months back; first of all, one of them was replaced and then the other; so yesterday only one of them had been over before. Therefore, I started by going through some material which was covered the last time to bring the new man up to date.

We started by reading the first two pages of a BYU Studies work entitled Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History in PDF format. The elders had no knowledge of Joseph failing to follow the spirit’s instruction correctly by setting the plates down on the ground and not just taking them and going home. They did not know that Joseph was then instructed to bring his eldest brother with him the next year on the same day. 

They had never heard about the plates going back in the box on their own. Nor had they heard about Joseph looking in his glass (seer-stone) to see who the next right person to bring would be after his brother died.

Then we looked at a few quotes from Ensign magazines about Smith’s seer stone use. The cognitive dissonance in the room was so high that my dog Yukon sensed it and started chewing on his dog bed, which he never does.


One elder looked like his whole world was imploding; and, for good reason. Near the end of our visit I asked the elders if they would care to study the subject matter further, one of the elders responded to my challenge. Not the one who looked like he was in shock the whole time; it was the one who kept his composure. The answer he gave was,


He was not interested in looking at one more LDS Church approved quote on Joseph Smith’s early history; or his use of seer-stones to receive revelations. 

I believe the elders were just trying to leave with their testimonies still in place, they will have plenty of time to think things over; and, I left the door wide open for them to come back.

Cognitive Dissonance, the End of the Story:

During our visit I was told that it costs about $10,000.00 per year for each elder to fund his mission and the one steadfast Elder said to me:

“It is well worth it!”

As he said that, I got the feeling that the elder beside him was seriously wondering if his time and money were being well spent.

As for why they kept coming back, perhaps it was because I was using approved LDS quotes in my works, and my attitude and demeanor was that of a good brother. However, yesterday the LDS quotes were much more eye-opening than the ones found in the previous studies and the study itself was rather long. It really pushed the men to the point of seeing that something was seriously wrong with their faith. I would think that yesterday, learning what they did about early Mormon history may very well make the rest of their mission less glamorous. Now their mission is to promote LDS faithful history by hiding from and/or, ignoring what is spelled out on their Church’s own website.  

We did meet again at the Seattle Temple grounds; the cognitive dissonance which was so obvious during that visit is documented in the article:

A Meeting with Two LDS Elders — Rich Kelsey

More Issues to Consider:

○ Misleading Statement from

○ The Trouble with Lucy Harris

○ Secret Combinations

Full Article Index / LDS SERIES


[1] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 2010 Book of Mormon Convention:

“Scholars gathered in Provo, Utah, to discuss their theories about where the events described in the Book of Mormon took place. Some placed the Nephite capital city Zarahemla in Mesoamerica, others in South America. Others argued for a setting in the American heartland.

The president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attended the two-day Book of Mormon convention. Although he found the discussion interesting, he was obviously concerned that people were getting a little too worked up about their geographic theories. He decided to intervene. …

‘President Smith spoke briefly,’ the Deseret News account summarized, ‘and expressed the idea that the question of the city (of Zarahemla) was one of interest certainly, but if it could not be located the matter was not of vital importance, and if there were differences of opinion on the question it would not affect the salvation of the people …'” (The fight over Book of Mormon geography, Michael De Groote, Deseret News, May 27, 2010)