August 30, 2008

Is FAIR being ‘fair’?

Filed under: Is FAIR being 'fair'? Share your thoughts on the FAIR article(s). — The FIRM Foundation Blog @ 8:40 am

On June 30th FAIR (Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) posted two articles and one commentary attacking Rod Meldrum personally and attempting to discredit him by using innuedo, conjecture, and assertions from a private and personal email correspondence to a small group of supporters, inviting them to participate in a preliminary meeting to form a new organization called the Foundation for Indigenous Research and Mormonism or The FIRM Foundation. 

FAIR President Scott Gordon said that the articles were not an attack, yet Ogden Standard Examiner newpaper columnist Doug Gibson, an unbias reporter, after reading FAIR’s review states “the scholars have launched a counterattack” and “The summary…doesn’t go after Meldrum’s theories much…” and finally, “Instead, it portrays Meldrum as a crackpot, a man who claims to receive direct revelation from God on Book of Mormon matters and who insinuates that God has told him not to try and convert Mormon scholars.” 

For those of you who have seen the DVD, do you feel that this is an accurate portrayal of the DVD presentation that you have reviewed? 

If you have both seen the DVD and read the FAIR articles, please post your comments. 

If you have not seen the DVD nor seen the FAIR reviews, please withhold your comments or post in another category.



  1. Rod,

    To answer your question, I do not believe you to be a crackpot. I think you are a very intelligent man. Nevertheless, yes, I came away with the impression that you use personal revelation as an appeal to authority. If it was NOT an appeal to authority, why even mention it? This is my personal opinion, I’m not a spokesman for the Church or for FAIR.

    I’m on the FAIR members list, and we discussed at length, if it is good and necessary to write anything about your work, or if we just should leave it alone. Initially I was one who claimed that nothing good can come out of publicly answering to it. Later on I was convinced, that something needs to be done.

    Primarily I was convinced by the actions of your followers. They claimed that by saying a word against your work, FAIR is in opposition to the Church, to the Prophet Joseph Smith and to current General Authorities. They claimed that you finally gave “those scholars” a beating.

    It was what your followers claimed that you said that made FAIR decide to take sides.

    It was your attack on FARMS that put devout scholars and you on opposite sides.

    And with this thread, you are trying to misrepresent FAIR.

    On the forefront you say you want posters to compare FAIR’s presentation of your DVD with your DVD itself. But then you erect a strawman. You take Gibson’s words, claim that because he is unbiased (proof?), his impression goes as a shortcut for what FAIR’s response really does. Then you pit Gibson’s impressions against your DVD. Classical strawman argumentation.

    Now, it may well be, that your appeal to authority and your strawman argumentation come from a lack of experience in the field you are playing, it may also be that you do it intentionally. If it is unintentional, you should first learn the rules, before you publish what others (including your “unbiased” witness, Mr. Gibson) must understand to be a personal attack on faithful scholars.

    But if you do it intentionally, then your actions are dangerous.

    I will not judge you. Your actions will speak louder than your words, either way.

    Comment by Rene Krywult — September 4, 2008 @ 7:47 am | Reply

  2. So the bottom line, for me at least is this and I freely admit I may get it wrong, but Bro Meldrum claims to have received revelation for his position. Am I correct here?

    The Church does not have a position for BoM geography and as such there is no official position.

    Meldrum, who is NOT our sustained prophet or even close to one, claims to have received revelation that rightfully should be coming from the prophet.

    Am I missing something here????? Or is Meldrum???

    Comment by BrianR — September 4, 2008 @ 9:42 am | Reply

  3. I have seen the DVD and FAIR’s response. I seem to remember a comment in the DVD that you encouraged people to examine your supporting evidence. Nevertheless, I don’t see you welcoming criticism of the evidence you suggested be checked. I find that confusing. If FAIR is doing what you suggested be done, then they are fair. If you don’t believe your research can withstand scrutiny and don’t want to hold it to the light of scholarly examination, then they are unfairly holding you to a standard that you don’t believe applies.

    Of course, if you don’t believe in science or scholarship, I don’t understand how your theory can be based on it. As I noted in my question in the other post, I am confused. I post here only to make sure that you know that I have seen the DVD and do not question without the requisite background.

    Comment by Brant Gardner — September 4, 2008 @ 9:39 pm | Reply

  4. Just a few months ago FAIR produced a DVD in which the X lineage was used as evidence of Middle Eastern DNA in Mesoamerica (

    Now FAIR criticizes Rodney for his use of X lineage research to support his theory, claiming that he is selective with his use of the evidence.

    So its OK for FAIR to be selective in their use of evidence but not Rodney? Or are we going to see a retraction by FAIR of their claims in their own DVD?

    Comment by Simon Southerton — September 5, 2008 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  5. Simon,

    I’m sure you didn’t watch this video, and that just one of your friends told you about it. As a scholarly trained mind, you would not use gross misrepresentation to discredit your opponents, I believe.

    Yes, the FAIR video talks about the X lineage. It also says that the appearance of it in the Americas is too early to prove the BoM story, but it proves transoceanic contacts, where most scholars believe that the Bering strait was the only way into the Americas.

    Meldrum on the other side uses the X but altogether dismisses the dating for the migration of the X, and claims it is a DNA-proof for the Lehi-Immigration. This is using science out of context. Or in other words: Abusing science.

    You as a man of fame who even wrote a book about DNA, surely know the difference, so you cannot have watched the FAIR video and still make such a blatantly false accusation.

    Also, I think it is strange that you as one of the “high priests” of ex- and anti-mormonism try to shield Meldrum from scholarly scrutiny. Or is this just a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” action?

    Comment by Rene Krywult — September 5, 2008 @ 9:09 pm | Reply

  6. Rene,

    I have watched the DVD. You seem to have missed a very prominent statement by John Tvedtnes right at the beginning of the DVD.

    “There is direct DNA evidence for the Book of Mormon. The haplogroup X, which has been trashed by a lot of the critics, saying “Well, no, it’s also found in Asia”, no-o-o, the type of X that is found in Mesoamerica is, in fact, from the Middle East.”

    Maybe you watched a different DVD or you dozed off 2 minutes into it?


    Comment by Simon Southerton — September 5, 2008 @ 11:35 pm | Reply

  7. I think Rod has received personal revelation on a subject. That revelation being that Joseph Smith is and was a Prophet of God. I think Joseph knew more about this subject of the Book of Mormon than any other person. Luckily I have received that same revelation.


    Comment by Dan Lowman — September 6, 2008 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

  8. Simon,

    Just so you know, the DVD has been edited according to John Tvedtnes’ desires, and the edited version will be used once all the existing DVDs are gone. The existing DVDs include a sticker directing people to the FAIR Errata page for more information:

    In addition, the link to the Errata page is on the product page in the FAIR Bookstore.

    Would you be kind enough to provide the URL for the errata information relative to your book?


    Comment by Allen Wyatt — September 6, 2008 @ 6:23 pm | Reply

  9. Simon,
    FAIR acknowledges it when mistakes are made. Check our their “Errata” page, which gives a correction of what was said, and it will be edited out in future printings.
    See Simon, you can learn something from FAIR 🙂

    Comment by Tyler — September 6, 2008 @ 6:58 pm | Reply

  10. While waiting for Dr. Southerton to fix the many glaring errors in his book, which have been repeatedly pointed out, we have an errata page of our own for it. 🙂

    See here.

    Comment by Greg Smith — September 8, 2008 @ 12:59 am | Reply

  11. I was just about to post that FAIR has just added an Errata page but Allen and Greg beat me too it. I’m sure John Tvedtnes will appreciate you doing that. But for the record, it did take you almost 2 months to put the page up (John emailed you the retraction on 17th June) and it wasn’t there when I posted my note above, a few days ago. When you pointed out errors in Rodney’s DVD he acted immediately.

    If you have criticisms of my presentation of the science in Losing a Lost Tribe I’d be happy to look at them. I trust you will allow me two months to acknowledge my errors?

    I’m not interested in discussing your interpretations of the Book of Mormon that support the Limited Geography. LDS apologists can’t even agree about that. I’m quite happy to watch you debate that with Rodney and the many other Mormons who share his viewpoint.


    Comment by Simon Southerton — September 8, 2008 @ 5:08 am | Reply

  12. Oops, PS – didn’t want to leave the impression that the Errata page wasn’t listed where it now is when Simon wrote his note above. It was added in the revision as of 12:59, 20 August 2008 (previously it had been filed under ‘other.’)

    So, it’s right where it’s always been since long before you posted. And, the page existed from 7 July 2008, as I said.


    Comment by Greg Smith — September 8, 2008 @ 10:05 am | Reply

  13. I watched the DVD presented by Rod several times and have read the article published by FAIR a few times as well.

    I think that FAIR raised some very good points, which prompted several questions in my mind. However, I was very shocked and disappointed in FAIR’s tone and personal attack of the man instead of the issues.

    I know that as I listen and watched the presentation put together by Rod that I never got the impression that he was claiming revelation for the Church. I also feel that FAIR has twisted what the leaders of the Church have stated about the geographic locations of the Book of Mormon.

    Although FAIR stated that they would discuss the “issues” presented by Rod in later articles, to attack the man instead of the issues was, in my opinion, very distasteful and inappropriate.

    FAIR would have been much more effective if they could have simply addressed the issues they disagreed with instead of trying to make Rod into an crazy made man who had strayed from the Church and is trying to lead everyone astray.

    I do not believe that all of the ideas presented by Rod are 100% correct, but at least he is trying to present them in a civil manner.
    My question to FAIR would be, why did you isolate your criticisms strictly against Rod. Many before Rod have also made very similar claims such as Phyllis Olive in her book “The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon” or Edwin G. Goble in his book “This Land: Zarahemla and the Nephite Nation, or Wayne May in his book “This Land: Only One Cumorah”. The ideas presented on the Web site and many others all help substantiate what Rod is presenting, yet I didn’t see any personal attack on them or their material.

    Why don’t we just quick blaming each others intellect and civilly discuss why certain theories could be true or may be incorrect.

    Rick Jones

    Comment by Rick Jones — September 23, 2008 @ 5:16 am | Reply

  14. Sounds like you’re all very bitter people. This may sound cliche, but, why don’t you prey about it. No one needs permission from the First Presidency, to receive inspiration on truth, that may or may not be recognized by the church. Remember church doctrine states that the Church does not recognize all truth.

    Comment by Ben Maddux — February 27, 2009 @ 5:38 am | Reply

  15. Joseph Smith said “The Book of Mormon is the most correct book in the world.” Why do we need a DVD with DNA evidence to make the point that the Land of Promise in the US is known only by some researchers. The Scriptures give us all we need. I’m unimpressed.

    Comment by Robert — May 11, 2009 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

  16. I am no scholar. I didn’t even totally understand all the scientific offerings, but I have listened and read both parties in question. It boils down to this: I know what I felt when I heard Brother Meldrum’s presentation. He had The Spirit with him. I cannot say the same for the FAIR article. I couldn’t believe they could come to such an opposite conclusion when presented with the same information! I am content that the peaceful feelings of light and understanding that came to me (and to a number of my family members) were our answer and it doesn’t matter what forces combine to convince me otherwise. I thank the DNA Evidence team from the bottom of my heart for enlightening my mind about THE BOOK I have always known to be true, but have always accepted that I didn’t really understand.

    Comment by Bonnie Searing — June 12, 2009 @ 3:39 pm | Reply

  17. It is not hard to understand the criticism coming in from established groups. They have built up quite a cottage industry and body of information that is sold and resold making a tidy profit for sum and livings for others.
    Along comes an upstart with some new information and rather than evaluate the content they evaluate the danger to their own group and attack.
    This information was fantastic and very easy to understand. It fits very well with what we already know and I give much credit to those that have bucked the mainstream to assemble it and study it and bring it to us.
    It makes much more sense than previous thoughts of South America, then Central America.
    Good job folks!

    Comment by Jinx — June 22, 2009 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

  18. I watched and appreciated Rod’s entire DVD, then went online to see what the critics say, and read a few of the FAIR articles, all of which were designed to discredit and criticize Rod’s methods and approach. Why be only a critic? My religious heritage is that we as individuals can and should seek for truth wherever it can be found, and FAIR gave me nothing to even consider. Rod does not claim to speak for the Church, though he makes clear the sincerity of his feelings and research–absolutely nothing wrong with that! In contrast, FAIR seems very stuck (with religious fervor) in its own view of what a valid scientific approah MUST have.

    Rod does not claim that any one item absolutely proves his assertions, though FAIR implies that he does. Archaeology is all about evidence, not proof. Rod is only saying that the huge preponderance of evidence points to the USA, and I am inclined to agree. More importantly, I am grateful that he is willing to pursue this research starting from the very best information available to him.

    Any presentation cannot contain all the research, and FAIR tries to hold Rod’s feet to the fire when some things are incomplete, which is simply not fair. My encouragement to Rod is to publish his works in printed form that can be consumed by any honest seeker of the truth.

    Comment by mikethurber — July 9, 2009 @ 2:16 am | Reply

  19. I have seen the DVD and read the response by FAIR. Because of FAIR’s desperate attempt to prove every single section of the DVD as inacurrate, I find them to be full of contemp. The very first thing Bother Meldrum talks about is how the Church has no official stance on the geography of the BOM and that this presentation was “his” own work not representing the church.

    I like most of his ideas and think they make a lot of sense. Some ideas not so much but overall he seemed very positive and uplifting. I’ve even talked to him through email and he told how growing up he assumed the BOM took place mostly in Mesoamerica like so many other members did. So did I. And if when the whole truth is revealed to us in the next life we find out Brother Meldrum was wrong and it took place in other parts of America, then so what? He has an interesting theory, not doctrine, that I happen to agree with now but I understand it’s just a theory.

    FAIR on the other hand went all out to try and descredit him. There’s nothing uplifting about that. A simple “we don’t believe his theory about the Geography because we believe differently based on these ideas” would have sufficed. Also on Meldrum’s site, he talked about how attacking back wouldn’t help anybody because contention is not of the Lord. FAIR has done some good things but I think they handled this particulary case poorly and very negatively.

    FAIR claims that Bro Meldrum is misusing divine guidance and revelation to prove his theories and that it is their “mission” to address his claims. Ok so they critizise him for believing that he is divinely inspired to make this presentation but they call their response a mission to keep LDS members from being misled. Sounds like the same concept to me.

    So I would just say to FAIR, don’t come across as so angry towards a fellow member of our church who is expressing his thoughts and conclusions based on his own work.

    Comment by David — November 23, 2009 @ 6:02 am | Reply

    • Hello David,
      I can appreciate and understand your sentiments about the FAIR reviews. Most normal reviews seek to find both the strengths and weaknesses of a particular viewpoint or theory. Unfortunately, FAIR could not find one single redeeming positive thing to say about my research while tens of thousands find that, to them, it just makes sense. You are correct that in every presentation I do, in the DVD and in the new books I make it very clear right up front that this is simply research and that the Church has no official position on the subject of the geography of the Book of Mormon. Therefore any proposed theory should be allowed and even encouraged by such organizations as FAIR to be explored by Church members without resorting to questioning the integrity, motives and knowledge of an author. FAIR’s concern is that people may feel so compelled by the research that they may base their testimony upon it, and when it is proven wrong, these folks will leave the gospel. My response to this is that this supposition is based on two assumptions that I believe are untenable. First, the vast majorities of those who see this research are already members of the Church and already have strong testimonies, so they are not ‘basing’ their testimonies on this information. The second assumption is that this theory will be proven to be incorrect, which is also an unknown assumption. So their concerns are based on two assumptions that I feel may be flawed, but of course only time will tell. It is entirely possible that further research will lead to further discoveries that support this theory and the Book of Mormon.
      One area that is somewhat interesting is the claim by FAIR that they are geographically neutral on the location of Book of Mormon lands. I once asked FAIR president Scott Gordon to please demonstrate this claimed neutrality. I noticed recently that in FAIR’s youtube materials they now have 39 videos on Mesoamerica and 0 videos about anywhere else. Is FAIR’s claimed neutrality an honest assessment? I would like to believe them, but it will take more than words to demonstrate it.
      As to the claim of divine guidance, I have already addressed this elsewhere, but for the record, I do not claim to know if this research or geography is correct by revelation. Certainly I feel that the research presents a strong argument in support of the Book of Mormon in North America, but if our leaders have said that they do not know the location of the Book of Mormon history, I believe them. Certainly if the Lord was going to reveal it, he would do so through his prophet and leaders. I feel that a strong case can be made for this setting for the Book of Mormon on scriptural and logical grounds, and it will take time to continue research on the many aspects that need to be addressed, but I feel that research into this area will be very fruitful, especially as others with more knowledge and experience come to bear upon it. My hope is simply to offer sufficient strength to warrant reopening what has been thought to be a closed subject area. I really wish that such prominent organizations as FAIR and FARMS (or the Maxwell Institute) would join in the effort to look for the evidences in North America, rather than continued attempts to obstruct it. With their combined knowledge and expertise, the possibilities of finding further evidences for the Book of Mormon would be enhanced a thousand fold. I would relish an opportunity for both viewpoints to bring out the white flags and reconsider this potential setting and help in making it even more robust in answering the critics of the Church. What a blessing that would be!
      Thank you, David, for your astute comments.

      Comment by The FIRM Foundation Blog — November 24, 2009 @ 12:54 am | Reply

      • I’m glad you appreciated my comments. Like I said it’s a very persuasive theory that I happen to agree with. I started re-reading the BOM and have been picturing the lands taking place in that region of our country and it makes for a perfect setting for the most correct book on the earth.

        I was just dissapointed when I read FAIR’s analysis because it was so negative and looked like witch hunting. I use to really enjoy reading some of FAIR’s work as they’ve stood up for the church and the prophet Joseph Smith as well as our current leaders. I just don’t understand the animosity toward you and your organization nor the idea that church members are going to base their testimony off your theory. Anyone who bases their testimony off of geography has issues/problems and needs to understand that it comes from the spirit and faith in the lord, not interesting trivia.

        I don’t know where FAIR got the idea that you claim to receive revelation or guidance to present your information as if you were called to disprove those who passionately believe differently. Besides, we are all entitled to personal revelation when the lord sees fit and we are worthy. But I think they exaggerated that notion quite profoundly.

        I doubt in my lifetime we will get to see all the answers to these interesting questions about where these people lived and such. Until then we just need to work with what we have and come to our own conclusions. Like you said, if the Lord were to reveal it, it would be through our prophet and leaders.
        I’m really glad you have reopened this topic because I always believed, according to logic, that it took place in Central America. Now I see things differently and I thank you for offering a new perspective that does make a lot of sense.

        Keep up the good work. May the Lord continue to bless you.

        Comment by David — November 24, 2009 @ 9:43 pm

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