I posted two fascinating episodes this week with Shannon Flynn.  He describes first how Mark Hofmann defeated a lie detector test, and talks first about the mechanics of the test.

Shannon:  The way that those polygraphs work is, they work on what is known as the zero-null system.  In other words they put up a scale.  Zero is the center, then it goes -1, -2, -3, -4, all the way to -15, whatever, and then +1, +2, +3, whatever.  When a test is scored, they will give a number, but the number will be +1, or -3, or +10.  Generally between -5 and +5 is a null reading.  They can’t tell.  They person has been messing with the test or the examination wasn’t done well.  They can’t tell so it will be towards the center of that.

But then when you get to -10, -11, -12, very untruthful and easily seen; +10, +12, +15, very truthful.  Mark scored a +14.  I scored a +12.  That really bothered those examiners when they found out he had beat that test, it just really bothered them.  It turns out the main person up at the University of Utah, David Raskin was able to arrange an interview with Mark when he was in prison about two years, a year and a half, two years afterwards, because he wanted to find out how in the world he was able to do that.  This is what Mark told him.

I don’t want to give too much away, I’m hoping this will pique your interest to listen!  But suffice it to say, Mark’s passing the polygraph test has implications for the FBI and CIA, who routinely run polygraph tests on employees!

We also talked about how Mark changed Mormon history.  I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but Shannon said some very interesting things:

In 1986 or 1987, Curt Bench added an errata sheet to Dean Jessee’s book, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith that listed 6 Hofmann forgeries that had been included.  (Click picture to enlarge)

Shannon:  Our understanding of church history hopefully is as bad now as they ever will be with the idea that they’re going to get better each day as time goes on.  But that means 50 years ago they were significantly worse than what they are now.  In 1960 did most people believe that Joseph didn’t do any of that money digging?  They didn’t believe in that magic stuff, didn’t use a seer stone?  Well you can see how much things have changed.  Not only does the church acknowledge that, they have printed a picture of the stone!  That says almost nothing about the artifacts.  It tells us volumes about who we are, what we believe, how we think about things.

this idea of Joseph believing in magic and going on September 21st, the equinox.  Mark in that Martin Harris letter was just giving a little snippet of some magic belief.  Well now we know it’s a hundred times bigger than that.

So today those letters, that Josiah Stoal letter about the money digging, of course we know he did that, all the time.  They would not be nearly as controversial, by a factor of a hundred that they are now.

Do you agree with Flynn’s assessment?  Did Hofmann blow the lid off Mormon history?