Any member who has undergone a faith crisis knows that there are many critics on the Internet who are happy to share a Big List of Mormon Problems to help facilitate one’s exit from the Church. These lists can serve as the catalyst for the initial testimony damage, or contribute the final straw in a “death by a thousand cuts” (the “Big List of Mormon Problems” is not the real name of any list but designates features which all of these lists have in common).
Such lists were around long before the Internet was invented but received limited interest and distribution. While some of the works found their way into member or investigator homes, into the hands of missionaries, or even into local libraries, much of the material was picked up only by those critics or LDS apologists (defenders) who found the topics interesting.
Today, however, anyone can create a quick Big List of Mormon Problems, convert it to a pdf, and post it online. Depending on the creator’s writing abilities and social networking skills, a well-written piece by an outgoing author could quickly attain viral status.
The Marketing of Doubt in Anti-Mormon Literature
Good marketing often follows the K.I.S.S. principle—an acronym supposedly invented by the Navy in 1960—which means “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Now this this doesn’t mean that the marketing or material is stupid, but rather that information is generally more effective if it’s simple instead of complex. The current rash of Big Lists of Mormon Problems are good examples of following the K.I.S.S. principle.
Such LDS-critical lists are often not much more than expanded bullet lists of all the things which the critic finds distasteful, supposedly inaccurate, or otherwise damning to Mormonism. The bulleted items need not fully engage all of the issues; it’s usually sufficient to make the accusation, and convince the reader that list provides the only reasonable interpretation of the data.
If the author feels the need to note opposing interpretations, the typical response is along the lines of: LDS apologists don’t officially speak for the Church so their arguments are moot; LDS apologists are not real scholars but are simply biased believers; or LDS apologists engage in mental gymnastics by twisting the text rather than sticking with the plain reading of documents.