One of the cultural tragedies of these times is the looting of the sites and monuments of the past. A prime force behind this piracy is the desire of foolish people of wealth to possess tangible emblems of taste and refinement. They rarely invest their own efforts in order to understand history or to sense meaning in the art of past civilization. They are satisfied with the mere externals—with instant evidence of being cultured. And the gluttony of these ignorant rich is at least as condemnable as the looting itself.
The LDS book market shows similar swashbuckling. Many Mormons are willing to spend money for instant evidence of knowledge rather than to labor for the knowledge themselves. The result is consumer demand for intellectual loot. This is especially true about scholarly study of Book of Mormon archaeology. At least from the time of George Reynolds the Saints have avidly bought books which claim to offer them inside information on this scripture, particularly on its geography or what are termed “external evidences.” Some of these sources have actually been helpful to the serious reader. Many more, and these are the concern here, have harmed more than helped.