More on Interpreter, the Maxwell Institute, Names, and Money


From left to right: Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Marwan Muasher (then ambassador of Jordan to the United States), Senator and Mrs. Harry Reid (D-NV), Elder Merrill J. Bateman (then president of BYU), and Professor Daniel Peterson, at a dinner honoring the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative at the Jordanian Embassy in Washington DC some years ago


Just back from the annual Christmas party of the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages.  Good traditional Chinese food . . . with sushi.  Prizes were raffled off.  As always, I lost.  We sang “Jingle Bells” in Chinese.  Given my pronunciation and my ignorance of Chinese tones, I was probably really singing something blasphemous or obscene to the limited extent that it wasn’t merely incomprehensible gibberish.  (Earlier this week, I helped to entertain three visiting Chinese imams.  At various points, we spoke in Arabic, the only language that we had in common.)


But I came home to be amused by the responses, elsewhere, to my post from earlier today about the Interpreter Foundation and the Maxwell Institute and their names and finances.  (a) One critic suggests, without any supporting evidence, that I was eager to raise money for the Maxwell Institute so that I could pay myself bonuses and give myself raises.  (Which, of course, is not only not true but essentially impossible under BYU’s system of compensation.)  (b) Another “distinctly recall[s]” that Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture was originally called Mormon Interpreter when it was first launched.  Presumably, in his view, the name has been quietly changed since then.  (Which is also false, whatever he may “distinctly recall.”)  (c) Yet another anonymous critic claims that I actually hate the name Maxwell Institute and that I refused to use it until his repeated message board rebukes of me compelled me to start using it.  Or something like that.  (Actually, I knew Elder Maxwell reasonably well, admired him enormously, have known his son since before my mission, have come to know and like several members of his family, and may well have actually been the first to suggest the idea of asking permission to rename our organization, posthumously, after him.)


Daniel Peterson, speaking at the 2012 FAIR conference at the beginning of August, makes the first public announcement of . . . umm, “Mormon Interpreter.” (It appears that Peterson, a notorious liar and mountebank, has altered the title on the two offprints that he’s holding up, since somebody who wasn’t there “distinctly recalls” that the journal’s original title was “Mormon Interpreter.”  Click on Scott Lloyd’s photo to enlarge it.)


I’m reasonably sure that, if I were to say that the night outside is dark, I would be accused by these folks of lying and/or of trying, somehow, to profit illegitimately from darkness.




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  • WheatherMan

    I just looked outside and sure enough, the sun is still shining brightly. Once again, and without fail, you have lied to your followers.

    Kose Kosmou, aka Legion

    • Jason Covell

      Keyser Soze, or whatever you call yourself: I assure you that the skies are very dark when I look outside.

      But not so dark that they cannot be further obscured by one of your, um, helpful posts.

    • Kiwi57

      Speaking of lying: I remember seeing a series of posts by someone who claimed to be female and an active, believing Latter-day Saint, under the posting handle of “Economicsishard.”

      This person turned out to be quite different than how they described themselves.

      This person also obsessed about a document called “Kore Kosmou,” but sometimes unaccountably mispelled it as “Kose Kosmou.” Funny, that.

      But anyway, you seem to think that Dan has lied to us. About what, exactly? What is the truth of the matter, and what did he say otherwise?


      • The Destroyer

        Oh hi! Yes, I’m Economicsishard also, in fact I’m about 4,000 different people and counting. It’s so very good to meet you.

        Also, in reference to your “female and an active, believing Latter-day Saint”, I am female, I’m active, and I believe. Unfortunately, however, the major difference between me and you is that I believe that Mormonism is inspired by Satan while you believe it’s inspired by God. Beyond this small difference in beliefs, we are, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same.

        Did Dan lie? Yes, many times, but in this instance, he lied about the “time of day”. I can’t speak for the others who feel that Dan lied about the name of his new Lolacademic Journal. As I’ve told Dan on many occasions, my purpose is to uproot and destroy Mormonism, and this is accomplished through lies, deceit, manipulation, propaganda, and fear-mongering.; and, if you haven’t already notice, my methods are working quite well. Remember, people don’t convert based on logic, they convert (and disbelieve) based on emotion, and because Mormons are primed with the idea that “emotion” trumps logic, then it follows that I must use emotion rather than logic when destroying testimonies. The best part about this method is that I can disclose the inner workings of this method and the method will continue to destroy. Even better, if you teach your members to start “thinking logically” then they will uproot themselves. So, either way, I win. I love myself, I’m probably the best person that’s even lived on this earth.

        Hugs and Kisses,

        • Stephen Smoot

          This is, I believe, the only worthwhile way to respond to Ms. Avidon (or whatever other Hebrew name she is going by these days).

          • Kiwi57

            I believe this lady is also known as “Lance Peters.”

            Notice how he/she/it confesses to relying upon “lies, deceit, manipulation, propaganda, and fear-mongering.” I have to wonder just what he/she/it won’t lie about.

            If he/she/it, being such an avid follower of the father of lies, really believed that Mormonism was “inspired by Satan,” then he/she/it would support it. It’s simple logic, really.

          • LancePeters

            Nope, I’m my own man. You must be one of the many ill-informed Mormon apologists who posts on

            I must say however, that given what I’ve read of this so-called ‘anonymous commentator’ here on Dan’s blog, it seems that “this lady”, as you refer to her, is very well versed in Freemasonry beliefs. She even posted, right here on Dan’s blog, something I’ve never seen before, that is, the alternative form of arithmetic used by the Freemasons that justifies the reasons for why Freemasons believed the book of Ezequiel contains the “7 handbreadth cubit” (perfect cubit). Perhaps she’ll see this post and be inspired to post on as well.

  • Roger Nicholson

    Since I was in the audience directly in front of you when that photo was taken, I demand to know how you altered the name printed on those copies of the Journal in my mind. ;-)

    I suppose somebody simply remembered the mention of the web address rather than the journal title when you said the following:
    “Accordingly, I’m delighted to announce the launch of a new venture in Mormon studies, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture—the product of a team that came together only a few days back, after my return from overseas less than two weeks ago. Its first article is now online:
    It will not be purely an apologetic journal, but it won’t exclude or disdain apologetics, either.”

    • danpeterson

      I would imagine that that might well be what happened.

      Couple that vague remembrance with the firm conviction that I’m a compulsive and conscienceless liar to be condemned at every point on every issue every day et voilà! you have some of the comments of my critics.

      • danpeterson

        Sigh. One of my harshest long-time critics, an alienated member of the Church who teaches at a university on the east coast, is now effectively calling me a liar regarding this weighty matter. (I must, apparently, be declared a moral degenerate in virtually every aspect of my life, no matter how small.) The journal was, he insists, originally called Mormon Interpreter, and this title was deliberately chosen, he believes, in order for it to bear the initials MI and, thus, to score some sort of obscure victory against the Maxwell Institute.

        My express denial of this is, in his view, evidence that the charge is actually true.

        Anyway, he contends, Interpreter is too awkward a title. Which is why people are always going to call the journal Mormon Interpreter instead. (Does that make any sense to you? Because it makes absolutely none to me.) Which we founders of the journal knew, of course — again proving that we were deliberately seeking to score points against the Maxwell Institute.

        Civil conversation is impossible with people who always assume that one is acting, speaking, and writing in bad faith. And attempting such conversation with such people obviously isn’t worth the effort. (Still — foolishly, in retrospect — I tried for quite a while. With him and with others.)

        Although he posts under a pseudonym, I’ve known his real-life identity for several years now. His frequently contemptuous, unjust, and uncharitable online treatment of me very often hasn’t merited such protection, but I’ve never revealed his identity nor offered any criticism of him — apart, that is, from his six-year-long career of attacks against me (and, sometimes, against my friends).

        I admit to finding such behavior weird. And that he’s apparently so convinced of his own moral superiority I find still weirder.

        • nealqr

          What is hilarious about all this is I don’t know ANYONE – outside the few who post on the absurd board – who actually call it “Mormon Interpreter.” I don’t call it that, whether talking to people who are familiar with it or people who know nothing about it, and no one I talk to on a regular basis about it calls it that. The truth is THEY will always call it “Mormon Interpreter” because THEY want it to be MI; they want it to be a subtle dig at the Maxwell Institute, because their world is much more amusing that way (for unexplained reasons).

          • Roger Nicholson

            Actually, the acronym I’ve usually seen used for the Maxwell Institute is “NAMIRS.” I’m not sure that many outside a relatively small group would really associate “MI” with anything.

  • Roger Nicholson

    In fact, now that I think of it, Dan Peterson was repeatedly trying to get people to call it the “Neal A. Maxwell Institute” instead of “FARMS.” If I recall correctly (and I’m sure instances of this are still able to be located somewhere), every time someone used the term “FARMS,” he kept responding with something like “FARMS, or more correctly, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Studies.”

  • danpeterson

    LOL. On the message board where (so far as I’m aware) most of this nonsense goes down, they’re now laughing, in their usual grimly humorous fashion, about my supposed persecution complex, the “rhetorical death spiral” of my comments about their claims, and my alleged obsession with this matter, and they’re insisting — and, sadly enough, this last point seems to be completely true — that inventing false claims almost daily about things both great and small and then accusing me and others of lying about them is just their idea of good, clean, harmless fun. What a weird place it is. But they’re so completely used to it that, I really think, they no longer perceive its weirdness. (Which is, I suspect, why I in turn find them and their antics so fascinating, in an amusing-minor-hobby sort of way. This particular issue, in itself, is of essentially no consequence. That they double down even on IT, though, speaks volumes.)