If you have been following the Scott Adams (Dilbert) blog, you have seen him explain political disagreements in terms of "two movies on one screen." He means we're seeing the same thing but interpreting it differently.
His post of Feb 12 gives an excellent example. Read it here:
I think his methodology applies to the question of Book of Mormon geography in many respects.
Take Letter VII for example.
We can all read the same words--Oliver Cowdery says it is a fact that the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place in the mile-wide valley west of Cumorah--but members of the Church see two different movies.
We can all see that Joseph had his scribes copy Letter VII into his personal history and had it reprinted multiple times for all his contemporaries to read.
But even though we read the same words, we "see" them differently. Here's how Adams describes it (modified in part for the Letter VII issue, emphasis added).
I have been saying since [I published my book about Letter VII that the LDS] world has split into two realities – or as I prefer to say, two movies on one screen – and most of us don’t realize it. We’re all looking at the same events and interpreting them wildly differently. That’s how cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias work. They work together to create a spontaneous hallucination that gets reinforced over time. That hallucination becomes your reality until something changes.
This phenomenon has nothing to do with natural intelligence. We like to think that the people on the other side of the political debate are dumb, under-informed, or just plain evil. That’s not the case. We’re actually experiencing different realities. I mean that literally.
I know, I know. When you read something like that, you probably shake your head and think I’m either being new-agey or speaking metaphorically. I am being neither. This is well-understood cognitive science.
And here comes the fun part.
I’m about to show you some mind-blowing evidence of the two-movie effect. Figuratively speaking, I’ll hold an apple in my hand and show it to the audience. Half of you will see an apple. The other half will see a gun. That’s how dramatic this two-movie illusion is. I can be watching a comedy movie while you’re in the same theater, sitting next to me, watching a drama. On the same screen. At the same time.
[End of quotation/paraphrase of Adams]
Let's apply this to the question of Cumorah:
I'm holding up Letter VII.
Movie #1. If you believe Cumorah (Mormon 6:6) was in New York, you are seeing the movie that Oliver described; i.e., the final battles taking place in New York, in the mile-wide valley west of Cumorah. In your movie, Oliver and Joseph are reliable, accurate, credible, and trustworthy. (After all, they had visited Mormon's repository in Cumorah. Plus, Oliver was the Assistant President of the Church at the time, the only witness besides Joseph Smith to the restoration of the Priesthood, most of the translation of the Book of Mormon, etc.). In your movie, every prophet and apostle who has spoken about Cumorah has supported what Oliver and Joseph said.
Movie #2. If you believe Cumorah (Mormon 6:6) was somewhere other than New York (it doesn't matter where), then you are seeing the movie that Oliver and Joseph were speculating, were wrong, and thereby misled the Church for 100 years (until RLDS scholars corrected the mistake, and then LDS scholars adopted their Mesoamerican theories). In your movie, Joseph's successors perpetuated a false tradition about Cumorah. Members of the First Presidency, speaking in General Conference, continued to mislead the Church until at least 1975. In your movie, the scholars know better than the prophets and apostles.
Same facts about Letter VII, but an entirely different movie in the minds of those who read it.
Is there an event that provides a way for this two-movie reality to "fold back into one" as Adams describes it? He says it will take a lot of time plus a lot of observations.
I think we already have plenty of observations to fold this two-movie reality into one. I've discussed these at length in my books and blogs. Realizing Joseph translated two sets of plates, as I've explained in my latest book and my presentations, is just one more reason to accept what Joseph and Oliver said about Cumorah.
It's possible that for some people, no number of observations over any amount of time will overcome their cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias. However, I think that for most members of the Church, Letter VII alone is sufficient. If not, then the accumulating evidence will lead then to see Oliver and Joseph as credible, reliable witnesses that Cumorah is in New York.
Another way to say this is: