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Epigraph:Daniel Peterson tree stump quote
Daniel C. Peterson, the Eight Witnesses and the Tree Stump
Parent page: Book of Mormon/Witnesses/Eight witnesses
And I said..."it’s a matter of fact sort of experience: they go out in a clearing in the woods. There are the plates on a tree stump, they heft them and all this sort of thing," and he said “There was no tree stump.” And we went back and forth and back and forth about this stupid tree stump. And I finally said, “Look, OK. I will grant you no tree stump if you will grant me the plates...because I don’t care about the tree stump.” But in the meantime, I wrote a letter to my friend Richard Anderson...who I think is one of the great historians in the Church, and he’s the great authority on the witnesses. And I said, “Richard, help me. I cannot find a source indicating there’s a tree stump.” And he said, “Oh yeah, definitely there is, there is. I’ll get it back to you.” A few days later he calls and he says, “You know, I can’t find any mention of a tree stump.” And we both finally decided it was that stupid picture that gave us the idea. There’s actually no account that mentioned a tree stump. So, pictures can form your image, but you have to be careful you’re always controlling those images by looking at the actual data.
—Daniel C. Peterson, August 2013 
- Daniel C. Peterson, "Some Reflections on That Letter to a CES Director," 2014 FairMormon Conference (August 8, 2014)