This, however, is not easy. (It may be impossible.) Largely thanks to the meticulous research of Professor Richard Lloyd Anderson, we know a great deal about them and about the six decades, both when they were dedicated followers of Joseph Smith and after they had been alienated from him and his church for many years, during which they testified to the Book of Mormon. For a very long time, those seeking to discredit their testimony accused them of insanity, or of having conspired to commit fraud. In the light of Professor Anderson's work, however, neither accusation can be sustained. They were plainly sane, honest, reputable men.
Recently, the preferred method of disposing of the witnesses has been to suggest -- quite falsely -- that they never claimed to have literally seen or touched anything at all, or to insinuate that they were primitive and superstitious fanatics who, unlike us sophisticated moderns, could scarcely distinguish reality from fantasy. Honest, but misguided.