Blog Archives

Coase on Abortion

January 23, 2008 | 27 comments

Estimates suggest that, on average, Americans behave as if they value a year of their life at, more or less, $100,000. This would put an average American life at a “revealed preferred” value of somewhere around $7 million. Read more »

Great Sermons: Criticism

December 10, 2007 | 41 comments

“I am persuaded that many do not understand the Church’s teachings about personal criticism, especially the criticism of Church leaders by Church members.” Thus begins Elder Oaks’ 1987 article on criticism, its uses and abuses. Our Relief Society President used it as the basis for a Sacrament Meeting talk last month and I thought it deserved a renewed audience. As is typical of Elder Oaks, this is a well thought out piece. Enjoy! Read more »

A less melodramatic post on vouchers

November 5, 2007 | 41 comments

So it’s vouchers time in Utah. Here are what I see as the relevant issues, minus the apocalyptic rhetoric: Read more »

Help out Harry Reid

October 15, 2007 | 112 comments

When Harry Reid spoke at BYU last week, he brought up a topic he was uniquely suited to address. To paraphrase, how can you be a Mormon and a Democrat? Reid’s response was, well, deeply predictable in the outset but wildly unpredictable after that. Read more »

The Number One Qualification

September 5, 2007 | 46 comments

There are all sorts of characteristics one wants in a Bishop. Ideally he’d be kind, honest, obedient, a good people person, in-tune spiritually, good at administration and delegation, care deeply about the youth, doctrinally aware, and so on. But all of these pale in comparison to what I consider to be by far the leading qualification for Bishop. Read more »


August 13, 2007 | no comments

“The Faust family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Church Missionary Fund or to the Perpetual Education Fund.” There is a site at available for making donations. Read more »

The Blasphemy of Truth

July 9, 2007 | 81 comments

Suppose I claim that I am right about something (which I do with some regularity). Is there any way to avoid the fact that this is also claiming that God agrees with me? And doesn’t that seem blasphemously presumptuous? Read more »

Great Sermons: Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers

July 6, 2007 | 40 comments

I think I must have missed this one when it came out in 1999. Elder Ballard takes the time to list out a few teachings he considers signposts of False Teachers. Read more »

Prophetic Authority vs. the Law of Averages

May 30, 2007 | 63 comments

J. Nelson Seawright put up a post last week that is clearly a Trojan horse designed to undermine liberal Mormons. Sure, it disguises itself as a discussion of how to conceivably be more correct than the General Authorities; but this is obviously just a front. So let me warn all the liberals away from this trap before they reap the whirlwind. Read more »

Economics and the Vicious Dating Scene

April 24, 2007 | 13 comments

Diminishing Returns: Once things start going downhill, bail. Increasing Returns: It can only get better. Read more »

Markets and Consumer Activism

April 11, 2007 | 56 comments

With fair regularity, one hears someone talking of efforts to buy less of some commercial product, either out of a desire for global conservation or because he doesn’t like how it is produced or whatever. Invariably, he comments that his own effect on the market is small, but he wishes to “send a message” or help along some broader movement. Within a plausible model of markets. there are easily understood conditions under which this small effect is actually zero, and remains zero even if he is joined by many like-minded individuals. At which point one wonders if the “message”... Read more »

Memorial Quiz

March 16, 2007 | 29 comments

Kristine’s pop quiz prompts me to ask a similar quiz I’ve had on my mind. Think of this as Memorial Day come early. Feel free to cheat if you have to: Name your great grandparents. Name 5 of your great-great grandparents. Name 3 of your great-great-great grandparents. Read more »

Amazon’s take on the Book of Mormon

March 8, 2007 | 16 comments
By has an algorithm for noting the “Statistically Improbably Phrases” in any given book. The idea is to look for word combinations that are uncommon generally but common in the book in the hope that this provides potential buyers some insight into what the book is about. Here are the ones for the Doubleday edition of the Book of Mormon: Read more »

Preserving the Veil from Survey Data

February 6, 2007 | 49 comments

Suppose I find that being Mormon raises income, makes your children nicer, and does all sorts of wonderful things. In fact, suppose God blessed every person who converted instantly and spectacularly with beautiful hair and perfect teeth. Read more »

Quadrupling Fast Offerings

November 30, 2006 | 42 comments

About a year or so ago our stake made a move to improve fast offering receipts. The bishop supported this and urged everyone to donate to fast offerings and, in addition to the general admonition, he reinstituted Aaronic priesthood collection of fast offerings after church. Read more »

Fixing the Minimum Wage

November 9, 2006 | 153 comments

It seems pretty clear that we are heading for a hike in the minimum wage. For the many of us who care about poverty reduction, which would be basically all of us, this could be a big deal. The problems with the minimum wage are that it: Read more »

The Opportunity Cost of Publishing

October 25, 2006 | 16 comments

In this excellent post, Rosalynde talks about the gender differences in subject material among Deseret Book writers. This renews the discussion brought up by Taryn Nelson-Seawright on the same difference existing in other Mormon outlets. Explanations abound for this phenomena, ranging from differing preferences to piggy discrimination, but most of them are sort of boring. Here’s one that is at least slightly more interesting: Read more »

Joseph and Moses

September 28, 2006 | 15 comments

Most are acquainted with the passage in D&C 130 where God gives a fascinating response to Joseph’s query about the Second Coming: Read more »

Why Europeans look lazy

September 13, 2006 | 71 comments

It is a well established fact that Europeans perform vastly less formal market work than Americans. A less known fact is that this is a recent development— in the late 50s, Europeans worked about 10% more hours, but this has been in steady decline for 40 years, until now they work about 30% fewer hours than Americans. Read more »

Camels, Needles, Heaven

July 26, 2006 | 36 comments

Rich people who pay tithing are, by all accounts, still losers compared to the poor. Or, anyway, though their ten percent is a lot more money, it is money that had little effect on their life and so is not a very impressive sacrifice. Thus their salvation is put in jeapardy by diminishing marginal returns! How does the Kingdom deal with this? Read more »

McBride, Michael

July 10, 2006 | 16 comments

We are happy to welcome Michael McBride as a guest-blogger. Mike studies happiness, religion, and the politics of development at UC-Irvine. Read more »

Authority Roulette

June 21, 2006 | 99 comments

I’ve talked about authority a few different times, but I thought I should try writing something up as a post. So here’s a version comparing it to roulette: Read more »

Testifying of historicity

June 8, 2006 | 124 comments

As I was re-reading conference, I came across this closing statement by President Hinckley: Read more »

Peak oil and taxes

May 22, 2006 | 22 comments

On the Urban thread, Jonathan Green pointed out that the major issue with oil scarcity may not be how much oil we have in the ground, but how much we can pump in a given year. If we are maxed out on supply for a year, any oil disaster creates a huge crunch. Read more »