February 16, 2010

Not true thing of the day #2

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:01 pm

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to address this point so early in the series, but as it happens to be in the headlines these days I thought the timing was propitious.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, trying to quantify and rank something like happiness has methodological difficulties.  However, if we wait for the perfect data, we’re never going to get anything done…  If we need to have a discussion around the data I shall reference in the “reality” section, it is likely we will need to address methodology. In any case, on with the show:

Assertion:  Being Mormon will make you happy.

Note:  I think it is also a fair representation to say that the assertion also includes the notion that being Mormon will make you happier than other things you might do.  There will likely be an ongoing series on the difference between the Mormon self-perception and what data about Mormons actually shows.  I shall reuse some of my resources as we go through those points.

Reality:  Mormons are not happier than non-Mormons.

There is very little correlation between the density of Mormons and the likelihood that a given city will report high happiness levels.  Further, the trend shows cities with extremely low densities of Mormons reporting a higher comparative level of happiness than cities with high densities of Mormons.  Research has suggested abnormally high levels of anti-depressant use in Mormon-dense communities.  In addition, there are significantly higher levels of suicide rates in certain Mormon demographics.  The family values aren’t so hot either.  Atheists tend to get divorced less than Mormons, what with their wonderful family values and divine family home evenings and what not (oh wait, is that a misplaced modifier? (dear me)).  I assert these data points can be reasonably accepted as proxy values likely to correlate to happiness.

I was advised by a reader yesterday that my posts would be stronger if I provided more corroborating data.  To whit, I am linking this summary discussing what insight we can gain on Mormonism from demographics (primarily in Utah).  All of my factual assertions above are addressed in that link.

This website is a Mormon-friendly piece of the websphere.  In my judgment the speaker does a reasonable job approaching the data in a neutral manner.  Most of the original research is not well cited, but I doubt most of my readers want to go that deep anyway.  If you do, I think there are enough clues in the text to find the material.  He has concluded that the demographic data cannot prove or disprove the truthfulness of the church.  I do agree with that, but it can certainly illustrate if the people attempting to live the principles of that church are finding their labors closely correlated to happiness.  If they aren’t, and other people are getting happier, faster, then one questions the value add Mormonism would bring…  In any case it counter-points the assertion above, which is the issue at hand.

PS: I will give 1,000 Lebanese Lira to the first person to hold up Provo/Orem as an example of happy Mormonism.  Please, please, please go there!  Won’t you please go there?


  1. Mormons are the happiest if they live in Provo or Orem…can I have my Lira now? :)

    Comment by Terra — February 17, 2010 @ 12:12 am

  2. You’re not going to give me any Lira are you?

    Comment by Terra — February 18, 2010 @ 6:57 am

  3. @Terra – I totally, am, I just got distracted by other content.

    Your statement from this data is obviously true, and quite hilarious. I think it is quite a funny notion that we should extrapolate where Mormons would be happy from this data.

    Not exactly relevant to the assertion that Mormonism will make you happy, but amusing none the less.

    Comment by admin — February 18, 2010 @ 10:04 am

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