The Myth of Ego Depletion

Ego DepletionFor the past twenty years a narrative has been building steam. Willpower, it appeared, was a consumable commodity. If you used up your willpower too early in the day, you were left defenseless by evening, unable to continue making right choices.

A previous generation was known to say, “The devil made me do it!” Moderns were able to say with scientific verve, “I just ran out of willpower.”

Then junior scientists such as Evan Carter attempted to replicate the famous willpower experiments, only to be unable to repeat the results. A meta study of prior results was attempted, only to show no effect of “ego depletion.”

The formal Association of Psychological Science (APS) reports are not yet published, but the uncopyedited, unformatted reports can be reviewed at the APS website, and will be replaced by the published versions as soon as they are final.

For those of us wishing for a shorter synopsis, Daniel Engber wrote a cover story for last month’s Slate regarding the paradigm shift, titled Everything is Crumbling. Continue reading

Book Review: A Reason for Faith

Book Review: A Reason for Faith – Navigating LDS Doctrine and Church History,
    editor: Laura Harris Hales

May 9, 2016 (4)

On February 26, 2016, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles spoke to all Institute and Seminary teachers across the world. Noting the wonderful developments in CES over the past century, he then said that he is more keenly interested in the next century of training the young minds of the Church in religious doctrine and testimony. Elder Ballard then gave an important warning and guidance on the needs of the new century:

“Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and a teacher responded, “Don’t worry about it!” Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue. Gone are the days when students were protected from people who attacked the Church. Fortunately, the Lord provided this timely and timeless counsel to you teachers: “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”

“This is especially applicable today because not all of your students have the faith necessary to face the challenges ahead and because many of them are already exposed through the Internet to corrosive forces of an increasingly secular world that is hostile to faith, family, and gospel standards. The Internet is expanding its reach across the world into almost every home and into the very hands and minds of your students.” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, An Evening with a General Authority)

Continue reading

The Relief Society might have handled it better…

BYU freshman, Madeline MacDonald, was reportedly 1 assaulted by a creep.

Ms. MacDonald did the right thing and reported the assault to the proper authorities. Then for reasons that seemed reasonable to someone at some distant time in the past, the rape report appears to have been forwarded to the BYU Honor Code folks. Said Honor Code folks then contacted Ms. MacDonald and let her know there was some question about whether or not she had broken the honor code. [Update: Nothing I said above is incorrect. However Michael Davidson has shared better information about the reason Ms. MacDonald’s past experience is hitting the news now.]

I’m about to send a daughter to BYU. Frankly, I’m less worried about her being sexually assaulted at BYU than at other institutions of higher learning. Institutional levels of stupid happen at any of a number of places.

Relief Society, 1842

But I couldn’t help but think back to Nauvoo in 1842, when terrible acts were occurring, Continue reading


  1. I use the term “reportedly” as the one describing the event was a participant in the event. Had the description of the event come from someone who was not involved in the event, I would have used the term “allegedly.”

Non-Mormon Mormon Movie: ‘Midnight Special’

This is the latest in the occasional series on movies that have themes that will be appealing to latter-day Saints.

The movie being reviewed is called “Midnight Special,” which is a sci-fi flick about a boy who has special powers and his parents’ attempts to protect him from the government and a cult leader who want to kidnap him.

Let me point out that the title is very disappointing and does not do this movie justice. The title makes it sound like a tawdry cop buddy movie, when in fact it is a surprisingly family-friendly film intended to get the audience to think about the Big Questions. This is one of those rare movies that does not have any swearing, no sex, no nudity and only a bit of violence (thus the PG-13 rating). The acting and directing is excellent.

I want to warn you that I cannot review this movie from the Mormon perspective without SPOILERS. This is a movie that relies on mystery and surprise, so do not read the rest of this review unless you don’t plan on seeing the movie or unless you have already seen it.

Continue reading

The Millennial Generation Troubles

According to some, Millennials are leaving the LDS Church in large numbers. How different the numbers are to past generations is never explored. One hint to exaggeration is how high the retention rate remains compared to other similar religious organizations. Probably even more problematic is the focus on the United States, hardly the last place humans exist. By many counts other countries are expanding in number of Mormons, or at least remaining level. The building of Temples and meeting houses testifies to the strengths. They cost money and are dependent on how many members are active. Certainly there are places that are struggling, but many times this is more than offset by the growth of other areas.

Still, there are challenges for the younger generation that haven’t existed to the same extent before. As is usually the case, cultural forces prose a threat to faith. The biggest concern is the rise of “Nones” who reject organized religion in favor of whatever they consider more important. Often times its hard to know what reasons they have, because they are both diverse and not quick to give explanations.

Working off of responses to Calling All Millennials by taking them seriously, the future doesn’t look too bright. In fact, the hope is these are not actually representative. Assuming they are, then civilization itself in in danger of falling apart. It is perhaps the most “look at me, what about me” generation that has ever existed. Social Media has not alleviated the suspicion the future is filled with selfish and shallow people. They have always existed, but the numbers who are influencing the rest of society is growing.

Some representative comments include:

Religion, especially Christianity, traditionally focused on a solution to being lost or sinful. Yet it’s those concerns of sin and alienation from God that also just don’t seem to be a drive with more and more people.

This is backed up with:

Ideology, we don’t really see ourselves as fundamentally flawed/broken/sinful people in need of salvation. I don’t really know what seeing myself as a “child of God” is supposed to practically mean. We may have problems or issues, but they don’t seem like issues in need of divine assistance. It seems like issues we can work out among ourselves . . .

After making a troubling list of grievances, Greg in the comments said:

Finally, I disagree with Clark who says you can’t have a growing church and a challenging one. You simply have to let go of the idea that it’s the role of the institution to make things challenging for believers. Believers should be the ones who rise to greater and greater challenges of their own free will and choice. In the Mormon church you’re either all in or all out, but it’s possible to provide different levels and opportunities for people who are in different places in their lives.

What impression comes out of this is not too kind. Millennials are lazy, self-important, anti-social, know it all’s who don’t take personal responsibility. This generation has become sociopaths bent on destroying all that is good. Harsh conclusion I know, but even they sometimes recognize how out in left field things have become. Continue reading