Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 449

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

This is volume 449, which is not a super interesting number. It has this going for it: its base 3 representation (121122) begins with the same digits as its base 7 representation (1211).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Religious Worship Attendance in America: Evidence from Cellphone Data (Devin G. Pope, NBER): “I establish several key findings. First, 73% of people step into a religious place of worship at least once during the year on the primary day of worship (e.g. Sundays for most Christian churches). However, only 5% of Americans attend services ‘weekly’, far fewer than the ~22% who report to do so in surveys. The number of occasional vs. frequent attenders varies substantially by religion. I estimate that approximately 45M Americans attend worship services in a typical week of the year, but with large changes around Holidays (e.g. Easter).”
    • Excerpt is from the abstract. Author is a prof of behavioral science and economics at U Chicago.
    • See also this (somewhat harsh) critique by Lyman Stone: (read the whole thread for the critique)
    • Response from Devin Pope, on religious attendance (Devin Pope, Marginal Revolution): “There are definitely limitations with the cellphone data (I’ve had about 100 people tell me that I’m not doing a good job tracking Orthodox Jews!). I know that these issues exist. But survey data has its own issues. Social desirability bias and other issues could lead to widely incorrect estimates of the number of people who frequently attend services (and surveys are going to have a hard time sampling Orthodox Jews too!). Given the difficulty of measuring some of these questions, I think that a new method – even with limitations – is useful.”
    • Lyman Stone helpfully replies to Devin Pope (Twitter thread)
    • Extremely interesting throughout. If you don’t have time to dive in then just read the abstract of the initial article and the Stone’s final Twitter thread.
  2. Americans are still not worried enough about the risk of world war (Noah Smith, Substack): “So if you were living at any point in 1931 through 1940, you would already be witnessing conflicts that would eventually turn into the bloodiest, most cataclysmic war that humanity has yet known — but you might not realize it. You would be standing in the foothills of the Second World War, but unless you were able to make far-sighted predictions, you wouldn’t know what horrors lurked in the near future. In case the parallel isn’t blindingly obvious, we might be standing in the foothills of World War 3 right now. If WW3 happens, future bloggers might list the wars in Ukraine and Gaza in a timeline like the one I just gave.”
    • This was published before Iran attacked Israel. btw.
  3. How to Stop Losing 17,500 Kidneys (Santi Ruiz, Substack): “Greg and the researchers that he worked with showed that there are 17,500 kidneys, 7,500 livers, 1,500 hearts, and 1,500 lungs that go untransplanted every year from potential American organ donors. For scale, that means the United States does not need to have a waiting list for livers, hearts, or lungs within three years, and the kidney waiting list should come way down. That data convinced not only the Obama administration, but also the Trump administration. This reform movement has now crossed three administrations, and that almost never happens.”
  4. Should We Change Species to Save Them? (Emily Anthes, New York Times): “In some ways, assisted evolution is an argument — or, perhaps, an acknowledgment — that there is no stepping back, no future in which humans do not profoundly shape the lives and fates of wild creatures. To Dr. Harley, it has become clear that preventing more extinctions will require human intervention, innovation and effort.”
    • Including partly for the amazing header art. Unlocked.
  5. Abolish Grades (Bethany Lorden, Stanford Review): “I have earned an ‘A’ on architecture drawings which were not my most careful, on physics problem sets that I did not fully understand, on stories which were not my most creative. Something is broken in the grading system. Feedback on work ought to be in words, not letters, and it should be relative to a student’s best work, not to the performance of the class.”
    • Bethany is a student in Chi Alpha.
  6. Mate Poaching: Social Taboo or Healthy Way to Find Love? (Kevin Bennett, Psychology Today): “Psychological research suggests that 10 to 20 percent of new relationships among heterosexual couples are formed directly from mate poaching. One study found that 10 to 15 percent of participants’ current relationships were the result of successful mate poaching. Another study surveyed undergraduate students and found that 20 percent were currently involved in a relationship that began this way.… Research suggests that mate poachers—and those most susceptible to poaching—share some characteristics. There is a link between narcissism, infidelity, uncommitted sex, and mate poaching, and these findings are not limited to modern industrialized countries.”
    • That’s a lot of relationships begun on the shady side! A bit of advice from a longtime observer of college romances: if they cheat with you they are likely to cheat on you.
  7. Switch to Web-Based Surveys During COVID-19 Pandemic Left Out the Most Religious, Creating a False Impression of Rapid Religious Decline (Schnabel et al, Sociology of Religion):  “Although at first glance it appears that intense religion declined dramatically during the pandemic, further investigation reveals how this shift is a function of changes in how the survey was fielded rather than Americans turning away from religion during a time of crisis.… religion is more persistent than it appears, intensely religious people are less likely to agree to participate in surveys, and data collection efforts like the typical in-person GSS are invaluable for accurately estimating religion and other ideological factors in the United States associated with the likelihood of participating in surveys.”
    • The authors are sociologists at Cornell, Harvard, and NYU. Fascinating.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • Sticky Situation (Loading Artist) — there are two kinds of people
  • A Dungeons & Dragons actual play show is going to sell out Madison Square Garden (Amanda Silberling, Tech Crunch): “Dropout’s Dungeons & Dragons actual play show, Dimension 20, is getting pretty close to selling out a 19,000-seat venue just hours after ticket sales opened to the general public. To the uninitiated, it may seem absurd to go to a massive sports arena and watch people play D&D. As one Redditor commented, ‘This boggles my mind. When I was playing D&D in the early eighties, I would have never believed that there was a future where people would watch live D&D at Madison Square Garden. It’s incomprehensible to me.’ ”

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In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.


Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

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