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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 09:11AM

So, my daughter is a high school senior. We've been doing some college tours before she submits applications. Yesterday we drove up to UCLA and got their presentation/tour. Wonderful campus, and it's #2 on daughter's wish list. She's got a good chance to get in.

After we finished the tour, she and her friend (who had come with us, along with friend's dad) went to use the restroom. So friend's dad and I are standing, waiting, when two very white and delightsome young men, with short haircuts, wearing t-shirts and jeans, and carrying clipboards, approached us.

"What's up, guys?" I ask. I already knew who they were.
"We're doing a social experiment," one of them says. "Would you read this passage from an ancient book, and underline [he hands me a marker] any mentions of deity you find in it?"

I look at the paper. It's a printed-out bit of Helaman. No surprise.

"You're doing a social experiment using the book of mormon?" I ask.

"How did you know it was the book of mormon?" the mishie wonders.

"I did 2 years as a missionary in France," I say.

A bit of discussion ensues. Oddly enough, the passage he gave me to read contains no mention of any deity. In fact, it's one of the more violent bits of the BoM, talking about murders and Gadianton robbers and revenge killings and such. I point out to the mishie that there's no mention of deity. And that if he's trying to get people to see how wonderfully spiritual his BoM is, he probably shouldn't hand them passages talking about murder and robbing.

We chat for a bit. He asks what ward I'm in. I let him know I'm no longer mormon, having left decades ago. He was about a month from finishing his 2-year stint, so I tell him that I left a few months after coming back from my mission, something to think about when he's finally free.

Just before leaving, I let him know what I think of their tactics, pretending to do a "social experiment" and not wearing their trademark white shirts and nametags...that it's dishonest and sneaky, and while I don't know whose bright idea this was, it doesn't do them any favors to start off their approach by lying to people.

He was somewhat embarrassed by that. Clearly he knew that they were lying to people, and he didn't much like it. "It came from the zone leaders," he said. I told him he should stand up for honesty, and tell the zone leaders their idea is fucking stupid (my exact words). He smiled at that.

I wished them well, reminded him to think about leaving when he gets home, instead of heading to BYU and asking some girl to marry him on the second date, and we march off.

Such schmucks.

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Posted by: slskipper ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 09:28AM

"Social Experiment" sounds so much like "Personality Test".

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:51AM


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Posted by: GregS ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 09:50AM

Apparently it's a thing now, and not just a crazy idea from a local zone leader. It started as a BYU AdLab (whatever that is) experiment, and the faculty advisor quoted in the linked article said that he was "working with the Church’s Missionary and Priesthood and Family Departments to refine and expand the project." It has all the earmarks of an epic failure.

https://www.lds.org/church/news/byu-adlab-lets-book-of-mormon-speak-for-itself-in-social-experiment?lang=eng

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:57AM

Thanks, Greg. I had no idea this was a church-wide "thing." First time I'd encountered it.

The thing is, I recognized the scam immediately. And thought it was hilarious that the page they gave me to read had no references to either god or jesus (which is supposed to be the point of the scam, to get people reading the passages to think "Hey, they believe in god and/or jesus just like me!"). It was all about robbing and murdering. Oops!

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Posted by: GregS ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 11:18AM

Your encounter rang a bell and I remembered reading something similar to it on the one of the LDS sites.

I like to keep up with what the church is saying about itself, and it freaks my wife out that I'm more current than she is. It's one of the reasons I hang out here...I get a heads up on things that I may otherwise miss.

Forewarned is forearmed.

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Posted by: Visitors Welcome ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:07AM

You don't mess with success so if TSCC is changing strategy it means their strategy isn't working. But we already knew that.

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Posted by: Darren Steers ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:18AM

We used to claim we were taking a "survey" about family values when doing our door approaches and when approaching people on the street. We had a clipboard and everything.

People will stop and answer a survey, they won't stop and talk otherwise. We never kept any results of course, it was just a lie to start a conversation, and the "survey" was a simple ice breaker

This was back in the late 80's in England. The only difference here is that they are not wearing their Mission attire, when we obviously were.

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:23AM

My tax dollars help pay for that school and I don't want it to provide for lying cultists who distract students from their studies. Let missionaries do their lying somewhere else.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:25AM

The public perception of the church must really be in the dumper.

I’m not sure changing the uniform is that dishonest. The fact that they have to slink around might be more honest. But why are they on the UCLA campus? Hoping to find students who never use the Internet?

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:31AM

It wasn't really their "street" clothes I was calling dishonest -- it was saying they were conducting a "social experiment."
Complete and open lie.
No two ways about it.

And the senior mishie knew it.

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Posted by: CrispingPin ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:38AM

Lying is OK if it advances the kingdom of god on earth.

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Posted by: CrispingPin ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:40AM

And truth must be opposed if it harms the one true church.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:40AM

But they were just following orders.

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Posted by: anonculus ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:45AM

The other lie they told you: that they were going to show you a passage from "an ancient text". It's 19th century.

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:57AM

anonculus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The other lie they told you: that they were going
> to show you a passage from "an ancient text".
> It's 19th century.

Yeah, that too. :(

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Posted by: lisadee ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 05:07PM

anonculus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The other lie they told you: that they were going
> to show you a passage from "an ancient text".
> It's 19th century.



Yeah. But for them, "limited geographic model" has merit no matter what archaeology says.

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Posted by: valkyriequeen ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 10:49AM

Great responses to the mishies, Hie! My husband and I were laughing so hard!

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 11:16AM

I t sounds like you were teaching the lesson that day, Hie!

Many years ago, some UCLA alums (knowing that I wanted to go west to school,) tried very hard to talk me into going there. My guidance counselor talked up the school as well. But I knew that I was not ready for a big city campus at the time (UCSB would have been more my speed, and did in fact make my initial cut.) What's number one on your daughter's list?

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 11:56AM

1. Stanford
2. UCLA
3. Cal
4. UCSD

She's a very talented young digital artist, who wants to study some combination of fine art/computer graphics, with an eye towards working in the film/tv/computer game industry as a CGI artist/producer. She's got the academic/SAT score chops to get into any of those, but that doesn't mean she will of course! :)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/2018 11:56AM by ificouldhietokolob.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 12:32PM

Good choices.

Not UCSB? Seems like it would fit.

She clearly wants to stay close to Pops, which is great!

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 05:53PM

So many factors. There's also in-state tuition to help.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 06:00PM

All solid picks. I wish her the best of luck.

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 06:02PM

summer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> All solid picks. I wish her the best of luck.

Thanks.
How about wishing me luck paying for it? :)

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 06:43PM

>>How about wishing me luck paying for it? :)

LOL! Stanford was on my (very) long list, even though I knew I couldn't get in. But the cost would also have been prohibitive. Apart from that, I only looked at public schools.

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Posted by: cl2 ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 12:03PM

doubts. I loved how you handled the situation.

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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 12:44PM

Back in the 1960s we did "pesquisas" (questionnaire) in Brazil, essentially a fake survey, like Darren did in the 1980s, so it has a long tradition. It was a way to get people to stop and get a conversation started.

I didn't think of it so much as being dishonest, though at some level it was. In our defense, we did have a list of (hopefully) thought provoking questions, designed to provoke the thought that they wanted to know more about our message.

What bothered me was that we were basically exploiting most people's natural willingness to be helpful. When they realized this was a sales pitch for religion, they generally looked annoyed and blew us off. If people get exploited that way enough times, they stop being willing to help.

I had a sense that I was causing minor but real damage to the social fabric. I realize that is a pretty abstract analysis, but hey, I was a math major, so abstraction is kind of what I did.


The jeans and t-shirts are dishonest icing on a dishonest cake. I think Hie put a largish brick on somebody's shelf. Well played!!

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 12:58PM

My last encounter with the mishies was a year ago. As you'd expect, I took a different tact.

They were tracting a retail area in my highly student neighborhood, right outside a cult-worthy [ :+) ] ice cream parlor. I offered them ice cream, and they happily accepted.

I let them make their pitch, revealing in degrees that I am quite knowledgeable about LDS. As we talked, I snuck in problem issues or history they might not know about, leading up to big ones, like celestial polygamy, saying, "Oh, you didn't know that? Well, now you do, it's in the JoD, check it out..."

With THAT one, one asked if I was ex-LDS, and I told them, "No, ex-Christian Scientist." I then gave them my testimony, explaining how it was studying LDS (charismatic leader, special revelation, belief in one-true-church, etc.) that helped me understand the errors in CS. I then went into a little lecture on common traits among aberrant sects and cults.

To their credit, they stayed and listened. I then told them (condensed paraphrase):

"Statistically, one or both of you will leave Mormonism. When you discover that little in LDS is historically or spiritually true, you may be tempted to reject all belief in God as bunk. It's not. There is truth in the Bible which is not in the BoM, with historicity and archaeology that reinforces it. Nothing's been found to validate the BoM, but there is for the Bible. When you learn these things, you have difficult decisions to make. Leaving LDS will come at a heavy cost of alienating, even losing, friends and family, and much that is important and familiar to you. A major decision, but can you live a lie, especially a spiritual one with eternal consequences? The second hard decision will be to find a church that teaches the Bible accurately and provides the society and fellowship where you're comfortable. Good luck!"

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 05:54PM

> The second hard decision will be to
> find a church that teaches the Bible
> accurately and provides the society
> and fellowship where you're comfortable.

Golf!!!

All you do is substitute the Annotated Rules of Golf for the bible and it, along with the group you golf with on a regular basis, will provide all the society and fellowship you can handle!

When you play with people who accept and abide by the rules of golf, the experience can be transcendental! Probably 3/4s of the penalties called on players who have 'transcendented' are called by the player himself, with at least a third of those called when no one else was aware of the penalty!

If you have played and/or have watched a lot of different sports you should appreciate what a rarity is this. Self-called penalties...what a concept!

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 06:07PM

And the word is, "transcendentalized." Such grievous grammatical errors are mortal sins, yer dunn fer!

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 06:47PM

I am told there are prominent Americans who do not abide by the rules of golf.

Such sorry souls will never know the joy of transcendental-izationism.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 07:18PM


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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 07:19PM

We duzz hour bets!

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 07:53PM


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Posted by: Shinehah ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 07:51PM

I wonder if the church historic site missionaries still ask visitors to "please sign the guest register" and then forward the info to the mission where the visitor lives. Always seemed sneaky to me.

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Posted by: cl2 ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 07:59PM

went to temple square when they'd change flowers to admire the flowerbeds. Then they'd go in the visitor centers and put each others' names in the guest registers.

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Posted by: BYU Boner ( )
Date: September 13, 2018 09:47PM

Big question for the missionaries, “Did you get UCLA’s IRB approval for your ‘experiment’?”

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: September 14, 2018 10:10AM

BYU Boner Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Big question for the missionaries, “Did you get
> UCLA’s IRB approval for your
> ‘experiment’?”

I'm betting that's a "no."
As a public/state university, though, during regular hours anybody can go on the grounds. I don't know their official policy about religious proselytizing...but if they have one, I'd also bet the "we're doing a social experiment" schtick is an attempt to get around it...

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Posted by: NeverMo in CA ( )
Date: September 14, 2018 11:56AM

I attended a public university in CA (and in fact am attending another one now, many years later, as I've returned for another degree). Anyway, I've seen Muslims doing religious outreach, the Campus Crusade for Christ, Hare Krishnas giving out literature, people promoting transcendental meditation (not a religion, I know, but many see it as a spiritual practice), Scientologists, etc. So, I'm not sure prosletyzing of any kind is prohibited. Even if it is, technically, public campuses are public places, so it's pretty hard to police people, students or otherwise, who can claim they were simply starting a conversation.

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