Social experiment shows Utah one of least honest states in country (+ video)

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  • Levin Hightstown, NJ
    July 28, 2013 8:58 a.m.

    @cargirl, for my part, the keys on the lockers in the temple dressing rooms are critical for

    1. Identifying which lockers are occupied without having to open the doors.
    2. Helping me to remember which locker I used when I'm done.

    There are maybe other ways to accomplish these without locking the doors. I habitually leave my empty clothing bag unlocked on the top of the locker, as it doesn't fit well inside. Have never worried it would get stolen.

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    July 25, 2013 4:24 p.m.

    @DSB --

    "From the article, the company set up "...unmanned stations with bottles of tea labeled for $1."

    And, of course, reporters always get all their details right.



    If you watch any of the videos of the experiment, it's quite obvious what they were actually offering -- namely, their entire product line. A picture's worth a thousand words, and all that.


    Hey, I've got no quibbles with living caffeine-free. When I was living in SLC, I absolutely loved that I could get caffeine-free sodas (relax, they were both caffeine-free and sugar free) everywhere I went. :-)

    July 25, 2013 3:59 p.m.

    Contrarius - people were defensive about the claimed results based on the content of the article, which draws the conclusion that Utahns are less honest than people from New York and most other states, based on an experiment wherein tea was offered at unmanned kiosks. If other drinks were also available, this may add some credibility to the experiment, but wasn't raised in the article.

    Even one major flaw in such an unscientific experiment (and this had more than one) renders the conclusion drawn by the DN staff ridiculously unfounded and worthy of the mild defense put up by many commenters. You know, tobacco shops sell some products that would not violate any LDS standards, but the vast majority of practicing Mormons still wouldn't consider going there to buy bubble gum or a soda.

    I love these kinds of experiments, and think they're funny as well. But, I think many of us wonder why it's so important for some people to defend the experiment's silly conclusion that in Utah we're less honest than elsewhere. In an honest-to-goodness real experiment on honesty, I think Utah could accept a challenge from anywhere.

  • NCPanther Logan/Cache, UT
    July 25, 2013 3:47 p.m.

    @ LetsDebate, I think this poll is ridiculous because we have no real numbers from this article, only percentages. Any poll done with only percentages is ridiculous. Numbers are way more important than percentages as I'm sure you are aware.

    I do find this funny because a lot of people here seem to think they live in a place where everyone one is honest and good all the time and this is just ironic to me, I'm sorry if that is offensive to you.

    "defend the honor of the good citizens of Utah" I'm pretty sure the citizens of Utah will be just fine. I know people have lots of different expereinces where they live and I'm sure this is going to stir up something nasty but, in my own personal expereinces "the good citizens of Utah" could use a reminder about what it means to be "good" and how they should treat others.

  • DSB Cedar Hills, UT
    July 25, 2013 3:16 p.m.


    From the article, the company set up "...unmanned stations with bottles of tea labeled for $1."

    There is no caffeine debate. How do we get people to understand that the LDS church HAS NO CAFFEINE PROHIBITION! They do ask members to abstain from tea and coffee, but there is no explicit or implied prohibition against Mt. Dew, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, any other caffeinated soda, hot chocolate, chocolate candy bars, 5-Hour Energy Drink, Extra-Strength Tylenol, and many other caffeinated products. We are encouraged to "pay attention" to what we ingest, as you wisely do, and many of us (me included) are lacking in that regard.

    There is only a "caffeine debate" among a few holier-than-thou members who have taken it upon themselves to add upon General Authorities' expressed interpretation of the Word of Wisdom, and among people who are legitimately and innocently ignorant of LDS doctrine, and among dishonest anti-Mormons who will use any concept - real or manufactured - to depict LDS people as hypocrites.

    It's not about the caffeine. And, the article clearly states tea was being offered.

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    July 25, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    @LetsDebate --

    " Merely pointing out the flaw of this experiment is so ridiculously defensive as to be funny to you? "

    Well, for one thing -- that supposed "flaw" wasn't actually a flaw at all -- which I already pointed out.

    It's easy to find video of HonestTea employees conducting this experiment online -- just Google it. You'll see that the kiosk they set up had many varieties of drinks available to choose from. Therefore there would not be any reason for "good" Mormons to avoid purchasing the drinks.

    No, the experiment is still not scientific -- but it is pretty funny.

    Also, I *think* -- I haven't verified it -- that the company has done the same experiment in previous years. If they get comparable results over multiple years, then the results WOULD get more significant. I might look that up one of these days.

    July 25, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    @NCPanther - I think it's funny that your first post says nothing about "Utah's low ranking" being ridiculous, but only the defensiveness of those who point out the obvious flaw in the experiment. Any reasonable person would infer from your original post that you thought any criticism of the experiment was merely sour grapes. Now that your polling acumen has been wasted, the experiment itself is suddenly obviously ridiculous. If the experiment is so ridiculous, why then is it funny, or in the least bit strange, that we would try to defend the honor of the good citizens of Utah?

    Did anyone cry for a lawsuit, or suggest a boycott of the teamaker, or call for protests, or use incendiary language? Merely pointing out the flaw of this experiment is so ridiculously defensive as to be funny to you? I mean really - whoa, calm down.

  • NCPanther Logan/Cache, UT
    July 25, 2013 10:14 a.m.

    @ LetsDebate, woah calm down. I thought it was funny how defensive everyone was getting over a completely ridiculous poll, you included. I think this is an interesting poll but what is more interesting is how offended people seemed to be and how defensive people got talking about "good" mormons and "bad" mormons...seems absurd.

  • John20000 Cedar Hills, UT
    July 25, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    What was the statistical standard error +- 3% or 4%? When the difference between the states is within a standard error, it is impossible to say one is more honest than another. Sloppy research.

  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    July 24, 2013 4:43 p.m.

    And again, we have locked lockers in the Temple dressing rooms for----???? So the Church Mice don't steal our stuff?

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    July 24, 2013 1:40 p.m.

    Sure enough -- TN tied for fifth overall, with an honesty rating of 98%.

    Did I peg it, or what?

    My state has problems, no doubt -- still, there are many things to love about it. :-)

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    July 24, 2013 1:07 p.m.

    Hey, folks!

    Forget all the caffeine debate. HonesTea company has many non-caffeinated beverages. Nothing in that article states that they only offered caffeinated drinks in their experiment -- so the Mormon-non-Mormon debate is irrelevant.

    (Incidentally, though I'm not Mormon I also don't drink caffeine. So I pay attention to such things.)

    I'm wondering where TN came in on their honesty scale. I'm betting it was top-25%, but definitely top-half. I'll have to look that up.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    July 24, 2013 10:40 a.m.

    Sounds like we are getting into a Word of Wisdom debate. For whatever reasons, the Church leadership has left specifics about Word of Wisdom vague. Some think caffeine is the issue, others don't. Some say "hot drinks" is the issue, therefore hot chocolate is not ok, but iced tea is. Sometimes I wish they would be more specific. Don't know about now, but about 10 years ago I noticed that in the L.A. Temple cafeteria they served de-caffeinated cola drinks. Still, I'm never asked specifics about if I obey the Word of Wisdom, only if I do. It's up to me to be honest or not.

    July 24, 2013 12:44 a.m.

    tabuno - there has never been a "no caffeine, no soda" rule in the LDS church, and there are plenty of us who abide by the "no tea" rule, even if some don't. Perhaps you don't know as much about Mormon rules or sampling as you think.

  • DSB Cedar Hills, UT
    July 24, 2013 12:37 a.m.

    @tabuno - I think it's safe to say you are woefully ignorant about representative sampling. No one in my family drinks tea, and I really don't think we're out of the ordinary LDS people at all. Whether some Mormons drink tea is not the issue. The fact is that a significant portion of Utahns are practicing Mormons, and a very significant portion of practicing Mormons do in fact avoid drinking tea. Therefore the sample excludes a significant portion of the population and is completely unreliable as an indicator of Utahns' behavior.

  • tabuno Clearfield, UT
    July 23, 2013 10:54 p.m.

    I know of a number of Mormons who don't exactly abide by the no caffeine, no soda, no tea rule, so considering the most of the State is Mormon, I think its safe to say the the Mormon population is well represented in this sample.

  • Still a Mormon Greenfield, IN
    July 23, 2013 8:53 p.m.

    Ya know whoever authored this article was one smart cookie. Look at all these responses it is so totally insignificant to the real world and to the rest of our lives, but because they jabbed at us Mormons we all had to read the article and comment. Bravo deseretnews you got me this time.

    Also I am a Mormon and I think that my fellow believers are just as if not more messed up than everybody else in the world. If you believe in the Restoration then you believe in the Priesthood which allows things like the Gift of the Holy Ghost to work in you. The Bible and BOM clearly teach that all good comes from christ and that mankind is really self destructive(evil). I think it is because we hardly ever teach about grace, that really causes a lot of disconnect between us and other christians and rightfully so.

  • upsidedownchic Draper, UT
    July 23, 2013 6:55 p.m.

    Chocolate has caffeine...lots of it. Several herbal teas are made without the use of caffeine. Take at look at your practices and read ingredients.

  • Bob K porland, OR
    July 23, 2013 4:57 p.m.

    I wonder how good mormons can pass up cold tea, a natural beverage, in favor of Diet Coke or Pepsi, which contain more caffeine and lots of chemicals? I had read that hot beverages were prohibited.
    Someone wrote recently that the lds church's huge financial interest in Pepsi made drinking it OK. Does this have truth, or was it malicious?

    July 23, 2013 4:12 p.m.

    @NCPanther - I suggest you avoid applying for a job conducting polls. It's funny to me how someone could have so little understanding of polling and statistics, and of how something so obvious renders the results completely meaningless.

    This experiment left out 100% of practicing Mormons with Word of Wisdom integrity. Whether those with the integrity to avoid the tea would lack the integrity to pay for something they would drink, like lemonade, cannot be determined from this experiment. Maybe all such Mormons would steal lemonade, but avoid tea. Maybe none of them would steal the lemonade and significantly improve Utah's ranking.

    Everybody might have an opinion, but experiments aren't usually intended to measure opinions. Nobody really knows. What is certain is that without those people included in the sample, in any Utah location, the results are totally meaningless as a representation of Utahns. Even as an unscientific experiment, it tells us nothing, and perhaps draws totally inaccurate findings about Utahns.

    Just because we point out the sampling was not fair, does not necessarily mean we have chips on our shoulders. This experiment simply wasn't fair as a matter of basic statistical procedure.

    Simple statistics 101 and common sense.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    July 23, 2013 4:04 p.m.

    I know many temple card carrying members of the LDS church that thin noting of picking up and drinking a iced tea. Many LDS members have decided iced tea and tea in general is not the same as drinking coffee the same way they don't think twice about drinking caffeinated sodas. I was actually shocked so many people paid as my experience since moving to Utah is that many Utahans are very dishonest in their dealings with others.

  • junkgeek Agua Dulce, TX
    July 23, 2013 3:19 p.m.

    Most Mormons from Utah I've encountered think that cold green tea isn't against the word of wisdom.

  • NCPanther Logan/Cache, UT
    July 23, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    Funny to me how many people are justifying Utah's low ranking with, "Well that's not fair,it didn't test the 'good' Mormons because we don't drink tea!".

  • politicalcents West Jordan, UT
    July 23, 2013 2:23 p.m.

    Also, for those who think Provo is next to heaven, think again. As a former manager of a restaurant in Provo near BYU, I can say that every September, we had to purchase new silverware in mass due to theft. Yes, our silverware was taken right after fall semester began. I might have thought it to be a coincidence had it not happened for 8 years in a row.

  • politicalcents West Jordan, UT
    July 23, 2013 2:19 p.m.

    This study does miss a lot of crucial facts. It is based on percentages-which if anyone has taken a statistics class, they can tell you that numbers are easily distorted. Second, location-comparing apples to apples is essential for viable data. Third, as many have mentioned, a large portion of this state has moral issues with the actual drink.

    However, it does show interesting and even encouraging results nationwide as far as integrity of individuals.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 23, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    Yes, a more interesting experiment for UT would've been with a different product.


    it is ridiculous to put forth the proposition that no "active Temple attending" Mormons don't lie or cheat. (why do we need locks for the lockers?)

    I remember the experiments in "Tipping Point" conducted at corporations which showed the higher up one was, the more dishonesty there was.

  • ProudUtahn St. George, Utah
    July 23, 2013 2:07 p.m.

    Lets leave the LDS Church out of this discussion, I feel bad of the findings though non scientific. This show our society at its worse no mater what the product or the location of the test. My question is were there other people near by that saw the theft and said or did nothing? I always hate to see the results of these kind of tests, they say a lot about our society no matter what the excuses are.

  • jcobabe Provo, UT
    July 23, 2013 2:06 p.m.

    The 2013 "experiment" results don't correspond with those reported for a similar "experiment" in Salt Lake City in 2012, where 100% of the participants were "honest". Perhaps the experimental parameters were changed. Perhaps the sample size was insufficient.

    In any case, I tend to be rather suspicious of anyone trying to market tea products in Utah, with "honesty", or on any other basis.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 23, 2013 2:04 p.m.

    Most states seem to be between 85 and 95%. Depending on how many beverages they had at each stand, it might not even be all that statistically significant a difference between the city ranked 40th and the city (since it's picking one isolated location in the state I think the use of city rather than state is more accurate) ranked 10th.

  • Zadruga Guy West Jordan, UT
    July 23, 2013 2:02 p.m.

    The success of Ponzi schemes in Utah is evidence FOR Utah being an overall honest state. A Ponzi scheme requires the victims to be very trusting in order for the scheme to work. I think there is a high correlation between people who are trusting and people who are honest.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    July 23, 2013 1:51 p.m.

    Utah is well known for its financial fraud schemes, so this doesn't surprise me. Those people who think that the Provo area is more honest than SLC better think again. A larger number of Ponzi schemes were found to be in Utah County.

  • Leo Femedlers El Paso, TX
    July 23, 2013 1:29 p.m.

    I lived in upstate NY for several years. The first time I saw an unmanned honey kiosk sitting by the side of the road I thought I was hallucinating. As we stopped we also saw that the vendor had placed stacks of coins by their denomination so that customers could make their own change. I had never seen anything like that nor have I ever since. A few years ago when I was back visiting the same area I had the good fortune of talking to the owner as he was present that day. We discussed his kiosk and I asked him if he had lost money. He admitted that he had but it was worth more to him to place his trust in the passers by. Repeat offenders were asked not to return. (He could see his kiosk from his home some 50 yards away.) And his honey was amazing! Different colors, different flavors, with no added ingredients. Good stuff!

  • StatenChick Santa Clarita, CA
    July 23, 2013 1:27 p.m.

    The point is not about good Mormons vs. bad Mormons or Mormons vs. non-Mormons. But the truth is, this experiment excluded a significant portion of the Utah population. Yes, it was an unscientific poll, and it's not that big of a deal.

    It's just that I'd be curious to see what the results were with a different drink.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    July 23, 2013 1:21 p.m.

    That's right, of course it's not the Good Mormons. They don't drink tea. But you know the old joke about why you take two Mormons fishing with you, right?

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 23, 2013 1:21 p.m.

    The only way to improve the value of this experiment would be to set up an alcohol kiosk on Temple Square.

    I understand that teas is the company's product. But they have to take local preferences into account.

  • Capitol T Stafford, VA
    July 23, 2013 1:19 p.m.

    I have another theory. The first time I saw Honest T lemonade I thought that I would try it. It was the most disgusting beverage I had tried that claimed to be lemonade. Another guy at the table laughed and said the same about the one time he tried it. With an easy way to ask for your money back, my guess is that some frugal participants asked for their money back and received it. Warning, stay away from Honest T lemonade. Just sayin. Utah being one of the least honest states with 88 percent leaving money isn't too bad, I am shocked that anyone felt obligated to pay after tasting.

  • JimE Kaysville, UT
    July 23, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    Location, location, location.
    Downtown SLC is not reflective of Utah.

  • Lifelong Republican Orem, UT
    July 23, 2013 1:11 p.m.

    Yeah put it in SLC. Great idea for an experiment about honesty. Try the same thing in Provo and see what you get.

  • jcobabe Provo, UT
    July 23, 2013 1:09 p.m.

    Interesting - perhaps it is accurate to find some correlation between tea-drinking and dishonesty in Utah. Who exactly would this survey be selecting?

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    July 23, 2013 1:05 p.m.

    So, this experiment gives us an unscientific look at how honest tea drinkers are. If you want a more representative sampling of the overall population, use bags of M&Ms.

  • StatenChick Santa Clarita, CA
    July 23, 2013 1:05 p.m.

    This experiment excluded all active, Temple recommend holding members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they do not drink tea. It would be interesting if they would repeat the experiment with something like lemonade.

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    July 23, 2013 1:01 p.m.

    Since a good percentage of people in this state doesn't drink tea, it's harder to get an overall accurate picture. Interesting idea nevertheless.

    The other issue is the placement of these kiosk.

    But that's why it's non-scientific.

  • BYUtah Fan Herriman, UT
    July 23, 2013 12:54 p.m.

    Keep in mind that good Mormons do not drink tea. So they would be excluded from the set of "honest" people in Utah. Try setting up a chocolate milk stand.