Because of expected ice storm on Sunday January 9, only 8:30 worship will take place onsite.

December 2, 2021

A Pastoral Word. . .

Pastor Mark Adams

December 2, 2021
Dan Kopf asks an interesting question in the title of an article he wrote for Quartz magazine a couple years ago: “Why Are People Getting Worse at ‘The Price Is Right?’”

Kopf’s article stood out to me as I perused the Preaching Today website, because one of the youth back in my day, Carey Connor McNamara actually got on the show, made it to the final round---and won!

I imagine Carey would agree that these days Americans are worse at The Price Is Right than they used to be when, in the days of Bob Barker, she was a contestant.

You know how it works on this popular game show, that has been running since 1972. Four people are chosen from the audience, and they are asked to guess the price of consumer products, like washing machines, microwaves, or jumbo packs of paper towels. The person who gets closest to the actual price, without going over, gets to keep playing and the chance to win prizes like a new car or a giant wall clock (among other things) in Carey’s time on the show.

In the 1970’s, the typical guess was about 8% below the actual price. These days, people underestimate the price by more than 20%.

This finding comes from research released in 2019 by Jonathan Hartley, at Harvard University. A longtime fan of the show, Hartley was inspired to conduct his research after reading a paper that reveals contestants don’t use optimal bidding strategies. Hartley wondered what else the data might show. He found that the accuracy of people’s guesses sharply decreased from the 1970’s to the 2000’s, and then stabilized in the 2010’s.

So, what accounts for guesses getting so much worse during those forty years? Hartley thinks there are three economic factors that are the most likely culprits:
  • First, inflation in the US was much higher in the 1970’s and 80’s. When inflation is high and variable, people become more attentive to prices, noticing they are paying more for goods than before. I’m thinking with today’s inflation, contestants in the next few months will get better.
  • Second, the rise of e-commerce may have made people less sensitive to price. As a result, people may feel less of a need to do price comparisons.
  • Third, there are more products than ever. There are 50 times as many products at a grocery store than 80 years ago. This also might make it harder for The Price Is Right contestants, along with the rest of us, to know how much stuff costs.

I share all this because it seems to me that believers are getting worse at recognizing sound doctrine and correct Bible teaching. Why? Well, like the people in Hartley’s research they are paying less attention to the study of biblical doctrine, are less aware of doctrinal issues, and are confused by the hundreds of varieties of churches, denominations, and even cults.

The solution to this problem is Bible study. It is our plumb line when it comes to distinguishing truth from falsehood.

As God uses Paul to remind us in his second letter to Timothy we must all: “Do our best to present ourselves to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

We must regularly study the Bible because doing so, “makes us wise…” for “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

Keep the SON in your eyes!
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