We’ve Become Boring

I was playing around with Google Ngram viewer, a tool that allows you to see the relative frequency of words across time in books, and came across the fact that we’re actually much less interesting in the year 2024 than we used to be.

While it seems like the gentiles have this prurient preoccupation with our housewives, swingers, soaking (not a thing, for the umpteenth time), and baptisms for the dead, this probably doesn’t hold a candle to the old days when we were committing murders that Sherlock Holmes had to solve, or kidnapping the fair maidens of Britannia for our Intermountain West seraglios. We’re probably not as click-baitey as we used to be, and It’s good to keep things in perspective.

11 comments for “We’ve Become Boring

  1. Papers, books, plays, wild west shows, movies, you name it! We were the stock villains of the western U.S. back then.

  2. or maybe we’ve eliminated victories for Satan and they’re using the full name of the church?

  3. The trendline is pretty flat, even during our peak embrace of “Mormon,” so I doubt that’s it.

  4. I repeated this same search. If you take “Mormon” out of quotes and leave it case insensitive it is pretty different from what you show. You only need to include quotations in the API if it is more than one word.


    Description is only a smaller peak in 1890, not seen in your graph that starts in 1900 and then maintains pretty flat till counts are highest in 2010s. Compared to LDS and it also peaks about this time, but relatively lower. Many more mentions of Mormon than LDS or “Latter-Day Saint”

    The full name of the church you can’t track because it is more than 5 letters. But Latter-day Saint is pretty low.

    I see no reason why you would immediately assume mentions are because of “preoccupation with our housewives, swingers, soaking ” or with baptisms for the dead. The rest of the world would assume Mormons are gentiles – ie not Jewish. Jewish people also would assume we are gentiles – ie someone that is not of Jewish descent. I assume some Mormons are, but the vast majority are not.

  5. Another comment – repeating the search with different variants of English results in varied results, but none match what you show above and the underlying data is from book text much of it published by the Church.

    My conclusions based on the data would not be that there some “prurient interest” from outside the LDS church that peaks early and that we are “boring” as the title of the post. When you expand the search to include similar terms for catholic, muslim, hindu, buddhist, or baptist it may give some context to the ngram frequency that is more informative and interesting. That search shows large increase in ngram frequency for muslim and decrease in catholic since the 90s and that mormon tends to be less than baptist or other denominations. That puts some context and makes possible comparisons that are more meaningful.

    I think the increase in usage of Muslim is a much more interesting story.

  6. The “gentiles” quip was kind of tongue in cheek. Some of that difference is from the different starting point (1800 vs. 1900) but you’re right, my mistake to include “Mormon” in quotation marks. It’s odd that it would be different with Ngrams since in normal Google searching putting something in quotation marks just means “be sure to include this term.” So yes, it looks like when we look at it from 1900 to today it’s a series of valleys, with peaks in 1887, 1905 (Smoot hearings?), and 2005 — I think the “Mormon” with quotation marks decreased because people just started calling us Mormon instead of “Mormon” (i.e. Joe Smith and the so-called “Mormons”).

  7. Boring over time, aye? Well, what do you expect from a church that was founded by 20 year-olds and in now governed by 90 year-olds? Time for a reboot, I say. My proposal: In conference tomorrow President Nelson releases himself and the others of the 15 that are over 70 to spend their remaining days playing with grand and great-grand children. Following precedent of highest in quorum becoming president, Gary Stevenson becomes prophet, with Garret Gong as first counselor and Ulisses Soares as second counselor, and Patrick Kearon as chief of the quorum of the 12. The remaining positions would be filled by brethren in their 40’s and 30’s (yes, 30’s, like David O. McKay and others). There is precedent for this. Remember that all of Jesus’s apostles had gone to the Great Beyond by their sixties and seventies, as had the 12 disciples in the new world (translated beings excepted). New millennium challenges – new millennium minds holding the keys of the priesthood of God to deal with them.

    All those in favor please show by the raising of the right hand…

  8. Oh wow, I tuned in late to the Saturday afternoon session of conference only to find that Elder Gary Stevenson was CONDUCTING the session and introducing Elder Garret Gong as the next speaker. My immediate thought was “they took my suggestion”! (see above}. Now, if they take my other suggestion to increase attendance at sacrament meeting by substituting cookies and milk for the emblems (i.e. “it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament” D&C 27:2) , then I will really be on a roll.

  9. larryco – I bet your heart skipped a beat or two! I can keep the bread/water and just get donuts and milk after the meeting in the cultural hall! My daughters ward (not utah) served donuts after their christmas service. Nice touch!

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