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Hi I'm Phil

I'm an aspiring economist, I'm a statistics nut, I'm a very lucky husband and father, and I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I'm a grad student in economics, but it was a long process to get here. Coming out of high school, I decided that I wanted to make a go at being a professional actor. I started studying theater when I got to college. Then I took a break from my studies to serve others as an LDS missionary for two years. While there, I got a l different perspective on life and, while I still loved theater and had great respect for those pursuing it, wanted something different. So, I started studying international relations as a preparation for law school. One of the required classes for the major was an applied statistics course for social scientists. My mind was blown. I was fascinated by how one could take a bunch of numbers and pull patterns out of them to explain why people act the way they do and why markets behave just so. I worked as a TA for that course for a couple semesters, after which my professor told me that if I really wanted to pursue this more, I should switch my major to economics. So I did. I loaded upon as many math and econ classes as I could, and, supported by my very patient wife, jumped head first into grad school.

Why I am a Mormon

I am a Mormon simply because this is truly Christ's church. In my profession, I have the opportunity to brush shoulders with some great intellectuals, many of whom rightly put great stock in the scientific method of theorizing, hypothesizing, and empirically testing those hypotheses. They have a hard time sometimes with the fact that I have faith and believe in something they think cannot be verified through empirical observation. But the fact that it can be verified is exactly why I am so certain in my faith. The Book of Mormon (Alma 32 and Moroni 10) outlines the exact experiment for us to do if we want verification of the truth of the Gospel. If we believe, or at least want to believe, that this message is true, and study the word of God, ponder it, and ask Heavenly Father if it is true, then we will receive a feeling or warmth in our hearts, letting us know that it is good, that it is true. This feeling comes from God and is given through the Holy Ghost. My friends think that the fact that this experiment requiring spiritual investment nullifies the results. The problem is, though, that we are seeking spiritual answers. To study something like photosynthesis, we need to give the appropriate inputs: light and dark. To study market demand behavior, we use prices of goods and quantities being purchased. To study matters of the spirit, we should expect to give spiritual input, apply some manner of spiritual treatment. The fact is, I have run this experiment. I have studied the Book of Mormon and the Bible, I have listened to and pondered the words of prophets, both ancient and modern, and with a firm hope and a desire to know if it was true, I asked my Father in Heaven if it is all correct. And He fulfilled His promise. I received a feeling of joy and peace and of reassurance that this Gospel, this message of hope, is from God. I've gone back and replicated the results time and again and have received the same answer, that it is true.

How I live my faith

My goal in all my work is to try to learn more about the world and help make it better. I feel that the Lord has blessed me with certain abilities that can be used in specific ways to help lift others. Whether it is through teaching or studying how to fix markets that are overburdening students with debt, I try to keep my primary goal helping others with what I've been blessed to receive. My music and theater background has been a great blessing in serving others, as well. I am a young men's youth group leader in my church and a lot of them are really in to music. So, on camping trips through the scouting program, we usually bring a couple guitars with us and jam for a while by the camp fire. In our church, we also have a home teaching program where we go around and visit different families in church. During these visits, we check to see how the family is doing, see if they need help with anything going on in their lives, and be a support to them. We also bring a small lesson for them to help strengthen them in their faith. In fulfilling this responsibility, it is important that the families, parents and children alike, feel comfortable with us and know that we care for them. To get to know the kids better and to help them get to know me better, too, I'll usually do a little show for them, pretending to be a cooky cousin or shy nephew. They usually like it and, at any rate, it helps them feel comfortable with having us in their home. It's something small, but it's a way to use some of my background to help someone else.