Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Utah - H*ck Yeah!, part 2

  Land of the mountains high, Utah, we love thee!
  Land of the sunny sky, Utah, we love thee!
  Far in the glorious West,
  Throned on the mountain's crest,
  In robes of statehood dressed, Utah, we love thee!

While my feelings towards the Beehive State aren't as fervent as those portrayed in the official State Song, I do happen to think Utah is a pretty cool*. Why? Let me show you.

*Johnny Utah is pretty cool, too.
Naturally, the first topic of discussion when talking about Utah always religion. "But Adam," people say, "isn't Utah a hyper-religious autocracy filled with zealous Mormons?" While it is true that a large percentage of the population in Utah is LDS, in a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, Utah came in (a somewhat unexpected) 12th place when ranked among states whose residents feel religion is important to them—a mere 10% above the national average. (For those interested, last place was claimed by the twin coalition of New Hampshire and Vermont, and first place was proudly taken by Mississippi.) While this statistic may be a bit distressing for those who actually want Utah to become a hyper-religious autocracy (of which I can only hope there are only a handful), it may shine a different light on the state to others.

Although something tells me the Hindu population of Mississippi is not as prevalent as this sign would have us believe.
Brain Health
Recently, Dr. Michael Roizen and his colleagues evaluated "the 50 U.S. states... on 21 brain health indicators in the areas of diet, physical health, mental health and social well-being". He then ranked the states according to the brain health index. In said index, Utah ranked at a mighty number 15, just five short of the top ten. While I don't understand science very well, I think that means that Utahns are fairly smart—or at least their brains have the capacity and ability to be so. And while Dr. Roizen says that "Utah residents... should be eating more of the state fish – the rainbow trout", perhaps Dr. Roizen should be using more of the internet to find out what Utah's State Fish really is.

Whose brain is healthy now, Doc?
Admittedly, Americans in general have a different perspective of "safety" than a good majority of the world. While America is by no means the safest country on Earth, it is far—and I do mean far—from being the most dangerous. That being said, a recent study placed Utah as the 17th safest state in America. When I discovered this, it came as no surprise to me, as Sandy (my hometown) had just posted a billboard on the freeway using safety as a selling point.

We're number 34! We're number 34!
What did come as a surprise to me, however, were the states that took the title of "Safest": that cursed duumverate of New Hampshire and Vermont. This is the second time in three lists they've appeared, and both times they've been at each other's sides. Whatever is going on over there, I don't like it.

They're up to something. I can feel it.
Sure, Utah may be just-the-right-amount-of-religious, brain-healthy, and safe, but what about overall well-being? According to a study called the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, in 2008 Utah was #1 when it comes to overall well-being. What does that mean, exactly? The study gathered surveys from each state in six categories: life evaluation, emotional health, physical health, healthy behavior, work environment, and basic access. They then averaged the scores and ranked them accordingly, creating what is essentially a ranking of the happiest states. "But," you might say, "that was in 2008. What about 2009?" Well, I saddens me to announce that last year, Utah was bumped to 2nd place. And what state did the ousting? Oh, only a state that is described by virtually everyone who visits there as "paradise"—Hawaii.

Taking into consideration the unfair advantage the island has (i.e. Hawaii is prime rib and Utah is... weird brother of prime rib), I'd say Utah did pretty well for itself.

Yeah, I'd be happier there too.
Now, I am fully aware that Utah has its fair share of problems. Utahns rank first in per capita porn consumption, and Utah is the only state that not only still uses a firing squad, but allows guns on college campuses. However, Utahns also have one of the highest life expectancies, have the lowest per capita alcohol consumption, and Utah is the fastest growing state in the nation.

So, when it is all said and done, Utah is by no means perfect. However, if you want to life in a place that has some pretty impressive statistics—and not to mention four distinct and awesome seasons—then allow me to quote Robert "the Sundance Kid" Redford: "Because, you know, you're in Utah... and if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere."

And that dude knows what he is talking about.


Becca said...

If I'm not mistaken, there was also a poll in 2008 that said Utah men are the most unhappy. Trust me, I heard it from that reliable bunch on Radio From Hell, Also, A Utah Original.
Now, I'm no MAN, but I can see how some Utah "traditions" can make a man depressed. I'm not saying anything, I'm just sayin'.
And what do you have against those states, NH and VT? Is it because their physical relationship to each other resembles the proverbial "69"?

Missy said...

It's nice to see some Utah pride. Great post.

Jeff said...

Agreed, however, I do not agree with you listing the allowance of guns on college campuses as a problem. In fact in my opinion that is to our credit.

Joe said...

So what's with the high correlations between porn consumption and religiosity? Did you notice the only other dark state on that guys map? Yup, Mississippi. And Vermont and New Hampshire? Lily white.