Saturday, October 4, 2014

STATS – Mormons October 2014 – Actuarial Evaluation of Prophethood

UPDATE: Here is an update after Elder Perry and Elder Packer passed away.

This post assumes you have some knowledge about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. LDS or Mormons). If not, the short story is the world lost God's given authority on earth and it was later restored by God and now we have apostles and prophets just like in the Bible.

This is a model built for fun. There is volatility around future expected lifetimes making any predictions from this model shaky. God will make sure the right person makes it to the right place at the right time.

The idea of the tables above is to use actuarial methods to calculate the probability that someone becomes president of the Church. Note that colloquially among Mormons is that this person is referred to as "The Prophet" and for the rest of the post I will just say prophet instead of president. The model I wrote simulates the future of each apostles' mortality and subsequent seniority rank. What is rank and why is seniority and the prophet so important? Seniority among the apostles is based on how long they have held the title of Apostle and not by age. If you have the title the longest out of all the apostles then you are Prophet (Rank 1). Succession of the prophet is based on that same ranking system. For example, if the Prophet dies all apostles moves up in rank and Rank 2 becomes Rank 1 and the new prophet. You can easily calculate the new ranks after an apostle dies. Using mortality statistics and succession rules I can show you who is most likely to become prophet based on their current rank and age.

Similar to the original 2012 simulation, the methods for this 2014 simulation have not changed much. I did increase the age cap to go beyond 105 years to account for future medical improvements. Note that the simulation calculates in year-long steps. Let's say a prophet dies in February of 20xx. In this simulation the prophet would be given credit for the whole year of 20xx and the new prophet would not be counted until year 20xx+1. This also means that you can not have multiple successions in the same one year period. Maybe next year I'll update the code to do monthly iterations and we can examine partial year data.

Enjoy! If you want to hear these men speak be sure to check out this weekend.