Saturday, May 05, 2007

Toothpaste and the paradox of choice

Today I was in the supermarket and thought I should buy more toothpaste as the tube we are currently using is almost used up. When I was a child, we used Colgate toothpaste and it seemed to me that it came in only one flavor. Other families used Crest and others used Pepsodent, although obviously not very many because it went out of business. I had a strong preference for Colgate but John came from a Crest family and I became a Crest convert. But recently when I have gone toothpaste shopping I have noticed that there are more and more KINDS of Crest. There are gels and creams, there are kinds that whiten, kinds that help with sensitive teeth, kinds that have mouthwash to prevent bad breath, kinds that protect against cavities, kinds that prevent against tartar, kinds aimed at kids, kinds with baking powder (the kind I hate the most) and kinds that do various things but have non minty flavors like cinamon, citrus and lemon. There is a kind called "nature's expressions" which comes in Mint and Green Tea, among other flavors. So I am standing there looking for the kind I like, which has Scope and something else in a stripy paste. Can I see it? Can I figure out which-- of fhis vast range of choices-- it is... not really. My goal, of course, is to find the brand of Crest which tastes the most like the Colgate of my childhood. Anyway, as I stood there, wondering which flavor I wanted and which attributes, I was thinking, not for the first time, about an NPR interview I heard with a man called Barry Schwartz who wrote a book called The Paradox of Choice:Why More is Less which describes this very dilemma -- we think as a culture that choice is a good thing but then we are overwhelmed by the problem of choosing. Here is a link to the interview. John's dad always said that Coleman's mustard made their money from the mustard that stayed on the plate not the mustard you put on your meat. I wonder whether toothpaste manufacurers have discovered that the secret to profitability is having so many kinds of toothpaste that desperate consumers buy a kind and CAN'T STAND IT and go back for a different kind the next day...

Catching up... and new Blog

Maybe I am not cut out to have a blog.

So much has happened... so much to report... and I have not made time for any of it.

But I'm writing now to point out that I have made a blog for the General Convention Deputies from Missouri to respond to the Draft Anglican Covenant. If this is interesting to you, you can find it here:

I gather that the office of the bishop will be doing something when the House of Bishops' response is ready but I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to offer input, whenever it is offered. I'll be offering discussion this Sunday and next at 9 a.m. at St Mark's.