Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ham and Eggonomics Combo

Ham and Eggonomics Combo

(1) The more we explore the more similarities we find in ourselves and animals. About 3-10% of humans are at least partially gay, and it turns out that almost all animal species exhibit same-sex behavior. Nine-spined stickleback, who we would initially think operates by instinct alone, actually have a sophisticated method of learning, based on their observations of their peers relative to their own experience. In short, sometimes, they are rather intelligent.

(2) We aren't doing well enough. One-sixth of humans are undernourished.

(3) It is sad that so many in the world are undernourished, while in the U.S. we have such large surpluses of nutrients that the amount of nitrogen leaving our fields and entering the Gulf of Mexico is the among the largest ever measured.

(4) In my upcoming book on farm animal welfare, I argue that one piece of evidence that animals are sentient is that they communicate in a social setting. It turns out that sagebrush plants communicate in this manner. They warn their peers of danger, and have a sense of self-recognition. Yet, this is not really relevant to the farm animal welfare issue. Protons, neutrons, and electrons also communicate, and so do atoms on opposite sides of the universe. Without a nervous system and a brain, communication is not related to sentience.

(5) Studies keep trying to link obesity to proximity to fast food outlets, while others argue the link is not present. I argue it does not matter. Committees or governments should never attempt to decide where people should live and where McDonalds should locate. Those are decision that should be left to the consumers and the food retailers.

(6) Having a higher purpose in life lowers one's risk of death. What constitutes a higher purpose than growing food? What constitutes a higher purpose than making sure animals raised for food are treated kindly?