Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Seeds Summary

Recent news and discoveries highlighted by Seeds...

Popularity is Everything!
In some of my research I have found that the most important quality of college graduatesthat employers seek is an ability to work well with others.  This ability is usually correlated with other social skills and achievements like conscientiousness, extracurricular activities, and punctuality. Recent research has discovered that high school students who are identified by teachers as having these social skills perform better in life (e.g. make more money, obtain more degrees) than their counterparts who lack these social skills but have the same intellectual ability (as measured by standardized test scores).  How do employers determine which job applicants possess these social skills?  From my survey work, they determine it almost entirely through their perception in the personal interview.

Searching for Happy Sows
Feedstuffs recently published an article describing a scientific study which concluded that there is insufficient evidence to determine whether gestation crates or group pens are better for sows. Yet this will always be the case.  Gestation crates are like solitary confinement, and group pens are like prison yards where you suffer constant injury from others.  Which one is better depends on whether you think the small, individual cages are better or worse than the pain sows inflict on one another when grouped together in small pens.  The debate about animal welfare for hogs seems to focus exclusively on gestation crates versus group pens, but if group pens is the best we can do, I am unsure whether we should even pretend to care about animal welfare.

Meat for Sex
Primates seem more and more like humans with every study.  This recent study found that wild chimpanzee females have more sex with males who share meat with them more frequently. Humans, it seems, evolved to bring home the bacon a long, long time ago.

Meat Versus Vegetables
An ongoing debate is whether a diet free of meat is preferred to one that includes meat.  A good diet is possible with or without meat.  Which one is empirically better across those who employ each diet is debatable.  In a controversial area like this, where peoples' beliefs are more like religion than reason, there is no truth to be found.  Example: a recent study found young vegetarians have healthier diets but are at risk for eating disorders.  So which is more important, the diet or avoiding meat disorders?  That is like the gestation crate versus group pen diet - there is no unambiguous answer!

A recent study is titled: Brain Activity Predicts People's Choices.  And I thought people just pulled choices out of their ass!