May 5th, 2009

food, battenburg

Important Question of the Day: Can People Distinguish Pâté from Dog Food?

One of those questions I've always wondered about:

AAWE Working Paper No. 36 Economics
Can People Distinguish Pâté from Dog Food?
John Bohannon, Robin Goldstein and Alexis Herschkowitsch


Considering the similarity of its ingredients, canned dog food could be a suitable and inexpensive substitute for pâté or processed blended meat products such as Spam or liverwurst. However, the social stigma associated with the human consumption of pet food makes an unbiased comparison challenging. To prevent bias, Newman's Own dog food was prepared with a food processor to have the texture and appearance of a liver mousse. In a double-blind test, subjects were presented with five unlabeled blended meat products, one of which was the prepared dog food. After ranking the samples on the basis of taste, subjects were challenged to identify which of the five was dog food. Although 72% of subjects ranked the dog food as the worst of the five samples in terms of taste (Newell and MacFarlane multiple comparison, P<0.05), subjects were not better than random at correctly identifying the dog food.

So, it appears people don't like eating dog food. Now there's a surprise!

Not entirely sure what that's got to do with wine economics though?
confused, contemplative, puzzle

Interior Traces

This evening, I saw episodes 5 and 6 (the two based in the future) of Interior Traces performed at the Dana Centre.

It was a interesting view at the changes better understanding of the brain and screening for abnormalities could develop in the future and was very balanced covering both the positive and negative points. Well worth a listen (I'm certainly going to have a listen of the other 4 at some point), they're well written stories with a lot of interesting points to consider.

There was a interesting debate afterwards on how screening for predispositions towards medical conditions or behavioral conditions could be useful, but could also infringe significantly on civil liberties and also how the legal system would cope with this issues. Although it would be nice to think that the legal system makes judgements based what we do rather than who we are and at the moment to all intents a purposes that's how it operates, it's apparently not fixed to that and wouldn't need any adjustment to convict people based on a genetic predisposition to carry out a crime. OK, that doesn't mean it's necessarily going to happen, but the possibility is there.

The whole got me thinking a lot about how much we like to label ourselves and those around us and how although it can be a good thing, there are also seem to be many problems with a society which leans so much on labels for everything and the general trend is to label each other even more, which concerns me somewhat. However, that's probably something for a separate post when I've got a bit more time.

Interior Traces is being performed a few places around London this week and then at the Cheltenham Science Festival (see website for details). The performances are also going to be broadcast on Resonance FM on 29th May, 5th and 12th June and will be available for download from the website.