“Health” food bias

I was reading this article about the great success of Chipotle (which I do love) but just couldn’t let this throw-away line go:

1. Diners who eat healthier don’t go to burger chains. McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson acknowledged that only a small percentage of customers buy salads, while Burger King killed the lower-calorie Satisfries it introduced in late 2013. Fast-food chains continue to be plagued with a perception their food is heavily processed and full of additives. Meanwhile, Chipotle touts grilled meats and vegetables without antibiotics or GMOs.

There’s plenty of reasons to support food raised without antibiotics.  I personally do because it suggests that the animals involved were treated with a modicum more humanity (in many cases, antibiotics essentially allow us to get away with raising animals in egregiously inhumane conditions).  GMO’s are more debatable, but there are surely valid environmental/sustainability reasons for opposing particular GMO foods.  That said, I suspect that the vast majority of those eating this way for perceived health benefits.  Yet, there’s just not any strong evidence that non-GMO or antibiotic-free foods are any healthier.  If you are going to eat healthy, at least do it based on science, not myth, damn it.

Photo of the day

Pretty amazing collection of photos from a new book of amazing and unusual historical photos:

'Known Unknowns' - Arresting images in new book by Charles Saatchi

The portable baby cage, patented by Emma Read of Washington USA in 1923. In the 1930s families with yound children living in the new high-rise tower blocks in London’s East End were confronted with the dilemma of not having an outside area in which babies could bask in the sunshine and fresh air. East Poplar Borough Council’s proposed solution was to fix wire cages to the outside of tenement windows, maximising space potential in confined rooms and allowing baby to reap all the benefits of the English elements.

Critical thinking, higher education, and jobs

I’ve posted here many times about critical thinking and college and the excellent work on the topic in the book Academically Adrift.  Well, now the authors have done a follow up study look at the real-world outcomes for college students for whom they had tested their critical thinking.  The results are 1) not pretty; and, 2) emphasize more than ever how important it is that we university faculty truly do a good job in teaching critical thinking.  Nice summary in the Upshot:

Even after statistically controlling for students’ sociodemographic characteristics, college majors and college selectivity, those who finished school with high C.L.A. scores were significantly less likely to be unemployed than those who had low C.L.A. scores. The difference was even larger when it came to success in the workplace. Low-C.L.A. graduates were twice as likely as high-C.L.A. graduates to lose their jobs between 2010 and 2011, suggesting that employers can tell who got a good college education and who didn’t. Low-C.L.A. graduates were also 50 percent more likely to end up in an unskilled occupation, and were less likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

Given how much emphasis I have been placing on critical thinking since I first read Academically Adrift, it’s nice to know that all this really matters.  However, as the full article makes clear, on the whole, universities are simply not doing well enough at this task (though, social sciences are doing better than most).  I actually sent this article around to my department and will be looking to see what we as a departmental faculty can do to really ensure we are teaching our students these critical critical thinking skills.

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