Consider for a moment the logic of the leading paragraph of this article: Research suggests that consumers spend only about one second looking at nutrition information when making myriad choices. A parent dashing through the grocery store aisles with kids in tow has to decide, in that one second, which is better: Triscuit vs. Saltines vs. Wheat Thins vs. Ritz? This is why Americans need a simple, standardized and truthful label on the front of all packaged foods.
This puts empiricism on its head. Labels have failed, ergo, we need more labels.
The evidence says nutrition information is not relevant to most people. The logical conclusion is, ok, we’ve learned something about people’s values and should proceed with this new information.
The empathetic response would be: humans have made their feelings known, let’s cater our policies toward their demonstrated behavior.
The less empathetic response: to be informed, but to make choices different than mine, is logically impossible. Thus, the only explanation is that they are uninformed.
This is the writer’s position. What has escaped his attention are myriad possibilities for human motivation. To ignore these possibilities is simple ignorance and lack of imagination. They include:
- They’ve read the label before and understood it just fine. It wasn’t salient then, and it’s not now.
- People’s choices on _everything_ — food, mates, work — are about 90% emotional.
- Pleasure is more interesting to most people.
- Attention is expensive, and there is no tangible payoff for seeking a product with 20 fewer calories.
Each of these things is a personal choice — we balance pleasure vs. health every day. If you don’t go the gym tonight, you’re making such a trade-off. Does this mean you are uninformed?
The great lie comes in the final paragraph: I want my Häagen-Dazs to tell me how many calories I am consuming — up front.
If one is considering ice cream, then calories are, objectively, not driving one’s decision. He lacks empathy even with himself.