Will going vegetarian decrease poverty?

Frequently in discussions on vegetarianism, someone will claim something along the lines of:
1. We're feeding food to animals who we then eat
2. By the second law of thermodynamics this means we're wasting food
3. Therefore, if we stopped feeding food first to animals, there would be more food and we could feed the poor better
Someone usually then responds with something like:
There is not a fixed quantity of food produced; if we stopped eating animals we would simply produce less food, and the poor would be as hungry as before.
It is not immediately obvious who is correct. We need to know two things:
  1. Will food prices fall as a result of going vegetarian?
  2. Will this cause the poor to eat better?

The first question is easily answered. A fall in demand results in a fall in price (see picture: a decrease in demand from D1 to D2 results in a decrease in price from P1 to P2).

However, the mere fact that food is cheaper does not mean it is more available. Given that many poor people sell food as their major source of income, a decrease in food prices means a decrease in their wages. The question we now need to ask is: do wages decrease faster than food prices?

The answer is no[1]:
Even though many rural households gain from higher food prices, the overall impact on poverty [of high food prices] remains negative.
So going vegetarian will help decrease poverty.

1. Ivanic, M., and W. Martin. “Implications of higher global food prices for poverty in low-income countries.” Policy Research Working Paper 4594 (2008): 405-16.

Credits: picture is a modified version of this

RapidMiner and TTests

RapidMiner doesn't come with a way to test the probability that the difference in two groups' attributes is statistically significant. (The operator they have called "T-Test" actually does an F-Test and compares the performance of two models, not two groups of data.)

I have created an operator that uses Welch's T-Test to help with this. See the code at github. I've also attached a screenshot showing it in action; this one is looking at sonar data and determining the probability that sonar differences between rocks and mines are significant.

Vegetarianism and intelligence

Higher IQ at age 10 years was associated with an increased likelihood of being vegetarian at age 30... IQ remained a statistically significant predictor of being vegetarian as an adult after adjustment for social class (both in childhood and currently), academic or vocational qualifications, and sex
- IQ in childhood and vegetarianism in adulthood
Kanazawa claims it's because the purpose of intelligence is to respond to new experiences; vegetarianism being evolutionarily "new" implies that only smarter people will accept it.

The immorality of Javascript's "this"

I have a love/hate relationship with Javascript's "this." On the one hand, it can cause a whole page to fail by moving an anonymous function into a normal method. On the other, closures (especially in stuff like jQuery) are a humongous pain without it.

The major problem is that any function referencing "this" runs differently in different contexts. $('div').each(function() { alert(this); }) is different than $(document).ready(function(){ alert(this); }). That being said, the little .each() is pretty slick.

The fundamental theorem of universal ethics is that ethics have to be just that - universal. As a universal function, it cannot run differently in different contexts. There can be no "if user == this" branch, nor a "if user.skinColor == this.skinColor" switch. In fact, there can be no reference to "this" at all.

And that is why Javascript's "this" is immoral.