A Letter to the American Consumer

Dear Consumer,

David Benatar recently published a book arguing that the optimal population of the earth is zero. Needless to say, we in the meat industry have been working as hard as we can to bring this goal to fruition.

With your help, the meat industry is now responsible for the majority of the world's pollution, as well as tens of thousands of deaths from disease. While these statistics are impressive, we are not content to rest on our laurels. Here are some things we're looking forward to in the coming year:

  • It's well established that eating meat causes you to die earlier. But recent research is revealing the impact of the "third wave" of bacteria which are antibiotic-resistant. These resistant bacteria account for no less than 19,000 deaths and seven million doctor visits per year - that's more than one in every fifty Americans getting sick from our products each and every year!
  • With the deaths of thousands of fish as a result of oil spills in the Gulf, some people have begun to question the meat industry's effectiveness at killing vast quantities of wildlife. We would like to point out that our practice of dumping untreated sewage into America's waterways is long established, and we are working hard to expand our sewage amounts in places like Chesapeake bay.
  • Since the glory days of Upton Sinclair, the government has repeatedly tried to enforce safety measures on meat workers. We are excited to announce that our untiring exploitation of workers and rabid union oppression has led Human Rights Watch to declare meatpacking to be the most dangerous job in America.
  • Despite the phrase "Free range meat" not being regulated, many people have suggested moving to free-range meat as a way to help the environment. Thankfully, recent research has demonstrated that free range or "grass fed" meat is in fact worse for the environment, ensuring that even "ethical consumers" will do their part to destroy the world.
  • The best way to ensure that people don't live is to ensure that they don't have food. The often-overlooked fact that eating meat takes food from the poor is one of the best reasons to avoid vegetables.

None of this could be possible without you, the consumer, buying our products. We know that you have a choice in unethical purchases, and we want to express our thanks for sticking with us. With your help, we can make 2011 the last year ever.

Sincerely,

Your friends in the meat industry

Because your desire for meat is more important than everyone else's right to life.

Does Title Length Matter? (Hint: I don't mind including this parenthetical statement)

Conventional wisdom has it that journalists should strive to cram as much information into as few sentences as possible. Entire books have been written about how modern man has no attention span.

So I decided to test this out. Here are about two thousand stories that have appeared on Reddit over the past few months, plotted with the length of their title vs. how many votes they got.

At a glance, there isn't a lot of correlation. To quantify this, we can use the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient.

 Correlation with title lengthp
Up votes0.1238e-8
Down votes0.1147e-7
Net votes0.1264e-8

(Crash course: r = 0 means no correlation, r = 1 means perfect correlation; p < .05 is usually considered "significant".)

So not only are longer titles better, they are significantly better, the exact opposite of what the conventional wisdom holds! (Of course, there may be confounding issues like articles with longer titles tend to be better written.)

It would be interesting to continue this for article length, but screen scraping to find the article content is a bit beyond my current technical prowess.