As discussed before
, there was a Nobel prize awarded recognizing the research that indicated that adding disclosures did not improve decision making
. There is a CIA Analysis handbook demonstrating the problems with adding information to a situation where information is to be evaluated, not weighed
, pointing out that the analysis, not the data, is the key to good intelligence. See the footnotes to the CIA piece for further research. There is a demonstration from New York City that adding information about calories to fast food outlets does not improve choices by consumers
And yet, there are intelligent-seeming, responsible people who do not understand this point. Hugh Hewitt points out
that one of them is FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, who is even now attempting to add to the clutter you see on the packages of food you find in the market -- or, I suppose, anywhere else that it comes in a package. "As a mother of two who frequently finds herself racing down the grocery aisle hoping to grab foods that are healthy for my family, I would welcome the day that I can look on the front of packages and see nutrition information I can trust and use," The Post quotes FDA big boss Margaret Hamburg as saying. "As the commissioner of FDA, I see it as my responsibility, and the responsibility of this administration, to help make that happen."
Think about this proposed new mission for the FDA for a moment, and just how vast it is. If the government is suddenly in charge of the labeling of all food products for children on the theory that the government must prevent obesity, why wouldn't it be involved in the labeling of all food products for all people? And beyond labeling, why not grab the authority to dictate what can and cannot be manufactured in the first place?
Hewitt then goes on to note the key constituency pushing for the idea: lawyers who see new possible class action defendants in General Mills, Kraft, Nestle, and other food businesses. Here, of course, he's on sure ground: if there is ANY group in society unable to grasp the references in the first paragraph of this post, lawyers and judges would probably lead the hit parade.
This is the same group of people who, in lawsuits, believe in total disclosure of everything, relevant or not, because it "may lead to" something that might be useful, sometime, somewhere
. Their profession is dedicated to the opposite of the research in the first paragraph, and the fact that it produces massive tomes in litigation which have to be read, summarized, scanned and cross referenced for referral contributes mightily to the cost of litigation, and its ability to grind down those who aren't wealthy enough to buy a bunch of lawyers with a large staff
And we have to keep them employed, right? Otherwise, they would be out, wandering the streets, possibly getting run over by a bus. Tying up traffic. You wouldn't want that, surely?