Animals can experience fear, but can they experience happiness too? © Photographer: Joe Gough | Agency: Dreamstime.com The American Meat Institute (AMI), a trade association of meat packers and processors, maintains a set of guidelines and standards for its members to follow in the livestock slaughtering process. The standards include instructions on where to place electrodes to stun and then kill an animal, as well as what steps to follow to ensure a quick and painless death. The AMI's guidelines also warn members of the signs of animal distress and how to prevent them during slaughter [source: Grandin]. The AMI's concern for rendering livestock brain dead before inducing death reflects a rather humane view of our four-legged companions: Animals, like humans, can feel fear and pain. This is obvious in the wild; after all, fear is a function of survival. The idea that animals can feel pain has also been proven through clinical tests, like teaching animals to fear their food … [Read more...] about Do animals experience happiness?
Start the Countdown Whether we're launching a space shuttle or trying to discover another Earth-like planet, we rely on scientific laws and theories to guide us. © 2018 HowStuffWorks Scientists have many tools available to them when attempting to describe how nature and the universe at large work. Often they reach for laws and theories first. What's the difference? A scientific law can often be reduced to a mathematical statement, such as E = mc²; it's a specific statement based on empirical data, and its truth is generally confined to a certain set of conditions. For example, in the case of E = mc², c refers to the speed of light in a vacuum. A scientific theory often seeks to synthesize a body of evidence or observations of particular phenomena. It's generally — though by no means always — a grander, testable statement about how nature operates. You can't necessarily reduce a scientific theory to a pithy statement or equation, but it does … [Read more...] about 10 Scientific Laws and Theories You Really Should Know
A new study examines the intersection between gratitude, generosity, altruism and community. Kohei Hara/Getty Images Want to cultivate a sense of gratitude and thankfulness? Spend your money on experiences, not material goods, say researchers. It isn't necessarily a groundbreaking idea, but a newly revealed connection may have implications that stretch far beyond individual attitudes. Researchers conducted six experiments to explore the impact of material consumption versus "experience consumption" on feelings of gratitude. In one experiment, for instance, they asked participants to selectively remember either a significant purchase or a significant experience. Those who chose to reflect on an experience were more grateful overall, as expected. That's an idea borne out in previous research, including a 2014 study from San Francisco State University that found people who bought experiences were happier — and more satisfied with how they spent their money — than … [Read more...] about Spending Money on Experiences, Not Things, Increases Gratitude and Altruism
Start the Countdown The atrocities carried out by the Nazis in their concentration camps are horrifying, but there have been many other human-on-human experiments through in history. ©Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Prisoners, the disabled, the physically and mentally sick, the poor -- these are all groups once considered fair game to use as subjects in your research experiments. And if you didn't want to get permission, you didn't have to, and many doctors and researchers conducted their experiments on people who were unwilling to participate or who were unknowingly participating. Forty years ago the U.S. Congress changed the rules; informed consent is now required for any government-funded medical study involving human subjects. But before 1974 the ethics involved in using humans in research experiments was a little, let's say, loose. And the exploitation and abuse of human subjects was often alarming. We begin our list with one of the most famous instances of … [Read more...] about 10 Outrageous Experiments Conducted on Humans
Scientists experiment on a chicken in a lab. Michael Blann/Getty Images Why do we experiment on animals? Because we can't experiment on people. It sounds like a joke, but it's absolutely true -- medical, scientific and academic ethics prohibit professionals from engaging humans in potentially harmful experiments. One can imagine scientists -- flush from the excitement of creating a new hypothesis to test -- frowning when they receive a shipment of rats or mice to tinker with instead of an affable guy named Ted. Since we're trying to figure out what makes Ted tick (or makes Ted's ticker stop ticking), why not cut out the middle mouse? One of the reasons that scientists experiment on non-human animals is pretty simple: Testing on certain creatures works really, really well. In many ways, they're really much easier to test on. Take mice: They breed fast, they're small and don't take up a lot of room, and scientists can manipulate their genes (by either adding foreign DNA or … [Read more...] about Why do we experiment on animals?