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Did McDonalds cause the decline of violence in America?
October 26, 2011 6:31 PM   Subscribe


 
It was actually Ronald McDonald that was the most responsible for the decline.
posted by fuq at 6:34 PM on October 26, 2011


Honestly, it's about as a good a correlation as the abortion study, and sounds just as plausible.

(Yes, I know. Correlation != causation, etc).
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:36 PM on October 26, 2011


Industrial societies where omega-3 consumption has remained high and omega-6 low because people eat fish, such as Japan, have low rates of murder and depression.

Nice try, but I'm still not eating sea"food".
posted by DU at 6:37 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a lovely graph (and study).
posted by nat at 6:37 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, here's a guy (selling a book) saying to blame everything on the changes in wheat over the past few decades. Of course, it could be a combination of the Omega-6, the Triticum, the HFCS AND the Paraquat sprayed on the marijuana fields...
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:38 PM on October 26, 2011


(I find it interesting to notice that I am about to dig in to a pile of flax crackers while I comment on this post somewhat derisively. Maybe I'd be nicer if these crackers weren't terrible. Yuck.)
posted by nat at 6:40 PM on October 26, 2011


Would you like peace with that?
posted by Trurl at 6:43 PM on October 26, 2011


You know that is odd, I've been wondering if they've been fucking with wheat too much. It was a staple for a long, long time and people didn't get really fat or sick like they do now. But dude with the book is saying that wheat's changed a whole bunch over the past 50 years and almost certainly more in the last 25 than the 25 before that.

Of course I'm pretty sure by now my gut's ruined for any kind of grassy starch so even if Archer Daniels Midland decides to put out an Ancient Grains (tm) brand of Wheat, I'm still hosed.

Every damn day I discover another way the multinational corporations are fucking us over.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:45 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


So eating at McDonald's is like getting an abortion?

I can buy that.
posted by goethean at 6:49 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reaction to blog post title: that seems.. unlikely.

Reaction to "Industrial societies where omega-3 consumption has remained high and omega-6 low because people eat fish, such as Japan, have low rates of murder and depression.": what the fuck, no.

If that's a linchpin of the study, it is pure, unadulterated crap. Japan has a really significant depression problem (and the accompanying suicide rates), but a fantastic taboo on acknowledging it, nevermind treating it. Additionally, the modern Japanese diet for a lot of people is just as shitty as anywhere else in the world, and the fact that their obesity rates are not going up -quite- as fast as everywhere else probably has more to do with lots of walking and smaller portion sizes, not to mention smoking, than anything else. (To be fair, this is a bit of conjecture on my part, but I'm okay with that because this is an internet post and not a study claiming to be SCIENCE.)

Further thoughts after reading Guardian article: ...okay, I could buy it if this is a malnutrition issue of some kind. Maybe. With a hell of a lot more research. But any time you start talking about introducing things into the "prison population" my sci-fi itches and I get that spooky feeling.
posted by curious nu at 6:50 PM on October 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Did McDonalds cause the decline of violence in America?

I don't think so?
posted by empath at 6:51 PM on October 26, 2011


But dude with the book is saying that wheat's changed a whole bunch over the past 50 years and almost certainly more in the last 25 than the 25 before that.

It's possible that new wheat is to blame, but in the past 6 months alone I've seen at least five different products identified by someone as causing us all to get fat. All of which have been mentioned in the content of someone selling a book that will apparently allow me to fix everything by cutting out this one thing (more or less). I no more trust these people than I do the people trying to selling me wheat, sugar, butter, or McDonalds.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:51 PM on October 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


The decline in the use of leaded gas and paints is probably a better contender.
posted by mhoye at 6:55 PM on October 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


I cut out wheat not because of a book but because I had bizarro eczema, was going night-blind, had pre-arthritic joint pain and would turn into a mindless eating zombi after having a cookie or a slice of french bread. The books and online articles just confirmed it all.

Anyway. Multinational food corporation are doing a lot of grand experimentation with the diets of billions of people with goal #1 being profit and goal #2 being generation of calories, and there's no "control" population in these tests. And that's really bad news.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:58 PM on October 26, 2011


Funny, isn't it, that right about the time Doom came out and desensitized us all to violence, we became less violent.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:58 PM on October 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Did McDonalds cause the decline of violence in America?

I'm sure if it did, Mayor McCheese would be running for president.
posted by Mcable at 7:00 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]




You know that is odd, I've been wondering if they've been fucking with wheat too much. It was a staple for a long, long time and people didn't get really fat or sick like they do now.
Yes, they didn't get fat because it was a constant struggle to live. Or maybe they worked on farms and burned 6000 calories a day. And got sick? Of course they got sick, and if they did get sick they'd probably die because there was no modern medicine.

What is it with this insane view of the past. It sucked! Of course they didn't have diseases caused by not getting enough food! They barely had enough to eat as it was and they were likely to die of some communicable disease anyway!

Beyond that, where's the data that even says, for example that people who had enough didn't become overweight and have problems? Look at the amount of gout people had in those times. That's obviously an example of an over-consumption disease. Who's to say the people getting gout didn't also have high cholesterol and die of heart attacks as well? I mean, when was the Heart Attack even classified and since when have statistics been taken?

And it's a complete example of correlation causation confusion. I mean, why not say that replacing replacing sucrose with HFCS is the cause of the drop in crime?
posted by delmoi at 7:03 PM on October 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think the drop in crime was caused by sunspots.

Quantum sunspots.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:05 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's obviously an example of an over-consumption disease.

Dietary causes account for about 12% of gout

your obvious is maybe less than obvious for 88% of the people with gout.
posted by nadawi at 7:27 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the contrary.
posted by hypersloth at 7:34 PM on October 26, 2011


What is it with this insane view of the past.

Technically whenever someone does this rant, I have to jump in and rant about unilinear conceptions of history, and point out that for many non-white non-Western populations, many points in the past were objectively better in terms of life expectancy and quality of life. But I'm lazy today.
posted by mek at 7:39 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It surely couldn't have anything to do with the rise of the prison-industrial complex.
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:46 PM on October 26, 2011


Not for this guy.
posted by jonmc at 7:59 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um, he refutes his point in his own analysis. Two parts of the quotes he uses

1) "Over the last century most western countries have undergone a dramatic shift in the composition of their diets in which the omega-3 fatty acids that are essential to the brain have been flooded out by competing omega-6 fatty acids, mainly from industrial oils such as soya, corn, and sunflower."

2) "To test the hypothesis, Hibbeln and his colleagues have mapped the growth in consumption of omega-6 fatty acids from seed oils in 38 countries since the 1960s against the rise in murder rates over the same period. In all cases there is an unnerving match. As omega-6 goes up, so do homicides in a linear progression."

indicate that our murder rate should be increasing, not decreasing with rise of McDonald's, so therefore the question should be, "Is McDonald's contributing to violent crime?" not "Did McDonald's cause the decline of violence in America?"
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:02 PM on October 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


McDonalds purchases the most beef and pork in the world; what a violent business.




(If you dare to consider/count non-human animals)
posted by Cerulean at 8:11 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The decline in violent crime is due to the rise in obesity. After filling up on a Big Mac, a large Coke, and fries, I just feel too bloated to go out and do any violence. So yes, thank you Mickey D!
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:42 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The homicide rate has been going down since ~1500. For instance, in Amsterdam, c. 1450, it was at over 45 per 100,000 people. In the 16th century it was down to ~30, by ~1700 it had reached ~15, and at the beginning it had reached less than 10 homicides per 100,000 people.

The most convincing explanation I've read is that the most common form of homicide in those days was caused by people getting into fights over arguments. Because the police force was ineffective (it was often one dude per district or village), these fights would often escalate, and people would die. The guilty could then flee without much fear of punishment. Once real police forces with backups were established, they could intervene and stop fights before people died, and it became much more likely that a murderer would be caught.

Homicide "came back" a bit from the late 40s to the 90s; you could blame social disintegration, or an overabundance of young people starting in the 60s -- young people being more likely to get into fights that escalate to homicide.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:46 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


The problem: It's true canola oil has about 10% omega-3, but omega-3 is an unstable oil that easily turns rancid and smells bad. So to make it shelf stable, the oil is hydrogenated (aka "deodorization"), which destroys much of the omega-3 and turns it into trans-fat. This means longer shelf life for products, perfect for fast food like McDonalds, and terrible for heart disease. So unless your using fresh unprocessed Canola oil (unlikely in processed food), it probably doesn't have the omega-3's you think. More here.
posted by stbalbach at 9:01 PM on October 26, 2011


fuq: "It was actually Ronald McDonald that was the most responsible for the decline."

Because we were all afraid that the clown would kill us in our sleep if we acted out?
posted by schmod at 9:24 PM on October 26, 2011


In other correlation studies, increasing fresh lemon imports from Mexico found to correlate strongly with decreasing highway fatalities, with an even stronger correlation coefficient than the linoleic acid/homicide mortality correlation.
posted by grouse at 9:29 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a lovely graph (and study).
posted by nat at 9:37 PM on October 26 [1 favorite +] [!]

In other correlation studies, increasing fresh lemon imports from Mexico found to correlate strongly with decreasing highway fatalities, with an even stronger correlation coefficient than the linoleic acid/homicide mortality correlation.
Sorry Grouse, Nat beat you to it.

Also, mek, you have over 2000 comments, would you like to link to one of the other times you've ranted against the "technology is awesome" rant with some non western counter-examples? I'm big into the technology is awesome rant because I'm regularly exposed to people who hate my industrial sector because, gosh darn it, we're unable to fully cure the people that we're only miraculously keeping from death. I've also spent some time in two East Asian countries that lost a good portion of their population in a effort to capture the magic that was pre-industrial agrarian lifestyles. I'm genuinely interested cause I rarely hear a good counter. You can me-mail if you want.
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:49 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


increasing fresh lemon imports from Mexico found to correlate strongly with decreasing highway fatalities

It's the vitamin C obviously if you eat your lemons, it will keep drivers more alert and help you survive in a car crash.
posted by Not Supplied at 9:49 PM on October 26, 2011


It's waffle obviously...he made the same claim for the UK and don't think McDonalds accounts for a high proportion of take away eaten. They may have switched oils, but the hundreds of kenssy fried chicken, arizona fried chicken etc etc just kept on using engine oil or whatever they could scavenge.
posted by Not Supplied at 9:51 PM on October 26, 2011


Did McDonalds cause the decline of violence in America?

Not violence against cows!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:56 PM on October 26, 2011


Violent crime may be down but hamburglary is *way* up.
posted by mazola at 10:02 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, man, I'd kill for a Big Mac right now.
posted by horsewithnoname at 10:08 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you let your children play in the ball pit at McPlayground they will be replaced by replicants. There's a machine under there that does the body snatching.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:14 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


WOW, International Conflict Resolution and now lowering violence too! Im loving it.
posted by Felex at 12:00 AM on October 27, 2011


Did McDonalds cause the decline of violence in America?

Steven Pinker's new book adds a lot more context to these kinds of theories by showing that crime trends in America (up 1960s-80s, down 90s-00s) are pretty much identical to crime trends in Canada and Europe. So looking for US-centric explanations misses the forest.
posted by dgaicun at 12:30 AM on October 27, 2011


Did McDonalds cause the decline of violence in America?

Correlation does not equal causation.

BUT I can say that McDonalds has caused the death of way more people than violence would have through its high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar "meals".
posted by hal_c_on at 12:57 AM on October 27, 2011


Violence has been steadily decreasing in France too for the past 30 years. In fact it started decreasing when 1) the French elected a Socialist president and 2) when said president abolished capital punishment. Now France is the second-most profitable market in the world for McDonald's after the US so the jury is still out I guess.
posted by elgilito at 2:14 AM on October 27, 2011


McQuantum sunspots
posted by mannequito at 2:45 AM on October 27, 2011


Let's not forget the role of phytoestrogens in defanging violent males. And guess what a nice source of phytoestrogens is! Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a SESAME SEED bun.
posted by readyfreddy at 7:20 AM on October 27, 2011


The decline in violence was explained pretty convincingly (for me) previously on Metafilter.

Correlation is not causation, but the paper linked do in that "previously" shows some pretty damn impressive correlations between childhood lead exposure and violent crime (along with other social ills), much more convincing and much more thoroughly researched than the abortion theory or this omega-3 theory. (Though I suppose I would believe that all three factors contributed to some extent.) I can't believe that this is not better known, that it doesn't come up (unless I bring it up) whenever this topic is discussed, at least, the way the "abortion" theory does.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:37 AM on October 27, 2011


Since the link to that study in the "previously" has apparently rotted, I dug it up elsewhere:

How Lead Exposure Relates to Temporal
Changes in IQ, Violent Crime, and Unwed Pregnancy
(PDF)

Scroll way down and look at the graphs labelled "Gasoline Lead Versus Teen Pregnancies," "Gasoline Lead Versus Rape," "Gasoline Lead Versus Robbery" "Gasoline Lead Versus Aggravated Assault," "Gasoline Lead Versus Murder," "Gasoline Lead Versus Violent Crime" etc.

They all correlate unbelievably closely. For instance, pregnancy rates for 15 year olds start going down 15 years after gasoline lead levels start going down -- for 17 year olds, 17 years. For murders, the best-fit time lag is 21 years, and the paper cites "18 – 23" as the most common age range for convicted murders. There's a lot of data, and they make some effort to control for other factors including poverty, maternal education level, and abortion rate. Really well done, as far as I can tell (as a physicist, not an economist or sociologist.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:59 AM on October 27, 2011


Lower violent crime is a direct result of fewer young men in a population. At least, in urbanized Western contexts.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:33 AM on October 27, 2011


Is this happening because they're bringing back the McRib?
posted by FarOutFreak at 8:42 AM on October 27, 2011


If that's a linchpin of the study, it is pure, unadulterated crap.

It's not a study, it's an idea. He wants someone else to study it.

Um, he refutes his point in his own analysis.

No he doesn't. He's pointing out that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in beef tallow is much higher than the ratio in canola oil, which McDonalds and all the other fast food places switched to right around the time crime started falling. It was the growth of McDonalds before the switch that he blames for the increase in crime.
posted by klanawa at 8:55 AM on October 27, 2011


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