Any mother that’s ever shopped with her kids can tell you “children who are more involved have greater influence over purchases.” Even better, mom wouldn’t have charged you $3 million plus for that statement of the obvious. But you aren’t the National Institute of Health and you aren’t spending tax dollars that are generated freely each morning like the dew.
The eagle-eyed Elizabeth Harrington of the Washington Free Beacon has discovered that San Diego State University in my home state of California is monetizing the obvious with a series of grocery store studies.
The most recent is a $400,000.00 exercise in pointlessness. According to the grant request, “This two-year, mixed-methods study will use eye-tracking technology to identify aspects of the instore environment that cue parents’ and children’s purchase requests.”
Initially I had a mental image of Mr. Whipple following customers around the store noting what they looked at, what the kids grabbed at, and what the family finally bought. Although I was trying to be funny the truth is much more ridiculous.
Parents and their kids will look like they’re settling in for an Xbox marathon as they cruise the aisles of the store “[while] each wear eye-tracking glasses during a single grocery shopping trip that capture visual and audio data for the entire shopping trip from both the parent’s and the child’s perspectives.”
The only problem is the data will be useless. The test subjects will be so concerned with the eye-tracking glasses and the novelty of the experience that it will influence their behavior for the entire first trip. The only way the experiment would be useful is if the test subjects wore the glasses repeatedly — long enough for the sensation to become routine — and then the data was analyzed.
Naturally that’s not the way this study is conducted. Glasses are worn on a one-and-done basis.
The “scientists” decided to limit the study to Hispanics because they are “disproportionately affected by overweight and obesity,” shop “more frequently than the general population,” and are “more likely to shop with children.”
Ominously the goal when the study is complete is to “find ways to change how parents shop with their kids, and to change the layouts of Latino grocery stores so that individuals make healthier choices.”
If the War on Junk Food is anything like the war on smoking, I predict Cheetos and the rest of the snack food inventory will be padlocked behind Plexiglas doors, and customers will have to ask a disapproving clerk to unlock the Double-Stuffed Oreos and the real sugar soda.
You can see this study has all the elements of your government at work: Poorly designed study that intends to change human behavior, based on the premise bureaucrats can control the public, with the hint of coercion to come.
Your tax dollars at work.
Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.
Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.