The theory: Experiencing a day in the life of a cow might make some one less likely to eat meat. And chopping down a tree might affect your paper usage. The National Science Foundation awarded universities $748,000 dollars to use virtual reality to check out these theories. No, really…. There’s nothing moot about this (sorry, couldn’t help it).
“If somebody becomes an animal, do they gain empathy for that animal and think about its plight?” asked Jeremy Bailenson, director of Stanford University Virtual Human Interaction Lab. “In this case, empathy toward the animal also coincides with an environmental benefit, which is that [not eating] animals consumes less energy.” (and provides less, me thinks…)
Bailenson is heading research at Stanford in which participants don virtual reality helmets and walk on their hands and feet. They are then able to see themselves as a cow in a virtual mirror. They experience what a cow does on its way to being slaughtered and then record what they eat for the next week to see if being a cow reduced meat consumption.
This should not really be all that surprising. This is about what you should expect when the Federal Government gets together with Academia and a pile of our tax dollars….