Not so smart

Really fun excerpt from the new book, You Are Not So Smart over at the Atlantic.  Love this bit about experiments with wine tasting (mostly because I pretty much hate the taste of all wine):

In 2001, Frederic Brochet conducted two experiments at the University of Bordeaux.

In one experiment, he got 54 oenology (the study of wine tasting and wine making) undergraduates together and had them taste one glass of red wine and one glass of white wine. He had them describe each wine in as much detail as their expertise would allow. What he didn’t tell them was both were the same wine. He just dyed the white one red. In the other experiment, he asked the experts to rate two different bottles of red wine. One was very expensive, the other was cheap. Again, he tricked them. This time he had put the cheap wine in both bottles. So what were the results?

The tasters in the first experiment, the one with the dyed wine, described the sorts of berries and grapes and tannins they could detect in the red wine just as if it really was red. Every single one, all 54, could not tell it was white. In the second experiment, the one with the switched labels, the subjects went on and on about the cheap wine in the expensive bottle. They called it complex and rounded. They called the same wine in the cheap bottle weak and flat.

I’m guessing I’ve read 75% or so of the material in here in other books.  That said, I love the examples in the excerpt (there’s some more really good ones) and will probably give it a try.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to Not so smart

  1. joel hanes says:

    I pretty much hate the taste of all wine

    A fine Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Spatlese is the cure for that.

    It really does taste the way you thought wine would taste when you had read about wine but never tasted any.

    A bit of googling suggests that some truly great ones can be had for about $40 a bottle.

    Best consumed in the gardens of the Residenz in Wurzburg during the Mozart-Fest, or perhaps in Nurnburg’s Mausloch nightclub. But damned good on a fall afternoon outdoors anywhere.

    mit Pradikat!

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