Does Music Change The Taste Of Wine? Jonah Lehrer

All sorts of clever experiments have demonstrated the limitations of the tongue. It turns out that expert wine critics can be tricked into confusing cheap and expensive clarets, that we prefer beer laced withbalsamic vinegar (as long we don’t know it’s been added), that most people can’t tell Coke from Pepsi (but still have strong preferences) or pate from dog food. My favorite, though, comes from the mischievous Frederic Brochet at the University of Bordeaux. In a 2001 experiment, Brochet invited 57 wine experts and asked them to give their impressions of what looked like two glasses of red and white wine. The wines were actually the same white wine, one of which had been tinted red with food coloring. But that didn’t stop the experts from describing the “red” wine in language typically used to describe red wines. One expert praised its “jamminess,” while another enjoyed its “crushed red fruit.” Not a single one noticed it was actually a white wine. Because the tongue is vague in its instructions, we are forced to constantly parse its input based upon whatever other knowledge we can summon to the surface. As Brochet himself notes, our expectations of what the wine will taste like “can be much more powerful in determining how you taste a wine than the actual physical qualities of the wine itself.”
[...]
And this is why the ambience of a restaurant matters. All those rituals of the table are not mere routines. Instead, they help us make sense of the incomplete information coming from the tongue. For instance, when we eat a meal in a fancy place, full of elaborate place settings, fine porcelain and waiters wearing tuxedos, the food is going to taste different than if we ate the same food in a cheap diner. (This helps explain why people spend more money when restaurants play classical music instead of pop tunes.) Because the music matters, but so does everything else. The tongue is easy to dupe.

Carrie L. Ballantyne (1956)


Crow Cowgirl

Great Basin Buckaroo

Hannah’s Palomino
Kate And Her Fiddle
Partners



Source: American Gallery.

Las lágrimas socialdemócratas de ZP. Carlos Herrera


Alguno de quienes han compartido gestión de la cosa pública no han disimulado en su seguidismo: Bono, siendo ministro de Defensa, asombró a los norteamericanos cuando les aseguró que prefería morir a matar y Alonso, desempeñando también ministerio, aseguró que cuando un niño aprende a decir -paz- brota la semilla del español. Solo comparable a la afirmación de Carme Chacón -también desde Defensa- de que el Ejército español siempre será pacifista, lo cual es un oxímoron inalcanzable para cualquier mortal.

El libro glosa las aportaciones inmarcesibles de diferentes actores de este zapaterato de próxima disolución: por él transitan todos aquellos que han hecho del buenismo y la falsa angelicalidad una forma de vida política. Elena Valenciano y su descubrimiento de la injusticia social de los Reyes Magos es un regalo impagable, pero no lo es menos la confesión del porqué de su nombre de Soraya Rodríguez, mujer que asegura haber sido bautizada así como homenaje de sus padres a la princesa Soraya, en su día repudiada por el sah y, por lo tanto, merecedora de un acto de solidaridad como ese.

No está mal el relato de la entrevista a Bibiana Aído, una de las reinas simbólicas de este tiempo, en el que, una vez enterada de una acción de violencia de género, le espetó al fotógrafo: «Ahora no me pidas que sonría». Se va, pues, el creador de una atmósfera ignoro si sincera, pero a buen seguro fructífera en escenas inolvidables. Cuando pasen los años y nos preguntemos si alguna vez fue verdad aquello a lo que asistimos durante estas dos legislaturas, habremos de acudir a este libro para comprobar que fue cierto, que no ha sido una ensoñación agrandada por el tiempo, ese gran muñidor de leyendas.

ZP marcha a su León de su alma a contemplar las nubes desde una butaca privilegiada: no sabemos si ese silencio obligado le impedirá seguir brindándonos alguna perla cultivada, pero no somos merecedores de la angustia que producirá su ausencia, con lo que habrá que esperar que, de vez en cuando, reaparezca. Un hombre que ha sembrado tanta belleza no merece disolverse en los días callados.


Leer artículo completo en XL Semanal.

El enigma de la experiencia frente a la memoria - The riddle of experience vs. memory. Daniel Kahneman

Steven Pinker on The Decline of Violence & "The Better Angels of Our Nature"


You are less likely to die a violent death today than at any other time in human history. In fact, violence has been on a steady decline for centuries now. That's the arresting claim made by Harvard University cognitive neuroscientist Steven Pinker in his new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

Just a couple of centuries ago, violence was pervasive. Slavery was widespread; wife and child beating an acceptable practice; heretics and witches burned at the stake; pogroms and race riots common, and warfare nearly constant. Public hangings, bear-baiting, and even cat burning were popular forms of entertainment. By examining collections of ancient skeletons and scrutinizing current day tribal societies, anthropologists have found that people were nine times more likely to be killed in tribal warfare than to die of war and genocide in even the war-torn 20th century. The murder rate in medieval Europe was 30 times higher than today.

What happened? Human nature did not change, but our institutions did, encouraging people to restrain their natural tendencies toward violence. Over the course of more than 850 pages of data and analysis, Pinker identifies a series of institutional changes that have led to decreasing levels of life-threatening violence. The rise of states 5,000 years ago dramatically reduced tribal conflict. In recent centuries, the spread of courtly manners, literacy, commerce, and democracy have reduced violence even more. Polite behavior requires self-restraint; literacy encourages empathy; commerce switches encounters from zero-sum to positive-sum gains; and democracy restrains the excesses of government.

Pinker dropped by Reason's Washington, D.C., office to talk with Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey about ideology, empathy, and why you're much less likely to get knifed in the face these days.