Saturday, January 19, 2008

Expensive tastes

Apparently, it's all in the price:

Dr Rangel gave his volunteers sips of what he said were five different wines made from cabernet sauvignon grapes, priced at between $5 and $90 a bottle. He told each of them the price of the wine in question as he did so. Except, of course, that he was fibbing. He actually used only three wines. He served up two of them twice at different prices.

The scanner showed that the activity of the medial orbitofrontal cortices of the volunteers increased in line with the stated price of the wine. For example, when one of the wines was said to cost $10 a bottle it was rated less than half as good as when people were told it cost $90 a bottle, its true retail price. Moreover, when the team carried out a follow-up blind tasting without price information they got different results. The volunteers reported differences between the three “real” wines but not between the same wines when served twice.

Nor was the effect confined to everyday drinkers. When Dr Rangel repeated the experiment on members of the Stanford University wine club he got similar results.

Humans are a strange bunch.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Hollywood science advice

Apparently, some Hollywood stars aren't that intelligent:

Hollywood star Nicole Kidman and a host of other celebrities have been criticised by scientists for spruiking the benefits of various remedies without having solid evidence to support them.

The Aussie actress along with fellow Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow and fashion designer Stella McCartney are among those targeted for making claims about the benefits of everything from certain brain-based workouts to face creams and what to eat.

Wow. I'm in complete disbelief. I would have sworn anybody married to Tom Cruise was a genius. And surely naming your kid "Apple" is a smart move?