Preconception and Perception

denny's picture

One of my biggest points in evaluating your experiments is knowing how to not fool yourself by letting what you think you know interfere with what you're trying to find out. Listening to an old podcast of America's Test Kitchen on my drive home last night, I learned about wine tastings conducted by Frederic Brochet. In a nutshell, in one tasting he served 2 glasses of the same white wine, only one was dyed red. Tasters proceeded to describe definite differences between the wines. In another, he took high and low priced bottles of wine, poured them ut, then refilled them both with the same mid proced wine. Again, tasters found definite differences. His conclusion was basically that it's in your head, not the bottle. While that may be debatable, the point is that preconception guides perception. A concept I'll write about (again and again) in the book. In the meantime, here's a bit more about Brochet's tests....

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/frontal-cortex/2012/06/wine-taste....

RileyJ
Point taken, but...

it may not be just "preconception". While blind tastings should be equivalent, just as aroma (strongly) influences the perception of taste, so does color. Not having read the linked article, so speaking from a firm position of ignorance, I'd guess that Brochet's thesis is the tasters' predisposition to reds having certain, fairly exclusive, distinctions from whites, influenced the outcome. Almost certainly true. Oenophiles can be overwhelmingly prejudiced, even opinionated. However, seems to me there's more to it, and good experiment evidence for it. A quick search turned up this: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/coltaste.html, for instance.

Should it? In the biological sense? Probably. It makes biological sense for a green and (moldy) blue steak to taste "bad", since even if the flavor was unaffected, in the "wild" a steak of that color might well kill you.

Nice site, btw. Looking forward to it, hoping to add my 2¢ every now and then!

Best,

Riley

denny
denny's picture
Thanks for your thoughts,

Thanks for your thoughts, Riley. Looking forward to your contributions.

Life begins at 60....1.060, that is!