Humans can't transcend bullshit

While perusing Mangan’s blog recently, I followed his link to an article titled “Is Wine Bullshit?” In the article, Alex Mayyasi illustrates what many of us already know: That much of what we think we know about wine is smoke and mirrors. That even the so-called experts are often fooled by such tricks as coloring white wine red. He writes:

A Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux sells for a minimum of around $500 a bottle, while humble brands like Charles Shaw and Franzia sell for as little as $2. But as far as “wine economists” are concerned, the level of correlation between the price of a bottle of wine and its quality is low or nonexistent. In a number of damning studies, they suggest that wine is not just poorly priced, but that the different tastes we describe in wine may all be in our heads.
A 2008 paper in The Journal of Wine Economics, for example, found that when consumers are unaware of a wine’s price, they “on average enjoy more expensive wines slightly less [than cheap ones].” Experts do not fare much better. The study could not conclude that experts preferred more expensive wine: “In sum, we find a non-negative relationship between price and overall rating for experts. Due to the poor statistical significance of the price coefficient for experts, it remains an open question whether this coefficient is in fact positive.”
In another experiment, critics tasted one red wine and one white wine. They described the red in language typical of reds and the white in language typical of whites. The problem? Both were identical white wines; the “red” had been tinted with food coloring.

I’ll admit it. I drink cheap wine. There are literally hundreds of different types of wine, available in various markets, for under $10 a bottle. My cheese is typically more expensive than my wine.
But Mayyasi points out an important fact at the end of his article:

But what these studies really tell us is that our idea of taste as a constant, even if appreciated in subjectively different ways, is a fiction. Due to the complicated way that we experience taste – as an amalgamation of information from all 5 senses, our expectations, and how we think about what we are tasting – taste is easily manipulated.
Our enjoyment of good food is just as susceptible to trickery. Food dye can trick us into tasting a flavor like lemon or cheddar that is not actually present. Fish markets, restaurants, and sushi joints present less expensive fish as their more prestigious (and supposedly better tasting) peers unnoticed every day. This past year, Europeans happily ate up meatballs containing horsemeat, only expressing outrage when regulators revealed its presence.
Since a $5 wine can so easily be mistaken for a $50 wine, we encourage you to unabashedly reach for wine on the bottom shelf. We’ve applied this principle, often a bit self-righteously. But it should also give you pause about everything you eat and drink. If you boycott expensive wine, should you also avoid sushi and seafood restaurants because you know that cheap fish can be just as enjoyable? Embrace fast food chains’ practice of diluting the quality of their meat? If wine is bullshit, then isn’t everything else we eat and drink bullshit too?

No doubt. But why stop at food and drink? The entire human experience might be considered bullshit at one level or another. Are our senses truly faithful to reality? The very existence of matter is now subject to doubt; at the quantum level, everything appears to be energy frequencies. What we consider solid is not solid at all if we examine it closely enough.
But all this doesn’t matter much when you’re falling from a tall building. All the quantum physics, philosophy and enlightenment in the world will not help you when you reach the end of your fall. You’ll still end up a mangled pancake when your not-so-solid body makes contact with the not-so-solid pavement. Our perception of reality is accurate enough to have allowed us to survive as a species and navigate our world successfully.
I’m a bit surprised that Mangan himself didn’t make the connection between the Mayyasi’s wine article and race. Even if we’re mistaken about race-realism*, and there really is no difference between the races other than the superficial ones, this is enough to make race a reality. As humans, we cannot escape our own perceptions. We are what we are, and if we happen to be made of bullshit, then so be it. The sooner we come to terms with this, the better off we’ll be.
* But the science behind the the biological reality of race is overwhelming, and getting stronger every day.

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13 Responses to Humans can't transcend bullshit

  1. countenance says:

    So, are you telling me that the same kind of dopes who are dopey enough to fawn over $500 bottles of wine are the same kind of people who actually think that our diversity is our strength, that the races are equal and that Obama meant hope and change?
    Back when I was drinking, I had everything from $3 bottles to $300 bottles of wine. At least according to my tastes, wine peaks at $60 a bottle. Sure, $60 wine is better than $3 wine, but it’s not 20 times better.

  2. Anonymous2 says:

    “I’ll admit it. I drink cheap wine. There are literally hundreds of different types of wine, available in various markets, for under $10 a bottle. My cheese is typically more expensive than my wine.”
    Oh come clean and admit you drink Manischewitz. 😛
    You’re absolutely right about cheese, and I would dare go as far as to recommend a bad quality drink to better cleanse the palate for good cheese. I’ve enjoyed great cheese with some hoarded Four Loko before they made it illegal. Cigars are a good choice too. Great wine is really just best by itself.
    And like great wine, the best “tell” of racial reality is elite/moron behaviors at the ends of the bell curve, the behaviors and cultures that are highly exclusive to a group.

  3. Lonely Jew says:

    You gave me my laugh of the day! My cheese is often more expensive than the wine too, but I never really thought about it until I read your post.
    The next time you buy an undrinkable bottle of wine, no matter what the cost, try this (what have you got to lose)…
    Step 1: If you just poured a dribble into a glass to taste and screamed “Yikkk”, then pour more until your glass is full. If its already full, go to step two. If you poured all five people a glass and everyone went “Yik”, well then depending on how close you are to them, either pour it down the drain and open a new bottle, or pour it back into the bottle and go to step 2:
    Step 2: Recork and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Then taste it again. It often tastes much better, almost like a completely different wine. Sometimes its actually quite good.
    I also discovered that if you do this, you pretty much have to drink the entire bottle that night, because the next day its really not good anymore. Something about the extreme aeration really ages it.
    The tinted red wine story was also very funny.

  4. canspeccy says:

    Are our senses truly faithful to reality?
    No, but sensations have a causal relationship with reality — except when we are delusional.
    The tricky thing is to infer the nature of reality from its impact on our senses. Such inferences involve assumptions that cannot be verified. Usually the assumptions are unstated and even unconscious. For example, the inference from experience that the ground is hard and solid is, according to the more refined inferences of physics, incorrect. The ground is not solid at all, but mostly empty space, with what is not empty space being ill-defined and impossible to locate with absolute precision. Still, its impact on our senses is consistent: falling from a great height, the ground seems hard. In fact it seems hard as Hell.
    But even the inferences of science are not absolutely secure. When a scientist observes the dial of an instrument or a patch of light through a telescope, they make inferences based on assumptions about instruments and telescopes that may be incorrect.
    But as you say, “Our perception of reality is accurate enough to have allowed us to survive as a species and navigate our world successfully,” which is a nice explanation of what has been called evolutionary epistemology. Our grasp of reality, the product of intellectual and cultural evolution, is, or any rate has been, sufficient to ensure our survival.
    A clear understanding of race, its origins and evolutionary significance, will determine the survival or destruction of the European nations. So far, their understanding appears inadequate to withstand the onslaught of genocide by mass immigration enforced by political correctness, the latter being the legal suppression of reason.

  5. destructure says:

    I don’t care if people drink as long as they don’t drink around my kids, get drunk or drive. But it doesn’t taste good. So why do you even drink it?

    • Yarilo says:

      Conditioning, mostly. The taste is quite foul to most people when they first start, but the pleasant effects of alcohol (along with the pleasure of social interaction and approval) eventually creates an association that makes the taste seem more ‘appealing’. This just further illustrates JAY’s point that taste is easily manipulated!
      Clinical trials have shown a similar effect with flavours paired with vs. without caffeine.

      • destructure says:

        @ Yarilo
        I always get those same answers or something close to it. But I still can’t wrap my head around it. I even intoxicated myself to see what it was like. I didn’t get any physical or social enjoyment. I was only impaired.
        Interesting you should mention caffeine. I’ve never been a coffee drinker either.

  6. Ariston says:

    My reaction to this piece was to wonder if it is not so much that wine–tasting is bullshit as that the ability to discern fine differences in wines is very rare, and you get a lot of other persons out there who are merely aping it, as you do with music critics who play up an expert ear you often doubt they have.
    Further, it would seem that someone who truly had a talent in such an area would give far more ‘I am not sure’s than someone who merely pretended to.

  7. Timm Craig says:

    I only drink Marcus James from Argentina. About $9 for 1.5 liter large bottle. I only buy the dry reds such as Cabernet. Merlot, Malbec. It is a clean honest wine which did not give me fuzziness or headache the next day. In the past month I bought two other brand’s reds. They were headache generators. I have zero wine in the house right now but I have beer.
    If I was worth millions I would still buy Marcus James and maybe some East European and Balkan reds. I could give a shyte what the wine connoisseurs say about more expensive wines, they can have them

  8. In the case of wine, is it not the true that people actually pay for bullshit?
    For example, not too many people could tell whether you served cider or champagne at a wedding reception, but they’d be astounded if they knew it was cider. I mean, at a wedding you serve the best. Likewise, you might return a professional service from a friend not with a cheque but with a case of vintage Dom Perignon, not because it’s “worth” the money, but because it costs an amount commensurate with the service provided.
    The Japanese, I think, have a number of interesting products in this nominal high value category that are popular as gifts, e.g., fifty dollar melons, hundred dollar steaks, and strawberries at more than a dollar a piece.

  9. Hugh Lygon says:

    But individual humans may, but they won’t be better off for it, as going along with the herd is without even knowing it is such an advantage, and in modern America more than anywhere else in the history of the world.
    Wine I don’t know. Beer I know. And in beer you do get what you pay for.

    • jewamongyou says:

      Yes, there are severe penalties for failing to go along with the herd. However, people have also become wealthy by thinking outside the box. Depends on the situation.

  10. Robert Marchenoir says:

    “This past year, Europeans happily ate up meatballs containing horsemeat, only expressing outrage when regulators revealed its presence.”
    The implication here is totally wrong. The outrage was not due to horse meat per se. It was because of its shady origin. The animals were not submitted to the health regulations covering human consumption, therefore they might have carried disease or harboured toxic veterinary medicine.
    As a matter of fact, horse meat is a delicacy in France. It’s more expensive than beef, not less. At least when it’s processed on the legal market.
    As a proof, horse meat consumption increased after the scandal. People were reminded that it existed, their curiosity was stimulated, and they found their way again to the few, and dying, horse butchers still in activity.
    Furthermore, there is no point in putting high-quality meat in processed products where it will be ground to a pulp. Most of the fraudulent meat went into industrial lasagne. No housewife in her right mind would buy expensive beef cuts only to boil them for hours. Nobody would notince the difference. Indeed, the result could be worse.
    As for wine, I have zero faith in this “study”. Of course there is a difference between good and bad wine, and of course it translates (roughly) into price.
    Are there expensive bottles around which do not taste better than much cheaper ones ? Certainly. Is the quality proportional to the price ? Of course not. It never is, whatever the product. A 100 000 dollars watch is not 10 000 times better than a 10 dollar one.
    Does it take an educated palate to appreciate good wine ? You bet it does.
    Children, if not properly brought up, will prefer Mars bars to an elaborate dinner by a Michelin-starred chef. Same thing for wine.

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