That, at least, is the first thing you might conclude from my Bloggingheads debut, in which my half of the screen is almost completely filled by my head. I was on with Felix Salmon, who was gracious and charming as usual. If you read this blog and Felix’s blog, a lot of the ground we covered might seem familiar.
At the end, however, I did press Felix on the subject of wine, which is one of his favorites. Felix has written that who wins a blind taste test is essentially random, even with reputed wine experts doing the tasting, and he has verified this independently through his own blind tasting parties. Yet he says nevertheless that in an ordinary context, it is perfectly rational to enjoy an expensive wine more than a cheap wine, since you are not tasting blind; you are tasting with full knowledge of what you are drinking. I asked him why his knowledge of the empirical studies didn’t undermine the pleasure he got from drinking “good” wine. You can listen to his answer. The line I didn’t think of in time to use is that’s it’s like getting a placebo effect from a drug when you know it’s a placebo.
By James Kwak