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Posts tagged with beer

Perception is reality. Any beer drinker who is surprised that Guinness has a unique and excellent taste and PBR tastes exactly like Budweiser needs to switch to Guinness because your taste is objectively awful.
That’s why Guinness’ branding is a seal with a ball and Budweiser needs to use bikini babes.

There’s something much deeper going on here, though: a fundamental problem with utility theory and hence, with economic theory. Kahneman & Tversky pointed out that it’s wrong to think of preferences as being read off of a master list. But not only are they constructed in the elicitation process, they’re constructed before as well. You’re looking at experimental proof.

I tried to write about this before in the context of the famous Pepsi/Coke fMRI experiment, but it’s too hard. I want to tie in sardonic Don Draper quips, the invention of diamonds, and my own experiences of my desires and wants and dreams being formed by outside (and therefore, sinister?) forces rather than from truly “within me”  — whatever that might mean. Why do I want what I (think I) want? Even Doug Hofstadter treads tenderly around the topics of free will and one’s own true desires and self-determination and such.

I have no idea what my subconscious wants
— Cameron Guthire (@thiscameron)
June 27, 2013

Even though I feel that these things all belong together, I don’t understand it all well enough to put forward a thesis explaining the inchoatia. But even with just the few experimental examples we have, it’s clear that desires can be manufactured, and that there’s a lot of money to be made in doing so. So just with that basic knowledge the Lagrangian model of utility that underlies all of the Edgeworth boxes, welfare theorems, and so on is missing a crucial quality.  Namely, &sym;1% of the global economy is spent on making people want things. That doesn’t bear on “utilitarian” products like oil, shipping, … but it definitely bears on aspiration and retail. I’m talking about circularity in the definition of value. If you can logic that one out, let us know.

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Perception is reality. Any beer drinker who is surprised that Guinness has a unique and excellent taste and PBR tastes exactly like Budweiser needs to switch to Guinness because your taste is objectively awful.

That’s why Guinness’ branding is a seal with a ball and Budweiser needs to use bikini babes.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4050/4434090263_b8d52dcc74_o.jpg

There’s something much deeper going on here, though: a fundamental problem with utility theory and hence, with economic theory. Kahneman & Tversky pointed out that it’s wrong to think of preferences as being read off of a master list. But not only are they constructed in the elicitation process, they’re constructed before as well. You’re looking at experimental proof.

image

I tried to write about this before in the context of the famous Pepsi/Coke fMRI experiment, but it’s too hard. I want to tie in sardonic Don Draper quips, the invention of diamonds, and my own experiences of my desires and wants and dreams being formed by outside (and therefore, sinister?) forces rather than from truly “within me”  — whatever that might mean. Why do I want what I (think I) want? Even Doug Hofstadter treads tenderly around the topics of free will and one’s own true desires and self-determination and such.

Even though I feel that these things all belong together, I don’t understand it all well enough to put forward a thesis explaining the inchoatia. But even with just the few experimental examples we have, it’s clear that desires can be manufactured, and that there’s a lot of money to be made in doing so. So just with that basic knowledge the Lagrangian model of utility that underlies all of the Edgeworth boxes, welfare theorems, and so on is missing a crucial quality.  Namely, &sym;1% of the global economy is spent on making people want things. That doesn’t bear on “utilitarian” products like oil, shipping, … but it definitely bears on aspiration and retail. I’m talking about circularity in the definition of value. If you can logic that one out, let us know.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-grpfwNrz4dc/T_doHNKdxHI/AAAAAAAAFH8/QbIK0HTkiQU/s1600/Perception+is+Reality....jpg

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(Source: ocw.mit.edu)


hi-res




OK, not every day. But whenever I shop for packaged retail goods like a coffee or in the grocers.

The Pythagorean theorem demonstrates that a slightly larger circle has twice as much area as a slightly smaller circle.

Pythagorean Theorem  This is how I first really understood the Pythagorean Theorem.  The outer circle looks just a little bit larger than the inner circle. But actually, its area is twice as large.  Kind of like the difference between medium and large soda cups, or how a tiny house still requires kind of a lot of timber, for how much air it encloses. If you buy a slightly wider pizza or cake it will serve proportionally more people; and if an inverse-square force (sound, radio power, light brightness) expands a little bit more it will lose a lot of its energy.  Ideas involved here:  scaling properties of squared quantities(gravitational force, skin, paint, loudness, brightness)  circumcircle & incircle  2  This is also how I first really understood 2, now my favourite number.

(Since the diagonal of that square is √2 long relative to the "1" of the interior radius=leg of the right triangle. So the outer radius=hypotenuse=√2, and √2 squared is 2.)

image

And some of us know from Volume Integrals in calculus class that a cylinder's volume = circle area × height — and something like a sausage with a fat middle, or a cup with a wider mouth than base, can be thought of as a “stack” of circle areas
image
or in the case of a tapered glass, a “rectangle minus triangle” (when the circle is collapsed so just looking at base-versus-height “camera straight ahead on the table” view).

image

The shell-or-washer-method volume integral lessons were, I think, supposed to teach about symbolic manipulation, but I got a sense of what shapes turn out to be big or small volume as well.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/__wa77chrZVg/SuRA4fj-l8I/AAAAAAAADHM/quRNFMVeHmk/s400/Chou_pei.jpg

By integrating dheight sized slices of circles that make up a larger 3-D shape, I can apply the inverse-square lesson of the Pythagorean theorem to how real-life “cylinders” or “cylinder-like things” will compare in volume.

  • A regulation Ultimate Frisbee can hold 6 beers. (It’s flat/short, but really wide)
    File:Frisbee Catch- Fcb981.jpg
    image
  • The “large” size may not look much bigger but its volume can in fact be.
    image
  • Starbucks keeps the base of their Large cups small, I think, to make the large size look noticeably larger (since we apparently perceive the height difference better than the circle difference). (Maybe also so they fit in cup holders in cars.)




  • Africans drink 7 litres of commercial beer per year.
  • Chinese drink 35 litres of commercial beer per year.
  • Americans drink 70+ litres of commercial beer per year.

(minute 7)

From my own little corner of the Earth, it looks like home-brewed beer is growing in appeal—as are micro-brews and wines & ciders made from fruits with a little more natural variation.

So it’s interesting that—just when my crowd is being led by Pied Piper Pollan away from Corporate Consistency-topia into the Land of Natural Individual Variation—those climbing up the Ladder of Disposable Income might drift the opposite direction.

 

I was going to try to make an alluring mathematical comment on this story, but I’m out of steam. Here are the mathematical concepts involved in this story:

  • "direction" — implies ∃ beer space, ∋ beer vectors
  • this is a perceptual space — what are the dimensions? Is it linear?
  • how would you mathematically model variable-versus-consistent beer tastes?

    Maybe as a contour plot / heatmap of confidence intervals? Or a Schwartz distribution?

    I wouldn’t assume that the variation is Gaussian. Whatever the taste / smell space looks like, a lot of the variation in homebrewing is due to creativity (discontinuous leaps to elsewhere in the space) — not just to production “errors” (which might in fact be normal).

PS Tusker Beer rules.

(Source: economist.com)