About ten years ago, while visiting my friend Carl Willat, he presented me with five versions of connoisseurs were important in human evolution because they helped support skilled artisans. Our design preference for repeated elements (e.g., wallpaper, textiles) evolved so that we would put similar things side by side. Continue reading “The Willat Effect: Side-by-Side Comparisons Create Connoisseurs”
Last night I went to a beer tasting in San Francisco. I didn’t taste all the beers but of the 15-odd I did taste the best were by Uncommon Brewers — especially their Siamese Twin (“the floral notes of lemongrass and sharper bite of kaffir lime blend with the deep malt”) and Baltic Porter (“whole licorice root and star anise”).
Five or six years ago I went to a sake-tasting event in San Francisco called “The Joy of Sake”. About 140 sakes. In a few hours I became such a sake connoisseur that the sake I could afford — and used to buy regularly — I now despised. The only sake I now liked was so expensive ($80/bottle) that I never bought another bottle of sake.
Will Amy Winehouse — who won five Grammys last night — help or hurt the music industry? A few years ago, I went to a tasting event called The Joy of Sake. There were about 100 of the best sakes from Japan. A pre-event talk for retailers discussed the decline of sake in Japan. (Soju is cool; sake is old-fashioned.) That was the reason for the show. I loved tasting 30-odd high-quality sakes but the overall effect on me was the opposite of what the promoters wanted. I quickly became a connoisseur. I no longer liked the cheap stuff — ugh! But the stuff I did like was too expensive. I stopped buying sake.
Before last night I had heard of Amy Winehouse and I had heard Rehab, but hadn’t put the two together. Her Grammy performance blew me away. I watched a bunch of YouTubes of her. Back at the Grammys, I listened to an orchestra play Rhapsody in Blue. I used to like it; now it sounded awful. I listened to a few more group performances; they too sounded bad. Just as The Joy of Sake had made me no longer enjoy cheap sake, listening to a lot of Amy Winehouse had made me no longer enjoy “average” music — music where several individual performances are combined.
I thought of The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb. Taleb defined Mediocristan as situations where no one datum can have a big effect on the result. The average height of 100 people, for example. In Extremistan, by contrast, a single datum can make a big difference. The average wealth of 100 people, for example — one person can have much more money than the other 99 put together. Orchestras are Mediocristan, I realized; individual singers are Extremistan. In art, emotional impact is everything. Extremistan allows really big impact; Mediocristan does not. Maybe this is why classical music is dying.
I felt like throwing away half my CDs. I could use the space. Thanks, Amy!
- Diversity in Learning (article)
- How Economics Shaped Human Nature (talk)
- A Theory of Human Evolution and Application to Education (short article)
- How Economics Shaped Human Nature: A Theory of Evolution (book chapter)
- Christmas rituals and gifts
- American Idol side-by-side comparison
- scrapbooking art and artists
- business book specialization
- music video side-by-side comparison
- diet sodas side-by-side comparison
- omiyage rituals and gifts
- blogs and fan clubs spread of technical knowledge
- red stained glass early art = material science
- fancy chocolates connoisseurship and gift rituals support material science
- computer chips art = material science
- amazon.com gift wrapping and material science
- Planet Earth relation to the Aquatic Ape theory
- guitars/do animals like music? enjoyment of music supports material science
- art and quasi-reinforcement art and quasi-reinforcement act as ramps
- the pleasure of crafts
- early value system artisanal values
- intricate art desire for intricacy advances technology
- Henry Rosenthal Pennant Collection collectors support skilled artisans
- Make magazine the hobby instinct
- osechi holidays support artisans
- Easter tradition holidays support artisans
- gift cards gifts support artisans
- frugal materials love of art –> material-science research
- the cellphone effect the first words facilitated trade
- micropygmies hunter-gatherers with trade different from those without trade
- autism autistic “obsessions” reveal a universal tendency toward expertise
- Fourth of July holidays increase demand for finely-made stuff
- Chinese birthday gift gifts support artisans in a different culture
- fixing bike pumps single words help traders find each other
- the curious case of to have to have is different from other verbs, which supports the idea that language was first used to tell who has what
- bells figured heavily in the beginning of metallurgy
- Beijing furniture shopping illustrates points about taste, decoration, and the attractiveness of matching stuff
- good-luck charms help skilled craftsmen make a living
- aniline dyes were the first industrial chemicals — an example of art as stepping stone
- a baseball-park collector/connoisseur
- caganers are a traditional part of Barcelona nativity scenes