Old wisdom

Commenter Mobius Klein, in response to Mike O’Hare’s post about the placebo effect in wine-tasting, notes that even people who can distinguish between higher-quality and lower-quality alcoholic beverages at the beginning of the evening quickly lose that ability as the alcohol goes to work. That’s an acute observation, but when I read it I had a sense of déjà vu; I’d heard that same idea before, but couldn’t remember where. Turns out the answer is the Gospel according to John:

When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, … the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

3 thoughts on “Old wisdom”

  1. To be clear, the Gospel doesn't say -can't tell the good stuff from the bad; but that recognizes that the "water into wine" is distinguishably better than that served earlier.

  2. I learned the hard way about drinking and taste – the night we switched from wine to spirits after we were already a bit buzzed. (ie drunk)

    Never, ever, ever do that.

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