Penn & Teller - If You Ate or Drank Crap, Could You Tell?

Though I am perfectly willing to admit my palate is not quite as refined as that of a mediocre connoisseur, I also tend to be skeptical of foodies, as well as coffee, wine and cigar snobs. Most of these people live under the delusion that their powers of discernment and the quality of their taste leaves the more ordinary of us in the dust. More often than they'd like to admit, however, human tastes and preferences are filtered through our cognitive expectations. This is precisely what's going on behind phenomena like the placebo effect.

This is also why asshole Starschmucks baristas and others like them 'think' that coffee from certain trendy establishments is the only kind that can satisfy their delicate and pretentious little palates (as you may be able to tell, I hate these people). Of course, secretly switch some generic coffee for their preferred brand and see how they rate it: what they normally consider heated up sewage water suddenly becomes aromatic and rich. It's not the coffee or your 'sophisticated' gusto that's doing the work: it's the trendy shop. Distractions like branding, location or presentation are almost everything sometimes.

So, our experience isn't entirely based on our sense perception but on a combination of perception and expectation, and when we expect something to be delicious (usually because it's expensive as hell, or found in a trendy restaurant, or because some person of influence recommended it), our mind starts playing tricks with itself: it experiences the food/drink as exquisite and sophisticated, even when it's dirt cheap, low quality and probably not even safe for human consumption, as Penn & Teller demonstrate in the following clip :)



So, in an ironic way, you get what you pay for :)
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