The music that is better than itself

In the 1930s, Pitirim A. Sorokin and J.W. Boldyreff conducted the most interesting experiment1. They told their participants that they are going to play two variations of the same theme by two prominent composers. They declared that musical critics say that the first variation is a masterpiece, while the second is an exaggerated imitation, totally deficient in self-subsistence and beauty. They said that that the aim of the experiment is to see whether laymen agree with the experts. Afterwards, experimenters played the same record twice2. The participants completed a questionnaire which had three possible answers: prefer first record, prefer second record, and no preference.

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Statistics against irritations: a response to Dickens’s apologists or If high readership is the test of good writing, then 50 Shades of Grey is a work of genius…

Charles Dickens
Recently I discussed  my article1 which reported the results of the test where the takers had to tell the prose of Charles Dickens from the prose of Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The former is a required reading in school, and the latter has a bad writing contest named after him. Nevertheless, the test-takers performed on the level of random guessing. This research got some media attention.
While Mark Howarth’s article2 in The Daily Mail is rational, the article3 by Alison Flood in The Guardian is emotional. She even bills her talking points as “irritations:”

A scientific evaluation of Charles Dickens

Previously I discussed1 my experiment that tested whether people can tell the masterpieces of abstract art from anyone’s doodles. People could hardly see any difference. But is this peculiar to modern art? Alas, it is not. Here, I show that the same thing happens with classical literature.

Keep your redshirt on: a Bayesian exploration

The idea of red-shirted characters being frequently killed in Star Trek: The Original Series has become a pop culture cliché. But is wearing a redshirt in Star Trek as hazardous as it is thought to be? To find out, casualty figures for the Starship Enterprise were compiled using the casualty list provided by Memory Alpha.


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How many turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving?

It's Thanksgiving in the US and I am preparing myself for a hearty meal of turkey, sweet potatoes and cranberries followed by pumpkin pie for dessert. I wonder to myself 'how many turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving?

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