In an earlier post I put up a mock, non-peer reviewed article called The Jägermeister Experiment. I now want to tear it to shreds, to show how terribly bad mediocre-looking science is. This is what peer review is (or another example of peer review no further than my blog, look at the comments under Holy Ghosts).
The definition of finite
It is best to open on a positive, I feel. However, I am going to fail to hit the golden ratio of two good points to every bad point that a teacher is encouraged to give to their students. Although the use of the word “finite” is tenuous in the paper, its use is well-expressed and clearly stated. It is even justified.
That is the only good point I have.
The concept of ATE
ATE—Alcoholic Taste Expression—is a term used in the post to describe the tendency of intoxicated people to lower their standards for food consumption compared to when they are sober. But the concept is never referenced, nor does the author (do I) give evidence for it. ATE can be as easily explained by a drunk person’s attraction to spinny things and flashy things, hence the success of neon-lit kebab houses. Alcohol could even change the cravings a person has, hence a change in “taste expression”. I’m sure I could find articles to support my claims here, but I would rather leave them unreferenced so that my claims sit with equal weighting i.e. unsupported. I do this is highlight how poor a method it is to invent a concept to run your paper from.
The Expression of Taste spectrum
Another unsubstantiated claim in the paper is that of a spectrum from “perfectly delicious” to “infinitely terrible”. In my own life such a spectrum changes day-to-day, hour-to-hour. I crave sugars after I go to the gym or play rugby, and I actively avoid having a cup of tea. However, in the morning a cup of tea or coffee seems nice, but I avoid sugary things. Expressing a person’s tastes is not a linear spectrum. The same can be true of inebriated people; as the body’s salt supply depletes the body begins to crave salts, and so the taste of a person has changed, but not in any way that is well expressed as a spectrum.
These two objections to the paper destroy the structure the researcher built the research on.
The objectivity of the data given by any drunken person must be questioned. Also, people who volunteer to partake in an experiment about Jägermeister probably have a first bias; if the subjects decided they do not like Jägermeister before the experiment starts—which seems to be structurally necessary to this research—then the possibility of the subjects stubbornly (or even dogmatically) sticking to their initial agreement is fatal to the reliability of the experiment. The subject’s exaggerated comparisons of Jägermeister to death point toward this bias start.
It is also noteworthy that the author (me) is also a subject. This is never told to you in the method, and it a fact hidden from you by the firewall of what the author wanted to share, and did not want to share. The control, a Jägermeister-replacement, was provided by the bartender. The bartender was not aware of any experiment or the need for controls. The author had no way of validating that a replacement drink had been given, and therefore the element of the method that was built-in to ensure the subjects had remained coherent was not reliable.
Uses of the research
I think my earlier claim that drunken people are attracted to spinny things and flashy things would be more useful research to businesses that benefit from drunk-custom. The claim that the night food industry would lower the quality of the food they sell as the night progresses is offensive to the integrity of the business people themselves. Also, the claim that they could lower the quality of their food is just presumptuous.