Monday, August 14, 2006

Wine, status and babies

Most of us work hard for extra material gain but social scientists have now joined forces with those philosophers who have long been warning us that "money cannot buy happiness." Those of the male perusasion can argue (in their own defense) that females are attracted to the things that money can buy and, therefore, acquisition by males is simply part of the evolution-bred procreation dance. What, then, explains acquisition by hard-working females? I have no clue but and R-squared near 0.5 is not so bad (in some precincts).

Replace the idea of money (and baubles) with the idea of status (and baubles) and things get much more interesting. Consumption-based analysis is usually safer than income-based analysis because of all of the obvious measurement problems eased.

Last Sunday's NY Times included "In Vino Veritas? Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test ... " It turns out that an 89 vs. a 90 (on a 50-100 rating by the Wine Spectator) works out to a huge difference in terms of sales. But, how many of us can tell an 89 from a 90?

Were there a five-point scale, many of us could tell the As from the Ds and Fs, and occasionally from the Bs and Cs. But why are we going nusto over a 90 over an 89?

It must be the status-thing. And procreation and all that.