Food and politics
This is a couple of months old and a bit silly, but worth a mention, I think. The collaborative decision-making site hunch.com, which wants to take the pain out of making decisions by letting you ask a stranger (actually an aggregate of a whole lot of them) for advice, has published a report on correlations between political persuasion and food preferences.
Some background on hunch.com: You “teach” hunch.com about your personality by answering questions, so the resulting advice will be influenced by the choices of people who have personality profiles similar to yours. When you are actually about to make a decision, the system asks you more and more questions related to to specific choice you are facing, and weights its advice accordingly. You can also give feedback on the final recommendation and hopefully get even better advice in the future.
Of course, hunch.com collects a lot of information on different kinds of preferences as a “side effect” of all of this advice-giving. This info can be mined in order to discover surprising – or sometimes not so surprising – correlations. In the food/politics report mentioned above, self-declared liberals and conservatives were compared with respect to their favorite foods, cooking skills and so on. Some of the results:
– If you have both liberals and conservatives at your dinner table, it’s safest to serve hot dogs or double cheeseburger, as both groups like these. If you serve margaritas, do so with salt on the glass.
– Liberals like international food like Thai and Indian, while conservatives prefer things like pizza and Mac & Cheese.
– Conservatives have apple corers and know how to use them, but liberals don’t even know what they are.
Another report reveals that people who self-identify as Mac people like Andy Warhol while PC people don’t; that Mac users prefer Vespas but PC users prefer Harleys; and that Mac people like The Office more.
I guess all of these results sort of confirm stereotypes we already have, but it’s still good fun to read through these reports, which are periodically announced on the hunch.com blog. Who knows, perhaps one day a *useful* correlation pops out …