The Corner

A Helpful New Social-Science Metric

 

I am not really gung-ho for social science, chiefly for a reason I imbibed from my Aristotelian and Thomistic masters: A science must not strive for a level of exactness that is foreign to its subject matter. But I have at last discovered a social-science metric that can explain some very puzzling phenomena in my own life and experience. Take, for example, the fact that I simultaneously love England and its culture, and yet do not like Anglophiles. The best explanation I could ever come up with for this is that I am perhaps a “self-hating Anglophile.” But Calvin Trillin, over on Slate, offers a helpful scientific way to approach this and similar problems: 

Three men who were sitting at the other end of the room had begun discussing wine in voices that seemed intended to enlighten oenophiles who were strolling past Rockefeller Center.

The man at the end of the bar nodded in their direction and said, “Among people who think of themselves as wine connoisseurs there’s a 61 percent ACI.”

I was puzzled. “What’s an ACI?” I asked.

He lowered his voice a bit, as if he was about to use somewhat offensive language and wanted to make certain no women (he would have said “ladies”) were in ear-shot. “A*****e Correlation Index,” he said.

I said, “You mean that 61 percent of people who talk a lot about wine are—”

“Correct,” he said, before I could finish. “That’s not even particularly high, as these things go. That means that nearly 40 percent of people who think of themselves as wine connoisseurs are people who have learned a lot about wine for one legitimate reason or another and are not pretentious about it. Those guys over there are in the other 61 percent, I’d wager. When they get through analyzing a few pinot noirs that they wouldn’t actually be able to tell apart, they’ll probably turn to cigars or single malt scotch. People who spend a lot of time discussing both cigars and single malt scotch, by the way, have a 78 percent ACI. That’s high — much higher than connoisseurs of either one singly. . . 

Trillin’s piece is worth reading in its entirety.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More