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Cheese exposed to hip-hop tastes better, finds Swiss experiment (swissinfo.ch)
68 points by T-A on March 15, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 58 comments

Wow! Yesterday we learned about what happens when dead alligators are dropped to the sea floor of the abyssal plane (a giant isopod smorgasbord), and today we learn about cheese exposed to hip hop. The 2019 IgNobel competition is really heating up.

Shows how unreliable experiments like this are. Needs some Bayesian analysis.

My intuition is that this is a fluke that will fail to replicate.

If it however, does replicate, consistently, that opens up a bunch of questions. Just how does hip-hop make cheese sound better?

No worries about that, they didn't even plicate it to begin with. They exposed 8 wheels of cheese to 8 different types of music. This study was absolutely guaranteed to find that one of them "tastes better", given that if you tasted 8 wheels of cheese without the music, one of them would have tasted the best.

There was a control cheese, at least.

True, so they could have also determined "Music makes your cheese taste worse".

My intuition is that it's a satire of p-hacking culture

Cats' purrs cause them to heal faster. They're probably assisting their lymphatic channels in pumping to clear toxins, or somesuch.

Maybe there's a frequency of sound that does the same—on a much smaller organelle level—for the bacteria in the cheese. Maybe increases their metabolism or something, makes the cheese age faster.

The bacterial growth behavior changes by the sound that gets absorbed by the cheese .

I think there have been studies that exposing plants to sound can also alter their behavior.

Cheese is funky. Hip-hop is funky.


So James Brown would be even better then?

...and why doesn't Mozart or Led Zeppelin? Are there cheeses that prefer Led Zep? I have to stop now, this got too ridiculous.

I also tend to think it's a fluke. :)

They should have tried different songs. Stairway to Heaven might not be upbeat enough for cheese, maybe Immigrant Song or Black Dog would be better.

Even cheese knows blatant plagarism.

its the sub bass

my hypothesis if anyone wants to replicate

This brings a whole new meaning to culturing cheese.

Would the cheese taste even better if you let the cheese stay at art museums? Wait for part 2 of the experiment where we find what art museum makes cheese taste the best!

Try this thought experiment: play eight songs from different genres of music, flipping a coin 5 times for each song. Whichever song had the most heads must make you more likely to flip heads.

How is this study different from that?

It is not. If they had 10 cheeses exposed to hip-hop, 10 to classical, 10 controls, etc., and the differences in rating where statistically significant they would be onto something. But per the study factsheet, they used just one box per music type so it is exactly as you say, one box just tasted better but it could be for any number of reasons: https://hkbgehtanland.ch/assets/pdf/20181129_hkb_cheese-in-s...

I feel like this experiment, like Swiss cheese, is filled with holes.

Wow that joke was very cheesy

I dunno, I thought it was pretty gouda

Works as long as you're not one of those people who pronounce it "gao-da"

how are studies like these even funded? Shouldn't the community have their methods peer reviewed before going through? Like the sibling comment, there are so many holes in this study. waste of $

It was an art project.

It's genius marketing-- they were guaranteed a "surprising" conclusion that people widely share.

edit: The point I'm making, perhaps too tersely based on the below response, is a flawed study can be designed where every outcome would be "surprising" but obviously the rationale supporting that outcome would be poor. That people tend to share surprising outcomes (ie-- post it on Hacker News)-- makes it genius marketing.

I believe the GP’s point was that it wasn’t surprising regardless of the outcome (unless you find it surprising the author would make a test whose outcome is correlated to the test itself).

Which I don’t think is a particularly new concept or a good use of smart people’s time. Nor would people ever enjoy music, film, food, x hobby, based on what a scientific study determines is ‘best’ in the first place, making the whole thing based on the false premise that an outcome could ever be known through this method.

Thanks. I clarified what I meant above.

I can see this being legit but not because of the lyrics. Hip hop has deeper bass lines which could vibrate into the cheese vs other types of music. Those vibrations could account for a change in growth of the cheese culture.

Or the position of the boxes. Or the bacteria/yeast content of the boxes. Or the humidity gradient. Or the temperature gradient in the room. Or the light exposure. Or differences in handling.

Or just random chance, as the grandparent suggests.

The experiment didn't control for any of those.

If I had to place a bet, I'd bet differences in handling, and probably temperature and humidity gradients have a stronger effect than the sound.

This is the level of an average elementary school science fair project, and shouldn't be treated differently.

More info: https://www.thelocal.ch/20181102/swiss-cheese-maker-experime...

"I hope that the hip-hop cheese will be the best." (Nov 2018) And he's pictured laying his head and hand on one of the wheels:


The point of the parent comment is to illustrate that there is in fact no evidence to support the claim that hip hop makes food taste better.

The existence of a theoretical mechanism by which hip hop could impact cheese flavor, possibly making a better or possibly making it worse, doesn't change the fact that there is no meaningful evidence.

That might be interesting, actually. Has it been done? I've been an advocate for "coin flipping is not random" since I was young and could flip heads or tails on demand (about 80% accurate, but I didn't practice all that much). Caveat being I catch the coin in my hand on the way down (not letting it hit the floor) and know which side was up before flipping.

Essentially, does the beat of the song (or whatever) influence timings and force applied enough to bias the results?

I’ve had similar experiences. I recall have mystical like experiences where I felt like I was controlling randomness itself vs. just being highly attuned to controlling the coin flipping ;)

This was done by an art school. It's a joke.

The double punchline is it's about as mathematically sound as the average nutrition study.

Remind me again about how many published studies are replicatable?

Very disappointed that the winning genre wasn’t cheese.

Some S Club 7 will make your Brie far better.

"I gotta stack cheese. I gotta stack cheese!"


Some may recognize this song from its use in an Avis commercial a few years ago:


Resonant frequency of the holes? /S

Don't know why you added the /s tag, its as good a theory as any other.

And will be proved when the experiment is repeated (with different hole structure), and cheese is found to taste better when exposed to some other music genre.

Can I borrow your /s tag?

IPR registration pending... (/s)

Is this a satire, or is there something about low frequency audio that physically changes the cheese?

It's not satire nor a real experiment. There is no evidence to take from this. The box the cheese was placed in was a variable as well, so there's no conclusions to take here.

Surely the article is midtoane when it used the unit kHz for the frequencies, the sine waves used were

> Low frequency: 25kHz

> Medium frequency: 200kHz

> High frequency: 1000 kHz

All of which are very high and well above the range of human hearing, so I think the units should be Hz instead.

Do we have a paper source for this?

Some young people may just reach that "low" range and be able to catch the unpleasant existence of a 25kHz sound source :) I was able to hear it when I was circa 13yo IIRC. But yeah, for an adult, that would be truly exceptional.

How large of a sample population did they use in their blind tasting, I can't find the original publication source, but I imagine a whole cheese wheel could be cut into quite a lot of little chunks.

I don't think the sample population is the largest issue here. The issue is that they didn't control for any other factors.

It's entirely likely that the hip-hop cheese was better, but for reasons completely unrelated to the music. Without replication this is extremely likely to be random chance.

My eyeballs initially read your post as: "How large of a sample population did they use in their BLING tasting..." If hip-hop can exert that kind of influence over even my semi-literate brain, I ask you, what kind of a chance does cheese stand?

But how long did they expose it to Roquefort?

I smell an IgNobel Prize in the offing... or is that just the Jay-Z-infused limburger?

Is it a coincidence that Jay-Z is always going on about cheddar and spending cheese?

I am more curious how they managed to output a 1000 kHz tone through those speakers.

Maybe it was the Electric Relaxation that did it

Sounds like a way to promote something.

Critical thinking?

It's because of the phat content.

Is this valuable time for researchers

I am disappointed that the result was not titled Moo Bitch Get Out Da Whey.

Still, an amusing art project. And I actually would be kind of interested in seeing it done as an actual experiment. Sound waves have a significant effect on plant growth, after all.


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