August 23, 2013

#Coffitivity: Stupider than the #MozartEffect

And snobbier, too!

A Facebook friend sent me a link to Coffitivity, which makes the Mozart Effect sound like actual science!

Quoting from the website:
Coffee shop sounds boost creativity, now those sounds are at your fingertips!
And, the hints of impeccable social science studies backing this up follow.

First, recognizing true junk science combined with true Nice Polite Republican Volvo-driving, latte-sipping, Meyer-lemon-squeezing, Obama-loving sales pitches is the key to this.

As for that research? They link to one study, which looks at ambient noise in general, not one particular type of ambient noise, and that doesn't actually claim to prove anything. Here:
Based on the above research, we predict that the distraction caused by a moderate (vs. low) level of noise will induce processing difficulty, leading to abstract processing and, consequently, to greater creativity.
Predict ain't the same as prove. Fail. And, it's not called The Journal of Consumer Research for nothing. Sorry, but why doesn't the University of Chicago actually get empirical behavioral economics rolling more and more?

Next, the study did say that moderately varying ambient sound isn't the only way to possibly boost creativity. It said colors of moderate intensity with moderate changes could do the same.

Like .... being out in nature!

And, because we're more modern than the Mozart Effect, there's no CDs. There's apps! And even an employee called a "growth hacker"!

Now, to riff on my stereotypical neoliberal rant from above.

Of course, Coffitivity's targeted only to Mac users, because we know you PC types still buy fucking No. 1-selling Folgers from the can at the grocery store.

That rant about Folgers, etc., is sparked by something Kai Rissdahl had on Marketplace on NPR yesterday. I wrote the following brief snark.
Your Kai Rissdahl + Marketplace teh stupid + dog whistle, perhaps, for today: "Coffee snobs, you may want to shut off your radios for the next 2 minutes and 10 seconds." He then says, Did you know the best selling coffee in America at the grocery store is ...... (long ellipsis)


No shit, Sherlock? Folgers, or Maxwell House as No. 2, were brainless guesses. Why? They're cheap and they've been around for a century longer than Starbucks.

That said, although not as bad as 20 years ago, since they do use all Arabica beans now, they're still semi-dreck compared to real coffees.

That said, the best Robustas are better than the worst Arabicas, but our coffee snob balloon buster didn't tell us that.
So, of course, something like this is geared to iPods and iPads. A little more come-on to Volvo-driving, latte-sipping, Meyer-lemon-squeezing types that only Mac users are really creative? Your iPad or iPhone is fine, but Android coffee drinkers need not apply? See that subtle dogwhistle in there, too? Yes, halfway down the page it has a blurb for non-Mac smartphone users, but right below the banner, it says: 
Available for Mac, iPhone, and iPad in the App Store!
Sorry, even if you talk about generic smartphones later, that's still a dogwhistle in my book.

Anyway, had to email the Coffitivity folks this:
Coffee research shows drinking six or more cups a day shortens your life span. A more serious than anything you've done, in-depth, longitudinal study shows that.

More coffee research shows that the stress from wondering what 'growth hacker' to buy, how much money one can afford for it, and worrying about the high prices of Starbucks plus the health effects of all the sugar and fats from non-coffee 'coffee drinks' further shortens one's lifespan.
And, I'm not joking.

One real, longitudinal study, from the Mayo Clinic, though kind of iffy on its follow-up questions, says six or more cups a day can shorten lifespan due to increasing cardiovascular problems. Another, lesser study says that six or more cups a day may increase metabolic syndrome, a diabetes precursor.

And I Tweeted them this:
Coffitivity sounds like another typical American "magic bullet" fail. Euclid: There is no #MozartEffect route to learning.
Because that's exactly what it sounds like. Of course, Euclid didn't have Starbucks, or coffee in general, so I'm riffing on his famous "there is no royal road to learning" comments to Alexander the Great.

What's next? Sounding like coffee snobs about different coffeehouse ambient noises? But of course, I'm sure.
"Our 'Afternoon Enchantment' is a medium-light roast of noise, perfect for those midday times when your mind, like your body, craves a siesta but you know you must do work."
Also, misspelling the root word in a mash-up, i.e., "coffee" in this case, will get you an extra spanking from me as an editor.

1 comment:

tomasienrbc said...

Sorry you were so upset that we haven't launched for Android yet - we actually have, we're just not particularly good Android developers so we're waiting to publicize that fact on the website.

Thanks for taking the time to check out Coffitivity!