The Magic Flute meets the Magic Mushroom
- September 19, 2006 9:39 PM |
- By Quirks
When you read the headlines of some pieces of research, you’re left scratching your head. Like this story from Ananova “Opera Fans ‘prefer magic mushrooms.’” Yes, it’s real research performed by Dr. Adrian North from the University of Leicester. Now, prefer is probably a bit strong; the study actually asked if people had tried specific drugs, not if they were habitual users. But, it does raise questions about how the ring cycle would seem under the influence of hallucinogens.
Opera appreciation aside, this is an interesting study, if only because it looks systematically at a question nobody's really asked before. Many of us have stereotypes of what musical taste says about a person. Now North is trying to establish how these ideas reflect reality. This initial study, due to be published in the journal, Psychology of Music, took 2,500 people from the U.K. and surveyed their musical tastes, and a host of moral and personal preferences. Some of the results fit the stereotypes (opera fans were more likely to be highly educated), while others weren’t as immediately obvious (tabloid readers like the music from the sixties). North is hoping to extend his research through a new survey where he’s attempting to recruit 10,000 people from around the globe to participate in a survey of musical taste and personal habits.
Whether this survey is a success or not, it shows how research today is changing. A survey of this size would have been incredibly expensive before the days of the internet. The anonymity of the internet is also valuable here. How many opera fans would have admitted to drug use in a face-to-face survey? And who knows, maybe we’ll have to change our stereotypes of who’s really smoking up on their way to a concert.
— Pat Senson
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