Thursday, 26 April 2012

How Beer Created the World

From the "If it's on the Discovery Channel, it must be true" file.

They argue we moved to agriculture in order to get beer.

My biggest complaint? They forget that beer also gave us modern hypothesis testing: Student's t-distribution wasn't given its name because it's useful in undergraduate econometrics; it's the pseudonym that was used by William Sealy Gosset when he published his statistical results. Gosset was a brewer and chemist working for Guinness who needed to know how many trials he needed to run to be confident in his results. And so we have the t-distribution.

I don't put huge confidence in each and every claim, and a lot of the innovations that were pushed by brewing likely would have come anyway for other reasons; it's implausible that somebody wouldn't have figured out refrigeration even if Pilsner had never existed. But would we be so wrong to claim that people who hate beer must also hate civilisation itself?

HT: @MitchellHall