Friday Weird Science: This bartending paper is not about you

Sep 27 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

I have a problem. It's a silly one to have.

I suffer complete and total bar invisibility. I am not exactly someone who fades into the background, but to a bartender, I might as well be an empty stool. I have gone as long as 45 minutes without having a single server come near me, even the ones I truly attempt to make eye contact with. Not only that, but I have gone 45 minutes without being served in a NEARLY EMPTY BAR. Sometimes I wonder if I just look wrong, or my body language is wrong. I try to imitate the people around me, hanging out at the bar, making eye contact. Nothing.

Bar invisibility. My dad says it's genetic, apparently he has it, too.

So you can only imagine how thrilled I was when I received a link to a video showing that SCIENCE has found how to best gain attention at a bar!

I was thrilled, gleeful! Finally I would know what I was doing wrong and bartenders would never ignore me again. I tweeted the link far and wide.

And then I received this reply from Thomas Williams.

And he's right! And much of the coverage is WRONG. Thank you to Thomas for pointing me in the right direction! He helpfully linked me to the BBC coverage (where the scientist corrected the interviewer), and then I got my hands on the paper. He pointed me, and now I can point you!

And the best part of this paper? It's not about PEOPLE AT ALL! It's not even really about how to get attention in bars! This paper? It's not about you. We just all wanted it to be.

Loth et al. "Automatic detection of service initiation signals used in bars" Frontiers in Psychology, 2013.

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