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It is not your schnoz that matters

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Solving the take-away coffee induced black-tipped nose problem

A little while ago we ran an experiment of sorts to test the hypothesis that the length of one’s nose was positively related to the risk of getting a black spot on it while drinking a take-away coffee. That is, the longer your nose, the more likely you are to get a black spot on it when you drink your take away coffee (for those of you who are concerned that coffee might reduce blood flow to the tip of your nose, or that some people are predisposed to bubonic plague related to coffee, never fear, it is all about the method by which the barrista codes your coffee).

Photo credit: FreeWine

Our primary outcome variables (the measures we think will best reflect the hypothesis) were perceived nose length and actual nose protuberance from the face.  Well, we have analysed the results from 152 willing participants (thank you thank you thank you) and can confidently say that we have rejected our hypothesis. It doesn’t seem to be the length of your schnoz that matters – we had 24 people who sometimes noticed a black spot on their nose after drinking a take-away coffee, 12 who rarely noticed it and 116 who have never noticed it.

The black spotters judged their nose to be of average length (18/24), larger than average (5) or smaller than average (1). 21/24 measured their Protuberance Index as 16-20 mm. Of the remainder, 120/136 said they had an average schnoz and 124/136 had a Protuberance Index of 16-20 mm. Non-parametric statistics revealed no differences between the groups (p=0.68).

So, back to the drawing board. Clearly, we must consider neck extension/cup inversion ratio, nose ink-absorbance factor, coffee selection (eg one would expect tall latte’s to be higher risk than short machiato’s), coding system (punching holes in the lid versus painting the lid with bitumen).  Anyway, this has been another piece of highly important real-world research……

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