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post #91 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by scientest View Post


All this doesn't mean you should ignore the placebo effects and psychoacoustics; if you like a piece of equipment go ahead and purchase it if that will bring you happiness. But while you're at it, understand why you enjoy it; it's a psychological reaction to the equipment; not something you can actually hear. That may seem a fine line to some, but it's actually well understood and quite demonstratable. Medical science is getting to a point that fMRI results are starting to show us what parts of the brain are involved in the deceptions we play on ourselves and how our brain pulls off some of these tricks. Scientists are starting to formulate explanations on why we fool ourselves into believing these things. For the most part they appear to be evolutionary adaptations required to allow us to retain our sanity when confronted with multiple simultaneous sensory inputs; the brain lets us pick (some might even say "forces us to pick") simply so we don't have to deal with the ambiguity involved in having multiple choices presented.

Your right, the brain can be fooled and when you hear something your brain puts it into the category of what you've heard before. You have to get off this "psycho reaction" thing. According to you everyone who buys audio equipment is a easily fooled and I truly don't think that is the case. I also don't think there could be a viable market of all the different companies that make high end CD players and amplifiers if there was not differences between their products, and theres not many features to distinguish them. It does take time and patience to determine the differences among components, but those differences do exist. For those that think there are no differences - You are in the minority.

And as far as our brain picking something, a study was done that if you give people 3 choices, most will make the best choice. However if you give them 10 choices most will not make the best choice. So which is better, 3 choices or 10? - there is no correct answer.
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post #92 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 03:36 PM
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Nice try.

Oh, is that where this came from? Man, you do hold a grudge, don't you? You've been putting even more words into my mouth than I remembered.

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Revisionism at its finest. Moreover, many people do eschew the scientific method to one degree or another.

That's not revisionism. That's correcting your mistaken interpretation. There's a difference, you know.

As for "eschew[ing] the scientific method to one degree or another," just how do they do that? It is one thing to say that the scientific method fails to answer certain questions. (Which is true: It fails to answer moral questions, for example.) It is another thing to say, "I accept the scientific method when it gives me results I like or have no opinion of, but I reject it when it gives me results I don't like." That, it seems to me, is what we hear from audiophiles who claim to accept (with reservations) the scientific method.

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We part ways, however, when you refuse to admit and instead respond with a cavalier "LOL" comment should anyone disagree with you that religion and/or mysticism do not apply to the physical world.

I've already explained that my use of the word "religion" was a misstatement. I meant mysticism, and I will continue to assert without apology that mysticism does not apply to the physical world--not astrology, not witchcraft, and not audiophile cables. Others are free to believe in any of those things, if they so choose.

More to the point, science is the explanation of observable phenomena. Mysticism isn't an explanation at all. It's a substitute for explanation. That's why the "it could be something else" formulation, when unaccompanied by evidence of unexplained phenomena, is a form of mysticism.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #93 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 03:44 PM
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That point being that some people can and do experience something that the current evidence says they shouldn't.

This is simply false. Current theory does not say that we shouldn't experience these things. It says that we can and will experience these things. It also provides some insight into why we experience these things--i.e., it's not because of any sonic differences between the components.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #94 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

I don't have any motivation at all to go back to high end audio. I've learned the truth about it and I'm content with that. I'm happier with the truth and the more modest equipment as well. I get to spend time listening to music rather than listening to equipment. I don't have the compulsion to go out and spend another small fortune every time someone writes a new product review.

Bravo. You sound like a man who's at peace with himself. I misunderstood when I thought you'd given up on audio as a souce of enjoyment. I'm glad to hear that you still get enjoyment from the music.

Believe it or not, my journey has been similar to yours except that I eventually wound up not having a system in my home at all (well...other than a Walmart special...mainly for the grandkids.) My listening was done primarily in my car and at the office where my partner was the one that bought all the expensive gear.

I was bothered by the fact that for me (and speaking only for me) I could discern an enhancement to my audio enjoyment through various changes in my system (mostly related to vinyl playback). I too saw the madness that chasing the next best improvment brings and decided to do without entirely. Now, with the advent of HT I've decided that I can and will live with a moderately priced system. While I am still a bit bewildered by all the gear that is out there, I'm excited about the prospect of having a system in my home again.
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post #95 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Shutterman View Post

what about those times when the subject doesn't know the price/status of the gear he or she is comparing?

Well, that's sorta the point of the double blind ABX's, you don't know which is which. You may know that one piece costs 10x the price of the other but you're removing the bias as to which piece it is.

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What about the times where the preferred gear is actually a bargain basement unit and the subject knows the cost before hand?

That can be the same thing in reverse; it's still a bias, maybe the subject has read that the particular piece of equipment is a "giant killer", or maybe they happened to own that particular piece of equipment at the time they had their 1st aurally induced orgasm (pun intended ), for some reason they have come to believe it sounds better, even if there is no actual audible reason for it to be better.

A similar question is why would someone believe that a green magic marker on the side of a CD makes an audible difference? It certainly has nothing to do with the cost of the "tweak"..

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Look...all I'm trying to get at here is that instead of simply regurgitating the scientific dogma of the day (and you must admit...some here are pretty dogmatic), folks should observe world around them and continue to ask why. How can knowledge advance otherwise?

Sure, but it's sorta pointless to rehash the same science 1000's of times over and over. That I think is part of the problem here. People like mcnarus, FMW and Chu Gai (sorry for forgetting him earlier) have probably tried to argue this same set of points many times and it's probably getting a little tiring, in particularly when you can always count on having the same nay sayers on the other side of the argument. I've only been here a short while and this is already the third (at least) thread where all these exact same points have been discussed and beaten to death for no great scientific gain in knowledge.
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post #96 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by dakar80124 View Post

According to you everyone who buys audio equipment is a easily fooled and I truly don't think that is the case.

Why not? Why should they be any different from the rest of the populace? In particular when they want a reason to buy the latest and shiniest new toy?

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I also don't think there could be a viable market of all the different companies that make high end CD players and amplifiers if there was not differences between their products, and theres not many features to distinguish them. It does take time and patience to determine the differences among components, but those differences do exist.

Can you point to one piece of scientific evidence that shows such differences exist?

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For those that think there are no differences - You are in the minority.

Not in the world of audio engineers or scientists who actually study these things.

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And as far as our brain picking something, a study was done that if you give people 3 choices, most will make the best choice. However if you give them 10 choices most will not make the best choice. So which is better, 3 choices or 10? - there is no correct answer.

Which has exactly what to do with the issue at hand?
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post #97 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 04:18 PM
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I'm definately not saying this doesn't happen, but what about those times when the subject doesn't know the price/status of the gear he or she is comparing? What about the times where the preferred gear is actually a bargain basement unit and the subject knows the cost before hand?

I missed this comment on my first read, but it gets to a comment I've already made. We can't really explain (at least not very well) why you might prefer one component to another. All we can say is whether the preference is based on a real audible sonic difference or not. But if the answer to the second question is No, then the first question doesn't matter very much.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #98 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Oh, is that where this came from? Man, you do hold a grudge, don't you? You've been putting even more words into my mouth than I remembered.

No grudge. I hold no feelings toward you, one way or the other. But as noted, your words speak for themselves. I put no words into your mouth. You wrote it. You forgot.
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I meant mysticism, and I will continue to assert without apology that mysticism does not apply to the physical world--not astrology, not witchcraft, and not audiophile cables. Others are free to believe in any of those things, if they so choose.

But in your view, those "others" are wrong unless the scientific method suggests otherwise. In other words, the only methodology you will accept as capable of producing credible evidence to the contrary is if that evidence is collected through the scientific method. Indeed as you somewhat correctly state, "science is the explanation of observable phenomena."

We part ways again, however, when you state "Mysticism isn't an explanation at all. It's a substitute for explanation." Maybe this is just another one of those "it depends on the definition of what 'is' is". Mysticism most definitely is an explanation. What constitutes evidence and credible methodology for evidence collection are at the heart of the fork in the road.

Science tackles mysticism by bootstrapping the ground rules of the debate, e.g., a single, non repeatable observance of a real world phenomena is not credible evidence. Mysticism tackles science by similar, but somewhat opposite, bootstrapping the ground rules, e.g., a single observance is sufficient, even if it never is repeatable.
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post #99 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Ron Party View Post

What constitutes evidence and credible methodology for evidence collection are at the heart of the fork in the road.

Hey Ron, I've got some miniature Babinga wood hockey pucks that have been dipped in hot sauce made by a secret sect of audiophile monks in Missisippi. Guaranteed to give you a mystical experience if you consume them the next time you listen to some music. Available now for the low, low cost of $1000. Just PM me and I'll give you the necessary details for sending me the money...
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post #100 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 04:30 PM
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Sure, but it's sorta pointless to rehash the same science 1000's of times over and over. That I think is part of the problem here. People like mcnarus, FMW and Chu Gai (sorry for forgetting him earlier) have probably tried to argue this same set of points many times and it's probably getting a little tiring, in particularly when you can always count on having the same nay sayers on the other side of the argument. I've only been here a short while and this is already the third (at least) thread where all these exact same points have been discussed and beaten to death for no great scientific gain in knowledge. [Emphasis added.]

I've posted that same sentiment here at AVS any number of times over the years. It is akin to that which I've been trying, perhaps without success, to communicate to mcnarus. This subject always devolves into a core dispute between subjectivists and objectivists, each of whom reject at least in part the other's ground rules. Rarely is anything gained, but in the process a lot of personal insults are heaved, condescension becomes the rule and, inevitably, the mods stamp the thread "CLOSED".

As an aside, however, I can think of no one better than Chu to carry the ball for the objectivist camp. He rarely offers canned responses and, more significantly, he seems to have access to, and share with us, some of the absolute best artwork.
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post #101 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by scientest View Post

Hey Ron, I've got some miniature Babinga wood hockey pucks that have been dipped in hot sauce made by a secret sect of audiophile monks in Missisippi. Guaranteed to give you a mystical experience if you consume them the next time you listen to some music. Available now for the low, low cost of $1000. Just PM me and I'll give you the necessary details for sending me the money...

I like chipotle. And if the monks were listening to the blues at the time of their dipping, I'm game!
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post #102 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 04:33 PM
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But in your view, those "others" are wrong unless the scientific method suggests otherwise. In other words, the only methodology you will accept as capable of producing credible evidence to the contrary is if that evidence is collected through the scientific method. Indeed as you somewhat correctly state, "science is the explanation of observable phenomena."

That's one of the reasons these threads often go nowhere. Some folks like to define away any argument or opposition to their position.
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post #103 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Ron Party View Post

As an aside, however, I can think of no one better than Chu to carry the ball for the objectivist camp. He rarely offers canned responses and, more significantly, he seems to have access to, and share with us, some of the absolute best artwork.

I disagree. There are better paragons of objectionist thinking and action IME. Chuey gets caught up in the argument at the expense of the principle if you catch him with his pants down.

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post #104 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by scientest View Post


Sure, but it's sorta pointless to rehash the same science 1000's of times over and over. That I think is part of the problem here. People like mcnarus, FMW and Chu Gai (sorry for forgetting him earlier) have probably tried to argue this same set of points many times and it's probably getting a little tiring, in particularly when you can always count on having the same nay sayers on the other side of the argument. I've only been here a short while and this is already the third (at least) thread where all these exact same points have been discussed and beaten to death for no great scientific gain in knowledge.

That's why there should be one sticky on this topic, and we could save lots of other threads from the same old arguments being rehashed over and over.
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post #105 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 04:55 PM
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I put no words into your mouth.

Actually you did--the words I was responding to in the post you linked to. Someone else even called you on it in the very next post.

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In other words, the only methodology you will accept as capable of producing credible evidence to the contrary is if that evidence is collected through the scientific method.

Yes, but that puts me way ahead of the mystics, because I've actually stated the methodology that would convince me to change my beliefs. They have not and cannot.

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Science tackles mysticism by bootstrapping the ground rules of the debate, e.g., a single, non repeatable observance of a real world phenomena is not credible evidence. Mysticism tackles science by similar, but somewhat opposite, bootstrapping the ground rules, e.g., a single observance is sufficient, even if it never is repeatable.

There's a false parallel here. Science defines what it considers credible evidence, and therefore opens the door to its contradiction. Mysticism denies the very need for observational evidence, and therefore precludes contradiction. No one ever actually observed Apollo's chariot dragging the sun across the sky, not even once.

What evidence, what set of observations, would convince a Golden Ear that CD transports really don't sound different? That's why they are mystics.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #106 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 05:02 PM
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What evidence, what set of observations, would convince a Golden Ear that CD transports really don't sound different? That's why they are mystics.

That's reason number two why there should be a sticky. So you can put your "straw men" and insults (direct or implied) into one thread. I bet a lot of folks would even agree to give you your very own sticky . . . on certain conditions.
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post #107 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 05:05 PM
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Ironically enough, the roots of the scientific method are based in the Cartesian Meditations, the third of which bases the credibility of the scientific method on our perceptions being fed to us by God and not an "evil deceiver." Descartes never conclusively proved that we aren't all being fooled by an "evil deceiver," because it is unprovable. The roots of the scientific method are derived from this Cartesian mysticism.

Curiously enough, quantum mechanics has revealed that there is a mystical reality underneath the mundane world we perceive.

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post #108 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 05:09 PM
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This subject always devolves into a core dispute between subjectivists and objectivists, each of whom reject at least in part the other's ground rules.

This is true. But there are two important distinctions:

1) The objectivist ground rules allow subjectivists to prove the objectivists wrong. The subjectivists adopt ground rules that prevent them from being proved wrong.

2) The subjectivists do not reject objectivist ground rules consistently. It's always, "I believe in the scientific method, but..." They want to choose their ground rules and methodologies based on the results they get.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #109 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 05:13 PM
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So you can put your "straw men" and insults (direct or implied) into one thread.

What "straw men" are you referring to? It certainly isn't a straw man to say that some audiophiles believe there are audible differences between properly functioning CD transports.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #110 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

What "straw men" are you referring to? It certainly isn't a straw man to say that some audiophiles believe there are audible differences between properly functioning CD transports.

It's a straw man in some sense to state (as you have in the past) that audiophiles will not change their point of view on the issue no matter what the evidence is that is contrary to the position. That is a misrepresentation of the position of most, if not all, audiophiles, and you set it up so you can pretend that they are foolish.
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post #111 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

This is true. But there are two important distinctions:

1) The objectivist ground rules allow subjectivists to prove the objectivists wrong. The subjectivists adopt ground rules that prevent them from being proved wrong.

2) The subjectivists do not reject objectivist ground rules consistently. It's always, "I believe in the scientific method, but..." They want to choose their ground rules and methodologies based on the results they get.

mcn, IMO you're technically correct, but your choice of language evidences the bootstrapping nature of the problem for subjectivists. To illustrate:

"1) The objectivist ground rules allow subjectivists to prove the objectivists wrong [if, and only if, the proof is of the kind that objectivists deem reliable.]"

"2) The subjectivists do not reject objectivist ground rules consistently. It's always, "I believe in the scientific method, but... [I also believe there is more than one way to find the truth or, alternatively, there is more than one truth]."
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post #112 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Shutterman View Post

What often happens in these discussions (at least regarding audio gear) is that the placebo effect is generalized and becomes a convenient lifeline to grab onto. Comments get thrown about saying things like, "of course the subject will think the $10k unit sounds better than the $5k unit because they are fooled based on price/status". I'm definately not saying this doesn't happen, but what about those times when the subject doesn't know the price/status of the gear he or she is comparing? What about the times where the preferred gear is actually a bargain basement unit and the subject knows the cost before hand?

One issue could be that the people who do the bias controlled listening tests are not the same people that explain the phenomena. I talk about placebo effect because that's what other people tell me explains the phenomenon. I assume they are correct because I don't know otherwise and it seems plausible.

I do know beyond doubt that many audible differences disappear in bias controlled listening tests. That is as plain as it could be. Why do they disappear? I don't have an explanation from personal observation, knowledge or testing. I only have what others have provided as an explanation.
I consider myself to have some expertise from personal experience in listening tests but I have no expertise at all in explaining human behavior.
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post #113 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

This is true. But there are two important distinctions:

1) The objectivist ground rules allow subjectivists to prove the objectivists wrong. The subjectivists adopt ground rules that prevent them from being proved wrong.

2) The subjectivists do not reject objectivist ground rules consistently. It's always, "I believe in the scientific method, but..." They want to choose their ground rules and methodologies based on the results they get.

Another distinction involves ego, I think. Subjectivists, like most people, don't like to be told they are hearing things that aren't there. It is a blow to the ego. "you want me to ignore what my senses are telling me?" "I can't trust my own ears?"

The objectivists, on the other hand seem to be able to get past that and deal with the truth as science proves it. There seems to be less ego in the way or, at least, a greater willingness to sublimate it to gain knowledge.
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post #114 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Shutterman View Post


Believe it or not, my journey has been similar to yours except that I eventually wound up not having a system in my home at all (well...other than a Walmart special...mainly for the grandkids.) My listening was done primarily in my car and at the office where my partner was the one that bought all the expensive gear.

That reminds me of my piano coach who does his listening on a car radio and a boom box. I took him into my listening room one day and put on a nice recording of a ragtime piano solo since my coach is a professional ragtime player. I asked what he though of it? His answer was that he was impressed by how cleanly the pianist played the left hand arpeggios. That cracked me up. I was expecting him to say something like it sounded realistic or great or something. He was into the performance, not the sound. He was oblivious to the equipment. He would have had the same remark if he were hearing the performance on a car radio or a pair of B&W 802 speakers.

Trust me, the man knows about music and appreciates it as much as any of us do. He just approaches it somewhat differently than an audiophile does. I understand you completely.
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post #115 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 06:42 PM
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The objectivists, on the other hand seem to be able to get past that and deal with the truth as science proves it. There seems to be less ego in the way or, at least, a greater willingness to sublimate it to gain knowledge.

Yet, ironically enough, many of the self-proclaimed "objectivists" here don't seem capable of dealing with the ego blow of other people not thinking or believing in the same exact ideas they believe in. If the ego crowing would go away, those people would stop harassing people who think differently and post more constructively, instead of attacking the same topics over and over and over and over again, as well as attacking the people who disagree with their points of view in the process.

"It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance."
-- Saint Jerome (374 AD - 419 AD)

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post #116 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

That reminds me of my piano coach who does his listening on a car radio and a boom box. I took him into my listening room one day and put on a nice recording of a ragtime piano solo since my coach is a professional ragtime player. I asked what he though of it? His answer was that he was impressed by how cleanly the pianist played the left hand arpeggios. That cracked me up. I was expecting him to say something like it sounded realistic or great or something. He was into the performance, not the sound. He was oblivious to the equipment. He would have had the same remark if he were hearing the performance on a car radio or a pair of B&W 802 speakers.

Ahhh, yes. Back in "the day", I had a particularly memorable experience as well. I had the opportunity to entertain a well-regarded shakuhachi (a Japanese wind instrument) player. I had three or four of his Japanese pressed albums, which, for its day, were considered close to the vinyl state of the art. I put an album on and waited for his reaction. I waited...and waited...until finally I had to ask him if he thought the playback he was hearing was pleasing, and whether or not he thought my system faithfully delivered the sound of his instrument. He looked sheepish for a moment and finally said that he was sorry, but he'd played and heard the pieces so many times that he'd (apparently) become bored and had drifted off thinking about his travel arrangements for the following day. You mention ego above...well, at that particular moment mine was crushed flatter than a pancake.
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post #117 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 08:26 PM
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I like chipotle. And if the monks were listening to the blues at the time of their dipping, I'm game!

They're strictly Habanero distilling monks and there are no Blues allowed in the monastery. They do manage some Gregorian chants set with harmonica. Will that suffice?
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post #118 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 08:42 PM
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I also believe there is more than one way to find the truth or, alternatively, there is more than one truth

The problem is, we've got a bunch of people trying to communicate over a distributed medium. The only way to reach a common conclusion is if there are some set of experiences that are consistently repeatable among all participants. The objectivists at least throw out a set of theories, propositions and methodologies that anyone can test and observe. I haven't really seen any reasonable theory or hypothesis or even a set of consistent reference points from the subjectivists that would allow me to repeat any of their results for myself.

It doesn't do any of us any good if you tell us that you believe that "truth" resides in the worship of the Great Collapsed Pumpkin Singularity (GCPS) and he alone decides what audio equipment is better than any other. You've got to at least give us some way of consistently and reproducibly relating that GCPS "truth" to our own experience.
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post #119 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

The objectivists, on the other hand seem to be able to get past that and deal with the truth as science proves it. There seems to be less ego in the way or, at least, a greater willingness to sublimate it to gain knowledge.

Then again, some of us have had our ego's crushed so many times that one more time isn't going to make any difference. Try hanging out with a bunch of research scientists who are happy to dissect the semantics behind _every_ statement any one they encounter might make. It almost makes this group seem completely in agreement and non argumentative by comparison.
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post #120 of 298 Old 03-24-2008, 11:38 PM
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They're strictly Habanero distilling monks and there are no Blues allowed in the monastery. They do manage some Gregorian chants set with harmonica. Will that suffice?

Habanero. Yummmmmmm. Do the chants sound in any way like Mike Oldfield's Incantations?
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