As our frequent cable debates show, most people here are quite set in their opinions on either side. To the best of my knowledge nobody here has changed their mind about cables as a result of this forum. Maybe at best there has been a softening of rhetoric (most of the time
) and agreement that the caricatured extremes on either end don't represent reality. Likewise, there are people who are convinced paranormal activity is real, and those who think it is total bunk, and neither of those groups are likely ever to be convinced no matter how many tests validate either side.
So in that sense I think I can understand why QueueClimber and others might claim that James Randi isn't "accomplishing anything". But I think that represents far too narrow a focus. It ignores a rather large body of people who haven't made up their minds
, who don't yet have a firm opinion. To those of us who have it might seem rather silly: I mean, come on, if you ask someone if psychic phenomena exists, surely they'd say yes or no, not "I don't know", right? Well, even if they did
say yes or no, their lives hardly depend on their having an answer, much less it actually being correct. To them the underlying answer is who really cares?
Well, in my view, those are exactly
the people that need
to be targeted by efforts like James Randi. The way to convince society at large that paranormal phenomena is bunk is not to try and convince the psychic sympathizers they are wrong---it's to convince everyone who isn't yet
a firm sympathizer not to become one in the first place. Prevention, not conversion. And that's why it's imperative that people like James Randi and others get out there, make themselves known---yes, engage in self promotion---so that they can be in the public eye
right alongside the Uri Gellers and Sylvia Brownes, telling the public in no uncertain terms that they are deluded or intentionally fraudulent.
The same goes, frankly, for high-end audio tweaks. As I said, most of us are firm in our opinions and we are not going to change. It's no big deal, relatively speaking, that there is a contingent of audio enthusiasts who put Shakti stones around their room or Golden Chips on their CD players or "demagnetize" their LPs. There will always be people that say CDs always sound better than LPs, that all amplifiers and DACS sound the same, etc. Such people are always going to exist and no amount of double-blind testing or respected experience is going to change that.
But there are a lot of people out there who are new enough to the hobby and have no life-or-death reason to know better. So the real problem is when an "undecided" walks into a high-end audio store, looking to spend his money on things that really
have an impact on the sound, and they are told to spend 20 percent of their budget on speaker cables---and there's nobody in the store telling that customer that maybe they ought to do some blind testing to verify for themselves, because the scientific justifications are suspect and user experience is far from unanimous.
The real problem are high-end audio magazine reviewers waxing poetic about a set of analog interconnects that purposefully introduces highly distorting electrical->optical and optical->electrical conversions into the signal chain. And yet when that same magazine, admirably, points out those distortions, the reviewer indignantly clings to what he claims to have heard, and even says he's going to still use them for pleasure listening (would I trust a reviewer who advocated always turning the "treble" dial on my preamp up to 10?). But again, at least they did post the numbers and give them proper interpretation, that's something.
So I for one am damn glad there are skeptics out there willing and able to become public figures---and maybe even enjoy
being public figures---and pointing out the B.S. as they see it. I do wish there were more of them in high-end audio. Indeed, our arguments here may not be as futile as they appear.