Back in the 80's and 90's I worked with a large exotic driver, a one-driver, "full-range" speaker with a bandwidth covering most of the spectrum above the bass. I designed fixed installation using them, organized a national installing dealer program with technical basis and use procedures, initiated a professional division – that led to extensive use of the device in commercial and institutional spaces (including national government) across North America, Europe, and elsewhere – developed data, and designed electronic filters for them based on that data.
As with all drivers, this hardware wasn't without flaw – none are. Typical installations involved electronic filtering to reach design goals and as noted, that filtering was based on the data concerning this technology.
It was midway through this process when a slightly nagging question resolved itself in an unexpected way. We'd noticed a slight but persistent affectation or coloration that didn't show itself in the measured responses. (Bear in mind that at this time we were using a variety of data acquisition and logging options, only the last generations of which went beyond simple amplitude magnitude, or frequency response in the common vernacular.)
We eventually studied the driver's cumulative spectral-decay plot - the energy-time behavior - where we found what had eluded us in the more conventional data. The driver had a ridge of clustered, high-Q energy stored "under" the standard FR measurement and nearly completely undetectable to it. And, as a relatively taut diaphragm driver, this behavior varied not just with simple sample-to-sample variations that affect virtually all drivers, it changed over time.
In other words, it broke in, and it broke in not as we'd expected and found in complex cellular material undergoing microscopic fracturing – the typical cellulose speaker cone - but as the homogeneous synthetic molecule it was, not unlike the behavior and action of standard plastic or metal speaker diaphragms. (We ended up beating the green drivers with enough low frequency inputs to exercise their diaphragms at least a few millimeters, and this gave us a fair representation of a driver in the field over the longer term.)
As I alluded above, the question is not if we can measure a thing. The question is if we have measured a thing or in many cases, if we even know what to look for, much less catalog to then undertake another theoretical challenge, which is if to do anything with or about it and if so, how. The question is if we even want to find a thing, an outcome impeded when we first decide it probably shouldn't exist.
The risk a field of endeavor has is in using 'science' as a universal identifier of all possible go/no-go outcomes – of deploying it in faith that it, as if it were conscious, can, will, or especially has answered our questions about reality. Bear in mind that if it does we've instantly rendered it obsolete. At that moment we've become 'scientifically' omnipotent.
Take a complex field, say cosmology. In the face of innumerable new phenomenon coming to our attention literally as we speak, man finds a bewildering new array of inputs and a substantially inadequate background by which to understand them. This is a science in one of the more purer definitions of the word.
The challenge we then have is not that abstract literal science cannot rise to the task, but that we cannot – after all, we are the only entities using it and we must constantly sort it from both theory and external phenomena. We can't do this perfectly, of course, and science, as the word is actually defined, remains the pursuit of the unknown, more or less. Science is the method and approach by which we hope to discover, qualify, and quantify. It is not the superstructure all knowledge is pinned to; rather its us who can elect to trust that such a superstructure exists.
The anecdote above isn't particularly sophisticated and it's almost certainly not surprising. It simply shows that the unknown remains so up until the moment when, having abandoned some previous assumption, it isn't unknown anymore. It's probably wise to differentiate what we believe about objective knowledge from knowledge itself. Both are temporary aspects of our existence.
Our little home loudspeakers don't really warrant all this or the time and effort we invest asserting X, Y, or Z about them. However when we do purport to make them into a 'scientific' project with a high degree of certainty, we could find there's a fair amount to them. Whether or not it's worth it to then explore that fully – and this applies to a good dozen of our best myths about them – is a debatable finality they don't really enjoy. Not yet anyway.
I apologize to the OP for the diversion. Perhaps some of this will resonate...
"Scientism is a term used to describe the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or the most valuable part of human learning—to the exclusion of other viewpoints. It has been defined as 'the view that the characteristic inductive methods of the natural sciences are the only source of genuine factual knowledge and, in particular, that they alone can yield true knowledge about man and society'.
"The term 'scientism' frequently implies a critique of the more extreme expressions of logical positivism and has been used by economists such as Friedrich Hayek, philosophers of science such as Karl Popper, and philosophers such as Hilary Putnam and Tzvetan Todorov to describe (for example) the dogmatic endorsement of scientific methodology and the reduction of all knowledge to only that which is measurable. Tom Sorell provides this definition of scientism: 'Scientism is a matter of putting too high a value on natural science in comparison with other branches of learning or culture.' Philosophers such as Alexander Rosenberg have also appropriated 'scientism' as a name for the view that science is the only reliable source of knowledge.
"Scientism may refer to science applied 'in excess'. The term scientism can apply in either of two senses:
"To indicate the improper usage of science or scientific claims. This usage applies equally in contexts where science might not apply, such as when the topic is perceived as beyond the scope of scientific inquiry, and in contexts where there is insufficient empirical evidence to justify a scientific conclusion. It includes an excessive deference to claims made by scientists or an uncritical eagerness to accept any result described as scientific. This can be a counterargument to appeals to scientific authority.
"To refer to 'the belief that the methods of natural science, or the categories and things recognized in natural science, form the only proper elements in any philosophical or other inquiry', or that 'science, and only science, describes the world as it is in itself, independent of perspective' with a concomitant 'elimination of the psychological [and spiritual] dimensions of experience'.
"The term 'scientism' is also used by historians, philosophers, and cultural critics to highlight the possible dangers of lapses towards excessive reductionism in all fields of human knowledge."
Last edited by Jon Lane; 06-20-2017 at 06:59 AM.