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Subjective vs Objective opinions, post your favourite links / experiences
2Bdecided
post Jul 18 2003, 11:13
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We're an objectivist audio community here. We don't necesarily believe that everything can be measured (psychoacoustic codecs prevent that anyway), but we do believe that subective opinions should be backed up by rigorous tests, intended to remove all possible bias from human subjective judgements and opinions.

I think this is a good thing. I read the following from Dibrom in a recently locked thread:

QUOTE
If we simply let people go around making claims without challenging them, we would be no further than the --r3mix days, and likely much worse even given the larger number of people that participate in these forums.

You seem to focus only on the negative aspect here (I think I know why....) and completely disregard the benefit that has been wrought by this attitude. Yes, some people might get scared off in the process, but overall, this attitude is more helpful than harmful -- much more so in fact. There have been numerous cases were real problems have been even more emphasized and brought to bear through the increased scrutiny these types of situations bring about.


I very much agree with this.

Look at the opposite case: look at most Hi-Fi magazines. They advice people on buying $1000s of equipment (not just choosing between free audio codecs!), yet their advice is usually unscientific. The listening is done sighted, and without any control conditions. Objective measurements are presented as being inferior and/or removed from what people actually hear. Manufactuers claims are repeated verbatim. Opinions are stated as fact, and little is ever questioned.

Most significantly, there is no sense in which the influence of the magazine is used to improve the state of the art. They simply comment, often in a virtually meaningless, marketing driven manner, on products which they decide to review. Rather than helping people to buy better Hi-Fi, and leading the manufactuers to build better Hi-Fi, they do the opposite: People are confused as to what really does sound better, and often buy overpriced junk; while manufactuers spend less time (and money) improving the sound of their equipment, and more time following the latest trend or marketing gimmic. The result is that it's all too easy to spend $20,000 on a Hi-Fi which sounds absolutely bloody awful!

The equivalent here would be to spend weeks encoding your CD collection using a command line and/or encoder that was pretty poor compared to the best that's been acheived, and is available for free. But we don't allow that. We don't let people claim that X is better than Y, when it isn't. We don't let people claim that Z has magical properties. We do testing, and we try to move forward. And that is a good thing.

The latest thread with Xerophase was a good thread IMO. Maybe it took two pages to express something that we should have said to him in one posting - but we were interested, he was interested, and we've got a useful result. We've learned something. By following the rulse of the forum. And by being polite and encouraging him to join in with how we do things here.

There's a lot in the "tone" of how you do something. Whether we accept unsubstantiated claims is not up for debate - we do not. But the manner in which you coax these people into doing things the right way is very important.

We've got to allow people who don't know any better (and sometimes even those of us who do!) to make unsubstantiated claims at first, so that other members can point out that they're unsubstantiated, and suggest a fair way of testing them. This doesn't mean we accept unsubstantiated claims as truth, but it does mean that people sometimes need to be allowed to post them as a starting point for discussion and investigation. "I think X" is an unsubstantiated claim, but it's OK if it leads on to "How can I test if it's true?"

We are an objectivist audio community.

If you have any good objectivist/subjectivist links, links showing the importance of evidence, proof, and blind testing against feelings and opinions, or the opposite side of the argument, feel free to post them.

Cheers,
David.

http://sound.westhost.com/cables-p2.htm

http://skepdic.com/blondlot.html

http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/
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Axon
post Apr 1 2009, 18:10
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There isn't anything wrong with subjective experiences, emotions etc when valuing audio equipment - the problem is that, well, they're subjective. They only have meaning to other people as they perceive your emotions as important and meaningful to them. And there are a huge number of reasons why I shouldn't care about anybody's emotional experience with their audio - placebo only being the best of them. Quite simply, requiring audio discussions have a rational basis of discussion makes discussion more meaningful, and that necessarily means DBTs.

Think about that the next time you see some argument blow up on AA or SH.tv or AVSForum because two guys think they are absolutely infallible in their perceptions. Then compare with how many times that happens here...
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Ashley James
post Apr 2 2009, 11:38
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QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 1 2009, 18:10) *
There isn't anything wrong with subjective experiences, emotions etc when valuing audio equipment - the problem is that, well, they're subjective. They only have meaning to other people as they perceive your emotions as important and meaningful to them. And there are a huge number of reasons why I shouldn't care about anybody's emotional experience with their audio - placebo only being the best of them. Quite simply, requiring audio discussions have a rational basis of discussion makes discussion more meaningful, and that necessarily means DBTs.

Think about that the next time you see some argument blow up on AA or SH.tv or AVSForum because two guys think they are absolutely infallible in their perceptions. Then compare with how many times that happens here...


For me the problem with the whole subjectivism thing is that it leaves us with no proper reference points and renders us prey to charlatans selling expensive USB and mains cables etc. As you say, perception might be good, but I don't think so. Or to objective friend being banned from a totally subjective forum for suggesting that anyone describing sonic differences between ALAC and AIFF might be talking boloney.


Wine price test shows marketing at work in brain


Researchers in California have shown that you can increase a person's enjoyment of wine by just sticking a higher price on it.

In a demonstration of the power of marketing, researchers in California showed you can increase a person's enjoyment of wine by just sticking a higher price on it, according to a study released Monday.

Antonio Rangel, associate professor of economics at the California Institute of Technology, led a team to test how marketing shapes consumers' perceptions and whether it also enhances their enjoyment of a product.

They asked 21 volunteers to sample five different bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and rate their taste preferences. The taste test was run 15 times, with the wines presented in random order.

The taste test was blind except for information on the price of the wine. Without telling the volunteers, the researchers presented two of the wines twice, once with the true price tag, and again with a fake one.

They also passed off a 90 dollar bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon as a 10 dollar bottle, and presented a five dollar bottle as one worth 45 dollars.

Aside from collecting the test subjects' impressions of the wines, the researchers scanned their brains to monitor the neural activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex -- an area of the brain believed to encode pleasure related to taste, odors and music.

The study found that inflating the price of a bottle of wine enhanced a person's experience of drinking it, as shown by the neural activity.

The volunteers consistently gave higher ratings to the more "expensive" wines.

Brain scans also showed greater neural activity in the pleasure center when they were sampling those "pricey" wines, indicating that the increased pleasure they reported was a real effect in the brain.

"It's a common belief among scientists and economists that the quality of the experience depends on the properties of the product and the state of the consumer; for example, if a consumer is thirsty or not," said Rangel.

"But what this study shows is that the brain's rewards center takes into account subjective beliefs about the quality of the experience.

"If you believe that the experience is better, even though it's the same wine, the rewards center of the brain encodes it as feeling better."

In other words, "people's beliefs about the quality of a wine affect how well it tastes for the brain," he concluded.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

2008

This post has been edited by Ashley James: Apr 2 2009, 11:41
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odigg
post Apr 2 2009, 15:10
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QUOTE (Ashley James @ Apr 2 2009, 06:38) *
For me the problem with the whole subjectivism thing is that it leaves us with no proper reference points and renders us prey to charlatans selling expensive USB and mains cables etc. As you say, perception might be good, but I don't think so. Or to objective friend being banned from a totally subjective forum for suggesting that anyone describing sonic differences between ALAC and AIFF might be talking boloney.


I think that's the general point made in this tread. Subjectivity is a great way to talk about the color of an amp, the casing, the spousal approval factor, etc. But it's a terrible way to evaluate the sonic properties of audio equipment. Using DBT as a "base" for our evaluations allows people to have one reference point when they are evaluating equipment. It's much easier to have a grounded conversation when you use DBT as a reference point, even if the conversation is a lot more technical and dry than the fun stuff you see on audiophile forums.

This argument reminds me of the battle between the between the physical sciences and research we see in anthropology, educational research, and the other social scienes. It's impossible to do DBT in those fields so some people simply assume everything outside of the physical sciences is pure subjective rubbish. But even the social sciences have established methodologies and philosophical grounding to the work they do. This allows different people to evaluate qualitative (or even quantitative) research using a reference point, assuming they understand that reference point.

As you said, the problem with audiophile forums is that the ground itself is a relative statement. "Everybody hears differently" is just about as solid a reference point as you're going to get. That and "If it's more expensive it must be better."

This post has been edited by odigg: Apr 2 2009, 15:11
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- 2Bdecided   Subjective vs Objective opinions   Jul 18 2003, 11:13
- - fewtch   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 18 2003, 03:13 AM)We a...   Jul 18 2003, 11:45
- - KikeG   Description and discussion at rec.audio.high-end o...   Jul 18 2003, 11:51
- - KikeG   About the objective vs. subjective issue... ABX te...   Jul 18 2003, 12:00
- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (fewtch @ Jul 18 2003, 10:45 AM)QUOTE (...   Jul 18 2003, 12:05
- - fewtch   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 18 2003, 04:05 AM)QUOT...   Jul 18 2003, 12:16
- - 2Bdecided   KikeG beat me to it. Every time I think about th...   Jul 18 2003, 12:23
- - fewtch   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 18 2003, 04:23 AM)Kike...   Jul 18 2003, 12:35
- - Gabriel   QUOTE The problem is, I'd be too honest. I...   Jul 18 2003, 13:30
- - 2Bdecided   It's funny - we tell "hi-end" people...   Jul 18 2003, 13:54
- - fewtch   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 18 2003, 05:54 AM)It...   Jul 18 2003, 14:02
- - marx   Hi everyone I just joined up and I apologise for t...   Oct 21 2008, 21:34
|- - Soap   Yes, you can rest assured every single thing I rea...   Oct 21 2008, 22:01
|- - Canar   I remember fondly the day I found Hydrogenaudio. S...   Oct 22 2008, 02:10
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- - Slipstreem   Welcome aboard, marx. I think you've come to t...   Oct 22 2008, 01:48
- - Light-Fire   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 18 2003, 05:13) We...   Oct 22 2008, 02:26
- - Axon   Knowledge of HA has risen considerably in the audi...   Oct 22 2008, 03:17
|- - Soap   QUOTE (Axon @ Oct 21 2008, 22:17) In othe...   Oct 22 2008, 04:18
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (Axon @ Oct 21 2008, 22:17) Knowled...   Oct 22 2008, 07:31
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|- - krabapple   QUOTE (MichaelW @ Oct 22 2008, 07:06) My ...   Oct 22 2008, 17:09
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