• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Has civility on ASR declined recently?

sarumbear

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 15, 2020
Messages
5,233
Likes
4,703
Location
Southampton, England
The USA had specific engineering degrees many decades before the 70’s, and the architecture schools had specific architecture degrees. (I have two of the former, and almost one of the latter.)
Can you give us some examples of those degree names?
 

rdenney

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
1,903
Likes
3,088
Interesting theory, although Japan is home to some of the most hardcore tube/horn fans around - they are also leaders in audio bars where people go to hear giant horn speakers with vinyl and tubes in front of them.

I tend to think it is the affinity for ‘artisan’ products in a mass-produced world.
"A prophet is not without honor except in his own home."

You are right on the mark for with your second comment. This is part of the "high-touch" reaction to high-tech. People would rather see flawed engineering from actual humans than perfect engineering from what looks like a machine producer. This is why so many brands have turned their designers into rock stars. Even here, would Topping get the respect it does in this forum without John Yang's active involvement? Does Topping's lower regard in the subjectivist forums stem from John Yang not being known there? Would we revere (correct word) the Hypex and Purifi products so much without the humanizing presence of Bruno Putzeys? Do the inexpensive Pioneer SP-BS22LR's sell as well as they do because they measure well (for $100 speakers) or because of Andrew Jones? I confess that the story of Victor Campos (RIP) and Walt Jung made the Adcom GFP-565 much more appealing to me. Isn't the Adcom GFA-555 respected in part because of Nelson Pass? A decade ago, there was still a strong fan contingent for SAE's amps of the late 70's. Surely Jim Bongiorno's (RIP) design of the early Mark amps has much to do with that. And where would Advent have been without Henry Kloss? And what is McIntosh but an institution founded on the principles of guiding visionaries--as much Gordon Gow as Frank McIntosh. Didn't Morris Kessler's acceptance of Class D architecture at ATI do as much as any pile o'measurements to bring real credibility to the concept? Would we believe the research done at Harman were it not for the compelling personalities of Floyd Toole and Sean Olive to humanize and validate it?

It goes on and on. These names and the stories that go with them bring humanity to the products, even if they were stuck together by robots and slaves.

People buy story as much as they buy products, and many (to be honest, including me) would rather have (slightly) sub-optimal equipment if it comes with a good story. Examples abound in all industries that cater to luxury buyers (including just about all of us, protestations notwithstanding).

The cynic would restate my prior paragraph and say people buy brand as much as product. But those stories, personalities, and brands all provide the same thing: A surrogate measure of quality.

The problem with prophet-based endorsements, however, is that there are false prophets out there, both among designers and producers, and among those who opine about them. That's where measurements come in--they validate the credentials those names imply (or not).

The failure of the Japanese conglomerates in the 80's (and as companies they did not fail at all--they just moved on to other things) was that they did not bring the buyer into the human connection. That's important even to their domestic buyers, I think. Note that Marantz has sold really well in the recent past at least in part because of their signature line associated with Ken Ishiwata, whether or not the data-driven among us think that is a good thing. And Pioneer's affiliation with Jones. The Japanese companies are learning.

(This is not new. I can think of examples from at least the last 50 years, and could probably go back further if I was older.)

The one thing the audio press has done, and magazines like Stereophile have been brilliant at it, has been to bring the leading lights of the audio world to their readers. When Sam Tellig wrote about the Adcom preamp, for example, he started with Victor Campos calling him on the phone. That, more than any amount of subjectivist-vs.-objectivist dogma, has promoted the boutique direction.

Back to the thread topic, with this in mind. We love our heroes, and that's what makes it harder to maintain civility. It's not a question of whether Topping's DAC with its 120-dB SINAD is a good DAC, but whether a negative review of it attacks one of Our Heroes. We are all subject to that. When I read a statement that that Adcom preamp is garbage on another forum, my respect for Campos and Jung hears the challenge and looks for the flamethrower. It's not actually about the damn preamp! (Which I've replaced recently with a B&K of similar vintage, not without some pang of regret.) When Amir reviewed a Schiit something-or-other poorly, wars were fought. Schiit more than any new brand depends on its story, and that's what makes Jason Stoddard such a great marketer (despite the cheapness of the trick of his brand name).

Some here have crowned Amir as the new Our Hero, but I sense that part of him at least recoils a bit at that. When people come here from other forums (and it's my view that it's a planned cabal, sending antagonists over here maybe once a week to kick the anthill and then run away laughing) and challenge Our Hero, our respect for Our Hero gets stung we bring out the torches and pitchforks. Congratulations! That makes us all too human after all.

For those who are innumerate, though, that's all they have, and those here who are not innumerate have backing (if we use it) and can even change our minds! But I contend the most hardened data-driven scientist among us is not immune to the power of a compelling story or personality.

Rick "people need their heroes, but heroes never quite live up to the worship and eventually disappoint us" Denney
 
Last edited:

rdenney

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
1,903
Likes
3,088
Can you give us some examples of those degree names?
"Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering." "Master of Science in Engineering." (From reading the diplomas hanging on my wall, earned in the 70's and early 80's.) Reading what was hanging on my father's office wall--degrees earned in the 40's and early 50's: "Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering," "Master of Science in Engineering." These degrees were from leading universities in their respective fields, at least at the time, and not from regional training colleges.

We throw around "EE" all the time here, but what comes in front of it is "Bachelor of Science" not "Bachelor of Engineering." Yet I don't know any US-trained EE whose degree just says "Bachelor of Science" without the "Electrical Engineering" qualifier. I suspect those divisions are required for ABET accreditation, but I haven't looked that up.

That's what I meant by "specific degrees", and countered the former British practice (as described in the post to which I was responding, and from reading your signature) of just naming the degrees generally. I can't think of a time maybe even as far back as the last century when US universities did that. Of course, the trend since engineers were considered college-educated professionals (starting in the late 19th Century, when there were only two specialty areas: Military and Civil) has been to divide into more specific areas.

Most big engineering schools in the USA offer thesis and non-thesis post-graduate options, including "Master of Engineering" and "Doctor of Engineering" vs. "Master of Science in Engineering" and "Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering". When I wrote my dissertation, even at the master's level I was expected to explore what had never been explored and become a world-class expert in that narrow topic. But I was at a very good engineering grad school--there are those who would not have been so demanding, perhaps. My chief mentor there was a physicist, by the way, and held a dual endowed chair at that university in the Engineering and Physics departments.

What those courses of study gave me was perspective and theoretical foundation, not training. I got the training after that.

Rick "including quite a bit of training in EE stuff, but don't ask me about Maxwell's Equations" Denney
 
Last edited:

pseudoid

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
2,515
Likes
1,508
Location
33.6, -117.9
I looked everywhere for a golden-spoon to pay for my college-days in the 70s but realized that I was elected to replace the spoon w/BST: Yes, BloodSweat&Tears (aka work to pay college).
Went to cheap community college for 2 years to get a degree in AEET ("Associates, in ElectronicsEngineeringTechnology"), which dispensed with the heavy core science/math courses and emphasized practical "electronic applications".
Those el-cheapo AEET credits allowed me to study, work AND party; in equal proportions [yay].
That degree and the el-cheapo credits were easily transferable to fetch me a BSEE, without reducing my life-balance of study/work/party.
More importantly, I walked out w/zero debt and not owing anyone anything for my accomplishments.
When I entered my professional life, the 'first job' (Avionics Engineer) hiring pay rate was based on the fact that I had two 'degrees' (AEET/BSEE). Thus, I was provided with a 15% starting-pay increase, which also included my "lab rat" hands-on experience/duties in the EE department labs. [yay]

Pseudo "never found that golden spoon" ID.
 

ahofer

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
2,532
Likes
4,331
Location
New York City
We love our heroes, and that's what makes it harder to maintain civility.
Objectivity is so hard to maintain. I find myself in these pages getting a little ticked off when someone criticizes a product or service I like. I have to take a deep breath and remember that it doesn’t matter. I commented on just this in a long thread about Roon and streaming services - ‘why do we take it so personally?’.

The ’artisan’ angle is also the narrative fallacy at work (described in this long post). We really want some brilliant engineer to throw something together in his garage that blows away the big companies with their huge research budgets. The big companies should really sell their stuff with a story attached: “Young Ichiro Tanaka spent years trying to convince our marketing department that the new hypersonic transistor array would bring a greater sense of immediacy to listeners. We’re really glad we listened to him…”. Of course, that ain’t big company culture, even if there are hundreds of impassioned engineers working there.

Paul McGowan plays the rebel narrative card really hard, about himself, and about the FPGA DAC made by Ted. Once you see what he’s doing, though, you can’t unsee it.
 

sarumbear

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 15, 2020
Messages
5,233
Likes
4,703
Location
Southampton, England
"Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering." "Master of Science in Engineering." (From reading the diplomas hanging on my wall, earned in the 70's and early 80's.) Reading what was hanging on my father's office wall--degrees earned in the 40's and early 50's: "Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering," "Master of Science in Engineering." These degrees were from leading universities in their respective fields, at least at the time, and not from regional training colleges.

We throw around "EE" all the time here, but what comes in front of it is "Bachelor of Science" not "Bachelor of Engineering."
 

rdenney

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
1,903
Likes
3,088
Interesting. I've never seen a practitioner degree in engineering like that B.Eng. in the US. Again, I suspect it's an accreditation thing.

Is the degree at Exeter considered a non-academic practitioner degree? That's what it would be from a US college, and certainly what it is from Harvard.

Of course, Harvard may not be accredited. Philosophically, there's no real reason for a very high-end college to need accreditation--their credentials are unquestioned. Although, MIT would be higher-end for engineers than Harvard, of course..

Well, at least until the graduate tries to get an engineering license, which in every state in the US requires a degree from an ABET-accredited college.

Rick "whose engineering degree required 142 credit hours back in the day--more like 128 now" Denney
 

ahofer

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
2,532
Likes
4,331
Location
New York City
/\ Love it /\ You tend to think well /\
Can I steal that line and not give due credit?
I’m sure others have said it better. Makes me think of the “artisanal cannibis products” billboard on Route 22 in NY (for a shop in Great Barrington, MA).
 

sarumbear

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 15, 2020
Messages
5,233
Likes
4,703
Location
Southampton, England

Anmol

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 24, 2019
Messages
89
Likes
106
I think you being a bit ‘casual’ yourself. There is clearly a tension between strong employment protections and the ability to restructure back to profitability. Capital will flow towards markets with more flexible cost structures, costing jobs in the more rigid ones. We see this in heavily unionized trades in the US.

If you want a more academic argument, try this: https://www.clevelandfed.org/en/new...ity-unemployment-and-the-great-recession.aspx
Of course, this also includes other factors, such as reluctance to *add* employees that cannot be fired.

I wasn’t arguing about government benefits, but about the costs of rigid employment markets.

Both these companies were in France, btw. The Canadian company closed a bunch of stores and restructured management, and survives to this day.
Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century might be a good read in understanding economic issues specifically in western society. There is a fair bit of statistical evidence in book on how current setup in western society specifically economic arrangements in context of labour and capital are not benefiting majority of us .
 

pseudoid

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
2,515
Likes
1,508
Location
33.6, -117.9
One of the first lessons we learned in college was that an engineer's half-life was about 10 years (+/- [didn't know what a] "dB" [was]). Heck, we did not even know what a 'half-life' was, either!
We later learned the engineers' motto about "if you cannot dazzle them w/your brilliance; then baffle them w/your bs!". This mainly applied when dealing w/marketeers, bean counters and most of all HR.
 

ahofer

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
2,532
Likes
4,331
Location
New York City
Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century might be a good read in understanding economic issues specifically in western society. There is a fair bit of statistical evidence in book on how current setup in western society specifically economic arrangements in context of labour and capital are not benefiting majority of us .
Way OT from rigidity in labor markets, but I am NOT a fan of Piketty’s work. He and Saez’ assumptions tend to tilt one way, and only grudgingly move back when called out. An example, from an unlikely source (https://www.urban.org/sites/default...erent_studies_measure_income_inequality_1.pdf)

1638995889061.png
 

Mnyb

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Messages
1,589
Likes
2,103
Location
Sweden, Västerås
Well this took of :) a couple of pages .

I forget the end result of my post .... that modern audio journalism and forum life have turned into pseudoscientific gooble gook . And if you don’t know that .
And come here and been told that 99% of what you thought you knew is BS and you may be told by some smug person like me trying to be a bit witty :)

The other person may be typical in another way and fights aggressively for his audiophile belief system ...

So one should try to explain in nicer way

But it is tiring and tedious that’s it’s the same topic all over again all the time . That can also make conversations a bit terse .

Sorry for disturbing the sidetopic of the the American and British educational system which is interesting in itself. :)
This influenced many other countries including Sweden to also adapt so that we know have our degrees setup so the they are compatible so we can compete on the same terms .

I have some kind of BsC due to that adaptation.
 

JayGilb

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
767
Likes
1,087
Location
West-Central Wisconsin
You are right on the mark for with your second comment. This is part of the "high-touch" reaction to high-tech. People would rather see flawed engineering from actual humans than perfect engineering from what looks like a machine producer. This is why so many brands have turned their designers into rock stars. Even here, would Topping get the respect it does in this forum without John Yang's active involvement? Does Topping's lower regard in the subjectivist forums stem from John Yang not being known there? Would we revere (correct word) the Hypex and Purifi products so much without the humanizing presence of Bruno Putzeys? Do the inexpensive Pioneer SP-BS22LR's sell as well as they do because they measure well (for $100 speakers) or because of Andrew Jones? I confess that the story of Victor Campos (RIP) and Walt Jung made the Adcom GFP-565 much more appealing to me. Isn't the Adcom GFA-555 respected in part because of Nelson Pass? A decade ago, there was still a strong fan contingent for SAE's amps of the late 70's. Surely Jim Bongiorno's (RIP) design of the early Mark amps has much to do with that. And where would Advent have been without Henry Kloss? And what is McIntosh but an institution founded on the principles of guiding visionaries--as much Gordon Gow as Frank McIntosh. Didn't Morris Kessler's acceptance of Class D architecture at ATI do as much as any pile o'measurements to bring real credibility to the concept? Would we believe the research done at Harman were it not for the compelling personalities of Floyd Toole and Sean Olive to humanize and validate it?
I guess that made me scratch my head when I started reading ASR and people were talking about Bruno Putzey and Nelson Pass like they were rock stars. They're just linear electronic engineers who happen to design equipment that operates in the human audible range.
I had seen their names tossed around on a few YouTube sites. but attributed it YouTube...

I love an innovative design, but very few names every caught my attention and still do not. It might be due to my field where I spent 30+ years working closely with some very smart engineers who were humanized due to well, doing human things like burping, sneezing and scratching themselves.
 

Anmol

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 24, 2019
Messages
89
Likes
106
Way OT from rigidity in labor markets, but I am NOT a fan of Piketty’s work. He and Saez’ assumptions tend to tilt one way, and only grudgingly move back when called out. An example, from an unlikely source (https://www.urban.org/sites/default...erent_studies_measure_income_inequality_1.pdf)

View attachment 171149
I dont mean to sound patronizing or anything less than respectful. When you say you are not a fan - Wondering have you read his full book - page to page and understood it? Most of the math in this book is accurate. there are people who will criticize anything made public and such discussion should be encouraged as it forms modern thought.

I am not a subject matter expert and limited to my own experiences - It is not in dispute by anyone that income gap has widened to such an extent that entire system stability is being threatened by it. The statistics in book is based on data that inequality curve is towards further expansion - again not in dispute - Charles Dickens's world - Anyone for it? Artful Dodgers, Hungary children, prostitutes everywhere except gentrified neighborhood? actually it is already happening . Most people in this forum are technocrats and due to their technical skills have isolated themselves from it at least to an extent.
 

rdenney

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
1,903
Likes
3,088
Hence my post :)

More are at the good old Wikipedia:

So, you made me look it up with ABET's EAC (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Engineering Accreditation Council) :)

In the list of program criteria for accreditation, there is a category for "general engineering", but it does not require any additional science or math compared to the program-specific criteria. It specified only the "general criteria" for accreditation, which includes this about curricula:

The curriculum requirements specify subject areas appropriate to engineering but do not prescribe specific courses. The program curriculum must provide adequate content for each area, consistent with the student outcomes and program educational objectives, to ensure that students are prepared to enter the practice of engineering. The curriculum must include:
  1. a minimum of 30 semester credit hours (or equivalent) of a combination of college-level mathematics and basic sciences with experimental experience appropriate to the program.
  2. a minimum of 45 semester credit hours (or equivalent) of engineering topics appropriate to the program, consisting of engineering and computer sciences and engineering design, and utilizing modern engineering tools.
  3. a broad education component that complements the technical content of the curriculum and is consistent with the program educational objectives.
  4. a culminating major engineering design experience that 1) incorporates appropriate engineering standards and multiple constraints, and 2) is based on the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier course work.
In addition to this, electrical engineering programs must also meet this criteria:

The structure of the curriculum must provide both breadth and depth across the range of engineering topics implied by the title of the program.

The curriculum must include probability and statistics, including applications appropriate to the program name; mathematics through differential and integral calculus; sciences (defined as biological, chemical, or physical science); and engineering topics (including computing science) necessary to analyze and design complex electrical and electronic devices, software, and systems containing hardware and software components.

The curriculum for programs containing the modifier “electrical,” “electronic(s),” “communication(s),” or “telecommunication(s)” in the title must include advanced mathematics, such as differential equations, linear algebra, complex variables, and discrete mathematics.

The curriculum for programs containing the modifier “computer” in the title must include discrete mathematics.

The curriculum for programs containing the modifier “communication(s)” or “telecommunication(s)” in the title must include topics in communication theory and systems.

The curriculum for programs containing the modifier “telecommunication(s)” must include design and operation of telecommunication networks for services such as voice, data, image, and video transport.


These don't add to the general requirements, but further specify it. So, a general degree might include "engineering topics" that are more generally into physics than some of the specialized courses required for a program, but may also include a breadth of the same sorts of courses from other programs. I don't see any language supporting what Wikipedia said, where the general engineering degree is intended to be more in-depth in math and physics to support greater versatility, though I'm sure there are good schools that do exactly that.

I looked at the list of accredited programs that had general engineering degrees, and there were 124 in the USA (out of 520 accredited engineering schools) comprising mostly small programs, but including a range of very large and highly respected programs (e.g. Purdue, Virginia Polytechnic University), so I draw no conclusions from that. None of the schools in my experience has them, which explains my narrow perspective. ;)

Rick "thinking a lot of engineers don't pay attention during those probability and statistics classes" Denney
 

ahofer

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
2,532
Likes
4,331
Location
New York City
I dont mean to sound patronizing or anything less than respectful. When you say you are not a fan - Wondering have you read his full book - page to page and understood it? Most of the math in this book is accurate. there are people who will criticize anything made public and such discussion should be encouraged as it forms modern thought.

I am not a subject matter expert and limited to my own experiences - It is not in dispute by anyone that income gap has widened to such an extent that entire system stability is being threatened by it. The statistics in book is based on data that inequality curve is towards further expansion - again not in dispute - Charles Dickens's world - Anyone for it? Artful Dodgers, Hungary children, prostitutes everywhere except gentrified neighborhood? actually it is already happening . Most people in this forum are technocrats and due to their technical skills have isolated themselves from it at least to an extent.
Plonking Piketty as an irrelevant trump-card into a dialogue about labor market rigidity already came across as a poorly thought out attempt at condescension, I’m afraid.

Even the original labor market rigidity comments are way off topic and in danger of triggering the moderators so this ends here, despite my temptations otherwise.
 

BDWoody

Chief Cat Herder
Moderator
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
5,808
Likes
17,413
Location
Mid-Atlantic, USA. (Maryland)
Even the original labor market rigidity comments are way off topic and in danger of triggering the moderators so this ends here, despite my temptations otherwise.

Good call.
 

ahofer

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
2,532
Likes
4,331
Location
New York City
Good call.
See, we’re already becoming more civil again!

You might say that the comment earlier about instinctively rising to defend our heroes also means instinctively rising to denigrate our anti-heroes!
 
Top Bottom