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Human beliefs sure are weird. Why is it so difficult to get audiophiles to accept the existence of perceptual bias?

Zerimas

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#1
I feel like the biggest obstacle with regards to rational discourse in the sphere of audiophilia is that many people just flat refuse to accept the existence of perceptual bias. It's been demonstrated to exist in lots of places and many different fields over and over again. Yet, people refuse to believe it is a thing.

It's strange though, it is not like people reject all scientific concepts—even if it does contract their "gut" feeling or impression. For instance, I don't think too many people would reject the notion that stuff is made up of tiny bits of stuff called "atoms" that are too small to see. No one will attack you for claiming that water isn't actually a basic substance on its own, but rather it composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Nobody gets death threats for saying that sunlight, heat, radio waves are actually all the same thing (even though intuitively they seem pretty different).

I'm not a scientist or anything so maybe my examples totally suck. Feel free to add in your own. The point is people don't seem to form their beliefs in a consistent and rational pattern (quelle surprise!). For some reason people get really cranky when you try to tell them that what they are hearing may just be the result of some kind bias. Yet, for some reason they have no problem accepting other facts which cannot be readily verified by simple observation.

Things would be easier if people would just accept that human perception isn't infallible. It's not that big a deal. It doesn't mean we can't have any subjective impressions (people post subjective impressions of stuff here all the time—including myself), nor does it mean that all subjective observations are automatically worthless (which seems to be what some people claim anyone who takes some measurements is advocating for).
 

RayDunzl

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#2
"Why is it so difficult to get audiophiles to accept the existence of perceptual bias?"

Maybe they are perceptually biased, like the rest of us.
 

RayDunzl

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#4
The average person has one tit and one testicle.

I'm not sure if I'm above average or not.
 

RayDunzl

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#5
most people don't know how statistics work.
Opinion:

Statistics tells you how what just happened fits into what happened in the past.

Or it gives you some odds on how what's going to happen fits into what happened in the past.

Will I die? Statistically, yes.

When? Statistically, sometime.

Of what? Statistically, something.

Disclaimer: Statistically, I usually find myself to be an outlier, or maybe I just belong in a different study.
 
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JJB70

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#6
Most people think they are above average at most things, most people don't know how statistics work.
Anyone who has to manage appraisals at work knows the truth of this. Almost everyone thinks they are a superstar deserving a raise and promotion and gets quite put out if told that they are doing their job well to an acceptable standard but are not a superstar.
 

invaderzim

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#8
I feel like the biggest obstacle with regards to rational discourse in the sphere of audiophilia is that many people just flat refuse to accept the existence of perceptual bias. It's been demonstrated to exist in lots of places and many different fields over and over again. Yet, people refuse to believe it is a thing.
....
I think it is largely that you aren't just asking them to accept that it exists but also that it trumps their listening ability. A lot of the comments I see from people arguing the perceived difference in sound have a bit of a feeling of superior listening ability. To them that perceived ability is only strengthened when others tell them what they hear doesn't exist because it just means they are one of the few that can hear it.
You are challenging their reality and their 'superpower' hearing. I was quite deflated the first time I did a blind A/B test and failed terribly.

And, in all fairness, when it was brought up in a thread that Amirm should do the listening tests with equipment before doing the measurements the person that suggested it got a lot of heat for suggesting that Amirm couldn't be objective at the listening test with knowing the test results.
There is a tendency to believe that we and the people we admire are above such weaknesses.
 
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Zerimas

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#10
I think it is largely that you aren't just asking them to accept that it exists but also that it trumps their listening ability. A lot of the comments I see from people arguing the perceived difference in sound have a bit of a feeling of superior listening ability. To them that perceived ability is only strengthened when others tell them what they hear doesn't exist because it just means they are one of the few that can hear it.
You are challenging their reality and their 'superpower' hearing. I was quite deflated the first time I did a blind A/B test and failed terribly.

And, in all fairness, when it was brought up in a thread that Amirm should do the listening tests with equipment before doing the measurements the person that suggested it got a lot of heat for suggesting that Amirm couldn't be objective at the listening test with knowing the test results.
There is a tendency to believe that we and the people we admire are above such weaknesses.
So basically it is all unwarranted self-importance? It is my theory that when people can "hear" something that other people cannot (and there is a measurable and audible difference) that is simply a matter of training or experience. I think with enough practice probably most people could do it. Although how you would teach something like that is kind of a tricky question.
 

Soniclife

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#12
Disclaimer: Statistically, I usually find myself to be an outlier, or maybe I just belong in a different study.
I think quite a few here probably are outliers, I've often felt that way, most often not in a superior or inferior way, but just different, normal doesn't look all that great so I'm fine with it.
 

RayDunzl

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#13

RayDunzl

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#14
For some reason people get really cranky when you try to tell them that what they are hearing may just be the result of some kind bias.

My hearing isn't very far ranging, so I like to see a few measurements, especially in-room here, even if it is just to ensure I don't offend others.
 

watchnerd

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#16
Things would be easier if people would just accept that human perception isn't infallible. It's not that big a deal.
For some people, it's a big deal.

Especially when you have everything from commercial/financial reasons to play up the importance of elevated senses (manufacturers, media, event producers, labels making high rez music) to consumers who have invested in expensive products.

In which case, you run into the other social / behavioral issue: cognitive dissonance

This isn't unique to audio. The wine industry is rife with it.

Asking "why" can literally be summed up as "we've evolved, biologically and culturally, to have these tendencies."

And since they're literally part of human nature, what do you want to do about it?

Do you really need to do anything other than be aware of it?
 

March Audio

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#19
I do accept perceptual bias and consider it an important part of the subjective experience. It's not necessarily a bad thing.
In the context of hifi it is a bad thing.

Being objective allows you to make informed decisions about equipment. It means you don't get marketed into buying kit that doesn't perform well, or is more expensive than necessary.

You can still buy hifi bling if you want, but at least you are informed.
 
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watchnerd

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#20
And, in all fairness, when it was brought up in a thread that Amirm should do the listening tests with equipment before doing the measurements the person that suggested it got a lot of heat for suggesting that Amirm couldn't be objective at the listening test with knowing the test results.
There is a tendency to believe that we and the people we admire are above such weaknesses.
There is plenty of research that would agree with this:

Even if one is aware of the potential for perception bias, that doesn't prevent it from happening.

It's not a matter of willpower. Your intellect really will cause you to perceive things differently.

There is an AES video where they show the power of suggestion by using "hidden backward messages" in classic rock songs. At first it sounds garbled. They then tell you what the secret Satanic message is supposed to be....and your mind causes you to hear it.

So yeah, I agree....if Amir is going to do listening tests, he should do them before testing.
 
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