I agree with every point you made. I certainly don't listen to my headphones to experience mathematically correct wave forms! Science, as you said, should be the means to an end. I use lots of it in my work AND play for the sole purpose of making something real.
On the other hand, there is instrumentation that is vastly more sensitive than the human ear. It is well documented on what "harsh", "warm", etc.. waveforms look like - and how they are perceived. The worst problem confronting musical reproduction hardware testing is unsound (sorry) testing methods. The next problem is an unwillingness of the corporations (manufacturers and the audio press) to adopt a meaningful testing procedure.
When any component sounds different, the reasons can always be explained to some degree or another. On the other hand, the "reasons" bandied about by some the cable charlatans are pure fraud: they hope the buyer is too ignorant to question their statements out of fear that maybe they don't know something worth learning. People will go a long way to protect their vanity.
One common behavior among men is to bestow that which they love with dysfunctional adornments. Nothing wrong with that! If it is their wife, it is jewelry. If they are in love with themselves, they get lots of tattoos. If they love their Honda Prelude, they bolt on one of those ludicrous wings on the back. If it is a Harley, it gets chrome. If it is a sportbike, it gets carbon fiber. And if their one true love is their audio system, they buy cables, green markers, and billet RCA jack covers.
To those who don't think (and therefore, aren't), try designing and building an airplane some time. If the aerodynamic math doesn't kill you, the structural part will. And if you don't do any of the math at all, the impending, if not spectacular, failure of your efforts will kill you and earn you a well deserved (but not highly desirable) Darwin Award. I was about to get my aero engineering degree after high school, but the math was more than I could take.
Yes, most mathematical models were made to fit test results of real objects. As a result, they are invaluable tools to those who actually produce real goods for the real world. That includes audio hardware. This stuff isn't witchcraft, but clearly there are enough people living in the neo-dark ages to support a market for it.
The notion that those who are good at math and scientific theory are somehow emotionally difficient, intellectually corrupt, or somehow lacking in their perceptions of reality are truly lending credence to the notion that ignorance is bliss. My older brother has his Masters in math, does beta testing for HP purely for fun, has his own website that blows most commercial sites out of the water (again, for fun), has a theology degree, and is an avid poetry fan - if you doubt it, he has his "poem of the week" on his website. My next older brother aced the math part of the SAT (and got the second highest score in the country that year), got a full college EE scholarship, and was an accomplished musician. Remember that part about aerodynamics? Know anything about the math involved in deriving airfoils? One of the leading authorities on the subject (John Roncz) is also an accomplished concert pianist. Of course, I'm only bringing up people I know about. If any of you knew anything about ol' Al Einstein, you would be exploiting his saying "Not everything that counts can be measured and not everything that can be measured, counts". I first saw that on a sign in the personal office of the world's leading printing vehicle chemist at Lawter Chemicals - and who also plays the harmonica like nobody else I ever heard. Then again, I am biased - he raised me.
What have you ever accomplished, built, or produced that actually serves a function?
On the other hand, those who devote their lives purely to pathos serve a very important function. For it is on the backs of those who are all feeling (but non thinking) that the likes of Adolf Hitler rise to power. It is very easy to manipulate the emotions of those who don't think.
One of my writing teachers taught me that an expression of thought required 3 things: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. Ethos is the root of the word "ethics". Logos is the root of the word "logic". Pathos is the root of the word "pathetic".
You see, everybody, to some degree or another, has emotions. Unfortunately for the stupid people, well, that's all they have.