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Audio placebo with relation to medicine and drugs

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
I was just learning about medicine and drugs in my school, and perked up when they mentioned placebo effects. And the way it's treated in medicine and drugs is so simple compared to the way we audiophiles seem to treat placebo.

Well firstly, the doctors, scientists and drug manufacturers agree there IS placebo effect in taking drugs. And I know most of you guys would probably agree that there IS placebo effect in audio stuff too, but what I found interesting is how they treated it compared to how it seems audio placebo is treated.

The placebo effect actually improves your natural rate of healing and this seems to be commonly accepted by the drug people. What seems to be the debate is whether the production and consumption (i.e. costs) of the drug in question is worth the improvements moving from merely a placebo to the placebo+effect of drug.

Relating this to audio, why can't we all agree our brain messes around with the inputs coming in from our ears, so YES there can be "audible" and real (in the your brain is telling you it's different sense) differences in the sound perceived, depending on the individual as placebo affects different individuals to differing extents from none to miraculous healings/recoveries in the medical arena.

Is it really so important whether the improvement is from placebo+effect of insertaudiocomponent or merely from placebo? All that matters is whether the individual in question feels the cost to them is worth the change in perceived sound. We're not even a big pharmaceutical company who has to consider the average rate of placebo effects or whatever, it's completely individual for us! If it works for you, good for your ears/brain! If it doesn't work then good for your wallet!

And for those who don't believe in cables/whatnot, why spoil their fun! Placebo can be really powerful and if you're one of those lucky/unlucky few who either lack the placebo gene (if those studies are true) or just are not as affected by placebo, why attempt to diminish the placebo effect for others!

And I hope my attempt to be neutral has worked, and no one can tell if I am currently a believer in cables and the like

And sorry for the epic lack of sources and evidence for my claims (well other than my teacher, and we all know teachers are the ultimate source of truth ), but I do think they're rather common ideas, a google search might bring up more evidence or whatnot, and I might add in evidence if this garners sufficient agreement/disagreement/debate heh.

Or am I getting this all wrong and most doctors do not agree on placebo too and my teacher lied to me
post #2 of 52
No, it's a good point, and there definitely is such a thing as a placebo effect. In practical terms, if you are healed from something from a placebo effect, what's the difference? you are still healed from it.

However -- and I could be wrong about this -- but I think the case is that a true placebo effect generally doesn't last long-term, which is often what can distinguish it from an "actual" or biochemical effect of some agent, etc.

So if that's true, related to headphones it might mean that you think something sounds a certain way for a while, but then soon you might start perceiving it differently. Ultimately there might be no way to know for sure that what you are experiencing is a placebo effect though, or to quantify it in any way, so in the end we are back to where we started in the first place.

To really blow your mind, there's also something known as the "NOcebo" effect, where you actually get bad results based on negative expectations.
post #3 of 52
Interesting post with some great points!
For me the answer and difference was when I uncovered Placebo I was then able to enjoy my music just as much as before but without the additional expense.
I would even say that I now enjoy my music more now because I am no longer endlessly obsessing as much over the next expensive tweak to "enhance" the experience.
I can just relax and enjoy now, to a degree. I still look for the next best headphone or speaker (or I wouldn't be here) but these are more concrete and reliable upgrades than the cables and such that placebo is a part of.
post #4 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Real Man of Genius View Post
Interesting post with some great points!
For me the answer and difference was when I uncovered Placebo I was then able to enjoy my music just as much as before but without the additional expense.
I would even say that I now enjoy my music more now because I am no longer endlessly obsessing as much over the next expensive tweak to "enhance" the experience.
I can just relax and enjoy now, to a degree. I still look for the next best headphone or speaker (or I wouldn't be here) but these are more concrete and reliable upgrades than the cables and such that placebo is a part of.
Those are all good points, plus the fact that while placebo effect may be very real to one person you can't count on the same effect in another, making subjective cable reviews pretty useless. And if an imagined effect is as real to you as an actual one (and this certainly can be the case when you're in the subjective realm) then as RMOG said above... why not just save the money and imagine an inexpensive cable to sound good!
post #5 of 52
The criticism I have of the placebo alone approach (as opposed to placebo+realimprovementinhardware) is that when people pay for placebo alone, money doesn't go into improved hardware. Over time this would result in an industry where actual technological progress is slowed (or even halted or reversed).
post #6 of 52
Some people even claim or speculate that *ALL* effects of medications might really be placebo effects. woohoo - mind over matter, baby!
post #7 of 52
I am striving to get to the point where I no longer need equipment at all.
I will just imagine that I am listening to it.
Almost there...
post #8 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Real Man of Genius View Post
I am striving to get to the point where I no longer need equipment at all.
I will just imagine that I am listening to it.
Almost there...
Your wallet thanks you

Quote:
Originally Posted by b0dhi
The criticism I have of the placebo alone approach (as opposed to placebo+realimprovementinhardware) is that when people pay for placebo alone, money doesn't go into improved hardware. Over time this would result in an industry where actual technological progress is slowed (or even halted or reversed).
Veryvery true, I didn't consider that. Although arguably placebo+realimprovementinhardware would be a greater improvement than just placebo and therefore of greater value and therefore people would pay more for it, and so I doubt technological progress would be halted or reversed, but slowed is a distinct possibility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Real Man of Genius
Interesting post with some great points!
For me the answer and difference was when I uncovered Placebo I was then able to enjoy my music just as much as before but without the additional expense.
I would even say that I now enjoy my music more now because I am no longer endlessly obsessing as much over the next expensive tweak to "enhance" the experience.
I can just relax and enjoy now, to a degree. I still look for the next best headphone or speaker (or I wouldn't be here) but these are more concrete and reliable upgrades than the cables and such that placebo is a part of.
Hmm true, but to each his own I guess, no need to force "converts" to a certain idea or state of mind. Not that I'm implying you do so, but I've found that has been the tendency of both sides/viewpoints when debating about such things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by userlander
However -- and I could be wrong about this -- but I think the case is that a true placebo effect generally doesn't last long-term, which is often what can distinguish it from an "actual" or biochemical effect of some agent, etc.
Hmm oh I didn't know about that, maybe someone could clarify this? Although it seems rather counter intuitive when you think about it, heh if you think about someone getting healed from placebo effect, after a while would this mean he gets sick again?
post #9 of 52
The problem is there hasn't been a trustworthy objective test on cables that anti-cablers and pro-cablers are satisfied with. Such a test would take much time and money, until then all we have is subjective experience, potentially subject to both placebo and nocebo. And I don't believe anyone here understands the full power of placebo, so you guys are being seriously unscientific flinging that label on pro-cablers.

There's nothing wrong with being firmly entrenched in your belief that cables work/don't work, what's wrong is when you accuse pro-cablers of not having the scientific integrity to rule out the effects of placebo. How would you anti-cablers like it if I kept repeating ad infinitum that you guys suffer from nocebo, the inability to hear a difference between cables because you are biased and trying to justify your cheap stock cables?

But to be on topic, the illusion of placebo presupposes a faulty sensory or distorted perception so you're pretty much saying "it's okay for pro-cablers to be stupid because it makes them happy". I'd rather not do that, it's better to just acknowledge pro-cablers hear a difference and anti-cablers (those who have tried) can't hear a difference, that's all, and stop hijacking cable threads mkay anticablers?
post #10 of 52
Quote:
How would you anti-cablers like it if I kept repeating ad infinitum that you guys suffer from nocebo, the inability to hear a difference between cables because you are biased and trying to justify your cheap stock cables?
But that misses the point. It doesn't matter whether anyone else can or can't hear a difference or whether anyone else is suffering from nocebo, the important thing is whether you can hear a difference. If you can objectively demonstrate that you can resolve a difference then you can, and if you can't then you can't. Just that simple. Whether anyone else can or not is beside the point.
post #11 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeMusic View Post
But that misses the point. It doesn't matter whether anyone else can or can't hear a difference or whether anyone else is suffering from nocebo, the important thing is whether you can hear a difference. If you can objectively demonstrate that you can resolve a difference then you can, and if you can't then you can't. Just that simple. Whether anyone else can or not is beside the point.
But pro-cablers are unhappy with the DBT's that have been performed up to now. I don't see a DBT coming about that I would be satisfied with in the foreseeable future, therefore I'd appreciate it if anti-cablers stop trying to make it out to seem like pro-cablers don't give a damn about DBT. I care, it's because I have a high standard that I don't settle for the DBT's that have been done. Whoever did the coathanger test would be sent to prison for his lack of scientific integrity if I was dictator.
post #12 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
And I don't believe anyone here understands the full power of placebo, so you guys are being seriously unscientific flinging that label on pro-cablers.
Hmm, two questions. What IS the full power of placebo to you? Haha and I pretty much admitted I don't know much about placebo and never claimed to be scientific there, just a mere student expressing my views on why there isn't world peace

And the second question, which part of my post do you think I flung the label of placebo on to just pro-cablers? I don't exactly think I flung the placebo label on just pro-cablers, in fact if at all I flung it on everyone if you read my first post paragraph 4 and 5, I actually hint that everyone or almost everyone experiences placebo, although on hindsight it shouldn't be just placebo but but both placebo and nocebo, and should be that almost everyone experiences a change in perception or physiological reactions due to a change in mental state of the person in question but without a change in sensory (or actually any) inputs into the body (which uh, henceforth I will refer to it as placebo cause that is rather long but if you'd rather I didn't call it placebo, then okay I shall call it X). Just that the extents affected are different for every individual.

Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
There's nothing wrong with being firmly entrenched in your belief that cables work/don't work, what's wrong is when you accuse pro-cablers of not having the scientific integrity to rule out the effects of placebo. How would you anti-cablers like it if I kept repeating ad infinitum that you guys suffer from nocebo, the inability to hear a difference between cables because you are biased and trying to justify your cheap stock cables?
Actually, I have no idea about the stuff about accusing people of not having scientific integrity (and I do hope I haven't done that), but the doctors do agree that everyone, or virtually everyone is affected by placebo/nocebo/X. There isn't really such a thing as not having X, it's just the extent you are affected by it. And so I don't deny that placebo/nocebo/X MERELY affects one side or the other, but it's a universal thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
And I don't believe anyone here understands the full power of placebo, so you guys are being seriously unscientific flinging that label on pro-cablers.
Hmm, two questions. What IS the full power of placebo to you? Haha and I pretty much admitted I don't know much about placebo and never claimed to be scientific there, just a mere student expressing my views on why there isn't world peace

And the second question, which part of my post do you think I flung the label of placebo on to just pro-cablers? I don't exactly think I flung the placebo label on just pro-cablers, in fact if at all I flung it on everyone if you read my first post paragraph 4 and 5, I actually hint that everyone or almost everyone experiences placebo, although on hindsight it shouldn't be just placebo but but both placebo and nocebo, and should be that almost everyone experiences a change in perception or physiological reactions due to a change in mental state of the person in question but without a change in sensory (or actually any) inputs into the body (which uh, henceforth I will refer to it as placebo cause that is rather long but if you'd rather I didn't call it placebo, then okay I shall call it X). Just that the extents affected are different for every individual.

Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
But to be on topic, the illusion of placebo presupposes a faulty sensory or distorted perception so you're pretty much saying "it's okay for pro-cablers to be stupid because it makes them happy". I'd rather not do that, it's better to just acknowledge pro-cablers hear a difference and anti-cablers (those who have tried) can't hear a difference, that's all, and stop hijacking cable threads mkay anticablers?
On the contrary, placebo isn't so much an illusion and I don't think it presupposes a faulty sensory or distorted perception. In fact this might be the whole point of what my post was about, why is there such a perception of placebo when relating to audio stuff? There is no such thing as "non-distorted" perception! Every sensory input goes through processing in the brain before being considered as "perception". Show me a neutral brain and I'll show you a (brain) dead (or yet to be alive) person, cause as long as your brain isn't some tabula rasa, the processing your brain does to your sensory inputs has a distinct possibility of being different from other people's and being "distorted". Sure this distortion might range from having little effect to a lot of effect, but perception is innately "distorted", with or without placebo. But I don't like the idea of distortion, cause it has very negative connotations to it. I'd use changed instead of distorted, cause change merely implies a difference while distortion implies a negative difference.

And from this, well if you'd like I'd say everyone's stupid, just whether you're stupid and acknowledge it and are happy, or just are stupid and unhappy cause people are a different kind of stupid from you. But this is ignoring REAL differences in the inputs picked up by the individual, which also varies from individual to individual and if you want, could reflect the faulty sensory perception you mention but I do not think placebo implies that? Just because you're more affected by a change in mental state does not at all imply that your sensory perception is inferior to others. The perception you "hear" is both a combination of both mental and sensory factors and the fact that if you can hear a difference does not imply that it is just the mental part at work, even though people might imply so in the discussions around here.

And an interesting thing I thought of, you don't see people getting healed cause of placebo complaining "damn I wish my immune system was stronger and could do it without this placebo thing. I mean look at that guy, he recovered from the flu without any placebo!" OR "damn that guy recovered from placebo while I'm here dying cause I don't get as affected by placebo, let's go burst his bubble and tell him his medicine actually doesn't work and that he has messed up immune system responses cause they're responding to nothing".

What I'm saying is, be happy for the guys who get healed, whether by virtue of better immune system or a placebo healing + immune system combined effect, or if you're unable to heal both by natural means or application of placebo, there clearly isn't any benefit on an individual level to attempt to convince people that they're inferior or something.

On a larger scale though, you could argue like what b0dhi did or similar large scale long term arguments. Although we can't we just live in peace and admit science says perception is individual, at least to an extent. No better example than 99.9% of the public when shown an audiophile, see someone who should be in a straitjacket but the other 0.1% just see someone with a very, very unhappy wallet
post #13 of 52
It's not the testing that bothers me, it's the scam artist angle to the cable thing.

You can debate DBT, placebo, etc. until you're blue in the face.

You cannot debate that people are taking $10 of materials and charging $500 for them. Anyone who wants to point out that bulk wire can cost $15 a foot is full of it. It doesn't cost that much to produce. The raw cables are ordered from China cheap and then marked up significantly by the reseller here.

Aside from the extreme markup, most companies secretly hire shills to flog their cables on the message boards.

The manufacturers behave like scam artists and snakeoil salesman. They sell something that no one is sure actually works, at astronomical markups, hire underhanded salesmen, and promote the idea that you "need" their product or else you're missing out.

All of that is pure BS, and you do not need DBT or placebo to condemn that.
post #14 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
It's not the testing that bothers me, it's the scam artist angle to the cable thing.

All of that is pure BS, and you do not need DBT or placebo to condemn that.
Again with the soap box.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
You cannot debate that people are taking $10 of materials and charging $500 for them. Anyone who wants to point out that bulk wire can cost $15 a foot is full of it. It doesn't cost that much to produce. The raw cables are ordered from China cheap and then marked up significantly by the reseller here.
Debate? ,why don't you provide documentation to support this accusation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
Aside from the extreme markup, most companies secretly hire shills to flog their cables on the message boards.
Please provide manufactures names and also documentation, or preferable links to the people who have been hired as shills
post #15 of 52
wsatia, I'm not going to address all of your random questions and statements, just going to say I don't think it is in our common interest to simply leave pro-cablers alone to their beliefs. Authentic and infallible objective testing must happen someday and the sooner the better because of the issue brought up by Uncle Erik.

Without a doubt aftermarket cables can be expensive, maybe not as extreme as Uncle Erik says, but if a headphone company decided they needed mass-produced high-quality cables, the cost to consumers could be a fraction of the cost charged them by aftermarket cablers. The sooner real objective experiments prove/disprove cables, the sooner we can resort to either 1. making mass-produced high quality cables or 2. putting an end to the belief that aftermarket cables make a SQ difference.

But I think real objective tests will not happen anytime soon, and so quality cables will remain limited to certain groups of audiophiles. This limited supply and demand allows a niche market, and I highly respect most aftermarket cable companies trying to make a livelihood out of providing what they (presumably ) believe improves the audio experience.

I have no respect for people who continuously cite obviously flawed "objective" data and give it precedence over the subjective experiences of their own and of others. You're nothing more than the yahoos all down through history who persecute innovation.
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