This is an awesome post and reflects many of my ideas/thoughts. Double blind tests are always the gold standard for science. When I read an article in The Absolute Sound arguing against this...well...it's the last time I read a magazine from them.
I have also done similar tests and found the results to be the same. I told a very picky audiophile friend that I had done a remaster from vinyl. He proceeded to listen to it and then discuss how the rumble, wow and flutter were audible. How there was still a bit of noise but he did compliment me on the warm, analogue sound. The truth: It was a regular CD I owned, transferred to my computer using EAC, then burned on a CD-R. Evil...perhaps but it goes to show (to me at least) that people hear what they want to hear.
It's even worse in the "pro" community where everyone seems to judge you on what gear you own and how many studio rooms you have with X treatment. I have heard some mastering engineers work whose mastering chain is worth around $20,000.00...that's right - $20K!! I got better results that he did with a $20 graphic EQ. Why a $20 EQ? Because it sounded better in this case than my other EQ's. In the end, I only trust my ears and maybe consider those of a friend or two but that's it. It's all about one's ears and enjoyment of music - not about the gear or what others think.In case anyone is curious...here is a $20K mastering chain vs. my $19.99 graphic EQ.
It starts out with my master then switches to the other at the beep.