Originally Posted by sridhar3
Is it so hard to believe that there are things that exist that we can't measure?
Schizophrenics have auditory hallucinations, but nobody can prove that they're hearing things. So I guess they're not hearing anything at all, since it's not measurable? We didn't even have fMRI until the '90s, and that's a measure of brain activity, which may correlate with what a schizophrenic is hearing. But correlation doesn't necessarily imply causation.
What about pain? We can't measure pain objectively, but we don't tell people that they're not in pain when they say they are. It's unethical and unprofessional for a doctor to refuse to treat a patient's pain. People who present with drug-seeking behavior, claiming they have pain, must still be initially treated for pain.
What about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle? It's a published principle saying that if we know the momentum, we don't know the position, and vice versa.
It's theorized that something called the Higgs boson exists, but we don't have enough evidence to prove it does.
There are limitations to science. Let's not kid ourselves into thinking it's infallible. The second you stop questioning science to at least the same degree to which you question subjectivism is when your science becomes a religion.
I strongly diasgree with everything in this post.
If something existed but wasn't measurable, it wouldn't exist! It's a contradiction. If fairies existed but were never witnessed, captured, photographed etc., they might as well not exist (very zen), and probably don't.
If you hear a difference, either the stimulus is different (sound waves) or you're tricking yourself. With good equipment it's far more often the latter than you might think.
With schizophrenics (or any hallucination) the exact same networks of neurons might be active as if they'd heard a sound, but it would be "in their head", not external. The same thing happens when we (humans) or some primates empathise. For example, if you (or a chimp) sees someone else (or another chimp) in pain, the very same neurons in your brain will fire (Mirror neuron) as if you'd felt the pain yourself. Feynman said something along the lines of "you mustn't fool yourself, you're the easiest person to fool". However I don't see how this example applies to this discussion. Pain is the same, it's not measurable because the physical basis of consciousness is still not fully understood (although I believe there is one, arrising simply from the topology of the large number of neurons in your nervous system). The experience is not measurable, because it's in the domain of "consciousness".
HUP is not a good example either in the context of hearing. If you are just using it as a broad example of "science not knowing everything", I think you're reading into the philosophy of it too deeply. Heuristically, the HUP says that if you want to know a particles position to high accuracy you need to hit it with a lot of energy, but this energy will of course knock it wildly off its current trajectory, so you will no longer know much about its momentum. The converse then is also true, that if you just gently probe it so as to get a good idea of it's momentum, you won't resolve well its position (if you're using a photon say to probe, the wavelength would be large for low energy and thus poorly resolving).
If you're using it more specifically as an example that quantum effects might somehow change measurements when you're hearing, I'd say that these effects are irrelevant and that the "transducer, the air, and your ear" system may be treated clasically.
The Higgs boson is theorised for reasons of symmetry which I don't understand, and a boson in the right mass range was recently measured to 5 sigma at CERN (one in a million odds). This is a particularly poor example for this discussion as it shows an experimental result borne out of a theoretical background. It's a case study in theory guiding understanding through experimental verification.
Returning to the discussion, if two pieces of audio equipment measure identically, then they can't be told apart by a human ear/brain system (my hypothesis). I don't believe that there's anything that your ear/brain apparatus can measure which a microphonic or electronic system can't (they're made of the same things really ain't they!).
I would then go further and say that an electronic system is considerably more sensitive than your ear/brain apparatus. For one thing it doesn't suffer from any masking. For example, doing a hearing test with a single sweeping tone is easy, you just note when you first hear a noise (if going from high frequency to low). However a blind test of white noise and a low pass filter is much harder, as your ears are "startled" by the wide spectrum. Try it yourself http://www.audiocheck.net/blindtests_index.php An electronic system however will resolve just as well all frequencies simultaneously.
Edited by joeyjojo - 7/25/12 at 3:01am