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Placebo effect for the sake of good

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I wasn't really sure which forum this thread would fit in best, but I think this one is the closest fit.

So I'm sure most of us on here have heard the term placebo effect used in a negative connotation probably more times than we wish to have seen lol. Well I was thinking what about using the placebo effect for good instead. Like for instance I'm currently experimenting with the differences in my laptop's usb ports/the effect each step in my chain has on the overall sound, and for the last couple days I wasn't too happy with the usb sound compared to the optical sound, but because they are actually quite similar overall, and the differences are minute, I figured what if I just start trying to enjoy the usb sound, just to see what happens. Been doing that for the last few hours and I feel a lot better about it's sound, compared to trying to find what is wrong with it, and just focus so deeply on that, which just made the sound seem even worse.

This is like tapping into the idea to think positive for overall health of your body, compared to negative, except in this case you affect the sound. The placebo effect gets used for the actual benefit of your overall system, instead of the negative, trying to find fault in whatever you're testing. I just never really see any post that doesn't use the placebo effect as a 'bad' word almost lol, like a way to say whatever you're hearing isn't really there. But I think theres a potential untapped use for it, or even as an extra measuring tool, when listening to our set ups to make sure we are getting the best that we can out of them. Imagine you thinking your set up didnt sound that great, but instead of spending hundreds of dollars to try and change that, you just confirm first that you aren't just looking for tha fault and making it sound worse to you, so instead try to make yourself think of it as if nothing is wrong, or you have no choice but to live with it, just to make sure the fault you hear is really there.


Personally I was able to narrow down the overall fault in my set up, once I did this, so my next amp upgrade should be worthy.

Let me know what you guys think :)

post #2 of 11

auto suggestion, or positive thinking, have been around for some time and as you said can be used to have an actual effect on yourself.

I happen to have wasted a lot of my time reading about this when I was young so here is what I remember about it:


-it does work very well at least for short term stuff.

-it actually works only if you really believe in it. I guess that's the tricky part.

-if you force yourself into believing something you didn't actually think in the first place, say a stupid stuff like "I'm the best, they've got nothing on me!!!!!" shouted in the mirror every morning when you're full of complexes. well that actually has been shown to makes you miserable in the long run. because you don't really believe it so it actually put you in front of what you're not, every morning. it is the difficulty of it all, a trick for the conscious part might do the opposite at a subconscious level.


the good thing is that the rule is very simple, believe=OK, doubt and you're good for depression.



 if you actually believe you're gonna beat cancer, you will really have a lot more chances to beat it. and knowing that actual fact should help people believe in positive thinking. it works if I believe, so why not believe and go beat that ****?

that is a very good thing. (seems like I was misinformed about that, apparently you can improve the well being of people, not really help healing).



for the magic interconnect that changes the sound, opens the soundstage, brings the trebles to life, make the voice natural... it's another problem as we know for a fact that it shouldn't change the sound and if it did, it wouldn't have those effects.

believing in cable for what they are not actually doing, and any theory unreasonable and unsupported by science or your own knowledge, might be a little more tricky if you stopped believing in unicorns and alien spaceships ^_^. I guess the ignorant fool has a lot of untapped potential for this.

but yeah people who actually believe the sound to be different, are hearing the different sound. that's why they're so adamant about it, and also why they can only conclude that the test is wrong when the test shows no audible difference.



I don't think you should try to convince yourself that something is good if you really don't think so. because as I said it will not be to your benefit in the long run.

but you can have a little chat with your brain and improve things just by being reasonable.

here is how I do it, just a little reminder of reality:


"hey brain, you're gonna tell me you can't enjoy that sound? really? do you remember how much fun we had when we were young?(visualizing myself singing, holding my air microphone and striking a pose on my way to school.

So you think you can stone me and spit in my eyheyyheyyyyyye?
So you think you can love me and leave me to diiiiihiihiiiiiiiiiie?..."




didn't know english at the time so it was more like "so yu sin ukan stome en spitimyeyyyyyyyyyyeyyyyyy"but those were good times right? and you see the crap we were using!!!!! that orange shame of a headphone, that K7 tape shredder!!! ok!!!! so stop being a little bitch about gears that are actually a hundred times better, and just enjoy the great music!"


usually my brain feels so stupid that it doesn't dare to complain for a few days.:atsmile:

but that's not much of using placebo. and that's probably why it works so well for me.

post #3 of 11
Originally Posted by castleofargh View Post

if you actually believe you're gonna beat cancer, you will really have a lot more chances to beat it. and knowing that actual fact should help people believe in positive thinking. 


Being a science forum, I had to post a bit of a rebuttal to this claim.  




To learn more about attitude and survival, researchers looked at the emotional well-being of more than 1,000 patients with head and neck cancer to find out whether it affected survival. Over time, those who scored high on emotional well-being showed no differences in cancer growth or length of life when compared with those with low scores. Based on what we know now about how cancer starts and grows, there’s no reason to believe that emotions can cause cancer or help it grow.
post #4 of 11

sadly for sick people, it seems like you're right about it. I believed what others told me (TV, doctor, and a lot of "I know a guy who..." kind of people).

last time I looked for information on the subject was a few years back and I remembered a study implying that optimism was having positive results on treatments. I never understood why TBH, but they came up with numbers so I accepted it as fact. but a rapid look at the biggest and latest studies with real significant number of patients, makes it clear about the overal result :( .

post #5 of 11
Originally Posted by sonitus mirus View Post


Being a science forum, I had to post a bit of a rebuttal to this claim.  




Cancer is the group of diseases which has been shown to be least susceptible to placebo. Due to the uncertainties inherent in cancer diagnoses they also the most carefully discussed, oncologists are very careful not to inspire false hope. Unfortunately this is sometimes read as institutional pessimism by the patients who sometimes refuse evidence-backed treatments for the fantastic promises made by quack medicine purveyors and "positive outlook" gurus.


However it should be noted that placebos enjoy a good measure of success in treating other things, like pain.


Whether placebos have a place in medical treatment is a matter with hundreds of years of ethics debate behind it. Inducing expectation bias in audiophiles is a recent practice with less dire ethical implications.

post #6 of 11

Placebo is great if it makes people happier and enjoy music and life more. But it can lead to addiction because one gets used to the effect quickly. In the audiophile universe there is always the next better and more expensive gear that promises even more satisfaction. For some people it's a blissful hobby, but for others it can get frustrating or ruinous or both...

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

It seems that balance is key, as it is with everything else in life, right? get too critical of your gear and sound, and you risk always being unhappy, or spending as much money as possible on the most expensive gear just to satisfy yourself knowing at least for now there isn't anything better than that, even if you're still unhappy with the sound to a degree. Or we analyze to a degree and learn to just 'let it be' if it gets good enough to the point where nothing stands out as wrong, and you can just blissfully forget about being critical within your glorious music.

post #8 of 11
the problem of placebo is that the person victim of it(for good or bad) does believe. and will lie on headfi with the most amazing straight face giving fake intel to millions of people.

not exactly an ally of truth.
post #9 of 11
The biggest problem with placebo is that it is not understood very well. It's a general concept that covers many things.
post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by anetode View Post

However it should be noted that placebos enjoy a good measure of success in treating other things, like pain.




That makes sense to me, as pain is not always tangible, and there is even phantom pain where no limb is present to experience the sensation.  Cancer is measurable, and any experiment with regards to its progression or regression is quantifiable.  Pain often seems more similar to an emotion. I enjoy music, more or less, depending on my state of mind.   Despite the music quality being audibly identical, I simply enjoy it more at certain times based on my emotional state.  Usually inebriation improves my joy of music and, oddly, I have an urge to listen to music after having an orgasm, and it seems to sound better for lack of a better explanation.

post #11 of 11

The quickest way for my stereo system to make me happy is for it to perform at its optimal best objectively. That gives me satisfaction. Placebo might hide a problem for a few hours, but eventually the burr under the saddle would come back.

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