Sound Science Forum Moderator
- Jul 2, 2011
and I get why you have that position. after all, believing in ourselves is often the first step toward success in anything. when being overconfident will help make you a creative artist or a talented athlete, the side effect is "only" that you tend to become a bit of a jerk. as the target is success and is helped by confidence, of course confidence becomes a positive force and even a requirement at some point.Yet I personally lower the value of most blind tests when they involve the components of "uncertainty"..
Uncertainty is a mental condition that can ruin the perception of the mind, and to me invalidates the full potential of a person's perceptions..
now back to our situation. a random audiophile is affected by a wild range of biases and senses other than hearing. he has no tool in his brain to isolate completely any of those non audio factors, to the point that vision or touch can and will alter what he thinks he's heard. we have all the research demonstrating that in so many ways. our random audiophile also has no reign over his memory, or maybe too much depending on how you look at things. and again research has demonstrated that we can start altering our memory of sound as soon as 6 to 10s later(depending on the research) and that the more time passes the less reliable we are. just replacing cables manually tends to take more time than that and will be advised against by any half descent expert in audio research.
so we're in a situation where a great many things can influence our impressions of sound and make us get the wrong idea. in that context, being confident will only make the listener dismiss the very real issues and trust his guts more. so he won't think he has any reason to try and mitigates the various problems of his "test". that in turn will make him wrong more often and claiming false stuff with great confidence. in that situation, confidence in our impressions directly opposes success.
if the situation was confident people vs self doubting people going through the same experiment, I'd be tempted to root for the confident people more often. but we're not talking about that situation. we're talking about confident/ignorant people doing it wrong, and other people doing it less wrong because they don't overestimate themselves so they adapt the test for it to be less biased. once I've set up a serious listening test, I'm actually pretty confident in my hearing abilities.
if I had to use a crappy analogy to your point, it would be arguing that wearing a seat belt and replacing the flat tire is bad because it makes you doubt your driving skills. biases are real, they do affect our impressions, looking the other way with confidence makes us wrong more often, not better at hearing.
and the feeling that we can notice more details when in a sighted tests is yet another fallacy. of course we feel like we notice more details, the brain is processing all the crap we already know and all the crap we're looking at like which cable is used, how it looks, the price, the marketing that convinced us to purchase it... the brain is using all that while making up an impressions of "sound". we do get more details, but they're not acoustic.