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Testing audiophile claims and myths

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by prog rock man, May 3, 2010.
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  1. KeithEmo
    The term "theory", even in its proper scientific context, has a wide variety in it meaning.

    Some theories, like the "theory of evolution", have lots of supporting evidence, and are widely believed to be true, or more accurately "to describe a model that represents the reality quite well". However, other theories are wildly conjectural, and seem quite unlikely to be true, and many have in fact been found not to be true.

    The main issue, as I see it, is that many NON-SCIENTISTS insist on making some sort of differentiation between theories and facts - with the idea that "theories are less certain" - which is untrue. And, in fact, many use it in a diminutive sense - as "only a theory". The reality is that virtually everything we think we know is teory - but some theories are much better supported by evidence, and have been found to more consistently describe reality, than others.

    The actual truth is that MOST of what we believe we know is a theory at one level or another.

    No human being has ever left our solar system... therefore EVERYTHING we "know" about astronomy is "just a theory". Everything we see outside our solar system could really be a really cool moving painting on the inside of a giant glass ball. I doubt it, and I'm quite certain that most of the theories we have about whats going on out there will turn out to be reasonably close to the reality, but for now it is all "just theories".

  2. KeithEmo
    I agree.... and especially anything based on "extreme dilutions" and "water remembering chemicsls that it once contained but no longer does".

    I am of two minds about regulation:
    On one hand, here in the USA, we have the FDA, who "protects us from snake oil".
    On the other hand, there have been cases where the red tape associated with the FDA has prevented or delayed legitimate and useful products from coming to market.
    They also impose their views of chemical quality on us (they will not allow US citizens to purchase drugs from Canada based on the claim that "they're not sure the quality is the same" - rather than allowing people to make their own choice.)
    Thres is the simple question of whether people should be "protected from the dangers of making their own decisions and possibly making stupid mistakes" or not.

    However, it seems foolish to expect insurance companies to pay for things that may not be effective, and to raise all our premiums to cover the cost of doing so.
    (Perhaps coverage of "homeopathic and other unapproved remedies" should be obtional - and only financed by those who wish to purchase it.)

  3. KeithEmo
    There is a lot of quackery going on.... and people who are dying and have exhausted all the known legitimate options are especially likely to be desperate.
    (Could we draw a parallel to audiophiles who are desperate to improve their systems - and feel nearly as strongly about the need to do so?)

    As for cancer cures containing cyanide...
    There is something deeper going on there...

    Quite a long time ago there was a cancer cure called Leatrile which was a very popular subject of the conspiracy buffs.
    Leatrile was very thoroughly outlawed in the USA after it was found to produce no useful benefits AND to be extremely toxic.
    Fans claimed that "Leatrile would cure cancer but the government, or the big pharma companies, had conspired to suppress it".
    Part of how it "worked" was that the chemicals it contained broke down in the human body to release cyanide.

    Note that, by itself, the presence of cyanide is not necessarily bad, peach pits and apple seeds contain cyanide, and some chemicals may be poison in certain qualtities, but beneficial in others.
    Therefore, the presence of cyanide in small quantities by itself doesn't mean much.

    However, the "deeper aspect" I alluded to was this:
    After Leatrile was banned, many quacks attempted to get around the ban by devising "other formulations that did pretty much the same thing but avoided the banned formulation".
    So, the presence of cyanide in a quack cancer cure, beyond being unlikely to be beneficial, is often taken to suggest that "it's yet another Leatrile knockoff".

    You will find similar, but probably harmless, cures based on the idea that "inflammation" causes most illnesses... and can be cured by drinking prickly pear cactus juice...
    And, a few years ago, the big obsession was "antioxidants"...

  4. Glmoneydawg
    The Big Pharma argument is more civil than anything I've seen in here for some time lol
  5. Phronesis
    I think it's a complex and delicate issue, since health and lives are at stake. The bottom line, IMO, is than when conventional medicine can't provide effective treatment or has too many side effects (e.g., many chemotherapies for many types of cancers, especially late stage), people will consider other options. Some of those options will be net beneficial, and some net detrimental, and we need research to figure that out. Since many alternative treatments can't be patented, one option is for the government to fund the research. But of course the pharmaceutical companies will do what they can to prevent competition which cuts into their profits.
  6. Killcomic
    Talking about fun testing, I was on Youtube the other day and there was a 20Hz to 20kHz test tone. I had no issues hearing in the low 20Hz but I topped out at about 17kHz.
    And before you ask, I was using my ATH-M40x to listen.
    I’d be surprised if many people in these forums could hear far beyond that.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2018
    bigshot likes this.
  7. castleofargh Contributor
    I don't think theory has a wide variety of meanings.
    we have ideas and questions, we formulate hypotheses and test them to see which ones should be rejected and which ones seem to be relevant ideas. after a while when we come up with a way to predict accurately and consistently what happens in the objective world based on conditions, what we get is a law.
    now if we come up with a model of why something happens that aligns with what we know and all the results of experiments, then we have a theory. there is nothing saying that a theory is complete and definitive, because it's a proposed model to explain the world. if new data helps improve on the old model or leads to a new theory, there is no reason not to do it. but a theory found to be untrue is not a theory. the moment something is disproved, it reverts back to no better than a failed hypothesis. it just took us longer than usual to disprove it.
  8. AKGForever

    I would also recommend an age be added for thoroughness

    At age 55, I can hear 13 kHz but not 14khz, which is about normal. On the low end anything below 40 hz is sporadic. I also do notice a 4K notch, which is also not unusual for my age. Testing with AKG K533, Bose Triports and Bose AE2, all give the same results.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2018
  9. Killcomic
    Good point! I’m 43, and although my range is pretty good, I do have some blind spots around 6-7khz on my left ear and 15.5khz - 17khz.
  10. bigshot
    Ears have blind spots just like eyes do
  11. Killcomic
    After 13 insane years of working in call centres, it’s no surprise.
    Thankfully I have a rather cushy admin job now that allows me to listen to music while working, which is the reason why I ended up in these forums.
  12. sonitus mirus
  13. Killcomic
  14. KeithEmo
    You're probably right...
    With most of us, our high frequency limit starts at around 20 kHz and reduces as we get older.

    I might suggest, however, that you look for a similar test that can be done using files you download.
    (You will find many websites that offer downloadable files or even an interactive signal generator.)

    There have been serious doubts as to whether YouTube videos will actually deliver response to 20 kHz.
    Apparently, when analyzed , many YouTube videos have been found to have a response that cuts off far lower.
    It is also a known fact that the lossy compression used on some YouTube videos doesn't have response to 20 khz.
    I've also seen many claims that, historically, YouTube has limited audio quality in the past.
    (So what you get may depend on when a video was uploaded.)

    All this suggests that you will get more trustworthy results if you use a file you can play yourself and can look at in the audio editor of your choice - just to confirm it actually contains all the frequencies it should.

  15. KeithEmo
    I should also point out something else.

    Scientists use the word "law" as a sort of shorthand for "something we've agreed to assume is true" - which is somewhat different than what many non-scientists think it means.
    In science, "laws" are often updated when new data becomes available, and this is considered to be perfectly acceptable.
    Relativity applies in every situation we know of where motion is involved - whereas we now know that "Newtons laws of motion" are incomplete.
    (They produce reasonably accurate results at low speeds - but become far less accurate as you consider speeds even a small fraction of the speed of light.)
    However, because Newton's laws produce reasonably accurate results in many situations, and are far easier to calculate, we still use them where they fit our needs.
    A "scientific law" is NOT "a theory that we now know to be 100% true"; it is simply a theory that we have AGREED TO TREAT AS IF TRUE UNTIL IT IS CONTRADICTED.

    The various "laws of Newtonian motion" are perfectly adequate for working out the details of a cross country trip or a car accident.
    And they work pretty well for calculating results for even terrestrial jet planes and missiles.
    Yet they would be totally inadequate for calculating the trajectory of a high-speed trip across the solar system - and would yield incorrect answers.
    For that, if you want accurate answers, you have to resort to the much more complex math associated with relativity.

    It should also be pointed out that many theories (and laws) are still recognized as being incomplete - or in dispute.
    For example, "the theory of evolution" is widely agreed to be true - and will likely never be discarded.
    However, some of the details of how it works are still disputed (punctuated evolution vs gradualism), and there are still afew unknowns here and there.

    It should also be pointed out that a theory can exist in several different states....
    - evidence can be found to support it
    - evidence can be found to contradict it
    - it can simply be beyond our abilities or level of interest to test it

    I should also point out that the first two conditions often coexist - where evidence exists which both supports and contradicts a given theory.
    Sometimes the outcome is that, after more testing, some of the evidence is discarded as being flawed.
    And, sometimes, the theory itself is found to require adjustment.

    Most of us here should remember from high-school science class how "light can be modelled both as a wave and as a particle".
    And there are many situations where either model will get you to the correct answer.
    Yet there are also obvious times at which one or the other is clearly wrong.
    (The reality is that light is neither a wave nor a particle; light is simply what it is. We're simply discussing two models we humans like to use as a simple way of thinking about light.)

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