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What is the rationale behind the prohibition of DBT discussion?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by dexter3d, Jul 26, 2010.
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  1. dexter3d
    I got the impression that blind testing discussions on Head-Fi are explicitly _censored_, _marginalized_ and moved to the _outskirts_ of the forum, to one geeky sub-forum, mysteriously called 'Sound Science' (who cares about science anyway?).
    Here is my own experience: in one ultra-popular thread, which discussed some flavor of the month gear, one reviewer made quite comprehensive review of some stuff, including USB DATA CABLES, and concluded that this but not that USB DATA CABLE makes a BIG DIFFERENCE SQ-WISE (I am not overemphasizing - this was the wording of the conclusion of the review). Now, I _instinctively_ posted a reply, something like 'Dude, did you perform a blind test, cause your sound perception might have been blinded by your shiny bourgeois cable'). Whoo, that was my mistake. I received a very strong reply from the reviewer, after which I felt like I have engaged in some illegal activity or something. It began like 'Did you compare? No? Then STFU', which was kinda OK, but that was not it - the guy continued, relied on AUTHORITAHH (apparently there was a 'sticky' post somewhere prohibiting DBT suggestions!) and asked me not to do that again! Now I see the same guy posting comprehensive detailed reviews of different stuff, which are followed by numerous 'ooh ahh how nice', and then - procession to group buys, of course. To my humble mind, hearing BIG differences in USB DATA CABLES completely invalidates all other observations of that person with regard to SQ, and extensive reviews written by such a person in confident fashion may be very misleading. Therefore, when such a person writes hearing big differences in USB cables, people have the right (I would say, an obligation) to debunk them INSTANTLY, here and now. After all, our aim here is to be as objective as possible, as otherwise no single review would make any sense (except as a piece of arts, if it is written poetically).
    Anyway, I was shown my place, but I thought for myself - what is the rationale behind such a prohibition? As you can't even mention DBT to some lunatic who claims that expensive usb data cables make big difference in sound. Here are some possible answers that I came up with:
    1) Materialistic interests. Millions of bucks made from cable believers are the ultimate force, and openly debunking this stuff would interfere with this kind of business.
    2) Feelings. Perhaps this is one of American 'exceptionalisms' - you can claim respect for your fragile _beliefs_, even when those are like the earth is 6000 years old, super sounding usb cables, or people riding dinosaurs and so on. Debunking stuff can make some people feel bad, how dare you to make fun out of them?
    3) Flame prevention. Idea that blind testing suggestions may generate pages of unnecessary flame topics, departing from the original topic. But heck, are 'ooh ahh how nice' replies any better than a gentle debunking statement?
    Other than that, I could not think of anything else. Did I miss something? I am really curious as to what other rationales might be behind this rude censorship.
    It is a scientific FACT that human hearing (and not only that) is extremely prone to illusions facilitated by the intelligent brain (esp. when something is expensive and shiny); and the only way to get out of this situation is to use blind controlled tests. This is how scientific method works, this is how brilliant headphones and all music reproduction equipment were invented in the first place - through highly critical, impersonal, evidence based research.
    Any thoughts?
    stevenswall likes this.
  2. Roger Strummer
    I'm kind of ambivalent regarding the prohibition of the talk of DBT in the other forums. 
    I'm against the prohibition because I think that DBT is the most valid way of testing the sound differences perceived by a human being, and personally I use it a lot.
    But on the other hand when one brings it up the threads tend to end up being a circular argument about the validity of the reported tests or even the validity of DBT itself, which gets really boring very fast, so to avoid that I'm kind of glad it is not permitted, and if I'm not mistaken that is the main reason it is not allowed.
    At least for me when I see statements like the above, or an interconnection cable making huge sonic differences, it helps me put into perspective what kind of differences the reviewer is talking about, as in very small differences exaggerated (which happens a lot around here). After all, even supposing there is a difference  (that has yet to be measured), it probably is little, so when a person says that difference is night and day, at least exaggeration seems to be present.
  3. Anaxilus
    So you are upset that topics related to scientific methodology are 'marginalized' to the sound science thread?  Is that right??
    Sorry, I missed where the 'censorship' or 'prohibition' took place that you are claiming.
  4. Roger Strummer


    The issue seems to be about the prohibition (which used to be a sticky at least in the cables forum) to mention DBT in any other subforum apart from sound science. There is a prohibition, whether there is censorship is debatable.
  5. dexter3d


    A guy is making an extraordinary claim in his review (in that case=particular expensive data cable makes a big difference). Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The only legitimate way of dispelling all misperceptions (or even more wicked stuff) is blind testing. There are simply no alternatives (if we talk about listening).
    Censorship is when a guy who makes an extraordinary claim is asked whether he did a blind test, and when he answers by pointing to the safeguard prohibition, and tells me to shut up and never raise this matter again. This way, he censors the discussion relying on authoritative prohibition.
  6. Prog Rock Man


    Threads are locked, posts are deleted, warnings are PM'd by moderators to those who post such posts.
  7. jenneth

    I know what you mean, and that's why I ignore most posters here when it comes to reviews/recommendations (with a few notable exceptions, of course).
  8. Prog Rock Man
    Dexter3d, I think that your thread title is misleading. DBT is not totally prohibited, but it is marginalised. It would be more accurate to ask, why is DBT limited to only one part of the forum?
    I think the answer is that it is to limit the number of threads which descend into farce as pro and anti-cable factions go round in circles.
    Like you, it galls me how so many claims can go unchallenged because of this. I am not worried about buying £20 'audiophile' cables, you do need something appropriate to join your hifi kit up. I do worry about the claims of improved sound quality and ability to change the sound of hifi, which DBT continually show not to be the case.
  9. dexter3d

    I don't think so - as far as I understood, it IS prohibited everywhere except in sound science subforum (that is why the guy was bashing me in no time after even mentioning blind testing, and this was not even in cable section).
  10. Prog Rock Man
    OK, semantics, it is marginalised by prohibition from all but one part of the forum.
    I am on your side and agree with you. I think that DBT comment should be allowed all over the forum. Other forums do and are not swamped with trolling and endless repetition of round-a-bout cable debates.
  11. dexter3d

    I personally wouldn't care that much, but Head-fi is a really powerful resource - many people (including innocent youngsters:) ) spend their money based on the reviews they find here. And reviews that make extraordinary claims usually receive only praise, while criticism in the form of even asking whether a reviewer did a blind test is deemed 'unlawful' and unacceptable - now that is f...ed up. The funny thing is - blind testing is THE ONLY WAY to prove someone wrong in this business. If you prohibit criticism on those grounds - phew, fantasy has no limits, you let the genie out of the bottle
  12. sokolov91
    Originally Posted by dexter3d View Post 2) Feelings. Perhaps this is one of American 'exceptionalisms' - you can claim respect for your fragile _beliefs_, even when those are like the earth is 6000 years old, super sounding usb cables, or people riding dinosaurs and so on. Debunking stuff can make some people feel bad, how dare you to make fun out of them?
    Yeah no kidding. In NA people are so quick to demand respect and play the discrimination card, no matter how inane the situation is, or how offensive they are in return. You have Jehovah's witnesses harassing people at their homes and telling them they are going to go to hell if they don't believe (questioning your beliefs), but how dare you question their beliefs and little book, conveniently the only major source of "proof" they have.
    Same thing with cables. It is people believing what they want and demanding respect for it. Only major source of proof is their personal perception, which can vary day by day, based diet, mood, colour of the item, anything.
    Google "Flying Spaghetti Monster" great example of how ridiculous things like this are and how intelligent people are starting to deal with it.
    The prohibition is most certainly to keep things tame, but I agree when you see someone review cables and this and that, and tell you "this headphone is junk without a cable that costs 5X the actual headphone" I think their ignorance is offensive. They should respect us enough not to talk about magic.
    Until there is any proof, like a measurement, or someone consistently passing a DBT there is no argument and really it is old old men with too little brain cells, and too much money.
    Personally, I bought a bunch of cables and believed for a while they worked. Then I moved my system downstairs and was too lazy to bring all the fancy cables down right away, and low and behold the system sounded exactly the same. Since then I have been trying to sell off the cables and reclaim my dignity. So mistakes are ok... so long as you learn from them.
  13. dexter3d

    I thought that it was Richard Dawkins who coined this term, but then I googled this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster  and thought wow - you Americans still have some hope :D
    Why would one be afraid to do a blind test? Just you and the sound, isn't that thrilling? Isn't it all about the sound?
  14. sokolov91


    Not an american, but yeah great stuff haha.
    It is all about the sound, so it shouldn't be banned. People should embrace science, not wizardry, but alas the same way the world is plagued with religion, Hifi will be with snake oil.
  15. Prog Rock Man
    Claiming that you can easily hear a difference, or that the difference is night and day is not necessarily anti-science. We can observe and hear differences. But it is better and more credible to back up those claims or they remain baseless.
    I used to live near a Porsche dealer back in the 1970s when they had the 911, 924, 944 and 928. I got so used to the different sound each engine makes I could tell which was which without looking.
    Importantly, not only could I claim that I could also prove it. My parents and a friend thought I was talking nonsense. So I sat for an hour with my back to the living room window and after identifying 5/5 they believed me. I know 5/5 is not much, but importantly after that hour they could also hear the differences themselves without looking as they had tuned in. Now that is a real difference in sound.
    On this and other hifi forums there are way too many claims and far too little evidence to show that people can identify differences in sound between cables, which are far smaller than the difference in sound between Porsche engines. Well, they are non existent in fact.
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