Are you a Verificationist about audio?


A Verificationist about audio believes that...

A statement about audio is valid ONLY IF it can be verified, and it can be verified ONLY IF there is some finite, repeatable, public procedure for determining whether it is true or false.

Verificationism is a major ideological division on Audiogon, particularly on topics relating to cables, power accessories, and miscellaneous tweaks. Verificationists argue that, if a statement about cable x, power outlet y, or tweak z cannot be verified, then the statement is not valid. Anti-verificationists argue that, if they themselves hear a difference between item x and item y, then that is sufficient to make statements about those items valid.

Are you a Verificationist about audio?
bryoncunningham
I am definatly able to say I am a verification person as long as the verification involves no absolutes anywhere in the process of verification including the verification of the original verification.On the other hand.............
No and the notion that this is a major division amongst audio hobbyists appears untrue. I have no instrument to measure this claim.
The only measuring devices I use are an SPL meter but not for the purposes of verifying a loudspeaker's claimed sensitivity, and very infrequently a multimeter. I am a wishful -someday I'll get around to learning it- DIYer.
Long ago, when I was young, if an amplifier passed a sine wave and a square wave at a certain power over a certain frequency range, it was declared to be better than the job required, since obviously one could not hear distortion below say 1 or 2 %. Speaker wire was zip cord and interconnect was well......wire (and men were men and electricity was just electricity).
Hi Bryon,

Interesting question. In my case I would say that the answer is neither "yes" nor "no."

Assessing the validity of the kinds of statements you refer to, as I see it, is a matter of making reasoned judgments, taking into account the science that is involved, one's own listening experience and experiments, and anecdotal evidence that is offered by others.

The anecdotal evidence part of it in turn obviously requires considerable filtering, to a degree that varies depending on:

1)How broad the consensus seems to be about the particular tweak or other matter. Which is NOT to say that broadly held beliefs will always be correct.
2)Its degree of apparent absurdity.
3)The thoroughness and degree of discipline that seems to have gone into the reported assessments. Particularly the degree of care that seems to have gone into making sure that what is reported as having been heard is attributed to the right variable.

I am a verificationist to the extent that I believe that reason, common sense, scientific understanding, careful experimentation, and disciplined methodology are an essential part of achieving optimal results.

I am also a verificationist to the extent that I reject the notion some seem to have that there is no finite limit to the degree of absurdity of a tweak beyond which it is legitimate to reject the tweak without trying it.

I am a non-verificationist to the extent I believe that known science, and scientific methodology, cannot explain and verify all of our audio-related perceptions, and also to the extent that I recognize that the finite limit I referred to above is a wide one.

If that all sounds to some like a non-answer, my feeling is that like most things in life, audio involves making judgments and educated guesses involving shades of gray and matters of degree, not choices between black and white or yes and no.

Best regards,
-- Al
I'm a "verificationist" insofar as the humans making the verifications are infallible.
I will tend to take much more seriously a well reasoned explanation backed by solid science - meaning that I will accept some well supported manufacturer's claims.

When something makes absolutely no sense at all - then my philosophy is why waste any time verifying it. If it is real then very soon a proper scientific theory and experimental evidence will emerge. If it is audiphoolery then the outlandish claims (lies) will just get bigger and bigger - totally saturated in ridiculous hyperbole.

Life is too short to play the fool spending one's time testing foolish outlandish unsupported unverified anecdotal claims. Human's are very unreliable in their observations and recollections - just ask a lawyer who works in court or ask a doctor about the well known "placebo effect".

I'd rather spend that time exploring new music, investing in meaningful improvements to the system, or following other hobbies, family time etc.
subjects of a subjective nature , like audio, genereate opinions. most statements regharding audio topics are opinions which cannot be verified as to their certainty.

proff is analytic and deductive, induction cannot be used for proving anything.

the senses cannot be a basis for proof.

i would appreciate a statement which can be verified.

regarding measurement, if you have instruments measuring certain paramaters, there may be others which , at the time, cannot be measured.

hence it is my hypothesis that statements in the realm of audio can only be verified if they follow the laws of logic and mathenatics. i guess that makes me a non-verificationist because i believe in the main, that verification is not feasible.
Al wrote:

I am a non-verificationist to the extent I believe that KNOWN science, and scientific methodology, cannot explain and verify all of our audio-related perceptions…[emphasis added]

I agree that KNOWN science cannot explain all of our audio-related perceptions, but that probably does not make me, or Al, a non-verificationist, for the following reason: Most Verificationists from the history of science and philosophy believed that, for a statement to be valid, it need be verifiable only IN PRINCIPLE. That left open the possibility of valid statements whose validity could be determined only by some FUTURE science. This might be thought of as a kind of Pragmatic Verificationism, since it advocates an allegiance to scientific corroboration, while acknowledging that current science is limited in its representations of reality. Pragmatic Verificationism is what I suspect Al believes. It is certainly what I believe.

You may be wondering, why bother with Pragmatic Verificationism, or any other type of Verificationism for that matter? As Shadorne said, “Life is too short to play the fool spending one's time testing foolish outlandish unsupported unverified anecdotal claims.” Like Shadorne, I don’t want to spend my weekend testing power outlets against each other. But Verificationism is not really about the ACTIVITY of verifying (though it can be). Verificationism is about an ATTITUDE toward controversial statements - in this case, statements about audio components or systems. In my view, that attitude, or its absence, influences the way in which controversial statements are received, every day here on A’gon.
This might be thought of as a kind of Pragmatic Verificationism, since it advocates an allegiance to scientific corroboration, while acknowledging that current science is limited in its representations of reality. Pragmatic Verificationism is what I suspect Al believes. It is certainly what I believe.... Verificationism is about an ATTITUDE toward controversial statements - in this case, statements about audio components or systems. In my view, that attitude, or its absence, influences the way in which controversial statements are received, every day here on A’gon.
Very well put, Bryon. Thanks! That indeed characterizes much of my relevant beliefs, and provides me with greater insight into those beliefs than I was previously able to formulate.

Best regards,
-- Al
Just waiting for this thread to start heating up with Machina Dynamica references. Perhaps also links to that H-Cat thread?
Interesting discussion. But it seems like an effort to label or create a logical construct around a set of observations that are ultimately difficult to properly frame - an exercise where words and definitions ultimately fall even shorter than our attempts to build empirical tests of ethereal and very subtle (or not) sonic differences resluting (or not) from artistic and sometimes tortured implementations of different electron paths, that most members of the "public" could not, or care not to be able decipher. For an extreme example, take the construct(s): "God gave me two ears, and I hear a difference." Verify that! Or, "Professional audio reviewer's opinions on (-add your accessory of choice HERE _______) are always correct because they know more about hifi gear than the 'Public'." Neither of these statements are verifiable, but both somewhat relevant in the context of the audiophile experience related to cables and tweaks.

Speaking of reviewers, it is interesting that this topic comes up now, since there is another thread nearby on Agon asking about the most enjoyable audio magazine. This made me think about the "Lake Wobegon Effect" as it might apply to hifi reviewing - whereby all gear that is evaluated turns out to be "above average", including the power cords, cables and the tweaks of topic here. With respect to verificationism, this makes me want to take the "Ronald Reagan Approach" and to "Trust but Verify" when it comes to shopping based on reviewer advice.

PS - I was trained as a scientist but now fall more in the camp of the "subjective empiricist."
Interesting thread.

I'd say i both am and i am not. It depends.

However we formulate our models of how things work, they are often abstracted models that typically only deal with factors that matter to each of us. Some possibly many details are omitted. But the model still works because the things that matter most to each individual are addressed sufficiently. Its a highly personalized thing. One size never fits all.

Our perceptions of sound, music and audio gear are perfect examples. Each person deecides what matters to them. If they are able to model and address the things that matter to them sufficiently, they are happy. If not, they are probably not. As long as tbe model is valid and correct and addresses the significant elements, all is well.

Some things will matter to many or most. That is how religions with large followings happen. Some things at the most abstract level may be common to most even of different faiths, though details will vary.

Regarding audio, our senses and emotions largely determine what matters most to each. We may all listen to the same thing but chances are the perception of each is different somehow.
IMO - It's all an exercise in futility, as our opinions are based on our personal experience with the equipment under a set of conditions virtually impossible, or at least unlikely for someone else to replicate. For example, in my system, because of my speakers, my amplifier and my room, I come to the conclusion that Brand X speaker cables lack midbass fullness, that's only because of the cable's interaction with my system and room. Another person, with a different system, could find the same cables to be overly bloated in the midbass. Both results could be verified by appropriate testing equipment, as frequency response in a room is scientifically verifiable. So, other than talking about this stuff because some people find it interesting, the process is otherwise without value. So I believe.
the problem with the distinction raised in the thread is that corroboration or verification is not proof.

thus the verificatopn of a perception does not mean that that which is verified is true.
05-17-12: Mrtennis
the problem with the distinction raised in the thread is that corroboration or verification is not proof.

thus the verification of a perception does not mean that that which is verified is true.
MrT - We've had this conversation approximately 1 million times. The last time was on the Magic thread, when you said...
...I have concluded that since perception is unreliable and it is the means of interacting with our stereo system, all objective considerations, and arguments are academic.
And I said...
[That] is the conclusion you ALWAYS come to, no matter what is being discussed. It goes like this...

1. Knowledge must be certain.
2. Perception cannot be certain.
3. Therefore, perception is not knowledge.

This little syllogism, which encapsulates your Ideology of Skepticism, is presented by you so frequently here on A'gon that it is beginning to look like stereotypy.
Fire with fire, stereotypy with stereotypy.

Bryon
Say what dude!!
Ah Bryon, another great question pondering the imponderables, so to speak, since consensus would appear to be difficult but in the end worth the endeavor.

I would consider myself a 'verificationist' in as much as I put my trust in things not to blow up, short out, or commit some other kind of catastrophic failure upon turn on. Thank goodness for UL. Beyond that, I'm content to try things that my own, lying ears perceive to be for the better in my musical appreciation regardless of whether or not it has been thoroughly vetted to the satisfaction (if attainable at all) of any cadre of rejectionists, no matter how adamantly they insist and semantically twisted they present their arguments.

Granted, there is a limit to what is doable, attainable and repeatable that would beg human ken to adopt as conventional wisdom. If it neither breaks my legs or picks my pocket then what is all the fuss about when sharing what one thinks to be an improvement with others?

I've gotten beyond that some time ago but do enjoy the thrust and perry of the truly talented out there (you know who you are) as they lay out a rational and reasonable argument that we don't know everything yet and to simply trust our ears as to what works and reverse engineer the point, or possibilities.

All the best,
Nonoise
I was going to join in this discussion until I read Chayro's comments. He hit the nail on the head. Verify results in Chayro's room and then take the same components and verify results in my room. It will never be the same. How do you verify under those circumstances? You can verify to you heart's content on a work bench but when does it ever apply specifically to your room? Heck, if there are 50 responses to this thread, there will be 50 different set of circumstances. So if verification is meant to be universal by definition, I say it is impossible.

I'm not a verificationist - just a guy that buys the best he can afford and makes up his mind to enjoy it and nevermind those that have gone further.
In the immortal words of Senator John Kerry "I was actually for Verificationism before I was against it".

Be mindful, audio-reviewers are like corporations, and we all know, "Corporations Are People".
Ant-verificationist all the way. If I hear it (or don't), that's all the verification I need. However, since I am limited to exposure in my system, any "statements" I would make on these things would come with a heavy dose of YMMV.
byron:

you are accurate in your assessment of my skepticism.

i do repeat the argument you encapsulated so well in a syllogism, because , it has not been definitively refuted.

in addition, there are many topics, or threads, to which skepticism applies.

some of the issues that are raised as threads, are rhetorical, and, like most philosophical arguments, do not have a definitive conclusion.
Skepticism as a contrivance to further an argument can only lead one to doubt the sincerity of the skeptic.

I trust that's not the case else this wouldn't qualify as academic, let alone philosophical, but simply rhetorical.

All the best,
Nonoise
Nonoise, who are you talking to?
Sorry, glazed over Tennis' response. Too many commas
Let me share my Popperian view on this matter.

The OP states:
A statement about audio is valid ONLY IF it can be verified, and it can be verified ONLY IF there is some finite, repeatable, public procedure for determining whether it is true or false.

The issues lies not with the ability to verify but rather with how the statement is structured. The statement must be falsifiable. A statement such as "power conditioner xyz will provide a low noise floor and black background" cannot be falsified thus it cannot be debated in a meaningful way. How is low defined? My idea of low may vary considerably from yours. What is black? Black is a description of color not of sound and again it is a measure of ones perception. Who am I to argue about your perception?

The obvious way to make this statement falsifiable would be to add measurable values of noise. Then you break out all the high tech instruments and see if the statement holds up. As audiophiles we all have next our systems a lab for scientifically testing of every last wire and drop of solder!

But this statement can be framed differently and still be falsifiable while being practical for discussion. For example "power conditioner xyz provides a lower noise floor as compared brand abc" This statement can be tested by comparing the two brands and most likely conflicting results will be found. The statement is none the less falsified and must be further refined or reworked and re-tested. This process is then repeated and the statement is refined to the point where it either rejected or provides valuable and usable insight.

This example is not say that it is only by comparisons, rather that comparisons may be one of many possible means of formulating a falsifiable statement.

What does this make me? A falsifialist!
Thank you, Mapman, for resurrecting this thread. It seems especially relevant lately, with all the recent discussion about magic and fuses and magic fuses.
05-16-12: Mapman
We may all listen to the same thing but chances are the perception of each is different somehow.
I agree. Perception is variable. But as your use of the word “somehow” implies, perception is not infinitely variable. There is considerable commonality among perceptions. The reason I mention that will become obvious in a minute. But first…
05-17-12: Chayro
IMO - It's all an exercise in futility, as our opinions are based on our personal experience with the equipment under a set of conditions virtually impossible, or at least unlikely for someone else to replicate. For example, in my system, because of my speakers, my amplifier and my room, I come to the conclusion that Brand X speaker cables lack midbass fullness, that's only because of the cable's interaction with my system and room. Another person, with a different system, could find the same cables to be overly bloated in the midbass. Both results could be verified by appropriate testing equipment, as frequency response in a room is scientifically verifiable.
05-19-12: Puerto
I was going to join in this discussion until I read Chayro's comments. He hit the nail on the head. Verify results in Chayro's room and then take the same components and verify results in my room. It will never be the same.
Again, I agree. Systems are variable. And because many of the characteristics we commonly attribute to components are actually extrinsic (i.e. determined by the interaction of the component with the rest of the system), the fact that systems are variable entails that the audible characteristics of the VERY SAME COMPONENT are variable. So here’s what the Verificationist has to contend with…

1. Perception is variable.
2. Systems are variable.
3. For any component, its audible characteristics are variable.

All of these statement are true, IMO. And when taken together, they present a real challenge to Verificationism. But I don’t think they present an insuperable challenge to Verificationism, in the sense in which it was presented in the OP and subsequently discussed. In the OP, I said…
A statement about audio is valid ONLY IF it can be verified, and it can be verified ONLY IF there is some finite, repeatable, public procedure for determining whether it is true or false.
So for Verificationism to be valid, it requires a procedure, or what I’ll now call a Method of Verification. According to my definition of Verificationism, the Method of Verification must be…

1. finite
2. repeatable
3. public

And now we get to the challenges presented by Mapman, Chayro, and Puerto…

--Mapman’s challenge: The Method of Verification cannot be PUBLIC, because perception is variable.

--Chayro and Puerto’s challenge: The Method of Verification cannot be REPEATABLE, because systems and component characteristics are variable.

And if the Method of Verification isn’t public or repeatable, then it isn’t a Method of Verification at all, and thus Verificationism is invalid, futile, etc.. It’s a good argument. But I don’t think it arrives at the right conclusion. The reason is this… The Method of Verification is not carried out merely by a single person. It is carried out by a LARGE COMMUNITY OF PERSONS.

Even if I can’t reproduce your results due to differences in my perception or my system, HUNDREDS OF OTHER PEOPLE are also attempting to reproduce your results. They have their own perception and their own systems. Some of them will have perception closer to you. Some will not. Some will have systems closer to yours. Some will not. But when taken together, the results of hundreds of people acting independently will effectively FACTOR OUT the idiosyncrasies of any one person’s perception or any one person’s system.

So if the Method of Verification fails for me, it says nothing about whether it will succeed for you or someone else. And if it succeeds for enough people, then a result has been verified, even if I can’t reproduce the result with my own system and with my own ears. Just how many people is "enough people" is of course debatable. The more people you require, the more rigorous a Verificationist you are. Personally, I'm a moderate Verificationist.

In other words, Verificationism doesn’t require unanimity. It requires consensus. And consensus is often possible, for the reason I gave at the beginning of this post, namely that perception is not infinitely variable and systems are not infinitely variable. There is considerable commonality in both. That commonality is often invisible at the level of the INDIVIDUAL. Sometimes it can only be seen at the level of the GROUP. And that is the level at which a result must be verified for Verificationism to be valid.

That is one of the great benefits of sites like these. They provide a view of the Big Picture, which cannot be seen from your listening room.

IMO, IME, etc.

Bryon
Tholt,

I was referring to MrT's point of view which I simply don't share.
05-19-12: Mrtennis
byron:

you are accurate in your assessment of my skepticism.

i do repeat the argument you encapsulated so well in a syllogism, because , it has not been definitively refuted.
It's ironic to me that you are challenging someone to "definitively refute" your belief that knowledge cannot be derived from perception, since by your own admission that belief is based on another, namely that the only things that can be "definitively proved" are logical and mathematical proofs. The irony should be obvious...

If the only things that can be definitively proved are logical and mathematical proofs, then your belief that knowledge cannot be derived from perception is itself, UNPROVEN. Your skepticism fails to meet its own standards of evidence. That is funny to me.

Here is another little syllogism, which I will call the Paradox of Skepticism, courtesy of MrT...

1. The only things that can be proved are logical and mathematical proofs.

2. The belief that "The only things that can be proved are logical and mathematical proofs" is not a logical or mathematical proof.

3. The belief that "The only things that can be proved are logical and mathematical proofs" cannot be proved.

That may not be a "definitive refutation" of your Ideology of Skepticism, but it is a definitive demonstration that your skepticism is self-contradictory and facile.

Bryon (not Byron. Number of times I've reminded you: 107)
Parry, thrust, point.

Bryon, after a while, and fashion, you'll be able to do this blindfolded.

It's almost unfair.

Absolute certainty is no assurance of what is. There is an old saw in medicine that goes something like this:
"No patient is in real danger until all his doctors agree on his diagnosis."

Consensus begs to be knocked over. Whether arrived at mathematically, empirically, or through happenstance, conclusions are not entirely definitive.

Granted, there are constants in life, evidenced by math, direct observation and blind luck, that will never change. Not everything is, though.

Every now and then something pops up to challenge or mystify (depending on strength of belief and conviction) the status quo and I, for one, welcome those little inconveniences.

All the best,
Nonoise
05-19-12: Nonoise
I would consider myself a 'verificationist' in as much as I put my trust in things not to blow up, short out, or commit some other kind of catastrophic failure upon turn on. Thank goodness for UL. Beyond that, I'm content to try things that my own, lying ears perceive to be for the better in my musical appreciation regardless of whether or not it has been thoroughly vetted to the satisfaction (if attainable at all) of any cadre of rejectionists...
I agree with this. Though my general stance is that of a moderate Verificationist, I am open to trying nearly anything, as evidenced by this list of tweaks I've tried. My Verificationist attitudes tend to come out when confronted with something that strikes me as nonsense or deception. I suspect that is a rather common disposition among audiophiles.
05-20-12: Nonoise
Consensus begs to be knocked over. Whether arrived at mathematically, empirically, or through happenstance, conclusions are not entirely definitive.
Again, I agree completely. ALL knowledge is revisable, as the history of science has demonstrated literally thousands of times. There is NO empirical knowledge that is certain. But that does NOT mean we must all become Radical Skeptics, who insist that there is no knowledge whatsoever. That is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Strike that. It's throwing everything in the house out with the bathwater and then burning the house to the ground.

There are VAST amounts of knowledge in science, in culture more generally, and even written into our DNA. While none of that knowledge is certain, that fact does not impugn its status as knowledge. Whether it is the common sense view of knowledge, the prevailing philosophical views of knowledge, or the scientific views of knowledge, knowledge is the totality of beliefs that we have good reasons to think are true. We don't have to be CERTAIN a belief is true to regard it as knowledge. Not by any standard that survived the past century of rigorous debate on the subject.

The last great intellectual effort to defend epistemology based on certainty was mounted by the Logical Positivists. They were trounced so thoroughly by people like W.V.O Quine, John Dewey, Wilfred Sellars and Karl Popper that the Quest for Certainty is almost universally recognized to be an exercise in quixotic futility. Yet the very same people who so strongly advocated that we abandon the Quest for Certainty did themselves believe that knowledge and truth exist. Which brings me to…
05-20-12: Nick_sr
Let me share my Popperian view on this matter…The issues lies not with the ability to verify but rather with how the statement is structured. The statement must be falsifiable.
I am in complete agreement with Karl Popper on the standard of falsifiability as the criterion for distinguishing scientific statements from non-scientific statements. Although Popper wrote extensively on the impossibility of certainty, he nevertheless believed that knowledge exists, as his second most well known book, Objective Knowledge, makes abundantly clear.

Popper was of course a harsh critic of Verificationism, in the sense in which the Logical Positivist intended it. But that is NOT the sense in which the term has been used in this thread. The term “verification” has been used in this thread to mean the same thing as “corroboration,” and that is something that Popper most certainly believed in. And so the Popperian view is essentially the view I’ve been advocating under a different name.

And now we are getting somewhere.

Bryon
let me try to escape from the paradox, byron, which you stated in a syloogism.

i make the assumption that only that which is either true or false is subject to proof.

statements of an analytic-apriori nature fall within the set of that which can be proven.

for example, in euclidian geometry, one can prove base angles of an isoceles triangle are equal. the proof does not involve the senses.

when you perceive, the result has some probability of being true and a probability of being false. thus perceptions cannot be proven true or false.

in the empirical world (experience) absolute proof is not possible.

in the world of the abstract, it is possible.

there are many other examples in trigonometry, boolean algebra, calculus, num,ber theory, which are subject to proof.

the problem with preception is that one can never say the perception is true, with certainty.

one may have confidence in one's perceptions and act on them, but one can never be sure that one's perceptions are true.

confirmation by others, if the sample is large, can lead to confidence, but not truth.
This will sound clumsy so bear with me as I have to come down a rung or two on the ladder of abstraction in order to relate.

So the Popperian perspective as it pertains to corroboration is simply to understand that corroboration is generally all that is needed to determine a consensus necessary to arrive at an agreeable, though not necessarily definitive conclusion?

A conclusion adequate enough to allow further investigation and development knowing that what has preceded isn't necessarily definitive but convincing enough to rely on until disproven, dispelled, or modified at a later date?

A most progressive (dare I say, liberal) way of thinking that allows for variance and an amount of randomness since nothing is absolute.

Certainty is not what it denotes: more a goal than an end point.

All the best,
Nonoise
Mr. T, I'm sure that you are familiar with the old saying about there being only two things in life that are certain.

When it comes to everything else in life, we deal with and make judgments and decisions that involve uncertainties, probabilities, shades of gray, and matters of degree. The better informed those judgments are, and the greater the amount of information that is available upon which to base them, and the better our understanding of that information, the greater the likelihood that those judgments will be correct.

Fabulous posts, Bryon!!

Best regards,
-- Al
Mrtennis,
I'll see your syloogism and raise some Yogism:
There are some people who, if they don't already know, you can't tell them.
It's Bryon not Byron!
the question connoted in the thread

"are you a verificationist ?"

begs the question of a definitive method of verification.

if you are trying to verify a perception, it seems that there is no way to do it which yields certainty of results.

the world is a stochastic environment, where probability rules. so, you can not be sure, or, certain that you have verified something. there is always some probability of misperception when you attempt to coroborate, or even replicate someone's perception.
Mrtennis. I will use your proper name when you start using mine. Until then…

MrBadminton wrote:
let me try to escape from the paradox, byron, which you stated in a syloogism.

i make the assumption that only that which is either true or false is subject to proof.

statements of an analytic-apriori nature fall within the set of that which can be proven.

for example, in euclidian geometry, one can prove base angles of an isoceles triangle are equal. the proof does not involve the senses.

when you perceive, the result has some probability of being true and a probability of being false. thus perceptions cannot be proven true or false.

in the empirical world (experience) absolute proof is not possible.

in the world of the abstract, it is possible.

there are many other examples in trigonometry, boolean algebra, calculus, number theory, which are subject to proof.
None of this is under dispute. I completely agree that it is impossible to prove empirical statements with the same kind of certainty that mathematical and logical statements can be proved. That is a widely held view. In fact, it is the PREVAILING view among both contemporary philosophers and scientists. There is nothing iconoclastic in it, as you seem to believe.

MrRacquetball also wrote:
the problem with perception is that one can never say the perception is true, with certainty.

one may have confidence in one's perceptions and act on them, but one can never be sure that one's perceptions are true.

confirmation by others, if the sample is large, can lead to confidence, but not truth.
Where to start? To begin with, it doesn’t make one dent in the Paradox of Skepticism I presented to you in my earlier post. But let’s ignore that for the moment.

The “problem with perception,” as you call it, is not nearly the problem you make it out to be. To begin with, science has innumerable examples of successfully explaining entities, properties, and laws of the physical universe that CANNOT BE PERCEIVED by the senses. You need look no further than Wiki’s page on Elementary Particles to see a huge array of entities, properties, and laws that cannot be perceived (except very indirectly through instrumentation). That is an indisputable illustration that human knowledge has advanced far beyond the limits of human perception.

The fact that scientific theories are fallible, revisable, provisional – in a word, “uncertain,” – is not cause for Radical Skepticism of the kind you routinely endorse here on Audiogon. Science has generated the greatest succession of explanatory triumphs in recorded history, in spite of being “uncertain.” To deny the whole of science the status of “knowledge” on the basis of its uncertainty is like denying the polio vaccine the status of “medical cure” on the basis that it has only a 99% success rate.

By equating “knowledge” with “certainty,” you have created a concept of “knowledge” that is woefully out of touch with any ordinary, philosophical, or scientific understanding of what knowledge is, making your repeated statements about the limits of knowledge either incomprehensible or irrelevant. As for your comment that...
...confirmation by others, if the sample is large, can lead to confidence, but not truth...
...it is a mistake to conflate certainty with truth. Certainty is a characteristic of KNOWLEDGE, namely the absence of any possible doubt. Truth is a characteristic of REPRESENTATIONS, namely their correspondence to reality. The denial of CERTAINTY leads to intellectual humility, the exploration of ideas, and the progress of knowledge. The denial of TRUTH leads to intellectual arrogance, the stagnation of ideas, and the perversion of knowledge.

There are real challenges to the progress of science and human knowledge, but the absence of certainty is NOT one of them. It is a pseudo-problem, one that captures the imagination of people who are already resistant to the progress of knowledge.

Hostility toward knowledge has been a feature of the American landscape for decades. By advancing your form of Radical Skepticism, you are throwing your lot in with a group of people whose ideological and often fanatical hostility toward knowledge is a hostility toward civilization itself. Hostility toward knowledge stalls the progress of ideas, stifles efforts to reduce human suffering, and threatens the very survival of our species. Yes, literally.

It ain’t just about audio, MrPingPong.

B-R-Y-O-N
05-20-12: Nonoise
So the Popperian perspective as it pertains to corroboration is simply to understand that corroboration is generally all that is needed to determine a consensus necessary to arrive at an agreeable, though not necessarily definitive conclusion?

Not exactly. Popper was far less concerned with corroboration than he was with falsification. Popper was responding to a group of philosophers like the Logical Positivists who believed in a form of Foundationalism, the idea that the truth of a belief could be proved by deriving it from more "basic beliefs." In Empiricist forms of Foundationalism, like the kind advocated by some of the Logical Positivists, "basic beliefs" were themselves derived from sensory experience. The goal was to create a method of justifying higher level beliefs that guaranteed their CERTAINTY, and thus could serve as a standard for evaluating the truth of beliefs, particularly scientific beliefs.

The whole enterprise was a spectacular failure. You’d have to visit a cemetery in Vienna to find a Logical Positivist these days. Karl Popper was one of the reasons for that. Popper argued that it is impossible to establish the truthfulness of a belief, scientific or otherwise, with CERTAINTY. He proposed what would become a famous standard for differentiating scientific beliefs from other kinds of beliefs. According to Popper, scientific beliefs are FALSIFIABLE. A belief is falsifiable if and only if there is a *possible* observation or experiment that would contradict the belief.

A propos of my conversation with MrLacrosse, although Popper did not believe in CERTAINTY, he believed in TRUTH. But he was far less concerned with the process by which a belief is judged to be true than he was with the process by which a belief is judged to be false. And he recognized that, even when we judge a belief to be true (through corroboration), we might be, and usually are, wrong.

It's worth pointing out that this was NOT a form of skepticism. Popper also believed that the long process of scientific Conjectures and Refutations eliminated false beliefs more and more, bringing us closer to the truth. A truth about which we could never be certain.

And that is just scratching the surface.

Popper had one of the most profound, and IMO, correct views of science of anyone in the 20th century.

Bryon
Bryon's first post today gets my vote for the best post on Audiogon so far this year.
Bryon,

Thanks for the clarification. As usual, you've opened more doors than I thought possible. It's nice to have to think things through, again.

Oh, and what Learsfool says, +1

All the best,
Nonoise
05-21-12: Learsfool
Bryon's first post today gets my vote for the best post on Audiogon so far this year.
He would be competing against himself, IMO, as I would give several of his other posts similar nominations. Starting above, with the first of those dated 5-20-12. Also this one dated 8-18-11 (liberally interpretating "this year" to mean either the past 365 days, or "this fiscal year" :-)).

Best regards,
-- Al
Thank you Learsfool, Nonoise, and Al. It's nice to feel appreciated. :-)

Bryon
sorry about a typo, byron:

you made an assumption perhaps that the spelling of your first name was not an unintended error, and it seemed a personal affront on your part. i was writing fast and made a mistake.

i hope you can allow for the fact that i realize there is a difference between byron and bryon.

i will end my comments by referring to your comment about truth.

in no way is truth a correspondence to reality. in the empirical world truth would ensue by use of the senses. let's not go any further.

you have been very clear about your position, and given this forum, nothing more has to be said.

obviously, you may have the last word if you so desire.

i don't want to continue this philosophical discussion here i think enough has been said.

by the way didn't a famous english playwright have something to say about a name ?
05-22-12: Mrtennis
sorry about a typo, byron:
If this was meant to be funny, it is. Maybe I've underestimated you, MrPaddleball. On second thought...
you made an assumption perhaps that the spelling of your first name was not an unintended error... i was writing fast and made a mistake.
Hmm. Let me think about that. If that were true, then why is it that you always make the EXACT SAME MISTAKE? Here's a sample...
12-26-09: Mrtennis
hi byron:
my point is simple: if you enjoy a stereo system while listening to music, you won't enjoy it any more by analyzing it.

05-14-11: Mrtennis
hi byron
accuracy is not a matter of degree. something is either accurate or it is not. it is not a relative term. it is absolute.

12-25-11: Mrtennis
hi Byroncunningham:
since components are inaccurate , a stereo system is inaccurate.

12-26-11: Mrtennis
hi byron and almarg:
to effectively discuss epistemological matters would require a face to face encounter, which is infeasible.

12-27-11: Mrtennis
hi byron:
i can provide a definition of knowledge: here it is: justified true belief. justification requires proof and knowledge implies certainty.
I found those without breaking a sweat.
it seemed a personal affront on your part.
Not really. People have had trouble getting my name right since I've had the name. It's not their fault. It's a stupid spelling. It does indeed look like Byron. The vast majority of the time, I don't even correct people. I've been giving you a hard time about it because you seem DETERMINED not to learn it, even after multiple conversations with me on a number of different threads. We've even had previous conversations about you getting my name wrong! Just a few months ago, on a thread about accuracy, I said to you...
12-28-11: Bryoncunningham
You almost always call me by the incorrect name, even though I sign off nearly every post with my name. This has happened already three times on this thread, and it's happened on a number of other threads over the last two years. Admittedly, my name has an unusual spelling, and the mistake of calling me 'Byron' rather than 'Bryon' happens all the time because of it. What is different in this case is that you and I have participated in many of the same discussions on A'gon for more than two years, and we have addressed each other on more than a few occasions, and still you have not learned my name. You may find that trivial, but to me it is emblematic of a tendency to not acknowledge others, which is the essence of dogmatism.
Speaking of dogmatism...
in no way is truth a correspondence to reality. in the empirical world truth would ensue by use of the senses.
This is what is called the Method of Assertion. It goes like this...

1. Assert a statement.
2. Do not give reasons.
3. When asked for reasons, go to step 1.

The Method of Assertion is taught at the Academy of Dogmatism. I believe they've awarded you a Ph.D.. Honorary, of course.

Byron
Very, very good!
i thought that the discussion had ended.

i did not think an explanation was necessary.

however. you deserve one because you have invested time and effort and i owe you an explanation here it is.

that which accrues from senses is probably true and probably

and probably false. what can you conclude from that which has some probability of being true and false.

i hope i have provided an explanation as to why the senses are not reliable.

i believe dogmatic is not an apt descripton of my argument.

i hope this ends the discussion.

let me sum up what has transpired:

1) i am a radical skeptic

2)i am guilty of incorrectly spelling your name

3)i believe the senses are unreliable

4) the question of verification ,as it applies to audio matters is immaterial.
1) We are all something.

2) So sayeth the shephard, so sayeth the flock.

3) Only to a point, else we'd have incredibly short life spans.

4) Verification, being a process, will narrow down a particular. To dismiss it, see
Method of Assertion.

This was meant as humor only.
Boy, this is a hard room.
Is it getting hot in here?

All the best,
Nonoise
Wow Bryon. I am not to smart and you explained something that I could understand and appreciate. Regarding certainty and truth. Really appreciated that. It was also thoughtful, not condescending. Thanks Bryon for sharing that well thought out explanation in laymen's terms. I always appreciate your posts even though I am still confused about fuses.
If you spelledv it Brian would he call you Brain?
05-22-12: Tpreaves
If you spelledv it Brian would he call you Brain?
That I could live with. :-)

Seriously, this is probably the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE I've had a disagreement with someone about my name. Under almost any circumstances, I honestly don't care. The ONLY reason I keep bringing it up with MrT is that it is a perfect illustration of MrT's imperviousness to information outside what is already in his head. MrT identifies himself as a Skeptic, but he should identify himself as a Solipsist, because all evidence suggests that he doesn't believe that other people exist. MrT lives in a world with a population of 1.
05-22-12: Marqmike
Wow Bryon. I am not to smart and you explained something that I could understand and appreciate. Regarding certainty and truth. Really appreciated that.
You are quite welcome. I'm happy to talk about it. To some folks, issues relating to truth, certainty, knowledge, etc. may seem very far afield from audio, but IMO, they underlie a significant fraction of what gets discussed on A'gon. In fact, that's a big part of the reason I'm interested in this site.
It was also thoughtful, not condescending.
Thank you again, but I will quibble with that. Although I don't make a habit of being condescending, and I certainly wasn't being condescending when answering Nonoise's question, I am DELIBERATELY condescending when addressing certain people on A'gon. For example, people who say things like this...
05-22-12: Mrtennis
the question of verification as it applies to audio matters is immaterial.
Those kinds of pronouncements are the epitome of condescending, and they beg to be responded to with equal condescension.

I'm reminded of the kind of person who wanders around a party, inserts himself into a perfectly civil conversation, and then picks an argument with people who are trying to enjoy themselves. They do this while blissfully unaware of the fact that they are attempting to lecture people whose expertise far exceeds their own. That kind of staggering obliviousness is only possible because they're impervious to information outside what is already in their head.

And that is what it is to be a Dogmatist.

Bryon