Why are audiophiles perceived as being wackos?

I have been pursuing this wonderful hobby of high end stereo equipment and music for almost 30 years. I do consider myself a passionate audiophile who loves to listen to music on a daily basis. The reason for this post is because it has been my experience that the great majority of people who do not pursue this hobby think of audiophiles as being wackos/screwballs because of the amount of time, money, and passion they put towards their systems. I find it very interesting that individuals who spend tremendous amounts of money and time pursuing esoteric tastes such as wines, watches, coins, etc, are considered connoisseurs or aficionados with a serious passion that is often respected even if it is not the other person's cup of tea. Another example would be people who love high end cars/boats who read all the magazines, go to the shows and invest large sums of money to purchase and tweak their cars or boats to get the last bit of ultimate performance out of their prized possessions. So I don't believe the negative viewpoint towards passionate audiophiles revolves around the amount of money that they can invest in their equipment. So my question for all you GON members is what would be your explanation for people outside our hobby having such a negative or condescending attitude towards our passion, where they infrequently would not have the same attitude towards other people's hobbies and passionate but unique pursuits? It would be a pleasure to hear about your experiences and what your explanation would be for this phenomena towards our hobby.
Before I discovered high end audio for myself, I used to poke fun at this hobby a lot, 2 of my college roomates were into it, mainly because of their dads, and I just could not grasp the concept of $2200 dollar interconnects, separate transporta and DACs, and so forth. Plus, my image of the hobby was very sedate and self-indulgent - rich guys buying lots of pompous gear, lame "audiophile music", and sitting alone in their dedicated listening room. I know now that that was a generaization based on snippets of conversations, and little bits of my roomates' Stereophiles that I skimmed through. There are active aspects of this hobby, such as DIY stuff and music collecting, but I think a lot of people see us as that guy (there's definitely a male bias) in the dark room, in the bath robe, listening to some smooth jazz, scribbling notes about requency response. Now where'd I put that Kenny G CD? Oh it's right here in the pocket of my bath robe - couldn't see it in the dark...
I can't say why, but one thing is clear to me. Audiophiles grunt and groan on and on about how music is the thing, and the fact is, there are far more music lovers who are not audiophiles than who are, regardless of their budgets and sound systems.

Music love does not demand, or even much repay, high end audio. This hobby fetichizes equipment and n-th degree of perceived sonic (not musical) improvement. That does not mean it is not cool and worthwhile, but it does mean that you should expect it to be for esoteric geeks, and should not be surprised when music lovers find us wierd, and to miss the point. Which we is, and we do. Or rather, given how most audiophile package their osession, it looks like we do.

I'm a wine lover, and I can attest that the difference in how good the wine is, between mediocre and really good wine, is huge, just as the difference between how good the difference in sound between mediocre and really good systems is huge. But the difference between how good the music is from the mediocre and really good systems is not very big. But there are similar kinds of excess is wine connoiseurship too, where rarity, pedigree, cachet, prestige, and esoterica are what is really the driving force, but how good the taste of the wine is is given as a lame excuse for all the fuss. There's another relevant parallel too. Wine in wine for wine's sake often gets ripped out of its context (the meal)and placed into another (the tasting, or on its own) in order to show itself off, just as audio in audio for audio's sake get ripped out of its basic context (listening to music)and put into another (listening to this or that particularly well engineered and produced recording, perhaps just a few bars of it, and/or in rapid a/b with some other component of recording), in order to show itself off.

If it's music you like, then the extra money and attention are geeky distractions. Not so if what you love is audio. But audiophiles pretend its about music. That's not to say they don't love music, or justify their each next excess on musical grounds; but the moving point is hi fi, not the music that moves one.

Compare watches. No watch collector would for a moment justify their time and money expenditure by citing how well their beloved possessions keep time. But audiophiles use the rhetoric of fidelity to *the music*, when it's really mostly about high end sound, which is a different, and I insist, lovely matter. But it's not the same as music. There's a reason musicians rarely have high end, big bucks systems. They here tunes, phrasings, rythms, passion. Audiophiles hear whether this speaker is more plangent than that, whether this amp has more slam than the other, or whether this turntable support gives greater imaging (a total audiophile/recording artifact) than this other one.

Don't misunderstand me. I love the audiophile set of aesthetic concerns. But don't confuse them with musical virtues. Those are available on just about any damned playback system in just about any format, as those of you who fell in love with music to trasistor radios, 8 tracks, early CDs or Ipods can attest.
A lot of people simply don't have the tolerance or patience to understand music. Most people look at a Porsche and get it - it looks cool and goes fast, easy concepts to grasp, and therefore popular. Music itself takes time to grasp, let alone the finer points of imaging, tonal balance, timbre accuracy, etc. Basically, what people don't understand they label as "wacko". And obviously, since we expend so much time, effort, and financial resource on what is perceived to be an unintelligible pastime, we are thought of as "wacko" too.

Come on, who spends $1K on a wire? Wackos, that's who...
One point I would make is that at least in my middle-class world, it is a mistake to think that most people have *any* hobby comparable to being an audiophile. Most people I know don't collect wine or watches or anything of the sort. They are busy saving for college for their kids, or retirement, or trying to figure out whether they really need two cars or not. So when they hear someone is spending $5,000 or $10,000 to do something that can be done reasonably well for $500, it seems, well, odd to them.
Audiophiles are percieved as wackos because we spend great sums of money to create music that can be reproduced for a lot less.What non-audiophiles do not know is the feeling of looking at your music collection and bringing any numbers of artists into your room for a thrilling illusion of the event,they do not get the rush.I know I do and the pleasure I get from that is priceless.If they do not understand tough s--t.