Non-Smoking Man

Cognitive Bias

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Like george, I am somewhat aware of the various methodologies and the underlying concepts. I have also been involved in running a number of DBTs in different fields (including 'ours').

Frankly, I couldn't give a rat's fundamental. It's all a pointless argument and based on personal preference for reproducing what is already a reproduction of the 'real thing'.

Anne is working away today and tomorrow. I'm currently alternating between vinyl (valve phono stage) and CD (non-oversampling, non-filtering DAC with valve buffer), both through a valve preamp and my 845 SET.

I like it. A lot.

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Personally I have no issue with anyone choosing a music playback system by whatever criteria they see fit. Just as I have done my own setups over the years.

As I have said elsewhere, I have an interest in the whole process of recording and playing back music, to my mind the accuracy or otherwise of high fidelity playback is not a matter of personal preference.

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Super Wammer
33 minutes ago, PuritéAudio said:

To an extent you are correct, I would not expect to hear any differences between two, for example oversampling DACs but you would, that is why you should compare unsighted and if necessary level matched, because you expect to hear a difference, I am sure you would find the experience enlightening.

Keith

An expectation is a bias. Get used to it.

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, MGTOW said:

Personally I have no issue with anyone choosing a music playback system by whatever criteria they see fit. Just as I have done my own setups over the years.

As I have said elsewhere, I have an interest in the whole process of recording and playing back music, to my mind the accuracy or otherwise of high fidelity playback is not a matter of personal preference.

But it isn't 'accurate' is it? It might be faithful in terms of accurately reproducing what is on the recorded medium, but it isn't accurate  with regard to the original performance. So in accurately reproducing what is on the recording, you are still dealing with personal preference; the preferences of the people who made the recording. And if, like me, you have a lot of older recordings, you have to take into consideration the sort of playback equipment the producer and engineer(s) had in mind when they recorded it.

'Accurate' digital playback was science fiction when half the stuff I own was recorded, so personal preference makes perfect sense to me.

You can play Abbey Road on a perfectly 'accurate' system, but it won't sound like George Martin intended it to.

Edited by rabski

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Super Dealer

One can only hope to reproduce the file as accurately as possible, if you want a live performance go to the theatre.

Keith

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, MGTOW said:

There you go, decide on your conclusions then develop tests to confirm them. The very essence of scientific method!

You couldn't make it up...

You know very little about Bruno Putzeys approach and are jumping to completely wrong conclusions. Google is your friend and sometimes it is better to read about it and THEN form a conclusion.

As an example, he heard about observations that amplifiers with more feedback had worse sound quality. He listened to an amplifier and changed its feedback and heard the sound quality worsen. He then set up a series of double-blind audio tests to prove that was the case. It did. He then looked at the theory of feedback and found that if you increase the feedback to very high levels the sound quality should improve. He then confirmed that with further sound quality tests. His nCore amplifier boards have very high feedback because he has proven to his own satisfaction that the sound quality improves. He has also developed a lot of his own measurement tests.

A bit more scientific than being a keyboard jockey

Edited by George 47

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1 hour ago, PuritéAudio said:

One can only hope to reproduce the file as accurately as possible, if you want a live performance go to the theatre.

Keith

And then youre listening to PA speakers and at the mercy of the sound guy. Unless it's purely acoustic, but it very rarely is completely acoustic. 

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10 hours ago, PuritéAudio said:

To an extent you are correct, I would not expect to hear any differences between two, for example oversampling DACs but you would, that is why you should compare unsighted and if necessary level matched, because you expect to hear a difference, I am sure you would find the experience enlightening.

Keith

Keith,

What would be the point as far as I know (I am not a member of AES) no DBT has shown any statistically significant difference between oversampling DACs. I am not a fan of oversampling and when I had it on my Esoteric CD player I listened, did not like it and turned it off. If I had done a DBT I would have heard no difference so the outcome was the same.

Do you believe there is no difference in sound quality for (most) SS amps? Why do you stock expensive SS amps, just for a better choice of facilities? 

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Posted (edited)

Im pleased with the number of responses, but I was rather hoping for more psychologists to be tempted out of the woodwork and to throw 'fresh light' on the issues. Instead it appears that most, if not all, contributors, have transferred debates from other threads to this one and are covering familiar well worn paths of discussion (and disagreement)

It appears that cognitive dissonance is something that is at root 'irrational'. Now none of we humans exhibit 'pure reason'. Perhaps the closest we come is in scientific research (but even there many important discoveries have come about by accident e.g, the discovery of X rays) , the writing of academic papers, essays, achieving academic qualifications.

All of this is the result of learning. So, is it possible that different individuals in any field or institution are differentially affected by cognitive bias i.e, some get closer to the truth than others, and second, that individuals can reduce cognitive bias (by learning).

Some studies confirm this. In the field of planning and decision making Kahneman and Trevsky have developed a concept called 'reference class forecasting' where planning is based on the actual outcomes of similar ventures that have already been completed (and comparing those results with the planned venture). This has met with some success. (And I use it effectively in my betting strategies - I look at what factors have gone into producing winners in the past in order to predict future 'outcomes'.)

Other studies have shown how cognitive biases can be controlled and modified (see the article in Wikipedia) including the cognitive prejudices (eg., lack of self esteem in victims of personality disorders) of the mentally ill (e.g., depressives). My daughter has suffered from 'borderline personality disorder' and in that period suffered debilitating and life threatening lack of self esteem . She would doubt her capabilities. For example, she had a lovely voice but 'its not good enough to perform with' etc.. 'Im not attractive..'. This is irrational underestimation of the truth ie., cognitive 'prejudice'.

I suggest, for our purposes, merely reading about the phenomenon of cognitive bias, together with frequent involvement in bake offs, with familiar people will decrease cognitive bias. We as individuals are capable of self modification through thinking and practice, though still subject to social pressures. 'Priming bias' where one is influenced by what someone has said could play a part in BOs where an 'opinion leader' makes an initial judgement on the SQ of the system and others 'follow'.

Being aware that this can happen can guard against undue influence. In my case, my postgraduate training in philosophy (itself a deeply sceptical discipline) throws me in the opposite direction. I exhibit a marked tendency to doubt received wisdom. This is a bias - but a useful one. This is called a heuristic, and some studies have shown, in certain circumstances cognitive bias has a use.

It occurs to me that one common bias in the world of Hi Fi is 'brand loyalty'. The bias is forming an emotional attachment to a make or manufacturer, or a school of thought e.g., the 'BBC Sound'. There may, of course, be a RATIONAL component to the particular choice of kit as well , together with other factors . Most decisions are 'overdetermined'. At the Audiojumble in Tonbridge (where I and others on here exhibit)there is a tendency towards classic vintage British equipment.  Another example of bias was the  choice of Japanese audiophiles to buy up all the discarded idler decks such as Thorens and Garrard when the British HiFi press (e.g., Popular Hifi) was lionising Linn products and advising you should bin your old Garrards and buy something with sprung suspension. The Japanese love the old British brand names such as Wharfedale. 'Tradition' is a well of cognitive bias.  (Of course the Japanese we also well aware of the inherent quality of the equipment they bought up, well before Noel Keywood wrote that article).

Some of the 'debate' we have heard here and elsewhere ('Do measurements really count' etc) has tended to go round in circles and become embittered.

I hope to have injected something useful and decisive to break that circle.

Much depends on what concept of the individual one holds (and the individual as hifi enthusiast). My view is structuralist to an extent - we are products of our society and language and influenced by our peers and need for a measure or respect from them - but also, under that causal social and political umbrella, there is the liberal view of a self-determining, rational , responsible individual actor capable of learning and improving.

He or she will enter another's demonstration room or lounge, or pigeonhole (in my case) influenced by the social factors and (differential) experience and 'baggage' we have spoken about, but capable of responding to the stimulus of the music and coming to an approximately correct judgement about the relative worth of the system. And hopefully not too distracted by the surroundings.

We are not at the mercy of, or helpless victims of bias.

Jack NSM

Edited by Non-Smoking Man
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Super Wammer

:goodone:

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Jack, this is a fascinating subject, and whilst I am not a pscychologist I have taken an interest in the subject over the years, particularly the vagaries of what I would call the human belief system and whether we should encompass and enjoy delusions or fight against them. It is about thirty years since I read any Freud so forgive me if any references to him are distorted by memory - or maybe bias.

" We are not at the mercy of, or helpless victims of bias."

I tend to agree with you but would perhaps change "we are not" for "we don't necessarily have to be". I think that we are all glorious amalgams of the here and now comprehension of the Ego, the strict policing of the DBT (;)) Super Ego and the best bit of all, the maelstrom of our emotional heart the Id. To deny the effects of this trio of influences would be to deny being human. Yes we can cognitively challenge our biases but it is quite hard work and are we any better off afterwards unless we are addressing serious mental health conditions which are affecting our day to day functioning? Now I am tempted to think of our devotion to hifi as something of a mental aberration, after all you would have to be insane to spend £8k on a DAC when a tenth of that spend would get the same result. The point is that by spending £8k we may be bringing into play our our various biases and using them to our advantage, not to mention feathering the cynical dealers wallet.

I essence I think it is not what we actually hear, as a microphome might, but what we think we hear that really matters.

It is what I think I hear that triggers my belief system to think that I have a string quartet playing in front of me in my living room. It is of course fascinating to try and work out how that triggering of my belief system works by analysis of measuremants but in the end it is futile exercise unless we include the processes in our mind. Given that those processes are probably different for all of us, such being the individuality of humans there is not much chance of agreement however much measuring DBT etc that may take place.

In essence our perceptions are the product of many influences including all sorts of biases. Such it is to be human (howver much some may try to be inhuman in their posting!) enjoy it, encompass it, stop worrying about it and enjoy and experience the music howsoever your individual mind desires.

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I think a little cognitive bias may be a good thing. After all if you buy some gear and "know" it sounds the best after auditioning and that cable is the icing on the cake making the final x% improvement then you can lie back and be content that you have got the best system within that budget. Then you know that anyone who gainsays you is either deaf, biased or obtuse!

Those who say anything like cables make no difference in a blind test are merely pandering to their own bias and are in denial because of it. Time to be a little smug and happy while enjoying the music............

Just stirring!!!:nuts::D

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Super Wammer

my psychology teacher (many years ago) never did convince me what " normal " meant. bias is straying from the norm.   

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Whilst making no inference to kit sounding the same or different, the concept of blind testing is surely flawed due to the nature of the mind. Once we start to listen for differences we are at the mercy of all sorts of expectation or cognitive bias. And listen for differences is surely what we will do. Somewhat paradoxically listening for a difference, without any cue, might well make distinguishing a difference almost impossible; under pressure we may well miss differences.

On the other hand listening sighted over an extended period while potentially allowing the mind to settle to a point of where differences may be observed will also open up a can of worms in terms of expectation and cognitive bias. There's so many variables at play that I'm really not sure listening alone can settle if, or if not, amps, DACS, cables etc sound any different in level matched scenarios. Likewise measurements are only what we know now, though a good reference point they are likely to be far from everything. 

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Super Dealer

On the contrary, listening sighted you are completely at the mercy of bias, remember the primary reason to compare unsighted is to establish in the first instance if there is any difference whatsoever, once you have established there is an identifiable difference , then you can decide a preference at your leisure.

Keith

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