Re: Subject: Re: [Harp-L] comb material
Somebody once said that the person that wrote Shakespeare's plays and
sonnets was not William Shakespeare, but another person with the same
>>> "Vern Smith" <jevern@xxxxxxx> 18/04/2007 16:58:24 >>>
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 9:15 PM
Subject: Subject: Re: [Harp-L] comb material
"It has been done twice. Once at SPAH 97 and again at Buckeye 98."
> yes...but flawed and certainly neither double blind or scientific.
You are right that it was blind but not double-blind. It was scientific
the extent that it placed some stringent controls on the experiment to
certain that the only differences were the comb materials. All of the
conditions were the substantially the same for every harp. The most
important control was that the listeners had no way but the sound of
what the comb materials were. Probably no set of test conditions
have satisfied the believers who brought up all the "flaws" AFTER they
disappointed by the results. The conditions were orders of magnitude
for making valid comparisons than those under which harmonicas are
heard. The listeners could not even tell when the same or different
materials were played in sequence.
> Way before my time, but up pops my disagreement with you once more.
> People who, like me have extremely acute hearing (even within my own
> family) have come up in our discussions. You will not allow for any
> possibility that there might be some folks (not specifically me) who
> perhaps hear more differences in sounds and tones...than either one
> us...so too perhaps, in combs than other people?
This is the old "Hans Christian Anderson" argument that the true
can detect the pea under a stack of mattresses but us commoners can't.
$1000 challenge alllows for anyone with exceptional sound
demonstrate their abilities under double-blind conditions.
> How do YOU know with absolute certainty that what I or the person
> next to you on the subway/at a concert hears isn't completely
> from what you hear? How can any person judge what one person hears
> vis-a-vis another? That's where an audiologist would come in...but
> then, their testing is done with gauges and machines. No one knows
> exactly what another person hears. Just one of those facts of life.
I don't have know what you hear. I only have to know what you SAY you
My hearing isn't involved. Someone or a machine (not me) plays a set
harmonicas having different comb materials. You say "same as" or
from" the one played previously. If your accuracy is better than
guessing, then you have demonstrated the ability to discriminate among
materials by sound and you prove me wrong. If you fail, you are NOT
absolutely wrong, only that you could not demonstrate the ability under
these circumstances. You can always claim, as did the listeners at the
previous comparisons, that you might be able to do it under different
circumstances. However, this is a very slender thread on which to hang
belief in a materials effect.
>So I've said to you before (on another list) that it can't be a proper
>"scientific experiment" (ergo Single or Double Blind as in Garry's
>of it never having been done)...if You keep insisting on controlling
>Since you do insist on it being completely under your control (based I
>assume, on your $1000), then it cannot be scientific or unbiased. Then
>age (based on hearing acuity) of the participants comes into play as
>since the rationale was that young people - I believe someone
>12 - 14 as probably the optimum age for hearing health (do correct me
>I'm misremembering this since I don't have time to look it up) for
All that I insist upon is that the comparison be conducted in such a
that you cannot know the materials by any other means but their sound.
than that, anyone can conduct the test, preferably NOT me and the
tested can be anyone you choose of any age.
> I've also made clear I don't care about your money. It'd be the last
> incentive for me to participate. I find it vaguely embarrassing (and
> a bit insulting, actually), since the whole premise is more about
> player hears from his/her own instrument and nothing at all to do
> monetary gain.
Making or losing money isn't the object of the wager. The $1000 is to
establish the level of confidence of the challenger. I facilitated the
previous comparisons by purchasing a dozen Hohner Big River harmonicas
making combs of many materials using my own time and money. Certainly
was no profit there for me. I did not play the harps and I did not
the data. I wasn't even present at the Buckeye comparisons in 98 and
results were the same.
So round and round we go.....
There is an objective truth here and there is a way to find it. This
a matter of opinion.
> could it be Vern... that most people simply go about their business
> knowing what they know about what they can hear from their own
> and simply pay no more heed to your wager, and that might possibly be
> the issue keeps resurfacing just when YOU believe you've "beaten it
That is certainly the case.
> A real, objective scientific study would surely resolve the issue
once and for all, wouldn't it? Until then, it's quite likely that
simply tired of being harangued if they express a contrary opinion,
this point it still is only your opinion, isn't it, without real
What additional controls would you impose on a comparison to be
with its scientific validity?
I argue that the 97 and 98 comparisons had evidentiary value and the
are consistent with the principles of musical acoustics. Nothing in
is so everlastingly true that it cannot be revised or even overturned
evidence. However, at this point in time, the preponderance of the
and available evidence denies a materials effect in either harmonicas
wind instruments in general. Stringed instruments are different.
Harp-L is sponsored by SPAH, http://www.spah.org
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