Re: Subject: Re: [Harp-L] comb material

----- Original Message ----- From: "J Compton" <jofjltn4@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: "Harp-l" <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2007 8:18 PM
Subject: RE: Subject: Re: [Harp-L] comb material

Why is the burden of proof on the "material matters" people? Why is the prevailing position that the material doesn't matter until someone proves otherwise? Why isn't it that the material *does* matter until someone demonstrates that it doesn't?

The rules of science and rational argument place the burden of proof on the person who asserts the new, positive hypothesis..."comb materials affect tone" in this case. There are good reasons for this.

* The positive hypothesis only has to be demonstrated once to be convincing. If one person could discriminate among combs of different materials under adequately controlled conditions, then the case would be proven.

* It is almost impossible to prove a negative. The SPAH97 and Buckeye98 camparisons demonstrated that. The disappointed believers claimed afterwards that the tests were "flawed" and that could demonstrate the ability under slightly different circumstances. If even one person had demonstrated the ability, then the disappointed skeptics would have had to admit the existence of the materials effect.

* If I did not have the burden of proof, I could say that there were 17 little green gnomes in the center of the sun, holding hands and singing "Rock of Ages" and maintain it was true until you proved me wrong. There would not be enough resources to investigate all of the preposterous hypotheses that could / would be advanced. Until you support your claim, whatever it is, with hard evidence, then it deserves to be considered false.

* "You can't (or haven't) proven me wrong" is a false argument of last resort from those who have none better.

Perhaps an experienced player could record playing a set series of notes/techniques with a wood comb, then repeating the same with a plastic (or other) comb. If the sounds are identical (or can even be made to sound identical) as determined by human ears, sound analyzing equipment, or some other measurement, then there may not be a difference (at least within the limits of whatever is used to judge them). Record the passage a few times w/ each comb and completely randomize which clips are played. (Okay, so the player might be able to compensate for the difference entirely through ability, or might subconsciously play differently...I admit, it's not a perfect plan, but apparently, neither are the previous attempts to approach this from the neighbor's pasture.)

Except that the comparisons were live and not amplified or recorded (to avoid complaints about distortion by the electronics), you have just described what was done at the SPAH97 and Buckeye98 experiments.

So until someone does that, I'm going to stake my position on the side that *feels* that "comb material" matters (although I admit, I really don't *think* it does).

Is this another way of saying that you are swayed more by emotion than by logic?


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