The placebo effect
When drug companies test new products they use control groups and placebos: ineffective drugs that test whether there is a difference between the real drug and a sugar pill. The results are often surprising. The problem with placebos is we are not entirely machines. Certainly we are biological beings whose many responses to stimuli can be predicted: eat too much and we get fat, smoke cigarettes and they'll likely kill you, good diet and exercise make us feel better. But those are simplistic examples that do not take into account our higher order control. Some call it mind over matter. There are numerous examples of changed behavior when a person's belief is strong enough. We've all heard the stories and felt the effects. I'd be hesitant to discount the impact placebos have, yet there is a danger when it comes to audio systems. If we want something to sound better we're likely to convince ourselves it does. And we hear it! But, over time, the so called improvement we so hoped for fades if it is only a placebo. Which is one good reason to go back and retest your assumptions to clear the hope from the reality. I remember well my experience with small Audiophile dots placed on various pieces of equipment for better sound. I was convinced they could not work, my BS alarm on high. And yet. I bought into the enthusiasm of the person selling me and became convinced of their efficacy. Once the glow of emotional expectations had worn off, the dots did nothing. They had lost their magic. I was told they had outlived their usefulness and needed to be replaced with new ones. I knew better. There are, without question, sonic improvements to be made. Lasting changes that stand the test of time. Don't be afraid to test your conclusions once the excitement of the new has faded into reality.
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