James Randi Comments on StereoPhile

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Chu Gai, Jul 23, 2004.

  1. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    James Randi is a notable individual who has gone to great lengths to debunk various claims from proponents of pseudoscience. Among them are psychics (Sylvia Browne, John Edwards), dowsing, spoon bending (Uri Geller), perpetual motion machines, astrology, and a list of speculative claims too numerous to mention. For those who insist that they can indeed perform some of these amazing feats, there exists a $1,000,000 prize that one may apply for. Mr. Randi uses his skill as a magician (takes a crook to know a crook [​IMG]), coupled with critical thinking and the aid of scientists in his endeavors.

    In this weeks commentary, http://www.randi.org/jr/072304willful.html#11 he comments on the Hi-End Flummery of audio. Excerpted is the following for your entertainment. It may or may not change your mind but hopefully you'll think about it. No matter how many times things like astrology are exposed as frauds, the faithful flock. It's kind of like the "Whack-A-Mole" game at the amusement parks.

     
  2. Pus Suchre

    Pus Suchre Stunt Coordinator

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    The "Amazing Randi" is fighting an uphill battle against idiots and those who would fleece them. But I'm glad he's fight the fight. Good article Chu.
     
  3. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Lot's do. It'd be an easier task but we live in a world of political correctness and everybody cries foul and wants validity of their beliefs regardless of whether they're right or wrong. Our great grandparents called it snake oil. Today we call it alternative medicine. George Orwell and doublespeak was very prophetic.
     
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    James "The Amazing" Randi is an icon of the critical-thinking movement, a genuine resource. PBS devoted an episode of NOVA to Mr. Randi's efforts at exposing the claims of charlatans throughout the world, from American academia to Russian mystery doctors and faith healers.

    Naturally, he would be a perfect spoil to the editors of The Absolute Sound and Stereophile. He should take on that entire cottage industry, of which the Tice Digital Clock is one of the most absurd examples.
     
  5. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Tice I believe is out of business. Richard Pierce once stated that he examined Tice's clock and found that it generated an inordinate amount of strong RFI. He postulated that it was indeed possible for a poorly designed high-end unit that did not have robustly built circuitry to be susceptible in unpredictable ways. Limited production high-end manufacturers don't usually have the means to subject their equipment to worst case scenario testing.
     
  6. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Randi is a treasure, and his critical remarks about Stereophile demonstrate that the rampant anti-reason, anti-science attitude in the High End is part of a larger problem, and not to be dismissed merely because it's a "hobby".
     
  7. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    [​IMG]

    Please tell me that the Shakti folks are still around. And that I'll always be able to find green markers.
     
  8. Lee Distad

    Lee Distad Stunt Coordinator

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    I just did a Google search for "Tice Digital Clock" and read all the archives on stereophile.com on the subject.

    I must admit that the whole situation was very droll. I never get tired of poking fun at the foolishness/gullibility of my fellow men.
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Green markers are out with the upcoming blue lasers...You know, I'm kind of surprised some enterprising little *******er didn't go out and get rewriteable CDs with a green edge.
     
  10. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    Not to mount too much of a defense for Stereophile, since that would be a lost cause, but at least they do publish measurements, and further to that, they will even highlight in the measurements section if what they measured calls into question the subjective evaluation.

    They don't go any further than that, but I would at least throw them a bone on that count, as opposed to the nut jobs over at TAS.

    Heck, a recent tube amp review concluded with comments from Atkinson to the effect that (paraphrasing here) "any competent engineer would describe an amp that measured as this one did as broken". Can't argue with that. I wish he would argue with his reviewers, though.

    Of course, you do have folks on the payroll praising the SQ improvement of fancy AC wall outlets.

    Lastly, I think that as long as the Audio Critic is around, there will be a strong voice fighting the BS that is out there.

    BGL
     
  11. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    I'll grant you that Brian. I think they're making strides and I do find the measurements useful. I'd like to see more of them when it comes to amps being tested into various simulated speaker loads. TAS is next to useless and positive-feedback runs neck and neck with enjoythemusic giving good chase for the lowest levels of hokum.
     
  12. Lee Distad

    Lee Distad Stunt Coordinator

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    Quite frankly, I am surprised and impressed that Stereophile was willing to permanently archive the whole Tice Digital Clock episode on their site for all to see. The whole affair makes several of their people look like Gold-Star, Grade-A, All Time Suckers for buying into all that nonsense in the first place.


    I remain convinced that in any field of human endeavor centered around luxury goods, whether it's wine, cigars, sportscars or stereos, there is a degree of conoisseurship and oneupsmanship involved any time that two hobbyists get together to talk about their passion.
     
  13. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Well said.
     
  14. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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  15. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    What a great article! Many thanks for finding and posting it here.

    This P.W.B. must the one and only Peter Belt, whose "modifications" used to be regularly reported and discussed in Stereophile many years ago. I am not certain if it were he, but if not, certainly someone of his ilk, who once suggested that playing LPs mastered from a digital source (such as all Telarc LPs of that day) caused cracks in turntable bearings! How this could happen, or why one would even look at a turntable's bearings after playing such LPs, was never mentioned.

    It would be wonderful if one of these reviewers takes up Randi's challenge, but I'm not getting my hopes up.
     
  16. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    The pattern continues to repeat itself throughout all walks of life. Now tell me, just how much credence do you give to a place like positive review and the people who write there when the work of Peter Belt is featured also? No standards and no class, but then wasn't it Rodney who said, 'Call me when you have no class?'
     
  17. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Man, some of this stuff reminds me of Enid Lumley's writings for The Absolute Sound back in the late '70s — and though I was under the full influence of the high-end cult at that time, even I could tell that Lumley's utterances were tragically ignorant.

    So, writing "OK" on a disc with a seriously "magic" marker improves the sound while writing "NO" makes it worse.

    Yet there are "audiophiles" out there who will buy into this nonsense.

    Expect to see more of these mystery devices on the market as the high-end audio cult dies out in the wake of the home-theater phenomenon.
     
  18. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Only if you write "OK" in green
    ! [​IMG]
     
  19. Lee Distad

    Lee Distad Stunt Coordinator

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    I try to be nice, but a colleague (who is an old hand at Esoteric two-channel business) summed it up best when he said "Some of my clients don't need a Stereo Salesman, they need a Psychotherapist."
     
  20. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Now, that was funny, Lee!
     

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