September 21, 2019

Reaching consensus

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By Paul McGowan From PS Audio

Paul McGowan

Is it possible to reach consensus among dissenting views? I suspect it’s pretty rare.

I think one of the classic problems with communication is how we present differing viewpoints as “evidence” to support our cases. If I hope to help a measurementist see the world from my viewpoint, it probably isn’t a good idea to use the same arguments that first convinced me. We do not come from the same place.

What would happen if I turned the arguments on their head? For example, measurements are a critical element in the design and manufacture of our products. Without measurements, we would be running blind. But there’s a problem. Measurements have yet to unfold the whole story. We don’t know how to correlate all that we hear with all that we measure.

What this means is that there may be common ground. Instead of claiming what we hear that we cannot yet measure as “facts”, perhaps it’s better to simply call them “repeatable observations”.

Most theories begin with observations. I observe this and now have a theory that attempts to explain what I observe. I observe that too much feedback in an analog signal path typically sounds closed in and a bit harsh. I theorize it is the fault of feedback. I can measure feedback, I can routinely lower it and change the observed results.

That is not proof that feedback is the culprit. There may be underlying reasons that are related to feedback. My observation only suggests what happens under those circumstances. It does not prove anything other than it is repeatable (and fixable).

Proof requires repeatable, measurable, verifiable, explainable results. It’s easy enough to observe that all speeding train whistles change their pitch as they move toward and away from me. I could then construct a theory that says it’s the wind that changes the train whistle’s pitch. Only by controlled measurement of winds and pitches would I find I was incorrect and left scratching my head. A competing theory explaining Doppler distortion might sound ludicrous to me.

My repeatable observations are always correct. My theories as to their cause might not be. One does not negate or invalidate the other.

I think it’s important to think about changing the vernacular to reach consensus.

For more on this story go to; https://www.psaudio.com/pauls-posts/reaching-consensus/

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