In one of the snippets, they show a woman playing a Stradivarius and saying the the unique quality of sound ["nearest to the human voice" the violinist intones], is due to the fine grained wood that the maker had at his disposal. My crap-detector immediately tuned up a notch and I Googled "blind testing Stradivarius" which popped up two studies - Indianapolis 2011 and Paris 2014 which showed that, when confirmation bias was taken off the register, the expert violinists didn't rate the Strads as better or even distinctively different from quality modern instruments. In one test the expert players were blindfolded and asked to rate fiddles as antient or modern. They were right in 31 cases <win> but wrong 33 times <oooops> but were only humble enough to confess that they didn't know on 5 instruments. This is so close to the expected result of tossing unbiassed coins, that you might even cite it as being too accurately on the random button to be credible. Like RA Fisher's [prev] suspicions that Gregor Mendel [prev] had fudged his results. This is the sort of
One deeply concerning aspect of the above results is the certainty in the assertion of the expert even when they were bzzzzzt wrong. As scientists it should be okay to say more often "heck, I just don't know the answer to that . . . I'll endeavour to find out." rather than push out another weak paper with insufficient power to answer aNNy question. Mark Twain said it better “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.”
We have seen the exposure of wine experts as charlatan poseurs in a formal blind tasting. Where the experts were unable to read the goddamned label they were no better than thrown dice at comparing different wines. Ditto pretty much any male who gets hold of the wine-list at a fancy restaurant. The French, bless 'em, talk large about terroir to explain the
Don't go way thinking this Expert culture is not harming you; and bitching when someone makes a career out of pulling off such a coup is probably sour-grapes. The phenomenon is not limited to rarified marginal fields like wine-tasting and high-end Booker Prizey publishing. It is everywhere there are people in charge of other people. In Ireland definitely, and in your country probably, there is a managerial class who claim a fat salary and possibly an annual bonus because they are The Managers. And they do manage . . . so long as nothing strange or different or unexpected happens. In good times, organisations trundle along and could be successfully managed by CEO's goldfish. But when the glass is falling and there's a dark-cloud roiling up and over the horizon then they start making terrible decisions and/or abandon ship . . . and it turns out that HR has arranged a contract that requires the crew to lob a huge severance package into the departing Captain's gig.
Now I'm all cross, I'll have to consume a nice cup of tea and listen to a bit of Bruch - not on a Strad though, because Stradivarius is a bill of goods.
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