why do we argue?

I suppose it's human nature?

Not everyone can get along,at least all of the time.

Squablles occur in the best of families,sometimes over big issues, sometimes over small ones.

So why should the audio "family" be any different?

Some forums have gone to great pains to cleanse their sites and free them from confrontations between audiophiles who can't see eye to eye, or perhaps we should say, ear to ear.

But where's the harm in all that squabbling? Really?

If someone finds it offensive, then why continue to read it, like a moth drawn to the flame,if you think it's going to harm you, don't enter.

No one is making you.

Then if you feel you have to post your objections to objectional comments(who made you the boss?)then you are not the solution ,you're just adding to the problem.

Like bringing gasoline to put out the fire.

You're going to be on one side or the other,or perhaps you are the "let's kiss and make up type" "can't we all be friends?"audiophile who has only everyone's best wishes at heart.

There's always a "mom" to come between two fighting brothers isn't there,and you know she can't take sides,calling a truce is her job.

But until the real issues have been addressed, the argument is never over.

It's always there under the surface,just waiting to boil over given half the chance.Power cords one day, fuses the next, and demagging lp's? Please!

It usually starts in audio forums when some chump posts that a piece of something that cost more than it should, made an improvement that someone who wasn't there to hear it says it didn't.

Get the gist?

I did it, I heard it, I was there,who are you to tell me I didn't hear it, and how dare you call me dillusional?That's the response to the first response from the folks who know it just can't be real.

Surely if I am half a man, I'll have to make some sort of reply.And reply to the reply and on and on again and again.

I'll have to try to proove that I heard what I heard, but you need scientific proof.

Obviously I can't provide any, I am a chump, not a scientist, I bought the snake oil didn't I?

So on and on it goes and intensifies until enough is enough and two or more members of the family are banished from the fold.

The community all the better for it, or so it tells itself.

But is it?

If everything in this hobby is scrutinized to the point that if there isn't a scientific white paper to back up the claims, how much of what we take for granted today would be lost to the audio community at large?

Zip cord,stock giveaway cords of all srtipe would be all that we would have.There'd be no equipment stands or various footers, no isolation devices of the electrical and mechanical persuasion,no spikes,no fancy metals,in short there would be no aftermarket anything.

It would be a 100% snake free world,a totalitarian utopia for the less than feeble minded audiophiles that there are so many of. Those foolish folks who thrive on fairy dust need to be saved from their own foolish and wasteful ways.

At least that's the way I've seen it from my perspective.

I know it's too late to save me.Salvation passed me by decades ago.
My question would be more along the lines of why don't moderators simply stay out of it? I can understand not wanting vulgarity but beyond objectionable language, I say let the boys be boys!;)
Less emphasis on wisdom, more on experience.

To this day I can't understand why an enthusiastic post by someone with first hand knowledge of an upgrade has to be quizzed about his experience and provide "proof" of any kind.

In my case, whenever I post about something improving my system,it's just that, an observation of something that improved my system.

Then it's up to who ever is curious to check it out.

The act of which may or may not lead to the same conclusion that the OP posted.

People for the most part want to share positive experiences.
They don't spout the praises of things that can damage you or your gear.If they did I would understand the backlash.

So I just never could understand why some folks seem to find it their mission in life to bring rain down on the parade.

And almost always,those same individuals have no experience with the practise or device in question.

Somehow they have the "voodoo" that can spot the voodoo without even knowing much about what's going on.

Perhaps it's a jaded mind set.

Maybe they were burned years ago, and did buy snake oil.

It is out there, but to some folks it's the magic remedy and makes them happy.

What's the point in spoiling that?

If you've tried it and it didn't work in your system I would much rather hear about that then just a generalization like " I just know it can't make a difference".

I would think that all those who demand pure scientific evidence about upgrades in this hobby, should first take the empirical approach.
Do the experiment yourself and then draw your conclusion.

So am I trying to provoke an argument here?

That's not my intention.

I want less bickering and more appreciation for the folks who try things and are brave enough to come forward inspite of the attacks that will come their way.

Unwarranted and unjustified attacks, most often in packs of like minded folks on a mission to clean up the hobby rid us of snake oil and get back to the basics that "it's all about the music" and nothing else.

Well if you want just the music, then go see live events.
But even there you will be dealing with electronics and wires and who knows what kind of behind the scenes snake oil.

I've gotten to a point where I am very pleased with the fruits of my labour.My system sounds great, inspite of or because of the overpriced snake oil products and practises that I use.

Had I never been exposed to such, I doubt my system would sound so good.
Although I can't provide scientific proof thereof, I do have a number of friends who would back me up on my results.

I also have to thank the few audio mentors that helped me along the way.They weren't reluctant to share some of their findings and tips about improving my sound.
Positive, not negative re-inforcement.
If your ears like what you hear, then you're on the right track.
I can't find anything to argue about that.
This grasshopper learned much.

And the most important lesson I have learned in this journey is that exposure to as many different systems at all price points is a key to understanding what it takes to make you satisfied.

If you never know that there is better than good enough,you'll be like the person who only reads part way through a novel.
Never knowing how great the book is, because you've never gone far enough to find out.

I started in this hobby a long time ago,before it became fashionable to knock everything that costs more than what you can find at the pawn shop.

Back when audiophiles all had the same common denominator, the desire to improve the sound of the music they were listening to.

I would hazard a guess that the escalating cost of the gear created this divide.

But really, do we need to argue about the small cost upgrades that we can all afford?
Great thread, well said! ...win if you can lose if you must...but always cheat. It's all about a sense of humor.
At the moment we have a thread with Disappointing Albums of 2012, and another something like Best Rock Album of 2012. There are several albums that appear on both lists. It doesn't seem to make sense that we could be as far apart on the technical stuff as we are on the artistic front but it sure seems that way. Most entertaining is the latest fuse upgrade "conversation". Even most supporters would admit the effects are not the most dramatic results of upgrades they have made but the thread itself has more life than most other recent ones.
Good post; good question.

I would make several points in response.

First, debates about seemingly implausible tweaks are generally not attempts to save the tweaker from him or herself, and sometimes (although perhaps all too infrequently) do not even question that the tweaker heard what he or she claims to have heard.

Most of us are here to talk about a subject of mutual interest, and to help each other chart courses of action that stand the greatest chance of maximizing the sonic returns we get on our investments of both time and money. Reports of benefits from various tweaks come from people having a wide range of backgrounds, experience, technical knowledge, thoroughness of approach, philosophical viewpoints, and intellects.

Also, it seems very clear that there are a huge number of subtle variables, both known and unknown, that can significantly affect the sonic presentation that is heard. Considering the complexity of it all, and the fact that many parts of a system require significant breakin, and that breakin or aging of parts of a system can be ongoing (with or without our knowledge) while unrelated changes are being assessed or breaking in, and that things like AC line voltages and noise conditions can change at any time, it can be very easy to attribute a perceived change to the wrong variable.

Also, if there is not a good technical understanding of how a controversial tweak works, it may be incorrectly assumed that the reported benefit has general applicability across different systems, when in fact the effect may the result of an interaction with the particular system, that would not occur in some or many other systems

Therefore, as I see it, while indeed many debates about controversial tweaks degenerate into pointless and unpleasant arguments, it does not mean that all or even most such debates are necessarily worthless, and it seems to me that without them one of the fundamental benefits of a forum such as this would be lost.

It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

As I see it, it should be (and sometimes is) possible to have debates about controversial tweaks that:

(a)Do not turn ugly.
(b)Give the benefit of the doubt to those reporting a difference that their perceptions were correct.
(c)Explore whether or not unrecognized extraneous variables might have caused the difference to be attributed to the wrong thing.
(d)Explore possible theories of why the effect may be occurring, that would provide insight into the likelihood that the effect will be applicable to differing systems.

-- Al
We of course do not need to argue about anything

Many people though do and rather enjoy it.

That is both a part of this forum and life in general and occasionally all to specific, especially when aimed at us.
Drive on over to Cable Asylum and hint that cables and snake-oil belong in the same sentence, or that more money spent on cables is not a religious necessity and the moderator god threatens to ban you from the site. Disagreement (especially using science-based questions) with cable extremists and their subjective observations is an absolute NO-NO.
Just like any group of people, with diverse perspectives, experience and objectives, you will get disagreements. How those disagreements are handled may reveal more about the person than the merit of whatever it is that they are arguing about. Today, for some reason, I thought about Enid Lumley. Remember her? She used to write a column for the Absolute Sound back in the 80's, i think it was, and some of her ideas at the time, seemed pretty wacky. (She was obsessed with AC polarity, a controversial issue, but not something that was completely crazy, and some of her ideas about tweaking had merit). (Sadly, she passed away a few years ago).
I've learned a hell of alot here, when I've asked questions about electrical issues, experience in component matching and sound, etc.
There is no doubt ego at work here for all of us- who doesn't think, after doing this, right or wrong, for however many years, that they know something?
But, i'm always learning, and always willing to contribute. And I think the majority of people here are well-intentioned, even when they are entirely misguided. :)
Good one Tpreaves. Thats the same one I use on my kids. I don't recall anyone else ever using it but me. Someone must have, cause I heard it somewhere.
As should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, I have a different perspective on arguments. I would like to share it, and hopefully you will forgive me if it sounds like an... well, like you-know-what.

1. Not all arguments are the same.

There is no answer to the question “Why do we argue?” because the number of reasons is literally infinite. Here’s a list of people with whom you might argue: your business partner, your wife, your insurance company, your mother, your neighbor, your neighbor’s kid, your own kid, your teacher, your student, your… You get the point. Arguments are as variable as the people who participate in them.

2. Not all arguments are destructive.

Two obvious examples are legal arguments and scientific arguments. Here is a list of court cases pivotal to Civil Rights in America. Every one of those cases was won or lost on the basis of an argument.

Scientists argue with each other all the time. In fact, their arguments are absolutely essential to the vitality, integrity, and progress of science. And science is one of the most culturally constructive forces in existence.

3. Not all arguments are argumentative.

Here’s what I said about this in another thread… "It may sound odd, but the great majority of the time, I don't intend arguments to be argumentative. Non-argumentative arguments are an effective way to explore an idea in depth, and I very much enjoy exploring ideas in depth, even when I turn out to be wrong. I'm aware that arguments, argumentative or not, put some people off, so I usually try to soften them with a dose of humility or humor."

As another poster said, we can disagree without being disagreeable. I have had many “arguments” like that on Audiogon.

4. Not all arguments are an exercise in vanity.

Admittedly, a great many are. But a considerable fraction of arguments are made for good reasons, like the ones for Civil Rights. And a considerable number of the people who made those arguments risked life and limb to do so. The same could be said for scientific arguments in the face of religious or political persecution, like the famous case of Galileo. Those were not exercises in vanity. They were exercises in integrity.

5. Not all arguments can be supplanted by turning the other cheek.

IME, turning the other cheek, while an admirable philosophy, can only accomplish so much. Turning the other cheek cannot exonerate innocent people in prison, it cannot debunk pseudo-science, it cannot uncover the people behind the criminally negligent behavior of the recent financial crisis. Turning the other cheek rarely even stops a bully on a playground.

IMO, while turning the other cheek is a great force for tolerance, it is not a great force for progress. So if you believe in the need for social, economical, or political change, you must also avail yourself of other methods.

6. People have the right to argue, especially in response to aggression or deception.

I am now referring to Audiogon. Many of Audiogon’s participants are kind, generous, honest people. But Audiogon sees its fair share of questionable characters… bullies, pedants, hucksters… the list is long. While I respect any members’ decision to avoid confrontations with these people, I believe they should respect my decision not to, particularly when the argument is in response to aggressive or deceptive behavior.

When conducted with thoughtfulness, sincerity, and good reason, arguments are not a thing to be shunned. They are a way of standing up for yourself, for other people, and for the things you believe in.

Like the argument I just made.


Appreciate this thread. Very thoughtful. Has in turn brought excellent responses.

Thank you all.


Communication is essential to understanding, and arguments are just another form of communicating. The trick is to know when the person you are arguing with is sincere in his posits.

All the best,
As a long time reader and poster to this forum, I have the impression that a large proportion of the most contentious arguments evolve out of two beliefs:

#1. Why things sound the way they do can be explained through current knowledge of science and differences that are real can be measured.

#2. Double blind testing is the sword that cuts through delusion.

Maybe the objectivist vs. subjectivist view of audio reality is a philosophical microcosm reflecting our respective world views? This bickering between the two audio world views is somewhat like the disagreement between western medicine practitioners and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. Discussions that cut to the core of our sense of self and world view provoke passionate debate. It takes great humility to accept that someone with a radically different world view may nonetheless have a valid viewpoint.
"Communication is essential to understanding, and arguments are just another form of communicating. The trick is to know when the person you are arguing with is sincere in his posits.

That's spot on!

The word argument does infer a negative form of communication with undesirable outcome. Better to have discussions if possible. Outcomes there probably tend to be more positive.
Bryon- You coulda been a hell of a contender. Well presented.
(and I am, just retired).
Bill Hart
Thank you, Bill. In my 20's, I did a PhD in philosophy, a discipline that rivals the law in the use of arguments.

Congrats on retirement and happy listening.

06-12-12: Photon46
As a long time reader and poster to this forum, I have the impression that a large proportion of the most contentious arguments evolve out of two beliefs:

#1. Why things sound the way they do can be explained through current knowledge of science and differences that are real can be measured.

#2. Double blind testing is the sword that cuts through delusion.
I completely agree with this, Photon. I expressed the same thing a different way in the Verificationism thread, where I said...
Verificationism is a major ideological division on Audiogon, particularly on topics relating to cables, power accessories, and miscellaneous tweaks. Verificationists argue that, if a statement about cable x, power outlet y, or tweak z cannot be verified, then the statement is not valid. Anti-verificationists argue that, if they themselves hear a difference between item x and item y, then that is sufficient to make statements about those items valid.
What I called 'Verificationism' you are calling Objectivism, but our meanings are very close.
06-12-12: Photon46
Maybe the objectivist vs. subjectivist view of audio reality is a philosophical microcosm reflecting our respective world views?... Discussions that cut to the core of our sense of self and world view provoke passionate debate. It takes great humility to accept that someone with a radically different world view may nonetheless have a valid viewpoint.
Again, completely agree. A good illustration is the Neutrality thread, which has 396 posts of passionate debate between Objectivists and Subjectivists. After a few dozen posts, it became clear that the dividing lines of the debate went much deeper than audio. The conflicting viewpoints reflected two fundamentally different ways of looking at truth and knowledge. And you're exactly right that accepting the validity of other people's point of view requires great humility.

"accepting the validity of other people's point of view requires great humility."

Agreed. Humility is a virtue!

One thing I have learned over the years is that often the most valuable insights come from those who look at thing from a totally different perspective than I. It's a key to self improvement, something that we all can always benefit from.
When the talking(argument) is cut short by the mods, we are left with a North and South Korea type of situation.

Which is why I feel it's constructive to keep threads alive and not shut them down.

Sometimes they morph,but there is always something to be learned,grains of wisdom from the collective whole of those who participate and to me that's a good thing.

We need disargreement as a species to stay alive.
Where would we be if we all toed the party line?

We most likely would still be living in caves if it wasn't for the few brave fools who decided to venture out from the safety and sureness and comfort of their caves.

Fast forward and mankind discovers that it will not fall off the face of the earth the nearer he gets to the horizon.
So much for the established science and wisdom of the day.

I am not anti science.

I just feel that we haven't learned everything yet that there is to be learned,so I keep my mind open.

Others feel that something like the HiFi fuse has to be explained to them , that there has to be scientific proof to validate the claims.
They would never have ventured out onto the high seas or out of their caves.
All that they need to know is all that they have learned so far, and there's nothing left to discover.
More of the closed mindset if you will.

One understands he has much to learn, the other feels he knows all he needs to know.

Those who have the need to learn and discover will tend towards aftermarket tweaks, those who have done it all know it all will avoid such like the plague.

I remember Auntie Enid quite well,I discovered that there is a right and wrong way in power cord orientation.
Some folks laughed at her.
As I've mentioned,Aczel got me interested in the effect fuses have on our components.
My take was that if the fuse degraded the sound in a speaker, then it could have the same impact wherever it is used.

A very simple and easy experiment for me to do with my Maggies and my old Amber 70 amp of the day.

An experiment that anyone can do to this day if they are careful.

But only the folks who are curious will ever know what a fuse can do to the sonics while it protects our gear.

The others' beliefs will not be altered, they will not try the fuse or other tweaks.Hardwired into them is everything they have ever learned, and that's all they need.

They say their gear is not flawed and mine must have been, hence the reason why I noticed an improvement.

Yet they will swap tubes,and replace the odd resistor or capacitor out of neccesity or for sonics.
Those have become acceptable audio practises that both types of audiophiles engage in.

So the frustrating part for me,a person who understands that everything plays a part in what we hear,is not understanding why the fuse isn't included in the list of acceptable audio practises.

To me, there is nothing to argue about or debate about if only one side has ever experienced that which is in question.

The only thing that is a certainty is that one side tried it, and one side didn't.

Which would be a one sided argument if ever there was one.
"Others feel that something like the HiFi fuse has to be explained to them , that there has to be scientific proof to validate the claims."

At the risk of further fuse related controversy, not proof but it never hurts to be able to identify something quantitative to substantiate claims. That's what science is all about.

I think many in the fuse thread were in consensus that lack of scientific evidence much less proof does not mean that something is not possible. It just makes it less likely perhaps. Its best to be as educated as possible and then decide yourself when something matters to you.
i have a mixed mind on the subject of forum censorship. on the one hand i loath the idea of online hall monitors/moderators and like charzo et. al. generally endorse the idea of letting boys be boys. on the other hand, some of us still harbor vague dreams that this forum can be somewhat loftier that the typical internet springer show and that everyone will choose to adhere the precepts of civility, mutual respect, etc. unfortunately, like most utopian ideals, a self-policing, elevated forum is still a dream--while the vast majority of folks here are genuinely good folks, there is a loud minority of contentious nitwits, goofy trolls or outright douches, which (unfortunately) mandates some control on freedom of expression. thanks for indulging.
For those who know what's best for us.... rise up and save us from ourselves. Rush
It's in our DNA, we can't help it. If the genetic material didn't support behaviors that were competitive in nature, then the self-fulfilling requirement of perpetuating the molecular structure would disappear and with it the fundamental "raison d'etre."

The hardest part for people is to make the best of what argument provides for everyone, critical and constructive dicourse, while removing the object under discussion from personalization. Somehow we haven't been able to completely remove that element from our existence, but we're getting there.

And then some folks are simply jerks; "avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit." Max Ehrmann
Our genes are 99.99% chimp

That explains the callouses on the back of my fingers.

BTW, love that quote from Max Ehrmann: I'm gonna put it on a T-shirt.

All the best,
You have every right to hate "it",but the "it" I was refering to was your comment.

I think you missed the point or perhaps I did.

I thought your remark was a great bit of comedic writing.

As this one is?
Ok, it's another day.

So when did the thread turn ugly? Which I guess it has, despite my optimism that the first diatribe was meant in jest.

It starts with "who the hell are you-"and the pace is picked up by another poster with "stop it".

Then "mother" or should I say Robert Young came in( as I mentioned, there's always one)to call a truce on Father's day.

So, true to form we have the ganging up and the peacemaker that I mentioned about.

But we still haven't found out why we are arguing?

No one has been able to voice their reasons for wanting to end the thread have they?

Those two individuals are not being forced to read,so they can "stop it" simply by not reading and not responding.
They are in complete control.They can switch channels or turn off the TV.

Perhaps that's not enough.

Until they explain why, we are stiil in the dark about "why do we argue?"

Lacee, I find the whole thread in jest. My answer to the original question: like everything else, it's about control (and sometimes manipulation) of others.
"My answer to the original question: like everything else, it's about control (and sometimes manipulation) of others."


That's basically it.

Sometimes but not always a sinister thing. Motives will vary. Could be a humanitarian gesture to help another, or could have a pure profit incentive, or other motives as well perhaps.

The scientific method is essentially the means by which an argument is quantified to determine to what extent, if any, facts support a particular conclusion or not.

Most people are not scientists, and science is challenged to support certain conclusions that people arrive at. So people simply argue when needed as a result in order to get some one else to reach a conclusion similar to theirs.

No way to avoid it. It's a natural thing. Often futile in the end however in many cases. Many arguments that are seemingly sound based on observations are not bulletproof.
Lacee, not to be argumentative, but I thought there were some very thoughtful responses, Bryon's really hit the nail on the head- as did several others- we argue because we have different views and argument is not a bad thing if it is done in a civil way. It helps people learn and refine their thinking if done with some thought . I knew UnSound and some of the others were joking, although it may sometimes be hard to tell on the Internet.