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Are Violins Fake?


GeorgeH
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Interesting article: "Is Wine Fake?" that seems quite applicable to violins. Something to ponder and debate on this American Thanksgiving Holiday. 

"Third, even if you find neither of these exculpatory, tricking people just works really well in general. Based on the theory of predictive coding, our brains first figure out what sensory stimuli should be, then see if there’s any way they can shoehorn actual stimuli to the the expected pattern. If they can’t, then the brain will just register the the real sensation, but as long as it’s pretty close they’ll just return the the prediction. For example, did you notice that the word “the” was duplicated three times in this paragraph? Your brain was expecting to read a single word “the,” just as it always has before, and when you’re reading quickly, the mild deviation from expected stimuli wasn’t enough to raise any alarms."

https://asteriskmag.com/issues/1/is-wine-fake

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Presumably a proof reader will have better skills of differentiation in his specialty than the normal reader. Having had this job for a while I know that it's possible. So the solution is to not let the unqualified have the job and then publish "definitive research" based on what they can't discriminate with their inferior skillset.

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1 hour ago, Michael Darnton said:

Presumably a proof reader will have better skills of differentiation in his specialty than the normal reader. Having had this job for a while I know that it's possible. So the solution is to not let the unqualified have the job and then publish "definitive research" based on what they can't discriminate with their inferior skillset.

Proof reading is a measurable and objectively testable skill. Selecting wines or violins is not.  "Fine" wines can sell in the same 5- and 6-figure price ranges as "fine" violins. Apparently many wine "experts" are not able to even tell a white wine from a red wine or a $300 bottle of wine from a $30 bottle of wine.

Many people purchased their wine for their holiday dinner based on appearance, price, and brand label. Sound familiar? :lol:

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A friend of mine who is a very subtle character and a bon vivant is fond of saying "all you need to know about wine is that the more expensive a wine is, the better it is".

The same is true of violins. :lol:

The problem with the whole "many wine experts can't tell the difference ..." argument is that a select few actually can.  This is akin to Michael's argument.

 

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In a sheet full of A's it's fairly easy to pick out a B if you know (and care) to look for it (I should add - and you're able to discern the difference between the two).  Ceteris paribis regarding physical capability, I tend to think that it's a learned expectation of the inconsequential that causes us to skip over things when presented in a familiar context.  Just an alternative to computer-centric interpretations of the interface of intelligence with it's environment.

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@GeorgeH

I have said this before regarding violins: I have a friend who took the violin recordings from the Bein & Fushi Miracle Makers book (24 Strads and del Gesus) and the first time through the recording split them into Strads and del Gesus with one mistake. I have often read that this is an "impossible" task. However, as it only takes one white crow to prove that "all crows are black" is false, likewise with this incident: it certainly is possible to tell violins apart IF ONE HAS THE NECESSARY SKILL SET, which hardly any player just grabbed off the street does. He was even able to tell me how he did it, but I'm not skill-equipped to do the same thing.

The wine example only proves that so far they haven't located someone who can tell the difference, not that there is not a difference. In the famous experiment for violins that's often quoted, supposedly one player was able to separate the old violins from the new (this is a rumor). If this is true, at that point I would have told everyone else to go home, and tried to find out what this one person could do. That was not in line with the prejudices of the testers so it didn't happen. So you are right, prejudice does play a part in this.

I suspect that if I asked you whether there was life in other solar systems you would say "We have not found any" rather than "No, there is not," without a lecture on how amateurs can be fooled about the issue. That's proper science.

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4 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

Presumably a proof reader will have better skills of differentiation in his specialty than the normal reader. Having had this job for a while I know that it's possible. So the solution is to not let the unqualified have the job and then publish "definitive research" based on what they can't discriminate with their inferior skillset.

How qualified does one need to be to claim that God doesn't exist? Shouldn't such a person have at least a Masters or Doctorate in theology, or would that disqualify them due to their prior level of indoctrination?

2 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

I have said this before regarding violins: I have a friend who took the violin recordings from the Bein & Fushi Miracle Makers book (24 Strads and del Gesus) and the first time through the recording split them into Strads and del Gesus with one mistake.

And I have a friend who flew to the moon and back in his piston-powered single-engine Cessna air-o-plane. ;)

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1 minute ago, MikeC said:

Violins don't exist when you're not looking at them.  That's the Copenhagen interpretation of violins.  

Funny - as a child I sat on a violin which I wasn't looking at ...

Maybe my sitting on it brought it into existence.

And yet every other time I've sat down I haven't succeeded in manifesting a broken violin.

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3 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

@GeorgeH

I have said this before regarding violins: I have a friend who took the violin recordings from the Bein & Fushi Miracle Makers book (24 Strads and del Gesus) and the first time through the recording split them into Strads and del Gesus with one mistake.  ...He was even able to tell me how he did it, but I'm not skill-equipped to do the same thing.

...In the famous experiment for violins that's often quoted, supposedly one player was able to separate the old violins from the new (this is a rumor).

 

I listened to the first few bands of the Bein & Fushi recording.  I noticed immediately that the Strads and Guarneris had different vowel sounds (maybe it was on the open G string -- I don't recall).  It was not a subtle difference, and it required no skill whatsoever.  I thought it odd that no one else seemed to have noticed.  But I don't know if it is a typical characteristic, or just characteristic of that fiddle collection or that group of recordings.

As for that famous experiment, the group as a whole managed fairly well to separate new violins from old violins, and they proved to be fairly consistent in their choices.  They could not tell which violins were new and which ones were old, but they could tell the difference with reasonable consistency.  This result is sometimes forgotten.  Unfortunately, they mostly preferred new violins.  One can argue about the significance of their preference(s) (please don't), but they did notice differences fairly systematically.

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I am looking forward to drinking the Pinot Noir I bought for tonight's dinner. It was expensive (for me) and the bottle was attractive so I am sure it will be good. In fact, the bottle says it was aged for 75 days in brandy barrels so I think that will also help it taste good, but I don't know why. I hope it has good body with a hint of chocolate and copper. :lol: 

@Michael Darnton There are, apparently, a very small number of people who can distinguish wines by certain characteristics. However, identifying these people from people who claim to have this skill is essentially impossible without some kind of testing. 

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I don’t know how useful it is to compare violins to wine tasting where the smell of cow shit is apparently a good thing.
 

Check the 10:00 minute mark. 
 

But seriously, one interesting thing about this clip is that if flies in the face of the claims that people can’t tell the difference between expensive and cheap wine. Kevin Hart is untrained and he can tell the expensive wine even if he has trouble pinpointing the price points the price points of the others as precisely.

 

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One needs to accept the fact that there is no place here pure math proof theorizing. If I win lottery does it prove that I can predict the numbers? Of course I could just be lucky. If someone will tell apart the violins or wines consistently with low error rate then he can be certified as expert.

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Wine, violins, strings, art

These things are fake for most.  So are science, logic, and math.  Most people can't track the truth of any of these things.

At the highest levels of anything, depth of perception comes into play, for some. But for most, that perception is either absent or faked.   Majority blindness doesn't the truth of extra perception known only by a few.

High price is an imperfect proxy for actual perception.

Is a bow a good player's bow?  Only good players can answer that.  But good dealers have many proxies that enable them to present likely candidates to real players, and the many clueless others.

It is intrinsically an elitist scenario.

Does Sartory make more good playing bows than most? Yes.   

 

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5 hours ago, David Burgess said:

How qualified does one need to be to claim that God doesn't exist? Shouldn't such a person have at least a Masters or Doctorate in theology, or would that disqualify them due to their prior level of indoctrination?

And I have a friend who flew to the moon and back in his piston-powered single-engine Cessna air-o-plane. ;)

It should not be very hard to find a person claiming God doesn't exist. Most people nowadays do think they are a god actually.

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I do believe there are true experts in wine tasting and in fine violins. The number of them is extremely small, but that’s the nature of this kind of expertise. It takes a special kind of understanding and a thorough training to develop. I remember from watching Somm that the candidates for the exam would spend hours tasting wines as they worked to build up their knowledge. In addition to the physical act of tasting the wine, they were focusing on a mental picture of it and making mental notes about it. Violin experts also learn by repeated exposure to the subjects of their expertise as well as by carefully compiling information about them.

There is a lot of skepticism leveled against expertise, some founded, some unfounded. Experts are human, and some mistakes are bound to happen, especially toward the end of a career. That does not invalidate the correct assessments they have made. Also, there are a lot of fake experts who muddy the waters, and even more amateurs who are eager to make determinations.

Here’s another thought: I recall watching another wine-related documentary called Sour Grapes that told the story of a man who had fooled countless connoisseurs by recreating the taste of fine wines through blending wines together and by making good reproduction labels. He was actually quite knowledgeable about wine and was able to assess the fine wines well enough to make his blends and fool people. In order for his forgeries to be possible, there had to be something definable to copy, something that had a real market.

Compare this to forgeries in the violin world. Some are obvious fakes, but there are some done well enough to trick even the connoisseur. It takes a certain sense of the real instruments to know what to emulate, and a good forger knows how to reproduce the things people look for. 

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1 hour ago, ______ said:

It should not be very hard to find a person claiming God doesn't exist.

What do you mean by 'God'?  Ooopsy - my bad.  Moving on...

 

10 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

Proof reading is a measurable and objectively testable skill. -->Selecting wines or violins is not<--.

Why not?  Lack of an objective standard (see God comment above)?

 

6 hours ago, martin swan said:

as a child I sat on a violin which I wasn't looking at

I spent a lot of time writing a reply to this before I went numb and gave up.

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As the article notes, "tricking people just works really well in general." When somebody says that their $1,000 violin has a "$10,000 tone," you know they have been tricked into believing that tone quality is proportional to price just like wine makers want people to believe that the quality of a wine is proportional to its price when most people can't tell the difference between expensive and inexpensive. 

 

 

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