[In] classical music competitions, … nearly all participants — including highly trained musicians — were better able to identify the winners of competitions by watching silent video clips than by listening to audio recordings. … The effect held up even in high-level international competitions, which often feature not only top performers, but also highly trained musicians as judges. (
Style matters in fiction, but only to editors and writers. I've been studying fan-fiction this past year, and I can say confidently that most readers do not give a damn about style, or even grammar. Content rules with readers. There are plenty of fan-fictions written with excellent style, and they are not especially popular. But you don't need to study fan-fiction to realize that; just check the bestseller lists.
I seem to be missing some misconception here. Do you think it is logically impossible that people would predict the outcome of a blind musical competition better based on the video only than the audio only, or what?
> "They guessed worse when they had both audio and video. "
Before you unleash the hindsight based pseudo-scientific method on this data, think a little about this passage. It does imply that individuals are in fact judging primarily based on the audio when video is available.
People have idiosyncratic preferences for specific styles of playing, that's the thing, the jury averages this out, but one person is stuck picking the player that matches their preference the best. Unless they don't even hear the player, I guess.
edit: indeed, let's consider world championship level chess competitions. I would assume that in theory* people would predict outcome of those better based on a video from first 10 moves, showing just the player's faces, than based on the first 10 moves, showing just the pieces (the moves would reasonably be 100% perfect as far as anyone tested could tell); that wouldn't necessarily imply that chess is some sort of game where people look at each other's faces and the uglier looking resigns.*in practice I doubt it'd be possible to get sample size large enough.
I'd like to see another version of the study comparing ability to predict winners from still photos of the performance, still photos of the musicians while not performing, and videos. I wouldn't be surprised if the best-looking people have an edge.
From a different angle: Blind auditions increase the odds of women being hired by classical orchestras.
Interesting, but you forgot to mention the elephant in the room: TEACHERS.
I wonder whether these findings also apply to chess masters ...
Yes. I think our host goes from the meaning of style as not really a part of the core product (e.g., a musician's body movements) to style in literature, where, of course, style is a core ingredient - I, and many people who would think of themselves as connoisseurs, would say the most important. Robin appears to suggest that problem choice and analysis are more important, but if that's what you're looking for, you probably shouldn't read a work of fiction. (Having said that, I'm aware that there are many ways to write a novel.)
"These were "prestigious" musical competitions, which suggests a much-reduced range (and variance) of competence in music production."
An important point: when the range in competence is so small it's just not just the judges who are fools, the people who believe even a perfectly rational judge would reliably pick a "champion" are fools. Competitions with only a small number of events and that only allow for a single winner are usually not something you want to rely on.
The fault doesn't just lie with the judges, maybe not with the judges at all, the judges only know music, but they've spent their entire lives being told by people who should know better (because of their math credentials) that successful people usually become successful via having “super-powers,” i.e., very unusual abilities, at least within some context. Are the judges hardwired to overestimate their own judging abilities, are they too trusting in supposed experts who tell them superhuman champions exist, are they hardwired to believe in superhuman champions? The answer is not as simple as Hanson makes it look here.
Novelists? I don't think the fact that people consume and rate literature (non-fiction) on the basis of its style is inconsistent with the 'accepted' intentions or principles of recreational reading, which is what reading a novel presumably is.
People, I'm sure, certainly confuse their personal preferences re: style, with an assessment of quality (this is how 'Breakfast of Champions' by Kurt Vonnegut is considered a quality novel, which, as even an ardent Vonnegut fan like myself will tell you, it is not).
But I agree with the hypothesis being posited here. Simplified, it is mankind's tendency to replace a statement such as "I find Frank Sinatra's combination of stage presence, physical appearance, and ability to sing reasonably well highly enjoyable, personally" with a statement such as "Frank Sinatra is the BEST singer of the 20th century", and so on.
Is this news? This is what the concept of the popular talent show "The Voice" is based on (it's a talent show like any other, except the judges don't get to see the contestants).
These were "prestigious" musical competitions, which suggests a much-reduced range (and variance) of competence in music production. On the other hand, the range of competence in energy and passion is apt to be extremely large.
When the raters misjudged what is important to them, it was probably because the correlation-attenuating effect of restriction of range is counter-intuitive.
Another reason your account is unconvincing is you rely on the assumption that energy and passion are high status. Where does this assumption come from? Consider as counter-example high-status British aristocrats, who are supposed to look bored and listless.
This phenomenon is well known in the context of public speaking/classroom lecturing (dynamic speakers who say nothing of substance are rated highly); I seem to recall at least one rather famous experiment along these lines.