Robert McGinley Myers writes about audiophile creep and the placebo effect on his blog The Anxiety Machine. Myers is what you might call a “recovering audiophile” - he spend thousands of dollars on audio equipment over a few years of fascination with pre-amps, rewired iPods and fancy headphones. While he was doing it, he could swear he could tell the difference. But could he?
The question extends to wines, as well - if many people can’t even tell the difference between red and white wine when blindfolded, why buy fancy wine? And what about alternative medicine? Little of it has demonstrated effects beyond placebo.
But Myers argues that placebo is nonetheless an important effect. Enthusiasts get real emotional benefits from their connoisseurship, even if it’s hoakum. And for many health problems, placebo effects are a Godsend, important in reducing stress and improving health. In other words: it cuts both ways.
It made me think of those of us who love menswear, and what our enthusiasm means for our lives. It’s worth considering whether you’re spending yourself into the poor house, whether you’re getting benefit from your time, and whether you’ve got a stable balance.