About single, double & treble-blind testing
Hi-Fi News & Record Review, March, 1986.
Copyright © 1986, 1997 James Boyk
Professor Lipshitz complains ("Views" December 1985) that Martin Colloms's amplifier test was "zero-blind." The Editor's response claims it was "double-blind."
What the Editor described is actually a "single-blind" test; that is, one in which the subject does not know which unknown he is judging at any moment. "Double-blind" properly refers to tests in which neither the subject nor the operator know which is which. In a double-blind test, the experimenter (different from the operator) has made provision for identifying the unknowns, but the operator is not privy to these arrangements.
And if I may use this forum to introduce a new concept demanded by these trying times in audio, the triple-blind test is one in which neither the subject, the operator nor the experimenter knows which was which, nor what it all means. Of course, triple-blind tests lead to double-talk; and this is the explanation for so much of today's audio writing.
On the other hand, if we all keep our ears open, we may learn something. As long as we don't have the double-blind leading the double-deaf, there's hope.