As an observer I most certainly cannot find anything further to discuss about this post. I too believe that many good people may never be able to do this. I also agree in your second premise that those that can afford and listen to more expensive stuff are not likely to browbeat themselves into believing that they are exceedingly biased. I have not been very active in the high dollar range of goods and as such I tend not to worry so much about it other than to agree that yes it does look sharp and yes I've been told that maybe it might sound or perform better than this little dinky RadioShack piece that I have in my left hand that was made in 1969.A statement I have danced around and implied, but not made outright, and some are certain to disagree...
I believe it is possible for sighted testing to be as effective as blind testing, but it is highly improbable that it is ever achieved by most listeners, even when they think they have. Of course, no one looks at an expensive amp or cable and thinks, "That sounds better," and then thinks, "But I am surely biased by the price and shiny finish and peer pressure, so my preference is suspect." Self-deception generally (always?) finds ways to hide itself, or it would not be so common in the world.
I did recently have a listen to acquaintances system that I would guess cost well into the $250,000 range and was completely shocked by the amount of great big fat cabling that was laying about floor behind the speakers and equipment. I don't mean average garden hose type cabling I mean something more akin to radiator hose cabling and I had to ask myself what is the difference. Because that is all that he had in the room I was unable to asked to listen to anything else but in reality I probably would not have had the nerve feeling that I would look rather stupid by asking him to lower the standards of what he felt his system should be. In the end of the day all I could do was shake my head and say that's the best audio system I've ever heard in someone's home by far. Maybe next time I go all bring something a little more down to earth and watch as he gives me the stink eye to go ahead hit the door Jack. :nerd: