Absolutely we need measurements and standards which are empirical and easily proven. I guess I was saying that some folks delude themselves into blindly (or deafly) believing whatever a stereo manufacturer says about the specs. Trust, but verify as the famous snake oil prez said. Independent verification is totally the way to go. Read reviews. Audition, audition, audition (where possible). Ultimately you have to go by what your ears (all of us) and one's wallet (most of us) dictates. I've heard systems that had monster specs and sounded like a cheap one and heard cheap ones sound like a goliath. I'm shocked I paid $700 for 'little speakers' (Audioengine HD6) but after burn-in they sound better than many tower speakers I've heard costing a lot more. They would completely fill any size room. Frequency response 50Hz-22kHz +/-1.5dB; 50 Watts (x 2) RMS; THD+N <0.05% at all power settings. I used to think a 50 Watt amp was wimpy. Not when using honest measurements. Analog dual-class A/B monolithic amplifier (custom). They sound huge and crystal clear, analog or digital. Bought a sub to go with them but don't need it for music, really just for movies and gaming, or maybe if disco comes back. I don't know how they can get such loud and clear sound from a small box (< 12" tall) ? But I can assure you they do. Technology has always fascinated me and I can appreciate what went into the design and quality of materials and construction. I was totally amazed at the difference in the sound once I got them off the desk and on the stands, they really opened up then. The crazy thing is, there are $50,000 headphones (Sennheiser electrostatic), so you just know there's a $60,000 speaker somewhere. Trust your ears, you know what you like. My philosophy is I should spend more on speakers/headphones because that's what your ears actually hear. A $2,000 amp will sound like crap if you run it through crap speakers, the converse is also true. And... if it sounds good, enjoy it.
EDIT: BTW great discussion, thanks
EDIT 2: FWIW I listed the specs for the HD6 as an example of a product that clearly out-performs those specs (to my ear), including price