Correct. Dave Arnold and the Cooking Issues team found a definite improvement by presearing.
Do you have a link? All I could find was this episode:http://www.heritager...-3-Harold-McGee
They discuss preheating to inhibit lactic acid bacteria, but no blind taste tests comparing searing methods.
By my training as a psychologist I know that expectations of outcome can swamp anything else.
Another "expectation of outcome" effect: A young scientist needs to believe at least a little bit that they're smarter than 500 years of predecessors, to make progress. At least they're aware part of the time that progress doesn't work that way. When a modern chef dismisses "tradition", I wonder if they're giving someone like Fernand Point credit for being more than a country yokel.
Democratic blind taste tests are a slippery slope; they presume that we're all equally perceptive. I've met wine tasters who can match up a dozen wines blind after a four hour break; I can't come close. In chess one learns not to play one's opponent for a fool. Is it right to tune cooking step by step by what an average person can taste? This denies the possibility of an ensemble effect.
In audio circles there's the notion of a "golden ear"; on DIY forums one knows the best ears within driving distance willing to critique your new design. People debate whether one can hear the differences in new digital standards; the consensus is that most people can't hear the difference between sampling rates of 96kHz and 192kHz. Nevertheless, the most gifted sound board engineer can tell the difference between 96kHz and a live feed, but can't tell the difference between 192kHz and a live feed. There is some evidence that music sounds better with intact high frequency overtones that listeners can't detect in isolation.
Barb Stuckey's Taste What You're Missing
describes large variations in taste sensitivity, with "hypertasters" at one extreme. In my world view, a chef like Thomas Keller works harder than most people with his gifts, has unusual manual dexterity, and is a hypertaster to boot. I might flunk individual steps that he can distinguish, and still appreciate an ensemble effect when he's done.