Rich Theory



Observer Effect

The Observer Effect is the observation that the act of observing a phenomena often affects the phenomena. For example, people will behave differently when they know that they are part of people's behavior.

The observer effect often has extremely profound effects in psychology and economics. Reports on a recession can deepen a recession as people decrease their economic activity to adjust to the news. Psychologists have discovered that people respond to the labels given by pyschologists.

In the world of physics, scientists have also found that the act of observation can affect the observed object in predictible ways. For example, the electrical meter on your house requires electricity.

The Observer Effect and Language

The observer affect is real. The language used to describe the observer effect often makes use of self references and can be quite paradoxical.

The observation that the language used to describe the observer effect is paradoxical brings up legitimate question of whether or not nature is paradoxical, or if it just the language?

Preoccupation with the Observer Effect

People love the paradoxical nature of the observer effect. It is possible for people who get carried away with the affect to start assigning magical qualities to their observations. It is possible to think that we create, or control the world through the process of observation.

I think the better approach to the observer affect is simply recognize that observation requires interaction with the subject observed. In such case. It is not the observation that affects a system, it is the interaction that affects the system.

Observers need to be aware of the effects that there interaction has on a system to understand the system.

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

For awhile, it was fashionable to equate the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, or other phrases from physics, with the observer effect. I get the impression that physicists of late have been discouraging that tendency as it dilutes the very precise language used in physics.

Warner Heisenberg is credited with the observation that one cannot make an exact measurement of both the position and velocity of a small particle. The act of measuring the position makes the velocity uncertain. The act of measuring the velocity makes the exact location uncertain.

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