Schrödinger, in an attempt to help explain an aspect of quantum mechanics put forth the example of the cat, the metal box, the radioactive material, Geiger counter, and beaker of hydrochloric acid. As part of this explanation he used Bohr’s Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics. Interestingly, this claims that observation is responsible for the causation of real events. In quantum mechanics (which I don’t claim to know much of at all), nothing actually happens, only probability changes. Schrödinger’s purpose of telling us about the cat and the torturous setup is to illustrate that the cat is both alive and dead (certainly true in regards to quantum mechanics, although it feels strange to say that outside of quantum mechanics) until a person actually opens up the steel box to see if the cat is alive, or dead, or somewhere in between. That’s Bohr’s idea there at play, which claims that the reality of the cat’s state of being is an uncertainty until a person looks, which causes the real event of the cat’s state to be true or realized.
In college, I found the Schrödinger analogy to be a great example of how the act of observation is a variable in the observed’s actions. If this extends into the realm of physics, I don’t know, but to the upper strata of biological life, I know this to be true. As long as the observed knows that it is being observed, the observation cannot be pure. As long as the documentary makers are in view shoving their cameras in the faces of Western Lowland gorillas, than the gorillas are going to behave differently, albeit possibly only slightly, than if the researchers were not present. The interrogated suspect will behave differently because of that large mirrored window in the police house.
Reality TV? Would any of those people be that interesting if they weren’t being filmed? What about the back half of a season in which the observed have become accustomed to the presence of the camera? Producers have to kick up the environmental stimuli to keep the action alluring. Give them less food, take away their TV, whatever. The Big Brother series was my favorite example of this.
Why am I typing about this? This journal is my observer. My life is different because I am being observed, regardless that I am the one responsible for making the initial observation! At any time I could stop posting here, and my behavior would revert to the unobserved state. Right? Doesn’t everyone watch me all the time? I am constantly surrounded by people, there are not many times during my day that someone doesn’t see what I’m doing. Because I’m used to that through constant exposure, I, like nearly everyone else, do not feel “watched”, but I am. And I think that everyone who realizes that will be better off, that they are watched. Shy people, don’t think on this too much, it might drive you nuts.
So if we can get some more of James MM’s observation fueled antics going today.