Cognitive science today gets increasingly interested in the embodiment of human perception, thinking, and action. Abstract information processing models are no longer accepted as satisfactory accounts of the human mind. Interest has shifted to interactions between the material human body and its surroundings and to the way in which such interactions shape the mind. Proponents of this approach have expressed the hope that it will ultimately dissolve the Cartesian divide between the immaterial mind and the material existence of human beings (Damasio, 1994; Gallagher, 2005). A topic that seems particularly promising for providing a bridge across the mind–body cleavage is the study of bodily actions, which are neither reflexive reactions to external stimuli nor indications of mental states, which have only arbitrary relationships to the motor features of the action (e.g., pressing a button for making a choice response). The shape, timing, and effects of such actions are inseparable from their meaning. One might say that they are loaded with mental content, which cannot be appreciated other than by studying their material features. Imitation, communicative gesturing, and tool use are examples of these kinds of actions.[19]

— Georg Goldenberg, "How the Mind Moves the Body: Lessons From Apraxia" in Oxford Handbook of Human Action

The Observer effect (physics)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In physics, the observer effect is the fact that simply observing a situation or phenomenon necessarily changes that phenomenon. This is often the result of instruments that, by necessity, alter the state of what they measure in some manner. A commonplace example is checking the pressure in an automobile tire; this is difficult to do without letting out some of the air, thus changing the pressure. Similarly, it is not possible to see any object without light hitting the object, and causing it to emit light. While the effects of observation are often negligible, the object still experiences a change. This effect can be observed in many domains of physics and can often be reduced to insignificance by using different instruments or observation techniques.

An especially unusual version of the observer effect occurs in quantum mechanics. Physicists have found that even passive observation of quantum phenomena (i.e., observations that do not directly act upon the phenomena), can actually change the phenomena; the 1998 Weizmann experiment is a particularly famous example.[1] These findings have led to speculation that the conscious mind can actually affect reality,[2] though most physicists today consider this to be a misconception of quantum mechanics. It is rooted in a misunderstanding of the quantum wave function ψ and the quantum measurement process.[3][4][5]

……The uncertainty principle has been frequently confused with the observer effect, evidently even by its originator, Werner Heisenberg.[17] The uncertainty principle in its standard form describes how precisely we may measure the position and momentum of a particle at the same time — if we increase the precision in measuring one quantity, we are forced to lose precision in measuring the other.[18] An alternative version of the uncertainty principle,[19] more in the spirit of an observer effect,[20] fully accounts for the disturbance the observer has on a system and the error incurred, although this is not how the term "uncertainty principle" is most commonly used in practice. (End of the Wikipedia excerpt)


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