The exaggeration of the role of observer in quantum mechanics

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In the famous double slit experiment, it's often said that the presence of an observer causes the electrons to behave as particles. "The need for the "observer" to be conscious has been rejected by mainstream science as a misconception rooted in a poor understanding of the quantum wave function ψ and the quantum measurement process." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_effect_(physics)

Why do some famous scientists and philosophers hold on to this misconception? I don't think it's out of poor understanding of quantum mechanics...

Asmani

Posted 2018-03-12T23:53:52.983

Reputation: 417

2Can you give an example of a famous scientist who continues to hold on to this misconception? I haven't seen one in modern literature, but then that could just be me reading the wrong (right?) material. – Tim B II – 2018-03-13T00:00:32.547

3@TimBII No, you're reading it right. The op's statement is just plain wrong (at least with respect to scientists; philosophers will have to speak for themselves:) – None – 2018-03-13T04:25:10.633

Looked up some writing of Bohr and Schroedinger and no reference to the observer being conscious. Remember that even in the famous 2 slit experiment that it is an inanimate measuring device and not a conscious observer. – Swami Vishwananda – 2018-03-13T07:14:16.403

1I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is based on a false premise. – WillO – 2018-03-13T16:35:43.833

2The “Consciousness causes collapse hypothesis” (CCCH) is a relatively fringe minority opinion, but “rejected by mainstream science” sounds like it had been disproved or so, which is not the case. Probably the problem that motivates CCCH is that an unconscious apparatus is itself a physical and so a quantum system. But consciousness seems nonphysical so one could entertain the thought that consciousness is finally the point when the collapse occurs. – viuser – 2018-03-26T03:01:00.577

Nobody can observe how an electron behaves unless they are conscious, so it is not possible to speculate how they do when there is no conscious observer. Nobody can know the readings on the meters and dials unless they are conscious. Whether consciousness causes the collapse is debatable, but as far as I can tell it would be impossible to prove it does not. – None – 2020-01-07T12:47:07.703

I note that so far nobody has cited any research showing that consciousness does not cause the collapse, yet apparently it is a 'misconception' that has been 'rejected by science' and is an 'exaggeration'. Are there any experiments that would back-up this sceptical view? If not, is it even scientific? . . . – None – 2020-02-07T11:38:57.663

Answers

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From the perspective of experimental design the issue or question seems to be non-testable and therefore does not qualify as a scientific question. The design would need to show that under condition A with observation that collapse is present and under condition B without observation then no collapse is present. But condition B appears to be impossible because we can’t know the outcome without observing it.

Richie Locasso

Posted 2018-03-12T23:53:52.983

Reputation: 11

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A "poor understanding of quantum mechanics" is seen in the exaggeration of the observer's role. But also some confusion from history and philosophy of science. Since antiquity construction tasks have been discussed in geometry, without anybody asking silly questions about the imputed constructor. The coordinate system, a cartesian invention par excellence, has been seen (notably by Kojeve) to embody this otherwise absent subject. Einstein in his youth was an eager positivist and Special relativity became known for its insistence for the presence of an "observer"; actually this is a misnomer. Special Relativity mimicks the ruler-and-compass limitation and it still is mostly geometry while QM is not. There is an unsolved problem about the border separating the quantum domain from the classical. The hazy realm where to it can be conveniently located is consciousness or subjectivity.

Positivistic science which tries to construct "observables" without observers understandably runs into trouble. Philosophers have dabated to no end where is the border between subjective and objective: the observed by many people, by one or by no one.

sand1

Posted 2018-03-12T23:53:52.983

Reputation: 3 109