Posted by: captainfalcon | December 25, 2009

“Necessarily”

Is a concept Laurence Tribe might consider reviewing. Had he done so in 1989, he would have saved his (otherwise not so bad) article “The Curvature of Constitutional Space” from the occasional lapse of credibility:

The Heisenberg Principle may be applied successfully beyond the micro-level of quantum mechanics. It relies generally on two premises: first, that any observation necessarily requires intervention into the system being studied; and second, that we can never be certain that the intervention did not itself change the system in some unknown way. Consider this example: You have a very ill friend in the next room at a hospital. You want to find out how she is faring. (This corresponds to the “black box” of nature – the unknown contents of which we are attempting to fathom.) You call to her, “How are you doing?” (This corresponds to the ‘experiment’ – the question we ask of nature – the inevitable intervention into the system.) She replies, “Fine.” But the effort kills her. (The word “fine corresponds to the “outcome” or “observation” of the “experiment.”) Clearly, the outcome is sadly misleading – the very process of observation changed the system under study.

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