Schrodinger's Cat, his Kittens and Reality? LO26364

From: Alfred Rheeder (
Date: 03/16/01

Greetings LO Readers,

I am trying to organise my own system thinking following some threads
regarding reality . I belief that reality or rather the "whole" of reality
has got to do with all the phenomena that exists. I belief that tacit and
explicit awareness of certain patterns and trends is key to understand the
whole of reality and I'm of the opinion that a strict articulated
definition of reality will inevitably lead to exclusive thinking - to the
detriment of a better understanding of the reality of reality. Some
profoundly important questions that I am compelled to ask regarding
reality are:

  1.. Does reality exists (will reality be a reality?) independently from
observation or not? For e.g. will gravity be a reality if it could not be
observed and/or experienced?
  2.. Is an understanding (complete or incomplete) of the phenomena that
exist also a property of reality? In other words does the how and why of
the phenomena form part of reality?
  3.. Does reality include quantitative and/or qualitative properties of a
system/sub systems etc.
  4.. Does reality encompass the physical and abstract phenomena?
  5.. Is reality itself subject to evolution?

I would like to question my own mental model regarding reality by
contrasting different paradigms. My questioning and probing has
inevitably lead to more questions!

Reality,Quantum Physics,Schrodinger's Cat all of his Kittens and by the
way Market Research

So this is this "thing" called Theory of General Relativity really so
strange and foreign apart from the extraordinarily difficult maths?

A "world" where energy and mass is really both sides of the same coin,
where space is the fourth dimension and gravity merely the curvature of
time-space caused be the presence of matter. The "world" created by the
Theory of General Relativity is in essence very familiar to all of us.

This "world" in fact comforts us. Forces of causality govern this "world".
It is deterministic in essence and provided creationists with a Big Bang -
the moment in time and space where everything has its origin. And as
previously thought the "world" runs like clockwork whether we look at it
or not and best of all objective reality exist. We must just keep on
asking why and wherefore, wait and be patient enough, to discover meaning
and our eventual fait...

But along came Heisenberg, Bohr, Born, Pauli, Schrodinger, Feynstein and
shattered all of our expectations and beliefs. They gave us the strange
and mysterious quantum cookbook. Ironically enough Einstein who simply
could not and would not belief in the interpretation of the quantum
cookery played a fundamental role in its "discovery". God playing dice,
cannot be...?

The quantum cookbook they discovered provided us with an even more
mysterious and strange world. Unfortunately the "world" is not governed by
causality. It is inherently uncertain and only probabilities exist. Those
"damned quantum jumping"! The hell with those particles if we cannot
determine their position and momentum at the same time! How can they know
we are looking at them?

Emerging form this quantum cookery - quantum mechanics - a rather
disconcerting view of our "world" and reality. We know only two things
with far reaching consequences. Firstly the act of observing changes the
behaviour of the observed. Secondly the experimental results is only valid
within the context of the experiment. Hmmmmm.. Doesn't sound that strange
yet? But wait, rather frighteningly the consequences emerge.

The "world" does not run like clockwork, independent from whether we look
at it or not. In knows we are looking at it and it changes its behaviour.
Objective reality does not exist! Unfortunately what we see is what we
get. We cannot even say anything about anything in the "world" if we are
not looking. Until we look at Schrodingers Cat it is in a dead-alive
state, neither dead nor alive.

Disconcertingly already we cannot even say the atom, its electrons its
nucleus, and even the Big Bang exist and are "real" if we are not looking
at it!

The only thing we know is that we are creating reality by looking. Are we
by looking at the "world" giving reality to the world not only now but
back to the beginning? Is it fair to say that the history has no meaning,
the past has no existence except the way it is recorded presently?

Reality and Market Research Thought Experiment

Adapted from Wheelers explanation of the "participatory universe"

Wheelers twenty questions game

"The twenty questions game is played by one person (questioner) leaving
the room. The remaining persons in the room agree on a real object that
exist. The questioner return to the room and ask questions about the
object - the goal being to identify the object. Only Yes or No answers are
allowed to the questioner's questions.

Wheeler recalled him playing such a game with friends. It was his turn to
leave the room and upon his return he started asking questions. On his
return he found that the answers came quickly at first for questions like
"Is it an animal?" and "Is it green?". But as the game progressed the
answers took longer and longer to come, strange because every body agreed
on an object and the required answer can only be Yes or No. At last with
only one question was left and he guessed " Is it a cloud?" The answer yes
was accompanied by a burst of laughter.

There had been a plot not to agree on an object to be guessed but each
person when asked must give a truthful answer about a real object that was
in his mind and which is consistent with all the answers that has gone

As the game went on it became as difficult for the questioned as for the

Wheeler explained what this game has to do with quantum theory. Like our
concept of the real world existing out there when we are not looking at
it, Wheeler imagined that there was a real answer to the object he was
trying to identify. But there was not. All that was real was the answer to
his questions, in the same way that the only thing we know about the
quantum world is the result of the experiment.

The cloud was created by the process of questioning in much the same way
the electron is created by our process of experimental probing."

Now lets play the same game with a twist. First of all we call the game
market research. We are the questioner that asks the questions. We select
the questioned by statistical means so that they are representative of the

The purpose/goal of the game is for the questioner to determine the object
through questioning. In our case the object is consumer behaviour and how
consumer paradigms, lifestyles etc. relate to the consumer behaviour.

We thoroughly postulate the questions when we left the room to leave less
room for invalid results. We asks the questions and upon which the
respondents reply in essence very much the same way as in the twenty
questions game. We gather the answers to our questions and run
simulations, determine interactions and reach conclusions about consumer

Is our goal/purpose to determine the object through questioning? Can our
goal/purpose be to determine the object through questioning? Shouldn't we
be less concerned with a hypothesis but rather choose to build measuring
devices upon which we can record changes? Wouldn't we learn more about the
process (in context) by mapping the way respondents change their answers
to maintain internal consistency?

Do we not assume or imagine that the real world (real world of consumer
behaviour) exist independently from whether we look at it or not - in this
case that there is a real answer of consumer behaviour independently from
whether we ask questions or not?

Are we not creating the object (consumer behaviour) through our
questioning and probing?

Aren't the results of our questioning just valid within the context of our
research and we therefore are unable to extrapolate out of the research
context? What are the consequences of not being able to extrapolate out of
the research context? Would this render the results meaningless?


Alfred Rheeder

Carpe Diem!


Alfred Rheeder <>

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