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Thread: The Relationship Between Perception and Reality

  1. #1 The Relationship Between Perception and Reality 
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    Please forgive any inaccuracies in this post. I'm writing this information as I know it off the top of my head without confirming each point.

    Years ago, there was a debate over whether light was a particle or a wave. Experimentally, both were proven to be true. Nobody understood how this was possible, until a man named Schrodinger came up with his famous thought experiment. Schrodinger put his cat in a box with a device that had a 50% chance of releasing a poison that would kill the cat. Schrodinger came to the conclusion that perception was reality, so until he opened the box his cat was neither alive nor dead. Applying this to the light debate, he determined that light took the form of whatever you perceived it to take. If your experiment was designed to allow you to perceive light as a particle, it would be a particle. If it was designed so you could perceive light as a wave, it would be a wave.

    In a way, this answers the old riddle, "If a tree falls in a forest, and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound." The answer would be no because the tree doesn't actually exist until somebody is around to perceive its existence. Until then, it's just an imaginary tree in a hypothetical riddle. In this way, each person or animal capable of perception creates their own reality.

    This has medical applications as well. Many disorders are cause by low self esteem. Behavioral reconstruction therapy is centered around the concept that if a person changes their perception of themselves, they will become that perception. The idea is that if you walk around acting like what you think an awesome person would act like, then in your reality you become an awesome person. This is more than just psychological, as it is also reflected in the placebo effect.

    So what does it mean to be "insane"? Even a man who believes he's a chicken believes himself perfectly sane. Only when our realities intermingle do we perceive the contradiction. Perhaps the man really is sane, but we exist in different realities. For that matter, how do you know you are sane? Maybe you only perceive that you are sitting at a computer reading this, but in another persons reality, you are locked up in a padded room drooling on yourself.

    Apply all this to religion, and it gets even more interesting. After all, there are those who believe in God and those who don't, but the two possibilities are considered to be mutually exclusive. Are they really? After all, light is a particle an a wave at the same time. Similarly, some people perceive the existence of God, while other perceive it to be an impossibility. Therefore, it would be arguable that God both exists and doesn't exist simultaneously. Christians should be no stranger to this weird notion of duality, since the Bible teaches that God is three entities (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) and one entity (God) simultaneously.


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  3. #2  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chimoshi View Post
    Schrodinger came to the conclusion that perception was reality
    No he didn't.

    so until he opened the box his cat was neither alive nor dead.
    Also incorrect.
    In fact Schrödinger's entire point was that it was absurd (and that's the actual word he used) to claim that the cat was in an either/ or state until observed.

    This has medical applications as well. Many disorders are cause by low self esteem. Behavioral reconstruction therapy is centered around the concept that if a person changes their perception of themselves, they will become that perception. The idea is that if you walk around acting like what you think an awesome person would act like, then in your reality you become an awesome person. This is more than just psychological, as it is also reflected in the placebo effect.
    While this may seem to be similar to the above premise it's not related at all.
    One is about what we can know about reality, the other is about how we behave.

    Perhaps the man really is sane
    Define "sane".
    (And it's unlikely he's sane).

    but we exist in different realities.
    Unlikely.
    (But define "reality".)

    but the two possibilities are considered to be mutually exclusive. Are they really?
    Yes.
    Exist/ not exist isn't at all on the same order of "contradiction" as wave/ particle.

    After all, light is a particle an a wave at the same time.
    Yet haven't you just spent some time (sort of) arguing that it's neither?

    Therefore, it would be arguable that God both exists and doesn't exist simultaneously.
    Only if you're going to play fast and loose with terms.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chimoshi View Post
    Please forgive any inaccuracies in this post. I'm writing this information as I know it off the top of my head without confirming each point.

    Years ago, there was a debate over whether light was a particle or a wave. Experimentally, both were proven to be true. Nobody understood how this was possible, until a man named Schrodinger came up with his famous thought experiment. Schrodinger put his cat in a box with a device that had a 50% chance of releasing a poison that would kill the cat. Schrodinger came to the conclusion that perception was reality, so until he opened the box his cat was neither alive nor dead. Applying this to the light debate, he determined that light took the form of whatever you perceived it to take. If your experiment was designed to allow you to perceive light as a particle, it would be a particle. If it was designed so you could perceive light as a wave, it would be a wave.

    In a way, this answers the old riddle, "If a tree falls in a forest, and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound." The answer would be no because the tree doesn't actually exist until somebody is around to perceive its existence. Until then, it's just an imaginary tree in a hypothetical riddle. In this way, each person or animal capable of perception creates their own reality.

    This has medical applications as well. Many disorders are cause by low self esteem. Behavioral reconstruction therapy is centered around the concept that if a person changes their perception of themselves, they will become that perception. The idea is that if you walk around acting like what you think an awesome person would act like, then in your reality you become an awesome person. This is more than just psychological, as it is also reflected in the placebo effect.

    So what does it mean to be "insane"? Even a man who believes he's a chicken believes himself perfectly sane. Only when our realities intermingle do we perceive the contradiction. Perhaps the man really is sane, but we exist in different realities. For that matter, how do you know you are sane? Maybe you only perceive that you are sitting at a computer reading this, but in another persons reality, you are locked up in a padded room drooling on yourself.

    Apply all this to religion, and it gets even more interesting. After all, there are those who believe in God and those who don't, but the two possibilities are considered to be mutually exclusive. Are they really? After all, light is a particle an a wave at the same time. Similarly, some people perceive the existence of God, while other perceive it to be an impossibility. Therefore, it would be arguable that God both exists and doesn't exist simultaneously. Christians should be no stranger to this weird notion of duality, since the Bible teaches that God is three entities (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) and one entity (God) simultaneously.
    The wave-particle duality of BOTH light and matter was not rationalised by the Schroedinger's cat paradox. That was simply a way to show the rather ludicrous effect of applying the Copenhagen interpretation of QM thinking, about state functions and probability, to a macro-scale problem. Furthermore, my understanding is it is only a popular myth that the act of observation by a conscious observer is relevant to the "collapse" of the state function - detection by an inanimate detector alone is sufficient.

    The wave-particle duality of light and matter is not really that much of a mystery. Any radio engineer has a good insight into the relationship between the two. It's all to do with superposition of wavelengths and Fourier series.

    So I think it is a mistake to build a house of cards on the presupposition that the world is subjective. It is not, or at least, that is not what science tells us.
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    Forum Professor Daecon's Avatar
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    Why wouldn't the cat itself count as an observer?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    Why wouldn't the cat itself count as an observer?
    Because it's curled up in the corner having a nap.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    Why wouldn't the cat itself count as an observer?
    Because the system described by the state function in question includes the box, and the poison activated by nuclear decay, as well as the cat. But the example is deliberately chosen for the absurdity of its outcome. Schroedinger was arguing against the Copenhagen interpretation when he dreamt this up: Schrödinger's cat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Schroedinger was arguing against the Copenhagen interpretation when he dreamt this up: Schrödinger's cat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Yes, and his argument failed. Many times in science, a person may inadvertently demonstrate something by attempting to disprove it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    Why wouldn't the cat itself count as an observer?
    Observation is a matter of perspective. Different observers can see different things, and both be right.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  9. #8  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Schroedinger was arguing against the Copenhagen interpretation when he dreamt this up: Schrödinger's cat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Yes, and his argument failed.
    How so?
    (Assuming you're not talking about the semi-informed woo-mongers that fail to understand Schrödinger's point).

    Observation is a matter of perspective. Different observers can see different things, and both be right.
    Doesn't mean that reality is a "matter of perspective".
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  10. #9  
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    This is all still a matter of debate, apparently. The Wiki article:Copenhagen interpretation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    is quite interesting and, under "Consequences" actually includes what Daecon effectively proposes. See "Wigner's friend".

    So I tend to think Schroedinger has been proved right, in the sense that, yes, it is indeed all very difficult….. as he was (I think) seeing to illustrate.
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  11. #10  
    Forum Freshman EvolvedAtheist's Avatar
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    The reason why people believe in the absurd idea of 'God' is mostly due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the world - even at the very basics.
    “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Charles Darwin
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvolvedAtheist View Post
    The reason why people believe in the absurd idea of 'God' is mostly due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the world - even at the very basics.
    What a crude and useless non-contribution to what has, until now, been a good discussion. Come back when you have something thoughtful to contribute.
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  13. #12  
    Forum Professor astromark's Avatar
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    ~ It can be argued that the arguments of the cat in the box is living or dead surpasses the reality until the box is opened.. Is the cat even there ? Was it ever ? Who's blood is that on the box.. The cat is near the fridge..
    ~ and my personal favorite; "Does the tree make a sound if no one hears it fall ?" Of coarse it does..
    ~ If you find it down then you can assume the action of gravity force upon the tree would have accelerated it earthward.. as it crashed through the branches of it's surroundings it would have generated considerable noise.. regardless of it being witnessed. The arrogance of humanity is brought into question at such a fools argument. Any deviation of this is a fools folly.. You are asking me to believe what I know to be impossible. The cat, the tree, and that the perception can be wrong. The eye can be fooled.
    Some of the greatest moments of science are proceeded by, " That's funny..."
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Schroedinger was arguing against the Copenhagen interpretation when he dreamt this up: Schrödinger's cat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Yes, and his argument failed.
    How so?
    (Assuming you're not talking about the semi-informed woo-mongers that fail to understand Schrödinger's point).
    What I mean is that later experiments verified that the absurdities Schrodinger was trying to call to everyone's attention are real despite being absurd.

    Whether they can actually be applied on the macro scale to something the size of a cat is still debatable, but on the quantum scale Schrodinger's story bears out whenever it is tested.


    Observation is a matter of perspective. Different observers can see different things, and both be right.
    Doesn't mean that reality is a "matter of perspective".
    Yeah. I mean that in the same sense as how speed and time and distance are relative within the framework of Relativity. Different observers may disagree how fast something is moving and both be right.

    In QM, different observers can disagree about particulars that relate to QM also.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  15. #14  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    What I mean is that later experiments verified that the absurdities Schrodinger was trying to call to everyone's attention are real despite being absurd.
    No, not quite.
    Schrödinger was arguing against "conscious observers" being the arbiter of "what really happened".
    And, so far, nothing supports that.

    Yeah. I mean that in the same sense as how speed and time and distance are relative within the framework of Relativity. Different observers may disagree how fast something is moving and both be right.
    In QM, different observers can disagree about particulars that relate to QM also.
    Ah, got you.
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by EvolvedAtheist View Post
    The reason why people believe in the absurd idea of 'God' is mostly due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the world - even at the very basics.
    What a crude and useless non-contribution to what has, until now, been a good discussion. Come back when you have something thoughtful to contribute.
    Haha, excuse me with you're disobliging injudiciousness?
    “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Charles Darwin
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