Thursday, 16 September 2010

Of Observers and Observations

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Some times, the same observations lead to different conclusions or interpretations"

This is a very interesting discussion that took place on Google Buzz. It all started with a profound question by Gurudatha Pai and a conversation follows...

Is observation independent of the observer??

Shrinivas Bhat - nope it cant be... there will always be little bit of observer in the

Nikhil Baliga - Lisa Simpson (from Simpsons) said - If a tree fell in the woods when there was nobody there, does it make any sound?
She also asked if you can clap with one hand...

So, no, if there is no observer, there can be no observation. And an observer is not an observer until he observes an observation


Gurudatha Pai - So, in any observation, there is a bias introduced by the observer? seems logical? So then, how scientific is science?

Nikhil Baliga - Well, I would say if the same glass is shown to two people, one might observe it as half empty and the other might observe it as half full. These are two observations and vary, and thus are dependent on two people.

Also, observations are dependent on the observer's abilities - Like, some attentive people are more observant to the same things shown to them, and might be able to fish out more information.

Science is the truth - The quantity of water in the glass continues to be the same. It is up to you to find out the exact nature of it by being more observant


Gurudatha Pai - "Science is the truth ......"
That's where I am not necessarily differing but unsure, I would say. Yes, I do agree that absolute science is truth but do we have absolute science? I guess not! What we have is an observation of science. My observation of what is in the glass is (at least slightly ) different than yours and from the truth, what say?


Shrinivas Bhat - There cannot be absolute science. And science cannot explain every thing. if you look at the history (of science) there are few science theories/findings which were regarded as one of the best invention/findings (of the time) have been proved wrong later.

Gurudatha Pai - Those are "theories" by your own comment, and some experimental evidence that the theory has some truth that explains the observation but the converse may not be true. That is, it may not be possible to explain every observation by a single theory... so..
I don't know if I am making sense here.. i will think how i can rephrase that!

Nikhil Baliga - Yeah, we both are saying the same thing Guru... We both agree that there is an absolute truth, and reaching it may or may not happen through observations - Might be because of insufficient observation or incorrect observation or lack of knowledge to conclude exactly what that observation was. This will clearly tell you why something that was agreed as truth at one point was disproved later. It will also explain why Newton's laws were a specific case of Einstein's laws, etc.

It depends on the complexity of the problem. If I ask you - What is 1 + 1? You will say 2, and so will I, because the number of parameters involved are less, and chances of error or deviating from the path is close to zero. However, with advanced concepts, the number of parameters involved go up, and there are chances of making mistakes in observation at every level, thus leading to different conclusions.

Some times, the same observations lead to different conclusions or interpretations - As in the glass of water. Like for example, take Advaitha, Dwaitha and Vishishtadwaitha - All of them observed things around them, but have different conclusions. There can be an absolute science that would point towards the absolute truth, but do we have an observer who can point us towards it? Krishna was there, I don't know if we will have another :-)


Priyanka Murthy - This maybe abrupt, but to draw another parallel regarding same observation and different conclusions~ the observation that this whole world is an illusion is supposed to make us happy and feel liberated according to spirituality but the same observation in 'inception' has such a depressing effect!

ramesh m.r - Reminds me of Matrix .....The world is what is we see around us ... thts it .. If there is a building ... what is behind it ? Logic says there is something ... There might be an airport there ... If you ask someone to go there ,see and tell you ... He might actually be lying .. you are the only thing which is real .. everything around are objects of your imagination ... Too much of philosophy is dangerous to health ... :-P

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The discussion is ongoing. If you have any comments, do add them and we can build a longer thread :-)

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