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Heisenberg Effect

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Edited by: Published: 2010
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Expressed in the most general terms, the Heisenberg effect refers to those research occasions in which the very act of measurement or observation directly alters the phenomenon under investigation. Although most sciences assume that the properties of an entity can be assessed without changing the nature of that entity with respect to those assessed properties, the idea of the Heisenberg effect suggests that this assumption is often violated. In a sense, to measure or observe instantaneously renders the corresponding measurement or observation obsolete. Because reality is not separable from the observer, the process of doing science contaminates reality. Although this term appears frequently in the social and behavioral sciences, it is actually misleading. For reasons discussed in this entry, some argue it should more ...

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