Monthly Archives: October 2013

Measurements and Time

Observations in social sciences are often attempts to take measurements in cognitive systems. Although claims of objectivity have already been reduced to a minimum in social sciences, we may have to take even another step back in these cases. The question at hand is whether a cognitive system can retain its integrity when being measured, or if a measurement, just as any other intervention, creates a distinction separating a system state before the measurement from a system state after the measurement. Thereby, the measurements would inevitably create time inside the system.

From these considerations, it follows that measuring a system state not including the measurement taking place is not possible, as the measurement itself introduces a temporal distinction that cannot be undone. But this is the nature of a measurement. The observer tries to find out how a cognitive system reacts to specific events, thus creating a situation in which such a reaction is facilitated, even when the only action taken is to not disturb the system. Any cognitive systems is therefore aware of being measured, be it explicit or implicit. In addition, the measurement has to observe two system states: A state before the measurement, and another state afterwards. Even if the values of descriptors do not change, the measurement will nevertheless assign them an index in time. Thereby, the measurement also creates time in the system of the observer.