If You Can’t Beat ’em, Join ’em, or, the Observer’s Paradox Can Help You

I wrote this little bit on the Observer’s Paradox, how it can mess up your data collection, and how you might overcome it. Thing is, while the Observer’s Paradox can be a royal pain in the ass, it can also be a powerful addition to your exercise and healthy living toolbox? How?


Let’s take it as given that the paradox is correct and the act of observing a phenomenon causes you to change it. Now:

  • Pick the area you want to work on and fix it in your mind.
  • Now, that thing you want to change is a part of you. Your subconscious is always aware of it, so now you are always (at least dimly) aware of it.
  • The effect of the paradox is to always keep you working toward that goal.

A real life example:

I wanted (for decades) to stop cracking my knuckles. I knew it was obnoxious (I mean, it’s not chewing with your mouth open obnoxious, or snapping your gum obnoxious, still…obnoxious) but it was others suffering, not me. So I didn’t stop.

Then my oldest picked up the habit (from me, of course…good work Daddy). Being consciously, constantly aware of it was a tool I used to stop doing it myself.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

Don’t work for the Observer’s Paradox make it work for you.