I have watched some of the lectures given by Brian Greene and Lawrence Krauss about the observation conundrum encountered during the double slit experiment. Can anybody answer me this question?

Is there a difference in results between

  • case 1: observation by a sentient creature (e.g. human or cat), or
  • case 2: the unmonitored recording of events (to be looked at later).

It seems to me that if there is a difference, then it is clearly the presence of something conscious/sentient that is making that difference, not just the recording of the events.

It seems also to me that in either case, since electrons are everywhere, and observation of their behaviour makes a difference, there is a serious consequence - scientific method falls victim to this ambiguity in behaviour for the simple reason that it involves observation, so this must undoubtedly affect the physical rules.

Perhaps I should surmise that we are entering an era of understanding where our sentience has to be considered part of the physical reality, and though this is an old idea, most of our top physicists are still saying they are long way from getting a handle on this fact. So:

  • when they decide that sentience is part of the universe, does that mean "intelligent design" is again on the agenda?

So, can anyone answer, is it case 1 or case 2 above?


The sentient observations and the unmonitored recording by any device are equivalent in the sense of this experiment. An observation by a physical sensor with any level of intelligence behind it equally interferes with the observed process.

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  • $\begingroup$ I find that mind boggling, wouldn't be the first time I have boggled. Put in plain English, the presence of sentience affects electrons (at least). I shall boggle more, then read/research more. There must be a way to find how the electron probability "field" interacts. I suppose the next question has to be - then how smart do you have to be, to be sentient. Would a goldfish do? $\endgroup$ – King Richard Mar 24 '17 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ @KingRichard No you misunderstand this answer : the "observer" does not need to have any intelligence. $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Aug 6 '18 at 17:42

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