By September 12, 2013 Read More →

The uses and misuses of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principal

In The Blue Line Imperative, we explain the inherent measurement problems by citing Goodhart’s Law, which is an economics analog to Heisenberg’s famous uncertainly principle. The idea is that by measuring a system, whether electrons in orbit or operating margin for a business division or anything else for that matter, we disturb it. Therefore, the observe value for the target indicator is inevitably biased and distorted from the true, underlying reality. This problem is compounded when the indicator is used for control purposes (incentives, etc.), which gets to the heart of what Goodhart meant. In this link, Craig Callender (a philosophy professor with a blog at The New York Times) cites what he considers the misuse of the uncertainty principle, and questions whether the principle is all that important anyway. May be worth a look for some of our readers.

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