Observation  

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"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" --George Berkeley, 1710

Diagram of the human mind, from Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica, page 217[1] by Robert Fludd

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Observation is an activity of a sapient or sentient living being (e.g. humans), which senses and assimilates the knowledge of a phenomenon in its framework of previous knowledge and ideas. Observation is more than the bare act of observing: To perform observation, a being must observe and seek to add to its knowledge.

Observations aroused by self-defining instruments are often unreliable­¹. Such observations are hard to reproduce because they may vary even with respect to the same stimuli. Therefore they are not of much use in exact sciences like physics which require instruments which do not define themselves. It is therefore often necessary to use various engineered instruments like: spectrometers, oscilloscopes, cameras, telescopes, interferometers, tape recorders, thermometers etc. and tools like clocks, scale that help in improving the accuracy, quality and utility of the information obtained from an observation. Invariable observation requires uniformity of responses to a given stimulus, and devices promoting such observation must not give out rebellious output as if having "a mind (or opinion) of their own". In statistics, an observation, whether of a sample or the population, measures one or more properties (weight, location, etc.) of an observable entity enumerated to distinguish objects or individuals.

The accuracy and tremendous success of science is primarily attributed to the accuracy and objectivity (i.e. repeatability) of observation of the reality that science explores.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Observation" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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