From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
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.
- List of cognitive biases
- Naturalistic observation
- Observational learning
- Observations and Measurements
- Observer effect
- Uncertainty principle
- Observational science
- Observational astronomy