Tuesday, March 23, 2010

the observer effect

Behavioral scientists have proven that people act more ethically when they believe they are being watched. In one study, students gave to an honor system kitty for coffee twice as often when a set of eyes was illustrated on the sign requesting a contribution.

cherry blossoms
the monk primes
his alms bowl

Understanding how to direct human behavior by perceived observation pre-dates psychology, as the author of Hebrews 4:13 knew: And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render account. The all-seeing eye is represented in religions as diverse as ancient Egyptian polytheism, Buddhism, and Christianity. It even appears on US currency.

if there were a god...
entering my full income
on the tax form

Most of us prefer to imagine the less Orwellian eye of a shepherd watching over his sheep or our very own guardian angel.

clear skies
my faithless prayers rise

In quantum physics, the term observer effect means the act of observing influences the phenomenon being observed. The eye of the beholder, and even its perspective, directly affects the process.

the instant
of transubstantiation
paschal eucharist


John McDonald said...

love it nora well done

Anonymous said...

Love your style, and your poems. I will be thinking on this for a while.

Magyar said...

__This, my dear friend, will require a more clear mind >mine< to search all that is in this, a most deep haibun. _m

Eric said...


nora said...

Thank you for your kind comments. Magyar, I agree that it's deep, but I hope you mean that in a good way. :-)

Magyar said...

__I've kept returning, and in each read I've thought of other things... too many to "clutter comment."

__In 1960, finished, I closed the book and I said: "That will never happen!" Wrong... that book was

under this eye
prayers of faceless proles
in the darkness
bread and wine
the power of this will
body and blood
stare back

nora said...

Thank you, Magyar, for the lovely meditation. I love how you weave in the seasonal and topical themes of the haibun.