andres marrugo

Not Collapsing the Wave Function

Today in “This American Life” I was listening to an episode about hidden truths. It was really interesting to find out about a secret letter that the prime minister of Britain writes to every commander of a nuclear submarine. It supposedly contains instructions on what to do if the nation has been wiped out and if the commander should retaliate or not. It poses a mystery on what the contents are, even more so because every time there’s a new prime minister in office the letters are destroyed unread.

There are many questions that come about in knowing what the contents of the letter are. But to my understanding it is a way of reassuring your people that both possibilities exist. To retaliate or not. It is like delaying the final call on a difficult decision. Something akin to a Schrödinger cat situation.

I’ve thought of this for while and I’ve come to understand that many people actually like to live their lives this way. Not wanting to know certain things, or more precisely clinging to the hope that a certain aspect in one’s life does not turn out to be what we fear so much. Keeping both options open (not collapsing the wave function) is probably a reassuring situation, relieving anxiety and allowing one to continue living unmoved by the cold hard reality.