Schrödinger’s Rapist

Schrödingers rapist
Schrödinger's rapist

The above xkcd comic prompted this post by Kate Harding. The 600+ comments on that thread prompted a guest post on Kate’s blog coining the term Schrödinger’s Rapist. That post has got about 1,000 comments.

A cat, along with a flask containing a poison, is placed in a sealed box shielded against environmentally induced quantum decoherence. If an internal Geiger counter detects radiation, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when we look in the box, we see the cat either alive or dead, not a mixture of alive and dead.


Schrödinger’s cat isn’t a philosophical problem, but a thought experiment on quantum entanglement, since for the observer, the cat is simultaneously dead and alive. The term Schrödinger’s rapist applies to all men (or strangers) who approach women. These women consider all men as potential rapists, so-called Schrödinger’s rapists, men that are simultaneously rapists and are not rapists.

I was made aware of Kate’s site recently, I can’t remember the reason. The only reason why I came to this post was because of Belle de Jour’s post today.

Go ahead and THINK we look nice all you want. We do that too! This post is about what happens when you decide it’s a good idea to talk to that nice-looking woman.


Author: range

I'm mathematician/IT strategist/blogger from Canada living in Taipei.

4 thoughts on “Schrödinger’s Rapist”

  1. One problem I have with the Schroedinger’s Rapist idea is that the analogy isn’t perfect. In Schroedinger’s Cat looking in the box collapses the wave-function and the cat then becomes either alive or dead. The same is not true of the rapist.

    Talking to a strange man on a bus/train does not collapse his rape wave-function. Statistics show that a woman is far far less likely to be raped by a stranger than an acquaintance. Furthermore almost all stranger rapes involve plying the victim with alcohol. (For statistics see here:

    You are in fact quite safe from rape talking to a man on a train. Even if the man happens to be a rapist, talking to him by itself does not increase your chance of being raped. Fearing being raped in that situation is irrational.

    That’s not to say that the fear isn’t understandable. It is. It’s understandable because the media constantly floods us with news/stories about that situation being dangerous. It’s just that the truth is, statistically, it isn’t very dangerous at all. If you are setting your own risk threshold, I think that’s useful to know.

    1. I agree with you. I think it’s ludicrous to live your life labeling all men as potential rapists, but if that’s the way that you want it, it’s none of my business.

  2. Women who do think of every male stranger approaching them as schrodinger’s rapist(SR), and I re-iterate not all women but those women who think SR, are SEXIST. Its an offence and I have been offended this way quite a few times.

    This is like saying every black stranger(who might just be asking you an address he is searching for) is a schrodinger’s criminal or every white stranger is a schrodinger’s white supremist or every southasian is a schrodinger’s Muslim fundamentalist/jihadi.

    Appalling generalization! What made me think sexism was only from males towards females?

  3. When I approach a woman I know, I must assume she is a cheating whore. After all, 7/10 women cheat on their husbands or boyfriends sometime during their lifetime. So when I meet a woman who I think is cute I must invariably assume she is a dirty skank. She probably thinks Im a rapist. This is a great basis for a trustworthy and rich relationship between men and women.

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