Can "Chance" be shown to be "real" using the scientific method?

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Quantum Quack, Aug 10, 2012.

  1. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe it's a buzz word of evolutionist. Maybe it's just a throw away option to explain events that we can not detemine causation to. Either way it appears a common enough term used by science and other professions alike and yet I have never seen anything credible to support it's [ chance] reality.

    So I ask, if the moderators of this forum will allow it, can chance be shown to be "real phenonema" using the scientific method?
    or is it's use, merely a throw back to our superstitious past?

    Care to discuss?
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
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  3. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    I thought of using the uncertainty principle as an excuse for being 3 hours late cause the bus didn't know exactly where it was or going.

    But I thought better than to chance that excuse.
     
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  5. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Certainly chance is real. It's the governing factor when you don't have enough information to compute the outcome of an event.

    Consider a coin toss. If you knew the exact weight and distribution of weight of the coin, precisely the amount of force applied and precisely the point to which it's applied and whatever other factors are involved, then you could predict the result of the toss each and every time and chance would not be factor.
     
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  7. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    quote from wiki:
    As far as I can tell the uncertainty principle does not refer to chance but simply uncertainty due to a sort of infinite reduction-ism

    Chance necessarilly involves indetermism I think...
    And the question is can "indeterminism" or "chance" be shown to be a reality using the scientific method?
     
  8. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    22,999
    Would you say that "Chance is an accepted degree of indeterminism" due to the limitations of the scientific method?

    no... I am not trying to be or play smart... I am seriously interested in your views
     
  9. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    No, not necessarily. It's actually a result of our inability to quantify every little thing that's involved in specific events. We actually compute and *use* the degree of chance in many, many things - standard deviation is a prime example of that.

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  10. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    22,999
    Would you then say that chance is a pure abstraction? That it has no reality to it other than it allows us an ability to, let us say, "abreviate" "summarise" "predict" with a "degree of certainty" but in no way is it real phenonema or of any material value?
    Can I conclude then that:
    Chance can not be able to be shown to be real phenonema according to the scientific method.
     
  11. rpenner Fully Wired Valued Senior Member

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    Belief in chance is the assumption that there exist phenomena where no amount of information will allow one to make more than a probabilistic statement about the possible outcomes. This is well tested in the theory of quantum mechanics of pure states.

    Radioactive isotopes have exactly the same constituents in exactly the same configurations, to the point that no test can tell beforehand when an atom is going to decay. But every atom decays sometime and in bulk large numbers of atoms follow precise and knowable decay laws which are exactly equivalent to saying every atom of an isotope has exactly the same chance per unit time of decaying. The atom may be a second old or a billion years old, and its chance of decaying in the next second is exactly the same as any other.

    If you run a double slit experiment with a low intensity source of photons or electrons, you cannot predict where on the screen the particle will hit, but over time you get a strong pattern dictated by the geometry of the slits and the momentum of the particles, but not on other properties of the source.

    Tests looking for something more fundamental than pure probability following quantum rules (so-called hidden variables models) consistently reject the hypothesis that there is a deterministic mechanism behind this apparent randomness.

    While this doesn't rule out the possibility that all scientific testing of the universe is a sham of a deceiver god or that we are in a computer programmed to fake randomness exactly, there is no scientific support for such unevidenced propositions -- they are extraordinary claims without any evidence to support them.
     
  12. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    22,999
    Now this is very different to "chance" being merely the inability to determine causality due to infinite reduction.
    What you are saying is that "no matter how much information" we have, "pure" or "absolute" determinism of casuality is impossible.
    There is a subtle but important difference, at least to me any way.
    One implies that determinism is unavailable due to our limitations in acquiring data. The other is saying that absolute determinism is unavailable regardless of the amount of data we acquire.

    c/o wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_state
    Thanks for the clarification. [and the research lead]

    and it makes Beer w/straw's humorous post quite valid if one maintains a proper context for the uncertainty principle.
     
  13. prometheus viva voce! Registered Senior Member

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    As has already been mentioned, quantum systems have probabilities of being in one state or another. They are not deterministic and you cannot predict with certainty what the outcome of the experiment will be. Take the Stern Gerlach experiment as an example - you send electrons through the apparatus and half of them will be deflected to one point and half to another (actually, a distribution around a point and this is probabilistic as well...). Now suppose you send one electron through at a time. Electrons are identical - there are not "down" and "up" electrons, but there is a probability of 0.5 that any one electron will be deflected to one point and the same probability it will be deflected to the other. These events are truly random. There has been a bunch of research done including mathematics and experiments to verify this scientifically, therefore "chance" exists and has been proven to the standards of the scientific method. This is not to mention all the other random processes that lead to things like detector noise in experiments, radioactive decay etc.

    As an aside, I object to the use of the word "chance." It is a word that is not used in science that I have ever heard, because it doesn't have a specific definition. What you are talking about is the probability of a random event giving a particular outcome, which I will grant you is more of a mouthful.
     
  14. rpenner Fully Wired Valued Senior Member

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    Likewise, I object to the term "evolutionist" in the initial post since the only "evolutionists" that matter to a debate on science are informed experts, i.e. biological scientists.
     
  15. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    22,999
    I like this.....if one placed emphasis on the word Random.

    example:
    The probabiity of a flat screen monitor being on my desk and being used is 100% however if we wish to define the monitor in more exact terms the probability can be reduced infinitely.
    The more accurate the monitors state is sought the lower the probability...
    the state you wish to determine also determines it's probability.. sort of thing.
    would this be a fair thing to say?
     
  16. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    22,999
    yes , I was refering to "evolutionists" that commonly engage in debates about evolution and use the words chance and random in ways that I believe are confusing.
     
  17. prometheus viva voce! Registered Senior Member

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    No it would not be a fair thing to say, it would be a flippant thing to say. A monitor is not a quantum mechanical system, so is not going to be affected by quantum randomness. Neither is it a statistical system so won't be affected by statistical randomness.
     
  18. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    We should look at how things would be if 'random' is a true kind of happening. This would make an electron (or a brain) to not depend on anything at all, even itself, and so, how, then, could it even do anything? One might then say, well, it is a mini first cause, but I don't think that says anything.
     
  19. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    22,999
    I am sorry my example must have been confusing.
    the point I was trying to make was that the more exacting the criteria for assessment the less probability of that assessment being fullfulled...hence the uncertainty princple...
     
  20. prometheus viva voce! Registered Senior Member

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    2,045
    The uncertainty principle is a fundamental limit on measurement. It's not something that tells us we should be looking harder.
     

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