Determinism vs chance

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Quantum Quack, May 13, 2010.

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  1. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    That you take the map for the territory (in the sense of math vs the world (or reality in other terms)) seems highly plausible in this context.

    I see how you would think that, but generally we understand that when a dice is thrown there is a cause as to why a certain number appears, in other words; random is a word (in plain english) to describe the result of many fluid variables that are very hard to predict (fluid in the sense that they too are often described by many other variables).

    Magic, however is generally understood as something uncaused, much the same as you are describing random! When a magician does his trick he strives to make you believe it was magic (uncaused) while in fact it is a trick. That's the difference between tricks and magic. The trick is simply to make you think it is uncaused (a flower suddenly appears, a person is split in two, etc.). When something happens in which we can't find the cause we might think it's magic, etc...

    A more accurate description of radiation (if following your understanding (and in some cases even shared with the scientific community)) would therefor be that it is magic.

    If there is no cause then how could it happen at different times? There must be a change of something in order for something to happen!

    Rain has a cause (obviously) but is impossible to predict (random) because the variables are numerous that controls the system (weather) that gives rise to the rain, radioactive decay is impossible to predict and in this case random but not random as in have no cause (it is the difference between those that I'm trying to show you!) the cause for radioactive decay is vacuum fluctuations which disturbs an unstable atom (giving it energy for the decay), I'm not sure about the others you provided, but given that the natural order of things is to have a cause (why did this event take place? Why now instead of any other time? All events that begs these questions must have some kind of cause).

    Anything that has a difference in manifestation must have a reason for that difference, there must be some selection process that selects how and when something will manifest itself. Or it would either; manifest itself the same always and always manifest itself, or never manifest itself (cause there is nothing). Rain doesn't always manifest the same, atoms have different stability, etc., Rain doesn't always happen, atoms doesn't always radiate. There must be a reason for this irregularity.

    Law of large numbers (or law of averages) has a definite cause and can only be used when dealing with a large number of events. It only has applications when there are some stability of the system, that rain is more likely to happen on a thursday because all the averages of a specific time-period happen to land on a wednesday (and even stabilise itself on a wednesday as averages of larger values makes the expected day less likely to change) doesn't mean that it is more likely to rain on a wednesday than any other day.

    Name one of those probabilities and I'll try finding the cause.

    Reality (that which is real). For any sake of argument it is reality as long as it is real - even if there are no external reality, but that would probably be beyond the scope of this thread, unless we make up our own reality, which we don't as far as I know.
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Not at all. I am simply choosing a superior map - one which reliably corresponds with observation and event.
    That, if true, will have to change, in the light of the discoveries of 19th and 20th century physics and other sciences.

    Either that, or we need another word.
    No. Magic is generally understood to be caused - by spells, certain "words of power", that kind of thing. Very often, you have to get eye of newt or a lock of the person's hair or something, to "work a spell".

    Cause and effect is just as close to magic as are the laws of large numbers, the results of the influences of nonlinear feedback loops, or the behavior of electrons traveling through slits.
    Not "a" cause. You have to be more careful, in this kind of discussion.
    So rain has "a cause", but you can't ever actually tell me what it is, point to it, name it, or measure it. Doesn't that make you stop and think for a second? "Cause" is a very slippery concept, when taken seriously and not glibly assumed in some vague fashion.
    And if that "selection process" involves unavoidable and ineradicable and experimentally confirmed "probability" or uncertainty of effect, the working out (even the amplification) of a factor mathematically and theoretically and observationally identical with chance or randomness, what then?
    What is the "definite cause" of the law of large numbers?

    And why am I prevented from employing it when describing or predicting individual events?

    The probability of finding the gas molecules in a container, under ordinary circumstances, almost evenly distributed, is nearly 1.

    So you intend to set about finding "the cause" of that?
    ? You have some unmediated knowledge of a "reality" devoid of mathematical aspects?
    Never to late to get a good education: we can start by considering where the colors that people see exist - they are definitely part of reality, true?
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  5. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Ice Aura, possibly you could describe for the board what you mean by "cause" ?

    and what you are referring to...reality [ which is unattainable according to popular belief in the subjectivity of our perceptions] or abstraction.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Your definition of it will do fine for anything I have posted here.

    I am merely insisting that you pay attention to it, rather than overlooking its nature and role.
  8. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Depends on the source.
    You're right that, in most mass public available media, scientists do speak as if they're discussing 'reality'. However, within their own group of peers, you will not find mentioning of 'reality', but rather of models.

    Also of note here is the illicit assumption of 'reality'. As long as you maintain this odd contrast between a scientific analysis and 'reality', you will have a rough go at understanding science.
  9. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    and what definition is that? One that you are presuming I have or one that you know I have?
  10. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Oh the number of arguments I've had with supposedly erudite scientists on this board about just this issue.
    I think you are greatly over estimating the caliber of most scientist as the only ones that would get even close to your understanding stated in the quote would be the likes of Stephen Hawkins, the late Richard Feynman an probably a handful of others.
    Most will undoubtedly refer to reality as real and not mere models however what happened since the launch of contemporary theoretical science in the early 1900's science has constantly moved away from "reality" premised models to more abstraction premised models, that is to say where by the abstraction proves the abstraction and "reality" is never really called upon to serve that function.
    Science has moved IMO more and more since Einsteins' Special Relativity Theory into "un-falsifiability" in other words creating models that are of a type that can not be proven valid either way and yet they will claim that they have validated a position based on abstract evidence and not Hard behavioral evidence.
    Example: have you ever seen a particle of qua la? Have we ever seen a quantum moment that can be described as random purely on theoretical "micro" proofs rather than actual "macro" behavioral evidence.

    Most scientists today fail to recall the abstract nature of their work and slip into Lah lah land quite easilly. The surreal nature of quantum physics as such as it is.
    IMO it all started primarillly when Albert Einsteins successful theorising forced us into accepting unfalsifyability as ok. The success of his work was just way too attractive. [just an Opinion OK?]
    So maybe an abstraction can only ever prove an abstraction and never prove a reality and that is why there is incredible danger of falling insanely into our own abstractions as with out the grounding of the unattainable reality we are totally lost to a pseudo existance, playing games with a pseudo science inside heads we don't even believe we have!
    Last edited: May 30, 2010
  11. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    I let observation and event be my map. I'm confident of my own accumulative ability to reason out what I experience.

    Yes we need another word (IF what you describe exists). Which brings us to our next issue...

    The words of power would not be the cause, but magic would - and again is describing something uncaused.

    cause and effect are the result of eachother, magic is the effect that has no cause. Laws of large numbers are the result of a equation...which means that a large number of values will always have a average. The values added together divided by the number of values. That's the simple cause of the law of large numbers.

    I don't think so, let's say that the flap of a butterfly some thousand years ago gave rise to rain in Sweden yesterday, it's still a cause. You might say that some eternally small adjustment of the laws at the beginning of the universe gave rise to you getting married, it's still a cause.

    Wouldn't it be possible that what you think is chance or randomness simply is the inaccuracy of our observations? Or even the inaccuracy of the universe itself? Either way the inaccuracy must be reflective of something else, which is reality. Hence not fundamentally random, but only inaccurate of what it represents. In other words, the universe isn't the perfect representation of the reality behind it.

    The larger the sample of values the harder it is to escape the average of those values by adding values.

    Because the law of large numbers is based on a large sample! Look up "Gambler's fallacy"! It can only predict that the large number of values will come close to some value when added together and dividing the sum with the number of values. It can't predict a individual item will be any value. If you heads five times in a row you might be certain that you will get tales next time, but you could still get five more heads! It isn't a prediction no matter how large the sample.

    Casinos can use the law of large numbers in order to know that the large quantity of games will ultimately lead to their long-term win. As well as you can use it to know that ultimately you will loose even if you had a winning-streak.

    Yes, the even distribution is because there is equal pressure everywhere and therefor no special place to be attracted. If you open up a hole they will be attracted to the negative pressure.

    Knowledge is a strong word, I have a strong belief that reality itself isn't made up by mathematics. Mathematics describe relations within reality, but isn't reality itself.

    True. Reality isn't only the external world (if we assume the external world to exist) but also the subjective world. Electromagnetic waves of light are in the external world, colors are definitely in the subjective world.
  12. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Yes, you're probably right on this.
    Alas, I fear this has more to do with actual education within the sciences, as opposed to the nature of science as a whole. One wonders if scientific education these days evens includes some basic history of science, or even the general nature of the scientific method and its implications.
    Sadly, I imagine all of this is glossed over, at best, so as to quickly route 'students'(sic) right into a particular field of study...
  13. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    It is sad to see such fine people failing to ground themselves properly on the fundamentals of what they are doing.

    The art of critical thinking, and acting and thinking wisely is never really taught in a way that attracts the students attention.
    I recall my only introduction to critical thinking as a teen/student was the class title which I failed to attend : "Clear Thinking"
    but the title of the class has stuck in my thoughts ever since.... I can even remember the face of the ambitious teacher who promoted the class into extra ciriculum activity for high school graduates. Why it was extra to the ciriculum when it should have been up there with English Literature and Math I don't know.

    Maybe one day I shall learn this art....
  14. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    This is precisely where scientists and science can be helped by philosophy.
  15. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Uh, what?

    Even distribution of molecules and equal pressure are the same thing. The one does not cause the other.
    That is not possible. You can fail to recognize your imposition of structure, but you can't even recognize events, let alone make observations about them, without it.
    I'm sorry, but most people regard the employment of tools, wands, spells, shovels, bats, traffic lights, etc, to be "causing" their effects.

    It's how the word "cause" is used. There are problems with the concept, I grant you - but they are just as central to such "causes" as hitting with a hammer, say.

    And if you want to use "magic" the way people use "force" or "gravity" - well, there's your cause again.
    Now you are ascribing causation to equations?
    Nothing simple about that.

    And it isn't always the case, in the chaotic and quantum arenas. In the current theories, anyway.
    So we have, for any physical event, a very large and all but unknown number of "causes", spread out through vast areas of time and space?

    And you can't tell what they are, or describe them, or use them for prediction, or measure them in any way, except as probabilities.
    Why must an inaccuracy of the universe itself be reflective of "something else"?
    How are the relations within reality not an aspect of that reality?
    Any definition consistent with your posts here.
  16. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    ok one version:

    You have been locked into a room by myself. I have locked the door and the only way out is through that door if I unlock it and just to complicate things I decided to lock you in based on the flip of a coins outcome. heads I lock you up and tails I don't and heads it was.

    I had decided to cause the door to be locked,. due to the outcome of a toss of a coin.

    So refute the causation for your imprisonment as being a:
    1] random event,
    2] a subjective event

    ......and if not stay eternally locked up in that room untlil you do

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    ...a version of Schrödinger's cat gedanken if you hadn't already realised.

    and whats more I even learned a new latin phrase:
    "Reductio ad absurdum"
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2010
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    One version of what?

    I hate to say you need to look up the word "definition" in a dictionary, but - - -
  18. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member


    still locked up in your tiny room I see!:bugeye:
    [ I am just as capable of wasting time playing mind games as you are ]
  19. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    To be fair QQ, you completely evaded his question. You did not provide a definition, but much of your discussion so far, assumes one...
  20. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Ice Aura,
    The definition of causation must be demonstrable and well that is what I am attempting to do...
    so refute it as you must!
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2010
  21. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    he is not actually seeking a definition by his own evasive techiques proved through out this thread.
    I have provided a clear example of causation using the gedanken provided.
    The linguistic/semantic assessment of which would be a complete thesis in itself given the current state of both physics and philosophy.
    If a definition can not be derived from the simple gedanken then what point would there be in going into it in semantic detail?
  22. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    1) Definitions do not need to be demonstrable.
    2) You cannot attempt to do above without providing a definition.

    Refutation complete.

    Seriously QQ, you're doing nothing beyond dancing around evasively here. If you want people to interact with you in a progressive manner, you cannot simply ignore criticism...
  23. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Right. He asked you to provide explication on the definition you have been 'working' from. And you've been silent.
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