Pale Blue Dot

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by James R, Aug 30, 2015.

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

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    It is sort of interesting in a way that in philosophy, Determinism is the scientific paradigm. In fact science is almost totally premised on some form of determinism. Rationality and reason require determinism. That said the notion of "chance" stands out as being totally unproven in science.
    Chance itself means what?
    How do we prove the reality of chance using the scientific method?
    Does chance have any reality beyond being a mental construct that allows us "qualified speculation"?
     
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  3. The God Valued Senior Member

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    Automobiles made your life !! The snag in the aircraft gave you wife, and the snag in VW gave you life..Great

    How can you say that both these incidents were 'by chance' only? And then why do you remember them so fondly? There are billions of billions stars (and possibly planets), so how come that only Earth has life, only by chance? You had 2 chances in your life, almost every one experiences chance in his life, how come only the Earth experienced that chance one out of billion and billions, probability theory fails?. This 'chance theory' should predict many many planets with ETs. They must be there if 'by chance'?

    Way back in early 70s, I was in in middle school, next day was the class test; There used to live a cranky fellow in a nearby house, all alone, he had some liking for me, I told him...tomorrow is my class test and I am not prepaired and I want that all the questions which I can think of should only come; He looked at me for a few moments and said ok. Next morning the instructor himself was unprepared, he had not brought the set of pre typed papers, he asked me to get up, take the book and dictate four questions to the class from the assigned 2 chapters....Period. Was it 'by chance' ?

    If all happening are by chance only, then who decides the chance? God does not dice around? Who does that, how can 'by chance' lead to distinct 'state' ? And for that matter everything can be traced back to 'by chance'. See it from this way, are we all here just because our parents decided to come together 'by chance' ? What if they chose different partners ? Just think loudly if we are in delusion of control then everything becomes (or traced back to) 'by chance' only. Millions were murdered because 'Hitlers' parents' met by chance ?

    Yes, our inability to explain certain miraculous and unbelievable events/happenings gives us two words....'By chance' and 'guardian angels'. Is'nt it ? Pl tell your wife that I support her view on this.
     
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  5. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    We do not know if that is the case or not.
    If it were so [and that would be highly improbable considering the extent and content of the universe, plus the stuff of life being everywhere we look] then there would be far many more questions to answer then any [impossible] confirmation that we were alone.
    Our God botherers would have a field day!
    Yep, chances are ETL is relatively plentiful at all stages of development.
     
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  7. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Serendipity....Everything is by chance, including life. But of course scientists are able to make the chances of discovery more likely by tried and tested methods, etc.
    The chances of me getting run over by a bus is always real but also small. But I can enlarge those chances by walking in the middle of the H/Way instead of on the footpath. Science works the same way...Those at the coal face with the many state of the art technical equipment to support them, are many times more likely to make Earth shattering discoveries than say those that spend their times debating pros and cons on forums such as this.
    If we take into account the immense size of the Universe, and the humungeous numbers of stars and planets within the Universe, and the stuff of life being everywhere we look, the chances that Earth has the only life is small.
    I buy one ticket in the lottery, and my chances although real are very small to win that lottery...If I buy a million tickets, my chances of winning it are dramatically increased.

    Chance is part and parcel of everyday life, but we can manipulate the likelyhood of any specific event to happen.
     
  8. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    Would this be a fair statement:
    If you want to use "the unknown determiner" as synonymous with "chance" then one could say that any event we do not understand the causation of would be "by chance"
     
  9. The God Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, it would be..

    like what I said

    In the context, the meaning of word 'by chance' is more than the mathematical probability, in this case the subject may not be aware of the outcome and even the cause behind the outcome (once happened) becomes inexplicable. For example if someone stands inthe middle of a highway on a curve, the probability is very high that he would meet an accident, but for the same person if the road caves in just before he is about to get hit by a speeding vehicle and he is saved, then thats the 'by chance' in the context. Similarly for lottery ticket, the outcome is a mathematical probability, but suppose buyer keeps the lottery along with some more papers, and all these papers are burnt in a massive fire or accident but the lottery ticket remains safe and that comes out to be the lucky ticket, then that lottery ticket remaining safe in the fire is 'by chance'. In case of Billy, the failure of his car would have become immaterial and probably he would not have remembered, if the subsequent tragedy with Neal had not happened. So the conclusion requires consideration in totality.
     
  10. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    So if the outcome defies mathematical probability, ( the ability to estimate even ) one may consider that as chance in the context you are referring to?
     
  11. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    http://www.thecalculatorsite.com/articles/units/calculating-chance.php

    Calculating chance - the rules of probability

    Calculating chance or working out probabilities can be remarkable simple - or extremely complicated. Much depends on what kind of probabilities you are trying to work out: dependent or independent.

    """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
     
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  12. The God Valued Senior Member

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    3,546
    Tough terrain..

    It is quite likely that in many of such 'by chance' cases retrospectively the well defined and well understood chain can be defined with certain probability of happening. For example in case of Billy, the failure of car is a possibility, the delay in reaching the destination becomes imminent, the pairing of Neal with 'someone' else (see from this 'someone' else family point of view, if the car of Billy had not broken down, then the implications for this someone else). So it is not a scenario which is highly unlikely, many a times we may get stuck in traffic, the show goes on, substitution takes place, and we do not bother much. But in this case not only failure of his car but required delay in repair saved him (most likely and thats what he feels).

    I recall recently, may be a year or so old story, a guy overslept and missed the flight (hundreds may be missing the flights daily for whatever reason, so nothing unusual so far) but unfortunately for all others and fortunately for him the flight crashed with no survivors. What do you call it? A Chance ?? Can you do a meaningful mathematical probability analysis 24 hrs before the departure with confirmed ticket in his hand ?

    Around 3 years back I was travelling to Fort Lauderdale, it was a code share Lufthanas flight, missed the connecting Jet Blue flight at New York...door just closed, the airlines put me into a hotel for the overnight, I met an old acquintance there in the same hotel, and later on things worked out well with him professionally. Such things happen but you attach more than routine importance to such matters, and they force you to realise that ultimate thing....delusion of control.
     
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  13. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    I'll skip responding to your last question. (What is reality is tough enough by its self.)

    I'm sure you must know that certain determistic states are very sensitive to their initial conditions, which we are alway ignorate of, except in mathematic constructs, and even there the initial conditions often are only describable to limited accuracy.

    In my POV, "chance" is just the result of not knowing precisely the initial conditions exactly from which the system evolves deterministically in time. I.e. one does not need to say chance is due to quantum uncertainity, but it certainly could be as in the case of Schroeding's cat being living or dead.
     
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  14. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    This poses an interesting thought experiment...
    Say what you have written happens and the guy misses death due to sleeping in, then a number of years later he misses a flight due to a taxi breaking down in transit to the airport and the flight crashes killing all on board.
    Add one more chance like incident and make it three occasions where he survived when others didn't due to fate like coincidence.

    This guy, let's call him Tom, is now walking around thinking he is the luckiest man alive.
    He figures once is incredible (chance), twice is freaky (chance), thrice means it is no longer chance.
    add a little irony and...
    He goes into a casino for the first time in his life, thinking he must be a winner and gets mugged and killed (shot) on his way in. The bullet passes through his chest and hits and embeds in, the cockpit of a jet liner image advertising sign near the casino's front entrance.

    Chance?
    Or was it something about Tom that generated these events?
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  15. The God Valued Senior Member

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    I don't know.

    A reference to Markov Model can be drawn.

    As soon as 'Tom' in the first instance missed the flight, crash or no crash was immaterial to him. We are able to link the crash with the good fortune of 'Tom' but it has nothing to do with mathematical analysis. Thats why I said, it is mathematically inexplicable and linking of the two events is the extension of our other beliefs.

    On the other hand getting mugged in and around casino can be mathematically explained (based on previous incidents, prevalence of thugs around, their modus etc etc) so certainly this does not fall in the context 'by chance'. I would say, use of word 'by chance' is improper. By chance implies possibility, mathematically assigned number however small, but in such cases it may not be possible to assign that number before hand, rather cannot be assigned at all.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I'd be careful about throwing around the word "determinism" quite so casually as science has shown that the universe is not deterministic. But this does not suddenly mean that science is redundant as a tool. Rationality and reason certainly do not require determinism, and like science they merely require a probabilistic outcome. Science requires a reasonably high level of probability/confidence of repeatability, but reason and rationality certainly don't.
    For example, if I toss a coin three times then reason would suggest it is rational to conclude that it won't land the same way up each time (75% probability that it won't). There's nothing certain that it won't, and in the context of the experiment the outcome of the coin toss is effectively indeterministic (assuming no bias).
    Rationality works (or should work) on accepting what is most likely. This is merely probabilistic, not deterministic.
    I would say that "by chance" is merely a phrase to express there being no obvious design to the event, or simply to express an occurrence with a perceived low probability. It is a subjective viewpoint, as one person may see the design/cause behind an event, and others may not.
    if we understand chance simply as the probability of an event occurring then we would need to prove the world is either deterministic (and then chance simply does not exist) or indeterministic (in which case chance does exist, as outcomes become probabilistic).
    Colloquially when we say "by chance" we are simply expressing our lack of knowledge of the actual probability of the event occurring, the lack of any perceived design to the occurrence. But that perception may well be wrong, and what we see as "by chance" might have been more likely than not.
    If we ignore the mathematical sense of the word as simply meaning the probability of an event occurring, then in the colloquial sense I think it is more an expression of unqualified speculation.

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

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    Thanks for your response.
    You have prompted a resurrection of an old line of inquiry for me that is enormously difficult to explain. Perhaps one day when the issues becomes clearer I shall post a thread in the Philosophy fora and see how the discussion evolves.

    I am curious however, what your assessment would be regarding the scenario mentioned in post#31 (if you feel inclined)
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2015
  18. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    More on thread's topic than recent posts:
     

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