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Is anything actually completely random?

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    (Original post by Zaki)
    Isn't that just NUTS? How can something be "independent of itself"? That's just arrant NONSENSE, isn't it?
    It is nuts, yet it is possible. Think about it my friend whatever you perceive, think, is independent of the mind it is in itself floating around independent of anything, a realm in which every particle is independent of each other, it is the fallacy of our mind to make connections were there are none, to make it feasible to survive as humans, when in reality the realm is completely different, it is a noumenal realm, we don't understand it and never will.
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    (Original post by ROYP)
    Well it's that time where all the fun people are having fun and I'm questioning stuff that doesn't need to be questioned, but anywho..

    People talk about things being random but what does it mean for something to be random? Isn't everything the result of something, be that one singular thing or a huge combination of miniscule events?
    So far, there has been nothing proven to be random.
    Investigation about the movement of sub-atomic particles is looking for random behaviour. As if ANYTHING is random in the universe, our whole concept of science and religion would be revolutionised.
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    (Original post by Stratos)
    It is nuts, yet it is possible. Think about it my friend whatever you perceive, think, is independent of the mind it is in itself floating around independent of anything, a realm in which every particle is independent of each other, it is the fallacy of our mind to make connections were there are none, to make it feasible to survive as humans, when in reality the realm is completely different, it is a noumenal realm, we don't understand it and never will.
    Oh brother! This is a MOST SERIOUS case! So you actually think EVERYTHING is floating about in Existence INDEPENDENTLY - ETERNALLY - FOR NO REASON/WITHOUT CAUSE? In that case, how are you able to make ANY inferences WHATSOEVER about ANYTHING? How is reasoning of ANY kind even possible? What would it be based on in the absence of the possibility, never mind ability, to make ANY inferences WHATSOEVER?

    Sure, madness exists - as you make clear here; but does that mean we have to base our lives and thinking on it? And how would you distinguish the thinking you present here from that of a confirmed lunatic?
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    (Original post by C_B_C)
    So far, there has been nothing proven to be random.
    Investigation about the movement of sub-atomic particles is looking for random behaviour. As if ANYTHING is random in the universe, our whole concept of science and religion would be revolutionised.
    What tests for randomness do you even know of? And which of these do you know have been used to check for the existence of randomness?

    Were you hoping no one would ask you the above questions and that your claims would just be taken at face value? I've noticed intellectual bluff and bluster are typical tactics deployed by atheists in debate - and when called the response is vacuous to non-existent. Perhaps this time you will prove me wrong???
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    (Original post by Zaki)
    Oh brother! This is a MOST SERIOUS case! So you actually think EVERYTHING is floating about in Existence INDEPENDENTLY - ETERNALLY - FOR NO REASON/WITHOUT CAUSE? In that case, how are you able to make ANY inferences WHATSOEVER about ANYTHING? How is reasoning of ANY kind even possible? What would it be based on in the absence of the possibility, never mind ability, to make ANY inferences WHATSOEVER?

    Sure, madness exists - as you make clear here; but does that mean we have to base our lives and thinking on it? And how would you distinguish the thinking you present here from that of a confirmed lunatic?
    there is no inferring that is only on your part to be assumed I have accepted I am merely connecting the non-existing dots, it would be of course the pragmatic course to take to assume cause and effect, however that does not mean it is the truth.

    You may call me a lunatic but perhaps that is what it takes to see the truth.
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    (Original post by Stratos)
    there is no inferring that is only on your part to be assumed I have accepted I am merely connecting the non-existing dots, it would be of course the pragmatic course to take to assume cause and effect, however that does not mean it is the truth.

    You may call me a lunatic but perhaps that is what it takes to see the truth.

    How can you see the truth when what you say is not even connected to the truth - as you claim?
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    (Original post by Zaki)
    How can you see the truth when what you see is not even connected to the truth - as you claim?
    sorry my mistake, what I mean is to believe the truth to be the case, instead of a world of causality. To not be so confident of causality being the case, there is no need for a connection it is a spontaneous thought independent of the vessel and its environment.

    A lunatic I am!
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    (Original post by Stratos)
    sorry my mistake, what I mean is to believe the truth to be the case, instead of a world of causality. To not be so confident of causality being the case, there is no need for a connection it is a spontaneous thought independent of the vessel and its environment.

    A lunatic I am!
    How can you tell what sort of a thought it is if there is no inferential connection that would allow you to do so?

    Lunatic indeed you are!
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    ducks
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    Anyway, I must depart for awhile now.
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    Surprised that no one has mentioned the lottery, that is a random selection of balls from a set, and cannot be influenced by anything
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    (Original post by ROYP)
    Well it's that time where all the fun people are having fun and I'm questioning stuff that doesn't need to be questioned, but anywho..

    People talk about things being random but what does it mean for something to be random? Isn't everything the result of something, be that one singular thing or a huge combination of miniscule events?
    This is actually a physics Question, and the result is actually the oposite Everything is random in a way, let me clarify this as it sounds counter intuitive. Given 2 identicle starting situations and let them develop, result? Two different situations, the reason is Quantum Mechanics. Everything has an uncertainty in it, and this is fundementally due to heisnburg uncertainty, for those studying physics I quote:

    DeltaXDeltaP > h/2pi

    DeltaEDeltaT > h/2pi

    if you study physics you will know what these equations mean. The just is, that you cannot measure an entities velocity with extreme accuracy, if you want to know the position at the same time, result is an uncertainty asociated with every such measurment, but we of course do not notice this since h is very small.

    In fact if you take my original example of 2 evolving identicle situs, the reason they would be different is actually a property of the original condition, They CANNOT be identicle, as that would imply absolute presicson which is impossible.

    Thus everything due to heisnburg uncertainty is intrinsically random.
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    (Original post by C_B_C)
    So far, there has been nothing proven to be random.
    Investigation about the movement of sub-atomic particles is looking for random behaviour. As if ANYTHING is random in the universe, our whole concept of science and religion would be revolutionised.
    Everything on the level of Atoms is random, EVERYTHING. Its what the whole field of thermodynamics is based on :confused::confused::confused:
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    (Original post by Stratos)
    The flaw with determinism is that it depends on cause and effect however as Hume has pointed out we cannot establish cause and effect it is merely habit of mind to assume so that the past will be like the future.
    I *think* Hume was referring to the problem of induction when he spoke of this; not cause and effect specifically. Ironically, our perception of cause and effect could be a false inference of cause and effect - just because I intend to pick up my glass, and very shortly thereafter I pick up the glass, does not necessarily mean that I caused myself to pick up the glass. The argument does not follow deductively i.e. the premises do not entail the conclusion. So yeah, deductively invalid cause and effect inferences are often justified inductively, but the problem with inductive reasoning doesn't only apply to cause and effect.

    The problem of induction is fairly simple - inductive reasoning obviously cannot be justified deductively and, if we use inductive reasoning to justify induction, then our argument clearly becomes circular. What other forms of reasoning can we employ? Hume admits, I think, that we basically have no choice but to use inductive reasoning despite the fact that it is unjustified, because it is only very rarely that a deductively valid argument can be made about reality.



    Wrt OP's question of true randomness - maybe. As I understand it, some interpretations of quantum mechanics (in fact the most "popular" ones) have quantum events such as radiaoctive decay occurring entirely without cause and, as far as we can tell, according to probability only. As someone else said, however, this apparent probabilism cannot be verified; only falsified - there could be an unknown cause or a loss of information leading to apparent probabilism. Some eminent physicists (although I admit I can't think of any off-hand) are, I think, fairly heavily in support of the idea that quantum mechanics is deterministic in reality and only appears probabilisc in practice. Oh, and probabilistic events at the quantum scale are very predictable at the macroscopic level: the decay of an individual atom of a radioactive isotope may appear to be completely random, but the decay of a large number of atoms of the same isotope follows a very strict law of exponential decay.
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    (Original post by QuantumOverlord)
    Everything on the level of Atoms is random, EVERYTHING. Its what the whole field of thermodynamics is based on :confused::confused::confused:
    I think classical thermodynamics just models molecular movement as being random; indeed, it is so chaotic that it appears random. A purely deterministic universe does not allow for true randomness, however, and, under classical thermodynamics, particles are still assumed to heed the idea that all "effects" have a prior cause Someone correct me on this if I'm wrong please; it isn't my speciality

    EDIT: I was talking specifically about classical thermodynamics, which existed before QM. I thought you were saying that all of thermodynamics was based on the assumptions of QM, and so I was seeking to dispute that
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    (Original post by Retrodiction)
    Well, the answer is what it is irrespective of the beliefs of the OP.
    Facts are facts regardless of beliefs, yes that's true. But there are no conclusive facts on this issue - that's why it's a philosophical disscussion and not in science text books. If we were discussing what causes an apple to fall to the ground when released from a height then you would be right in saying that the 'answer' of gravity is what it is irrespective of a person's belief that, say, invisible pixies with magnets drawn the apple to the ground.

    But what I said had nothing to do with beliefs. I said everything is completely random unless you are a determinist. Determinism is a theory, not a belief.

    The whole point is that we don't actually know for sure whether things are determined or 'random' (or 'free' might be a better way of conveying it). There are many theories (determinism, indeterminism, compatibilsm etc).
    Therefore there is no 'answer' as yet, or rather, there is but we don't know it. If we knew the answer we wouldn’t be theorizing. Conversely, in the case of the apple we don't bother entertaining the 'invisible pixies theory' because we have enough evidence for gravity.

    This is the philosophy sub forum – the ‘answer’ depends on the OP’s interpretation/acceptance/rejection of theories, it cannot depend on scientific evidence at this point because if there was such evidence which was irrefutable then there would be no philosophical discussion on this issue (as in the case of gravity) it would simply be in a science forum as fact, not discussion.

    When irrefutable evidence for a theory does come to light then this will be in a science forum and then the answer will be what is regardless of which theory the OP accepts (like the fact that gravity causes the apple to fall, irrespective of someone's belief that it is caused by invisible pixies).
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    (Original post by Implication)
    I think classical thermodynamics just models molecular movement as being random; indeed, it is so chaotic that it appears random. A purely deterministic universe does not allow for true randomness, however, and, under classical thermodynamics, particles are still assumed to heed the idea that all "effects" have a prior cause Someone correct me on this if I'm wrong please; it isn't my speciality

    I can see where the misunderstanding comes from, but yes this is incorrect. Atoms or basically anything comparable to plank lengths are truly random, and NON deterministic, you could argue in thermodynamics that each atom is like a billard ball and simply use newtownian mechanics to model the motion of say a gas, and this indeed works for many situations like adiabatic compression of an ideal gas for example, however to get the full picture, you need to look at Quantum Mechanics, Not Newtonian Mechanics, and QM is based on uncertainty and randomness as I commented in a previous post.


    So unfortunately determinism went out in the 1920s with the birth of QM
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    (Original post by somethingbeautiful)
    Facts are facts regardless of beliefs, yes that's true. But there are no conclusive facts on this issue

    Yes there are and that is why Physics is not called Mechanics, because we also have Other models like Quantum Mechanics that completely rule out determinism

    - that's why it's a philosophical disscussion and not in science text books.
    No it is in science textbooks, any 1st year undegrad textbook will give you an introduction to basic QM and thermodynamics

    If we were discussing what causes an apple to fall to the ground when released from a height then you would be right in saying that the 'answer' of gravity is what it is irrespective of a person's belief that, say, invisible pixies with magnets drawn the apple to the ground.

    Agreed, but it does depend on the observer if you are considering General Relativity, lets just not go there.

    But what I said had nothing to do with beliefs. I said everything is completely random unless you are a determinist. Determinism is a theory, not a belief.


    The whole point is that we don't actually know for sure whether things are determined or 'random' (or 'free' might be a better way of conveying it). There are many theories (determinism, indeterminism, compatibilsm etc).
    Therefore there is no 'answer' as yet, or rather, there is but we don't know it. If we knew the answer we wouldn’t be theorizing. Conversely, in the case of the apple we don't bother entertaining the 'invisible pixies theory' because we have enough evidence for gravity.

    There is more evidence for QM than gravity in all probability, and some of its fundemental laws are far easier to measure experimentally than say the Gravatational constant.

    This is the philosophy sub forum – the ‘answer’ depends on the OP’s interpretation/acceptance/rejection of theories, it cannot depend on scientific evidence at this point because if there was such evidence which was irrefutable then there would be no philosophical discussion on this issue (as in the case of gravity) it would simply be in a science forum as fact, not discussion.

    Trust me Im surpised considering that QM will be 100 years old soon, that people still think there is anything to debate about.

    When irrefutable evidence for a theory does come to light then this will be in a science forum and then the answer will be what is regardless of which theory the OP accepts (like the fact that gravity causes the apple to fall, irrespective of someone's belief that it is caused by invisible pixies).

    I suggest if you are interested, read a little about the interpretations of QM, look perhaps also at Thermodynamics, atomic physics/radiophysics
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    (Original post by QuantumOverlord)
    I suggest if you are interested, read a little about the interpretations of QM, look perhaps also at Thermodynamics, atomic physics/radiophysics
    I can understand your standpoint but you seem to be viewing the issue purely at a molecular level, which assuming you're a sciences student is understandable. But the philosophical implications of saying that everything IS random are huge - it means that your whole life and all of your actions are beyond your control. As such, if you commit murder, this a completely random act and as such it is beyond your control - hence you cannot (on this theory) be held responsible
    (this is opening a can of worms - but that is the basic argument).

    This is why it is still debated in philosophy - we're not simply talking about molecules - we're questioning human autonomy and responsibilty as a result of the implications 'randomness'.

    A further point - there is a huge philsophical debate over whether the human mind is confined to the brain (whether our thoughts are simply electrical signals created by the brain or whether the mind is something seperate from the brain). If the mind is not the brain then it isn't governed by the same rules as the rest of matter - science cannot explain it in terms of molecules etc. Therefore, the mind may not be random - as such, our decisions which cause bodily actions may not be random. This 'randomness' debate has so many layers - it's not as simple as just reading a science book and understanding that at the very basic molecular level things are random (it doesn't follow that everything as a whole is random).

    I assume you're a science student, I'd be interested in your views on this.
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    Okay thanks Ill give it a shot!

    (Original post by somethingbeautiful)
    I can understand your standpoint but you seem to be viewing the issue purely at a molecular level, which assuming you're a sciences student is understandable.

    It is definitely true that everything is random at planck levels yes, however there are still constraints, so perhaps uncertainty is a far better word, just because the QM world is random, it does not mean anything is allowed to happen, I can go into far more detail on this if required.

    But the philosophical implications of saying that everything IS random are huge - it means that your whole life and all of your actions are beyond your control. As such, if you commit murder, this a completely random act and as such it is beyond your control - hence you cannot (on this theory) be held responsible
    (this is opening a can of worms - but that is the basic argument).

    Well I should point out here, h is tiny, its actual value is about 6*10^-34 JS^-1, so on this level, you can consider your actions to be determinstic to all intents and purposes, perhaps more importantly, even the Randomness ascoicated with QM, is not pure 'anything can happen' chaos, there are fundemental absolutes even in QM, for example electrons will only occupy very exact energy states, hence the 'Quantum' Mechanics, the thing is QM is ruled by uncertainty, however it can still be constrained and modelled rigourously with mathematics. I think for your purpose the former reason is probably far more inportant than the later, however they are both rather integral.

    This is why it is still debated in philosophy - we're not simply talking about molecules - we're questioning human autonomy and responsibilty as a result of the implications 'randomness'.


    A further point - there is a huge philsophical debate over whether the human mind is confined to the brain (whether our thoughts are simply electrical signals created by the brain or whether the mind is something seperate from the brain). If the mind is not the brain then it isn't governed by the same rules as the rest of matter - science cannot explain it in terms of molecules etc. Therefore, the mind may not be random - as such, our decisions which cause bodily actions may not be random. This 'randomness' debate has so many layers - it's not as simple as just reading a science book and understanding that at the very basic molecular level things are random (it doesn't follow that everything as a whole is random).

    I think there would be pretty massive indications and issues if the human brain violated the rest of the laws of physics, and we would certaintly have experimental evidence for this, Science as you indicate is far from simple, it is perfectly acceptable to use newtonian mechanics for everyday use. As far as the human brain goes, you do need to consider QM, and electromagnetism, however like I say, science would be a little dull if everything was just pointless randomness, rest assured, these fields are governmend by conmplex principles and are constrained by law.

    I assume you're a science student, I'd be interested in your views on this.

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