What is Superdeterminism: Definition and 15 Discussions

In quantum mechanics, superdeterminism is a loophole in Bell's theorem, that allows one to evade it by postulating that all systems being measured are causally correlated with the choices of which measurements to make on them. It is conceivable that someone could exploit this loophole to construct a local hidden variable theory that reproduces the predictions of quantum mechanics. Superdeterminists do not recognize the existence of genuine chances or possibilities anywhere in the cosmos.
Bell's theorem assumes that the measurements performed at each detector can be chosen independently of each other and of the hidden variable being measured. But in a superdeterministic theory this is not true; they are necessarily correlated. Since the choice of measurements and the hidden variable are predetermined, the results at one detector can depend on which measurement is done at the other without any need for information to travel faster than the speed of light.

Thus, it is conceivable that freedom of choice has been restricted since the beginning of the universe in the Big Bang, with every future measurement predetermined by correlations established at the Big Bang. This would make superdeterminism untestable, since experimenters would never be able to eliminate correlations that were created at the beginning of the universe: the freedom-of-choice loophole could never be completely eliminated.
In the 1980s, John Bell discussed superdeterminism in a BBC interview:
There is a way to escape the inference of superluminal speeds and spooky action at a distance. But it involves absolute determinism in the universe, the complete absence of free will. Suppose the world is super-deterministic, with not just inanimate nature running on behind-the-scenes clockwork, but with our behavior, including our belief that we are free to choose to do one experiment rather than another, absolutely predetermined, including the "decision" by the experimenter to carry out one set of measurements rather than another, the difficulty disappears. There is no need for a faster than light signal to tell particle A what measurement has been carried out on particle B, because the universe, including particle A, already "knows" what that measurement, and its outcome, will be.
Although he acknowledged the loophole, he also argued that it was implausible. Even if the measurements performed are chosen by deterministic random number generators, the choices can be assumed to be "effectively free for the purpose at hand," because the machine's choice is altered by a large number of very small effects. It is unlikely for the hidden variable to be sensitive to all of the same small influences that the random number generator was.Nobel Prize winner Gerard 't Hooft discussed this loophole with John Bell in the early 1980s. "I raised the question: Suppose that also Alice's and Bob's decisions have to be seen as not coming out of free will, but being determined by everything in the theory. John said, well, you know, that I have to exclude. If it's possible, then what I said doesn't apply. I said, Alice and Bob are making a decision out of a cause. A cause lies in their past and has to be included in the picture."According to the physicist Anton Zeilinger, if superdeterminism is true, some of its implications would bring into question the value of science itself by destroying falsifiability:

[W]e always implicitly assume the freedom of the experimentalist... This fundamental assumption is essential to doing science. If this were not true, then, I suggest, it would make no sense at all to ask nature questions in an experiment, since then nature could determine what our questions are, and that could guide our questions such that we arrive at a false picture of nature.

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  1. riballoon

    B Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and determinism

    As I understand it the principle states that the more accurately you measure one factor of an object, for example speed, the less you can tell of any other factors, for example position. To me this seems we will every only be able to measure an approximation of reality and thus determinism...
  2. M

    I Closing the Superdeterminism Loophole?

    This paper claims that the major superdeterminism loophole in Bell's theroem is closed, because "a local hidden variable theory consistent with relativity requires that relativistically non-invariant relations such as the time order of spacelike separated events have no physical significance...
  3. W

    A Does superdeterminism undermine the scientific method?

    Anton Zeilinger, wrote, " "We always implicitly assume the freedom of the experimentalist... This fundamental assumption is essential to doing science. If this were not true, then, I suggest, it would make no sense at all to ask nature questions in an experiment, since then nature could...
  4. G

    Superdeterminism ruined the significance of DCQE experiment

    I keep thinking that the universe "knows" when, how, where these know-it-all (no pun intended) physicists did their experiment so all the results are not only consistent, but perfectly normal, nothing freaky about it. I'm no longer capable of thinking like a normal human being and subsequently...
  5. W

    I Superdeterminism and the hidden variable

    Bell's superdetermimism seems to imply that there is a hidden variable. Please correct me if I am wrong but that seems like classical physics.
  6. U

    I Bell's superdeterminism compared to determinism

    It's being discussed in another thread but I really think clarification is in place. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superdeterminism I've known about Bells quote for years but I never got what his point was. Why the need for a "super" inclusion to postulate that human beings are subject to...
  7. P

    B Some questions about "superdeterminism" and Bell's Theorem

    Hi. I'm not a physicist, but I’m intrigued by Bell's theorem and I've been stumbling with "superdeterminism." My understanding of the concept is that everything is not just predetermined, but the initial conditions of the universe are fine-tuned and "conspire" so choices of which versions of...
  8. U

    I Bell's theorem and Superdeterminism

    [Mentor's note: This thread has was forked off from another thread because it was a digression there. This is false. Bell's theorem is based on a certain assumption (the statistical independence or free-will assumption). Some local and realistic theories that contradict this assumption exist...
  9. G

    I Why all the rejection of superdeterminism?

    Hi. As far as I understand, superdeterminism (i.e. the experimentators are not free to choose the measurement parameters) allows the formulation of a local realistic quantum theory. But apparently physicists don't like the thought of not being in charge. Anton Zeilinger: "[W]e always implicitly...
  10. Hybrid

    I Many Worlds - Superdeterministic?

    Forgive me if this question has been asked previously on this board, but I cannot seem to find anything similar having searched around earlier. I suppose this blog entry written by the Physicist Robert Oerter linked below has accurately reflected how I feel about Many Worlds: "But now you see...
  11. craigi

    Is determinism truly at play in this scenario?

    So my question is, do we believe that he's correct? Do we really believe that a mechanisitic view makes experimentation pointless or is he being over dramatic?
  12. J

    Why is superdeterminism not the universally accepted explanation of nonlocality?

    from my thinking nonlocality and entanglement are never a problem because in a totally determinstic universe, the information about what is going to be instantaneously tranferred from a to b is already known to the universe. we may not be in block time but the universe acts as if it were. this...
  13. U

    Arguments Against Superdeterminism

    In the context of Bell's Theorem, a superdeterministic theory would negate the statistical independence between the source generating the entangled particles and the detectors. IMHO there is nothing absurd about this. There are plenty of examples in physics where the motion of two distant...
  14. D

    Why is there such little talk regarding superdeterminism?

    why is there such little talk regarding superdeterminism? So, it's not testable or falsifiable, but it seems with the erosion of free will in neuroscience - there would be more talk about the possibility or impossibility of free choice experiments.