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Coin toss as 100% determined

  1. May 8, 2010 #1
    Tossing a single coin is based on a 50/50 probability of landing on heads. It seems obvious that this is the numerical interpretation (the movement towards the 50/50 outcomes (the actual results) will increase when the number of throws increase as well). However, I think the actual potential of each individual toss is accounted for by the available variables and the initial conditions. So, if true, then in principle when a large number of trials are run, the outcomes move closer to a 50/50 probability. But, in an individual trial (1 single toss), there is not a 50/50 probability, as all is based on available variables and initial conditions. So, essentially there is not a 50/50 probability of the very next coin toss, rather there is a 100% dictation from existing conditions of the coin resulting in heads or tails, as each outcome is not based on any prior coin tosses. So, 50/50 is what we expect to see, and what we will see if there are numerous trials. However, probability does not guide the coin into its final state; existing conditions do. In other words, probability is not a core factor here, it is a descriptor. The core factors here are the conditions and forces that act upon the coin. It can be argued that an existing variable might be 'randomness' and that an outcome is not 100% dictated by existing conditions. But, it seems unless randomness acts as a force, the quantum effects or true randomness will be washed out by the macro scale properties. Since a coin and its processes are continuous then any future action can be determined (maybe in principle, but not in practice as too many variables are at play).
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2010 #2
    Probability is a description of a process under uncertainty. Whether that uncertainty is innate or a measure of our ignorance is somewhat irrelevant to the application of probabilistic reasoning. Since, before the fact, a coin toss has an uncertain outcome; a probability is a descriptor of an anticipated event. Once the coin is tossed, there is no uncertainty.

    Such important scientific concepts such as entropy and information are are based on probabilities So are the principles of thermodynamics and quantum mechanics (QM). Only in QM is it thought that uncertainty is innate.

    EDIT: QM is usually described as deterministic. What's determined are probabilities, not outcomes.
    Last edited: May 8, 2010
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