Darwinism, Reproduction and QM

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  • #26
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Freeman Dyson said:
Are you guys saying, in a sense, that we are the ones fine tuning the universe in order to view it?

What do you mean by "fine-tuning"?
 
  • #27
What do you mean by "fine-tuning"?
Arranging it in a way we can view it. Like arranging quantum states into a classical object. The universe is basically a mess until we impose order on it. It's like an out of tune guitar that we have to tune to play.
 
  • #28
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Freeman Dyson said:
Arranging it in a way we can view it. Like arranging quantum states into a classical object. The universe is basically a mess until we impose order on it. It's like an out of tune guitar that we have to tune to play.

This is close to what Wheeler suggests in his pasticipatory universe. I believe it was his idea to devise the Delayed choice experiment to highlight this very issue.

It is worth noting that, we have no fundamental knowledge of anything(we don't know what causes the eigenstates to 'collapse' to a single state), so if anyone, regardless if his name is Einstein or Ed Witten, insists that they know what reality is, it's extremely likely that they don't know what they are talking about. What ontologically makes sense to Penrose, does not make sense to Smolin and Feynmann. Get all the famous physicists together and ask them what reality is and you'll get a dozen conflicting answers.

Most of the questions that get asked here, do not have answers. I've backed out of arguments numerous times here, not because i agreed with opponents, but rather because there were no answers that you could state with certainty. When certain topics engage firm footings like physics and biology, there is good basis for debate, but when it comes to interpretational issues, logic and foundational problems, heated arguments do not appear to reflect good knowledge of the depth of the subject at hand.

Anyway, standard QM does not go so far as to say there is no objective reality, it is implied though. The other interpretations suggest that if there is an objective reality, it is nothing like what we perceive in day-to-day life. There is close to zero hope that naive realism will ever be recovered and the theory of QG(as is thought in circles that are working on it) will likely entail a new paradigm shift of our understanding of reality and our place in it. Right now, expressing great certainty about how reality works is probably the least intelligent statement one could make.

Having said that, neither fields nor 'particles'(real or otherwise) have the property "awareness"(which is what we dub 'everything'), so it's worth keeping an open mind.
 
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  • #29
This is close to what Wheeler suggests in his pasticipatory universe. I believe it was his idea to devise the Delayed choice experiment to highlight this very issue.

It is worth noting that, we have no fundamental knowledge of anything(we don't know what causes the eigenstates to 'collapse' to a single state), so if anyone, regardless if his name is Einstein or Ed Witten, insists that they know what reality is, it's extremely likely that they don't know what they are talking about. What ontologically makes sense to Penrose, does not make sense to Smolin and Feynmann. Get all the famous physicists together and ask them what reality is and you'll get a dozen conflicting answers.

Most of the questions that get asked here, do not have answers. I've backed out of arguments numerous times here, not because i agreed with opponents, but rather because there were no answers that you could state with certainty. When certain topics engage firm footings like physics and biology, there is good basis for debate, but when it comes to interpretational issues, logic and foundational problems, heated arguments do not appear to reflect good knowledge of the depth of the subject at hand.

Anyway, standard QM does not go so far as to say there is no objective reality, it is implied though. The other interpretations suggest that if there is an objective reality, it is nothing like what we perceive in day-to-day life. There is close to zero hope that naive realism will ever be recovered and the theory of QG(as is thought in circles that are working on it) will likely entail a new paradigm shift of our understanding of reality and our place in it. Right now, expressing great certainty about how reality works is probably the least intelligent statement one could make.
Totally agree. And about the philosophy of scientists. It reminds me of what John Polkinghorne said:

"The average quantum mechanic is no more philosophical than the average auto mechanic."
 
  • #30
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Ok so it seems to me this universe needing observers is dependant on the fact that observers do have an effect on the universe. I'm not totaly sure they do. It seems like they should but if I try to think up a way that an observer would have an effect on the universe in the purest sense I can't really. The best I can think of is that the observer is the universe. But in that case the universe would only have one observer, itself. If observers do have an effect on the universe then I wonder to what extent? If you could control the way your observing and your observing has an effect then you could basicaly control the universe possibly? Does that make any sense?
But observers do have an effect on the universe, as is well demonstrated and documented through qm. The counter-argument is not based on questioning whether obervers can "fix an atom" so to speak, it is based on whether only observers can fix an atom or "collapse a wave function.
 
  • #31
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Hi Freeman,

"I always hear people like Richard Dawkins saying life and the universe is an accident and has no purpose at all. And that science proves is. They are obsessed with removing any meaning from the universe and see any hint of it as a threat to their belief system. The same way many theists do. Dawkins says, the entire universe is "lacking all purpose"

Dawkins is in no position to pronounce whether there is purpose or not in the existence of the universe. Darwin's theory, which was perhaps the greatest scientific discovery in human history, does not answer that question about purpose on a universal level. It simply provides an excellent framework mechanism for understanding how we evolved.

I also find Dawkins anti-religious fervour slightly scary and no less ideologically driven than hardcore religionists.

Personally without more evidence i prefer a sort of agnostic stance.
 
  • #32
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Exactly. People are so biased against religion that they have become biased against the idea of any kind of purpose or design to the universe. And that is unscientific imo. Atheists like Susskind and Weinberg WANT to believe in the mutliverse because of the reasons I just mentioned.
Thats the funny part about it. They want to believe in the multiverse because otherwise our fine tuned universe appears so coincidental to be practically impossible.

But from an empirical standpoint there is zero evidence for multiple universes, and all the evidence so far points to one universe - ours.
 
  • #33
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Hi Wavejumper,

"Anyway, standard QM does not go so far as to say there is no objective reality, it is implied though."

Whats sort of funny is how science is still grappling with this issue today, hence we have silly interpretations such a Bohmian mechanics which basically invent a realism which just does not exist. It would be like arguing that gravity is actually controlled through huge invisible elastic bands.

Many scientists are loathe to give up the ghost of classical physics and instead insist on creating fairy tales in order to make our universe determinstic and objectively real.

"environmental decoherence" was a failed attempt to solve the measurement problem and is purely a FAPP type interpretation so that young students dont ask difficult foundational questions.
 
  • #34
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Coldcall said:
Many scientists are loathe to give up the ghost of classical physics and instead insist on creating fairy tales in order to make our universe determinstic and objectively real.

It is indeed a ghost embedded world, even if waves were real. If 40 billion neutrinos pass through my body per second unobtrusively, i don't see a reason to believe we are anything short of a ghost, embedded into a self-referential 'reality' of interacting 'particles'. If something can pass with ease through the Earth and the Sun and the other stars, then those mentioned 'objects' need a new proper designation. The shadow classical world can be either real or not, but it would still be a shadow as far as our incomplete perception goes.
 
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  • #35
apeiron
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"environmental decoherence" was a failed attempt to solve the measurement problem and is purely a FAPP type interpretation so that young students dont ask difficult foundational questions.
Do you have some references regarding this failure? My impression is that it has become the mainstream approach over the past decade.

While I would agree that the detailed machinery offered by Zurek and others is too clunky to be satisfactory, the general idea of the Universe as a system that is decohering events over random spatiotemporal scale seems the right one. It puts the "observer" everywhere and nowhere in the system.
 
  • #36
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Decoherence doesn't address the issue of what happens to the other states when a single outcome is selected through loss of information to the environment and it is presumed those waves are real(in most formulations). MWI is too much of a baggage with its trillions of universes, i reject it on Occam's razor grounds.

"Leak of information" is a rather weak explanation as to why a certain single eigenstate is preferred. It is in fact no explanation at all for classical reality, but just a mechanism that might be useful in a future theory with greater explanatory powers. The only way decoherence makes sense as it is, is when coupled with MWI where every probability is realised in a different universe. But i am not convinced that believing in ghosts, the Loch Ness monster and blood sucking aliens is not easier to swallow. I can imagine Einstein asking Pais:

"Do you really think a new 72 billion light years across universe is created everytime a dung beetle moves its antennae?"
 
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  • #37
Yet, there is at least one glaring omission in present physical theory. This is how small-scale quantum processes can add up, for large and complicated systems, to the almost classical behaviour of macroscopic bodies. Indeed, it is not just an omission but an actual fundamental inconsistency.
-Penrose

Has anybody heard of quantum darwinism?

Did you know there was such a thing as 'Quantum Darwinism'? Indeed there is, and it postulates the theory that quantum mechanical states are selected and reproduced.

The team also succeeded in finding clear indications of Quantum Darwinism, that is to say the notion that during interaction with the environment only the "strongest" states - the pointer states - remain stable and are able to create offspring.
A team of physicists has proved a theorem that explains how our objective, common reality emerges from the subtle and sensitive quantum world.
If, as quantum mechanics says, observing the world tends to change it, how is it that we can agree on anything at all? Why doesn't each person leave a slightly different version of the world for the next person to find?

Because, say the researchers, certain special states of a system are promoted above others by a quantum form of natural selection, which they call quantum darwinism.
http://www.scientificblogging.com/news_releases/can_there_be_quantum_darwinism
 
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  • #38
apeiron
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Has anybody heard of quantum darwinism?
I thought you were referring to Zurek who coined the term....

Quantum Darwinism is a theory explaining the emergence of the classical world from the quantum world as due to a process of Darwinian natural selection. It is proposed by Wojciech Zurek and a group of collaborators including Ollivier, Poulin, Paz and Blume-Kohout.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_Darwinism

Penrose was instead exploring the idea that gravity was responsible for the collapse.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penrose_interpretation

One could be called a subjective approach, a collapse of the wavefunction from the outside by the "observation" of a system.

The other is objective in that the collapse happens due to what is going on "inside" the wavefunction itself.
 
  • #39
apeiron
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"Leak of information" is a rather weak explanation as to why a certain single eigenstate is preferred. It is in fact no explanation at all for classical reality, but just a mechanism that might be useful in a future theory with greater explanatory powers. The only way decoherence makes sense as it is, is when coupled with MWI where every probability is realised in a different universe.
Wavejumper, you are putting your finger on what I find "too clunky" about decoherence modelling to date. But I don't see MWI as the fix at all.

The way I view it is that the classical universe is a "QM uncertainty dissipating structure" (so I am expecting an even more thermodynamic slant to the eventual interpretation machinery).

The universe is a system of constraints. At this constraint is felt with increasing definite effect as scale grows. So while the constraint or "collapsing observation" is weak near the planckscale, it would grow with powerlaw vigour with physical scale. Or perhaps exponential. And so in our classical realm, QM uncertainty is decohered on a very fine grain generally, but also potentially can have fractally large scale - escape decoherence for quite a while.

An analogy would be an ideal gas. Take a box with a bunch of gas particles at gaussian equilibrium. Insert a much hotter or colder particle and quite quickly it will be "decohered" to the ambient average state. The idea gas is a system of constraint that can't necessarily get you right away, but will get you on some emergent average scale.

"Do you really think a new 72 billion light years across universe is created everytime a dung beetle moves its antennae?"
That would be crazy. As there is no evidence to suggest it happens.

But just about as crazy is what must be true when you look into the night sky, and see a distant star. QM tells us that there is a dance, a collapse over a sum of histories, between some excited stellar atom and the photoreceptor in your eyeball. To account for known QM effects, this has to be a retrocausal link with a "nonlocal" aspect.

So classical reality is probably best viewed (via systems decoherence, rather than environmental decoherence, perhaps) as a mesh of such interactions, such collapse events. Some of the events have vast scale (point-to-point event across millions of lightyears). But statistically, the great majority of events are quick and local collapses. Two atoms in the star are far more likely to make that photon connection.

Maybe even virtual particle interactions stabilise classical reality before things get that far, creating the true baseline? That seems to be where some theories like Wilczek's condensates are pointing.

Anyway, the natural commonsense expectation of a sound interpretation of QM would seem to revolve around the idea of one generally classical universe which becomes a sort of homogenising, wavefunction dissipating, equilibrium structure. There is no observer as such as observation, or constraint, is present everywhere. The history of where the universe has been becomes the general shape of what can happen next. Then QM uncertainty intrudes on the fine grain to make things a bit unpredictable and creative - in a predictable average sort of way.

Well, my expectation that this is a natural approach is probably due to my familiarity with systems science in biology and neuroscience where this kind of anticipatory or forward-modelling logic is the norm.
 
  • #40
Moonbear
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Bolting on the theory of evolution and how it seems nature has a tendency towards complexity we can take this idea one step further.
I haven't read anything else in the thread, but you have a seriously flawed premise here. Nature has no such tendency toward complexity, and that would have nothing to do with evolution. Evolution can and does happen in any direction.
 
  • #41
apeiron
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I haven't read anything else in the thread, but you have a seriously flawed premise here. Nature has no such tendency toward complexity, and that would have nothing to do with evolution. Evolution can and does happen in any direction.
Of course there is a trend to complexity in nature. This is what dissipative structure theory, maximum entropy production principle, entropy degrader approaches, and other stuff is all about.

Order exists because it accelerates disorder. That is what life and mind are all about.

What you perhaps mean is that evolution itself - the darwinian selection mechanism - is essentially uncreative and homeostatic. And modern theoretical biology would agree. That is why they split biological systems in to evo and devo.

Development is about the self-organisation into complex dissipative structures. Then evolution is about the constraints exerted by an environment that limit the possibilities.

So a tree could sprout limbs and leaves in many branching patterns. But all sorts of accidents of circumstance in an actual forest limits it to some actual pattern of branching.

The tree - viewed as devo - wants to be as complex as possible in its branching to dissipate as much as it can. Then evo forces may knock off branches, chew its leaves, shade it out, starve its roots - act in blind and undirected fashion.
 
  • #42
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Do you have some references regarding this failure? My impression is that it has become the mainstream approach over the past decade.

While I would agree that the detailed machinery offered by Zurek and others is too clunky to be satisfactory, the general idea of the Universe as a system that is decohering events over random spatiotemporal scale seems the right one. It puts the "observer" everywhere and nowhere in the system.
Apeiron,

The evidence regarding the failure of "decoherence" to address the measurement problem is in the public domain. Even Zurek, one of the founders of "decoherence" admits its not a solution to the measurement problem.

And if you think it does solve the MP then you have been misled in a big way.
 
  • #43
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I haven't read anything else in the thread, but you have a seriously flawed premise here. Nature has no such tendency toward complexity, and that would have nothing to do with evolution. Evolution can and does happen in any direction.
Apeiron has answered your post well. In fact i find it laughable you actually made this post because clearly you have never read any studies on natural complexity, natural self-organisation and the wider areas of chaos theory.

I suggest you go to the library.
 
  • #44
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Coldcall said:
Apeiron,

The evidence regarding the failure of "decoherence" to address the measurement problem is in the public domain. Even Zurek, one of the founders of "decoherence" admits its not a solution to the measurement problem.

And if you think it does solve the MP then you have been misled in a big way.

Yes, there doesn't appear to be a way to resolve the measurement problem without admitting that our conscious activities(also referred to as measurements/observations) 'collapse' wavefunctions to 'particles'. Most of the interpretational problems of QM start and end at the double slit.

Quantum entanglement and Bell's conclusion that if QM is right, reality cannot be both local and realistic is very anti-realistic. "Local realistic" is the perception of the average Joe on the street as to how the world is. This view, however, isn't supported by experiements. I've yet to see a sensible explanation of what a non-local but realistic world is supposed to be; this cannot be a feature of a purely materialistic world.
 
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  • #45
apeiron
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The evidence regarding the failure of "decoherence" to address the measurement problem is in the public domain. Even Zurek, one of the founders of "decoherence" admits its not a solution to the measurement problem.
And if you think it does solve the MP then you have been misled in a big way.
My own feeling was that Zurek's early papers (along with what others like Gell Mann were saying) was creating the right framework, but then along the line the thinking became contorted trying to cash out new formal machinery.

For me, the big problem is always in anchoring observation back to a static, located, human observer when reality is dynamic and self-organising (I presume from a systems science standpoint). So observers and their measurements have to be generalised in that direction, taking the nod from global boundary constraints thinking.

So in this view, decoherence would be about expanding light cones of QM potential. When spatiotemporal scale is still small, the potential has little context and so is less likely to encounter some crisp collapsing context. But as scale grows, it become rapidly more likely that collapse will occur.

This is hard to explain unless you can think about QM potential as a vagueness. There is not even a wavefunction crisply existent until the scale, the field of view, has grown enough to take in, say, a pair of particles who could frame some definite exchange.

It is a phase transition view I guess. When scale is small, you may have in effect a particle surrounded by a vague QM potential to "do something". The particle's gravity, EM, give it a QM potential or "presence" that propagates as a spherical boundary moving at speed of light. But it is a very raw QM state - like a chaotic jostle of dipoles in a hot bar magnet.

Then the scale grows large enough so that a second particle comes within exchange range. At that point, a crisp wavefunction can exist. There is a global boundary condition that can create constraint of that vaguer potential. General limits to what can happen are created and then something does happen. It is like the sufficient cooling that allows a crisply divided local~global state of order in a magnet.

In effect, the wavefunction and its collapse are two faces of the same thing. The wavefunction was not "always there and evolving" in an independent sense. Instead there was a rawer potential for somethingness developing, then a crisp QM wavefunction/crisp classical collapse did something with that spreading potential. We only impute an evolving wavefunction after the fact.

OK, I'm thinking aloud here as this was the general picture I took from Zurek's early writings about decoherence, combined with what I was hearing at the time from quantum vagueness guys like Chibeni (that stuff seems to have died a death sadly), and Cramer's convincing arguments for retrocausality. Plus, as I say, what seems obvious from a phase transition, systems science, way of looking at reality.

Zurek seems to be working in the right area on this....
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/cond-mat/pdf/0701/0701768v2.pdf

But I think the key thing missing is the idea that QM information starts vague and needs a classical context to turn it into crisp QM probabilities, even if the crisp QM probabilities are still of the crisply entangled, uncertain and superimposed probabilities on the wavefunction side of things.

Boiling it down, the usual framing of the measurement problem is that we have an evolving wavefunction forever in search of the machinery that forces its collapse. The difficulty in seeing why the wavefunction should collapse (because no internal mechanism or hidden variables are permitted) leads people to say collapse requires consciousness, or perhaps in many worlds fashion, never happens.

Decoherence is broadly the attempt to put the collapse machinery back out there in the physical world. And really it would be good to have it happening as a global boundary constraint - that is, something that is presence and active over all classical spatiotemporal scales. (technical note: global means thermodynamic macrostate rather than "largest size").

Then what I take this to require is that the collapse machinery in fact manufactures the wavefunctions out of rawer QM potential. So it is the collapse that causes the wavefunctions, not the wavefunctions and that must produce a collapse.
 
  • #46
I will throw another thing out there that I have been interested in over the years:

Synchronicity

That events are tied together by purpose. By meaning. That is the connecting principle. Only meaningful and purposeful things happen. Classical objects form from quantum states because they are meaningful/purposeful objects.

Kind of out there I know..
 
  • #47
disregardthat
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Yes, there doesn't appear to be a way to resolve the measurement problem without admitting that our conscious activities(also referred to as measurements/observations) 'collapse' wavefunctions to 'particles'. Most of the interpretational problems of QM start and end at the double slit.

Quantum entanglement and Bell's conclusion that if QM is right, reality cannot be both local and realistic is very anti-realistic. "Local realistic" is the perception of the average Joe on the street as to how the world is. This view, however, isn't supported by experiements. I've yet to see a sensible explanation of what a non-local but realistic world is supposed to be; this cannot be a feature of a purely materialistic world.
Science does to a certain degree assume a realistic perspective, but my opinion is that this is only because of the context in which scientific predicates usually are understood. An important insight is that scientific predicates only says something about our perception, and the scientific body of knowledge represents the structure of perception. Realism posits that the world is mind-independent, and that scientific predicates makes sense in the absence of a mind understanding it and giving it meaning. But this is a senseless view in my opinion. The world independent of the mind can not be said anything about. It makes no sense to make a distinction between objects in a mind-independent world, it makes much less sense to talk about properties of objects, not even spatial and temporal properties. These are all conceptual characteristics. We see these characteristics of objects because through perception our minds interpret sensations with spatial and temporal structure. I find the anti-realistic view much more appealing. It also rid itself of many problems the realist view stumble into.

The results of QM are very interesting, and we couldn't find a better tool to propagate these points through with. My knowledge of QM is however limited, but it is my understanding that objects under observation more or less behaves as we would expect. Perhaps you, apeiron, are more knowledgeable about Kant's metaphysical theories about the necessities for experience than me and hopefully you have a comment on this. I find it incredibly interesting how Kant's points are manifested through the results in quantum mechanics.
 
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  • #48
apeiron
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I will throw another thing out there that I have been interested in over the years:

Synchronicity
.
Experiment has already put tight parameters around such connectedness. So while QM supports nonlocal (making the global context meaningful and not just an a-causal void) it also limits the nature of the connection in very strict fashion.

You could argue that the psi research literature does the same from a different angle. If any kind of spooky stuff exists in a mind-entangling complex way, the signal is so small as to be swamped by experimental artifact and experimenter fraud.

So yes. Any theory can be entertained. But synchronicity in any Jungian sense has a stack of negative findings against it now.
 
  • #49
apeiron
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Science does to a certain degree assume a realistic perspective,
The realist vs anti-realist choice, as you put it, does offer also a third path other than a binary either/or.

You can instead say we need to model in terms that include both - both modeller and modelled, observer and observed.

Which is the essence of what Pattee, Rosen, Salthe and others in the semiotic, systems science, camp would be doing.
 
  • #50
disregardthat
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The realist vs anti-realist choice, as you put it, does offer also a third path other than a binary either/or.

You can instead say we need to model in terms that include both - both modeller and modelled, observer and observed.

Which is the essence of what Pattee, Rosen, Salthe and others in the semiotic, systems science, camp would be doing.
I don't think that the anti-realist is rejecting realism on behalf of his own perspective, that would be violating the very "ideology". The realistic perspective is a perfectly "valid" perspective in the anti-realistic sense as it is a coherent system of beliefs as any. But I agree with you if I understand you correctly. But instead of talking about a "third way", we can remove the clear-cut distinction between realism and anti-realism. In a way, anti-realism incorporates both perspectives. The reason I find anti-realism appealing is the rejection of subscribing to any specific set of beliefs or any specific ideology.
 
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