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Every event occurs as a consequence of some previous event

  1. May 6, 2007 #1
    Here is an interesting argument I always win. Can someone out-argue me with a statement that there is such a thing as random?

    My main statement is that every event occurs as a consequence of some previous event, thus nothing can be random...
  2. jcsd
  3. May 6, 2007 #2
    How do you know this?
  4. May 6, 2007 #3
    I am not exactly sure what you mean. But I am sure every event they call 'random' in sciene or anywhere, is; as I said, a consequence of a previous event.
  5. May 6, 2007 #4
    You don't have much of an argument unless you convince me of this point; I could similarly say "I'm sure there is such a thing as a random event".

    Do you think that the power of cause resides in objects themselves? Or is causation just a habit, a belief that we have formed from our limited experience?

    I would argue that you have never experienced a cause; you have seen billiard balls, but you have not 'seen' the cause of their motions.

    I want you to define your term, random. Mathematically, a random distribution is just a uniform distribution (ever value within some range is equally likely). What do you mean by 'nothing is random'? If you mean 'everything follows necessarily from a cause' then you certainly can't assume that.
  6. May 6, 2007 #5
    I am talking because I the science department could not come up with an answer to counter my claim.

    They seem to accept my claim that if certain minute variables are neglected: most things, nearly everything could just become random.

    For example, Brownian Motion; in the experiment, the pollen grain is said to move 'randomly'. But this is from a Macroscopic view. At microscopic view, the motion is due to the net force caused by the particles hitting upon it at the direction at that time. The motion could be predicted is all the forces (remembering that it is a vector) and masses of all the particles were known. Thus it is not random.
  7. May 6, 2007 #6
    ask the philosophy department, specifically any professor of Hegel.
  8. May 6, 2007 #7
    Um, I think Einstein tried this argument out last century with his 'God does not play dice' bon mot.

    You're arguing for deterministic laws of physics that are in principle non-random.

    Unfortunately (for you), QM seems to scrap all of that.
  9. May 6, 2007 #8
    But 'christianjb' what I am saying is that if one think that something is of a random presence, that person does not know about a Certain Variable or Physical Quantity in which that certain ('random') event occurs. Oh and who or what or where is Hegel???
  10. May 6, 2007 #9
    This "random" question seems to be asked once in a while here. There is a difference between random and non-deterministic, that's why different terms exist. Even if reality is entirely deterministic and if the future is already set, it remains impossible to know in complete details what it will be. Randomness exists because we cannot predict everything.
  11. May 6, 2007 #10
    But that is whay I said... However, all I am saying is that random only exists only because we do not know certain parameters or variables. This is the same question everyone asks, and I am saying yes. The future is already set. It can be predictable if every single parameter and discrete variable is known... Thus if anything is random, we don't know something - i.e. a variable or parameter...
  12. May 6, 2007 #11
    Also why is it IMPOSSIBLE to know comlete details???
  13. May 6, 2007 #12
    The state of every tiny bit of the universe cannot be known because you cannot store this much data. You may have heard this line: "You can't have everything, where would you put it?"
  14. May 6, 2007 #13
    Everything is random :surprised , only to a certain approximation something can be in causual relationship . ??????
  15. May 6, 2007 #14
    How tall are you? Measurements are approximate, everytime we measure your height we will only do so up to a certain precision, e.g. 5' 8'' +/- 1''.

    And yet you still believe you have an exact height, but what is this based on?

    Answer: custom, habit, belief.
  16. May 6, 2007 #15


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    Imagine you have a giant computer that stores the exact information of every piece of the universe. It must have stored within it its exact information too. But contained within its exact information is its exact information.... you can kind of see how this goes on forever
  17. May 6, 2007 #16
    This argument does not take into account quantum mechanics. There is really nothing to say about 'a classical computer that knows the position and momentum of every particle in the universe', because this is a fantasy.

    It is not necessary to prove the futility of knowing all details precisely, because it is impossible to make a single measurement exact. As I said, we have no reason to think that the physical quantities we are measuring metaphysically-have exact values.
  18. May 7, 2007 #17
    This argument is straying into whether anything can be measured to an absolute value. I obviously know about the impracticalities and the obvious immeasurability of every constant. That is irrevelant.

    All I am asking is that, what are wrong with my 2 statements overall?:

    "An event only occurs as a direct consequence of another previous event".
    "If we think something is random, then we do not know a certain parameter or variable corresponding to that event..."
  19. May 7, 2007 #18
    The second claim is a consequence of the first one. It is true if the first one is true.

    The first claim expresses a common sense assumption that is fundamental to science, but I have yet to see its proof. Most people call it "obvious" but cannot produce irrefutable evidence to that effect. It seems to be an unprovable yet essential axiom of science.
  20. May 7, 2007 #19
    On top of what out of whack said which is definitelly true. I can postulate that everything is random (which is as we know today better statement that everything is causual) and only to a certain approx. we can observe relationships which we interpret as causual. There were attempts to recast everything in this matter and quite new and interesting things came out of it. Unfortunatelly, it did not caught up yet. It will, however, as we learn that whole is not sum of the parts on philosophical level.

    Lets not forget that this philosophy (of mechanical universe) was deliberatelly started as a project. It won, because its true in degree of approximation, over back then competing philosophies of science. Its been dedicated more than 400years of all scientific attention and institutional privilage in teaching. This shadows the fact that its not the only one and creates false mirage for many ppl that its correct one.

    Again, as a falacy of mechanistic logic may come forth in potential comments to this, I am not proposing competition to current scientific way but rather complement. The greatest blunder of moder science is that it thinks that there is only way of doing it. Just like in any other creative field, there are multiple complementary ways of doing same thing which usually uncover/expose the nature of the problem from many different angles.
  21. May 7, 2007 #20
    I already have everything and have simply decided to leave it where it is.:tongue2:
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