# What is your take on random vs deterministic reality

## Chaos/randomness is subset of determinism or vice versa?

• ### Randomness is subset/emergent of purelly deterministic reality.

• Total voters
2
OK, to both sneez and pythagorean;

Imagine, that you have no knowledge.
Your knowledge level of the physical world is 0%, a creators knowledge level is 100%.

At 0% everything is chaos, you don't have anything to associate with, no systems to analyze, there is almost nothing.
At 100%, my theory is that EVERYTHING becomes deterministic.

The most fundamental particle is not a quark, or not even a string, it's something deeper.
What my original point was that everything we have ever studied, are emergent properties, we have never gone to the rock bottom.

Thus there can exist emergent chaos, of which you have both given examples of above.
But that's not really enough, and the whole problem of infinite regress vs eternal existence comes to mind, but then again this is relative to your perspective.

I think you can never fully call a system deterministic until you have 100% knowledge of it.
Once there are unknown variables, to any physical system, there will always be a chance that something random can happen, even if observation shows otherwise.
But I'm talking about the philosophical proposition that there are no truly random events, on any scale/level objectively, there is ALWAYS a cause for an effect, and that effect leads to another effect and so forth.

dear octelcogopod,

At 0% everything is chaos, you don't have anything to associate with, no systems to analyze, there is almost nothing.
At 100%, my theory is that EVERYTHING becomes deterministic.

Chaos theory is not based on fact that we do not know everything 100%.
The opposite is true, if you know something 100% there is conditions where system becomes unpredictable.

I think you can never fully call a system deterministic until you have 100% knowledge of it.
Once there are unknown variables, to any physical system, there will always be a chance that something random can happen, even if observation shows otherwise.
But I'm talking about the philosophical proposition that there are no truly random events, on any scale/level objectively, there is ALWAYS a cause for an effect, and that effect leads to another effect and so forth.

only god can know 100% of system. What is your proposition based upon then? Its the same for someone to claim the exact opposite with the same weight. How did you deduce philosophically that there is always a cause for an effect? (to define those in general is almost impossible).

Once there are unknown variables, to any physical system, there will always be a chance that something random can happen, even if observation shows otherwise.
Like i said before, chaos is not about hidden variables. Chaos is about instability and un-linearity.

I dont think we gonna move from here. But at least justify to me your assumption that there cannot be chaos on fundamental level. (I mean why would not creator create completelly random universe and we live on such scale that the time as we perceive allows us to observe almost deterministic properties of universe). For example, we can predict orbits of planets on 1000yr scale with simple newton laws, but anyone who tries for next bilion years cannot succeed because of chaos nature of the orbits on this time scale. (btw, this is a fact).

Pythagorean
Gold Member
octel, I think you may have a different definition of chaos than the way it's generally used in physics.

In the end, these idea of determinism and free-choice are human constructs...

Well it's only logical that there cannot be chaos on the fundamental level..

Chaos cannot be the movement or change of the current energy in the universe, it MUST be the addition of new energy from outside the universe.
Or at least, a completely random event.

This is because, logically, something physical won't change unless it's inclined to, it has been this way since forever.
If something appears to be changing out of nowhere, it is only a matter of gaining the knowledge needed to figure out why.

I don't even think this is an assumption.

Pythagorean said:
octel, I think you may have a different definition of chaos than the way it's generally used in physics.

In the end, these idea of determinism and free-choice are human constructs...

Let's not use the word chaos then, but an indeterministic, random event, one which has no cause.

octelcogopod, if you define some concept and create for it your own rules what it is and etc and then try to deduce it cannot exists thats fine. But dont, however, substitute it for a concept that is defined and observed. That is where our misunderstanding comes from.

You should not use the word chaos/random to describe your concept of those at least as you used them so far.

indeterministic, random - i bet we are not gonna even agree on what those are.

The explanation you give that "its only logical" and that "something physical won't change unless it's inclined to", are pretty arbitrary rules. Logic is not property of universe but of mind.

Im not sure if this topic should have been in philosophy or not, but anyway....thanx for attempt to clarify it .

Pythagorean
Gold Member
octelcogopod said:
Well it's only logical that there cannot be chaos on the fundamental level..

Chaos cannot be the movement or change of the current energy in the universe, it MUST be the addition of new energy from outside the universe.
Or at least, a completely random event.

This is because, logically, something physical won't change unless it's inclined to, it has been this way since forever.
If something appears to be changing out of nowhere, it is only a matter of gaining the knowledge needed to figure out why.

I don't even think this is an assumption.

Actually, it was an assumption, and society rested on that assumption for like 100 years. It was Newton's assumption, and it was hard to challenge for that 100 year period where no one in England questioned Newton, and people that did from other countries were 'wrong'.

Eventually, the quantum revolution came along, which is something that offended even Eisntein, (famous quote of his, "God does not play dice") Einstein went on to attempt to disprove the implications of the results of qunatum theory because he didn't like the disorder and sense of randomness to it.

That's why a lot of modern physics relies on statistics, because the behavior of individual particles is completely chaotic, but if we measure over and over again in different circumstances, we can see that a particle has a higher chance of doing certain things under certain situations. This is the source of fermi-dirac statistics, and bose-einstein statistics to name a few.

Also look into quantum tunneling.

Look into Schroedinger's Equation, and the conceptual counterpart to it, 'the cat in the box'.

Pythagorean
Gold Member
sneez said:
The explanation you give that "its only logical" and that "something physical won't change unless it's inclined to", are pretty arbitrary rules. Logic is not property of universe but of mind.

it sounds to me like someone's taking Newton's "laws" too literal or something...

Pythagorean, sneez,

It's only chaotic because we don't have complete understanding of it.

I still hold my position that if we knew 100% of everything in the universe nothing would be random.
I'm still not certain that we are clear on the terms here, when I say particle, I don't mean a quark or an electron, nor do I mean a string, I mean the most fundamental "building block" the universe is made up of.

All of those examples you have given above of chaos/randomness are /emergent/ on that fundamental block.
It's a matter of seeing the big picture, and the big picture includes all scales, all particles and all emergent phenomena.
Once you have that, there is no room for random events.

Not to my way of thinking anyway. :P

Last edited:
it sounds to me like someone's taking Newton's "laws" too literal or something...

what do you mean Pythagorean?

Microscopic and Macroscopic Randomness
A common reaction to QM is that it doesn't matter since quantum randomness will never manifest itself at the macroscoic level -- that is, in the world of sticks and stones we can see with the naked eye. An appeal is usually made to the "law of large numbers", according to which random fluctuations at the atomic (or lower level) will cancel each other out in a macrscopic object, so that what is seen is an averaged-out behaviour that is fairly predictable.

Something like this must be happening in some cases, assuming QM is a correct description of the micro-world, or there would not even be an appearance of a determinstic macro-world. Since deterministic classical physics is partially correct, there must be a mechanism that makes the QM micro-world at least approximate to the classical description.

However, it it were the case that all macroscopic objects behaved in a 100% deterministic fashion, there would be no evidence for QM in the first place -- since all scientific apparatus is in the macro-world ! A geiger-counter is able to amplify the impact of a single particle into an audible click. Richard Feynman suggested that if that wasn't macroscopic enough, you could always amplify the signal further and use it to set off a stick of dynamite! It could be objected that these are artificial situations. This is rather desprate, however, because there is a well-known natural mechanism that could do the same job: classical chaos.

A clasically chaotic system is by definition one that is critically sensitive to its initial conditions. "critically" sensitive means that any variation in initial conditions, no matter how slight, can bring about a change in the macroscopic behaviour of the system, no matter how large. Since there is no lower limit to critical sensitivity, it must extend all the way "down" to me microscopic world of quantum phsyics. Thus, hurricans need not be started by butterfly wings, they can be started by electrons!

The term "classical" misleads some people. Chaos can be defined within the framework of classical physics, which is strictly deterministic. This is sometimes taken to mean any chaotic system encountered in nature (such as a weather system) is classical and deterministic. However, when we tall about ordinary, non-chaotic systems being classical, we mean they are *approximately* classical. Classical physics is not entirely wrong; it worked for 100's of years after all. But it is not entirely right either. "Classical" systems are quantum systms that approximate classical behaviour.

Thus any chaotic system that you can actually encounter, such as a weather system, is only approxiamtely classical. It has no underlying determinism. At the most fundamental level it is a quantum system -- because everything is.

So we can have classical system that behave predictably (ordinary Newtonian phsyics), quantum systems that behave predictably on the macroscopic level (through the Law of Large Numbers), classical systems that behave unpredictably (through classical chaos) and quantum systems that unpredictably on the macroscopic as well as microscopic level (chaos and othe "quantum amplifiers").

In fact, this is not just theoretical. Conventional big-bang theories generally require an input of quantum indeterminism to provide the large-scale structure of the universe. A singularity exploding according to classical laws would expand evenly in every direction, leading to a boring universe consisting of an evenly dispersed cloud of gas. So when you look at the night sky, you are seeing evidence for macroscopic randomness!

One last word: Heisenberg's uncertainty principle does include a constant "h", and it is very small. But is is not an upper limit that prevents uncertainty from leaking into the macroscopic world. In fact, the mathematical form of the Uncertainty principle:
delta_x . delta_p >= h_bar
is an inequality. It sets a lower limit on the amount of uncertainty but no upper limit.

Tournesol said:
In fact, this is not just theoretical. Conventional big-bang theories generally require an input of quantum indeterminism to provide the large-scale structure of the universe. A singularity exploding according to classical laws would expand evenly in every direction, leading to a boring universe consisting of an evenly dispersed cloud of gas. So when you look at the night sky, you are seeing evidence for macroscopic randomness!

But how can anyone say this with certainty?
Any scientific theory will always be a compressed model of reality, thus the model may have random events but reality doesn't.
What if you have to go deeper to find the real cause for the seemingly random event.

I see no logical reasoning to explain a truly random event, there is always an explanation. It might include TONS of processing power and tons of math and physical models, but in the end you will find some sort of cause.
If there truly is no cause for something, then I don't know how I will be able to continue with a serious attitude.

edit: to elaborate a little bit..
It seems like people haven't grasped the seriousness of a truly random event, even if we can use statistics to get approximate values..
If there is such a thing as a truly random event, then that event will forever have /no explanation/
We can't find the source, the cause, because it has no such thing, not only does this seem completely illogical and counterintuitive, it also breaks down everything we work for.

Last edited:
octelcogopod ,

random does not mean uncaused. Random can be cause as well. Where do you get your reasoning concerning this?

Any scientific theory will always be a compressed model of reality, thus the model may have random events but reality doesn't.
You must explain by which physical law reality is not random. You state it as a fact, while in fact it is not. Your statement implies you know reality. (???)

If there is such a thing as a truly random event, then that event will forever have /no explanation/
We can't find the source, the cause, because it has no such thing, not only does this seem completely illogical and counterintuitive, it also breaks down everything we work for.
You are not correct. Only models (our models) or reality can be right or wrong. Reality just is.

You have to understand the basis I'm basing this on.

Random has usually meant that one cannot with certainty get a 100% accurate value for something, as such one uses probability and statistics.

This is an error in the model used to describe reality, not reality itself(is my idea.)
Determinism states that everything that has happened since the big bang has happened in a cause and effect scenario, where there are no random things.
This is what I believe MUST be the truth.

Also, if it truly was a random event it wouldn't have a cause, if it did it would be deterministic.

Also, if it truly was a random event it wouldn't have a cause, if it did it would be deterministic.
Dear octelcogopod,

this is where i feel copeled to remind you to get more information about our current theory on chaos. You work still in linear scenario. (not implying i know enough)

In chaos effects are not proportional to causes.

plus, determinism is about being able to UNIQUELY determine future state from current one. Once you cannot uniquely do just that, you are not deterministic. Therefore, random event can and do have cause!
Random/chaos being unpredictable, not uncaused!

But that makes no sense, at least to me.

If a ranom event does not have a cause, it cannot be determined from a previous state, if on the other hand it does have a cause, it CAN be determined, but you keep saying it cannot be determined, but does have a cause?
Hypothetically if there is a cause for an event, it is deterministic,.

How is that possible?
I'm also speaking hypothetically, not literally based on our current work in the labs/etc.

Pythagorean
Gold Member
octelcogopod said:
But that makes no sense, at least to me.

Maybe you're expectations of sense are what's complicating the subject for you?

I don't know if you're trying to tie this to human decision making or purely physical occurences, or if you use the assumption that all decisoin making are actually physical processes or what.

I can see where you'd argue that events we call chaos have a chance of having some hidden order to them, but I think there's some clever tests that have been passed. I trust that your doubt and question has been confronted by these theories in the scientific realm and peer review.

Even today, some countries with emporer's don't like the notion that their prophecies can't be true if there's randomness, and so don't allow modern cosmology to be taught if it threatens their political-religion basis for power to keep order.

I beleive that proving one way or the other is undecidable.