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Gerald O'brian

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What does random mean?

Don't you have to believe in chance to believe in randomness?
Why should it be physically possible for anything to be random?
Isn't randomness just the impossibily to access knowledge about what causes a phenomenon?

Topics: philosophy
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  • Oct 16 2012: "Isn't randomness just the impossibily to access knowledge..."
    Not so.
    If you have a lump of uranium, you know it is going to decay into other elements at a certain rate. However, even if you were to throw all the conceivable tests in the world at each atom, you'd never be able to predict which atom is going to decay next, or when exactly a particular atom is going to decay.

    The same goes for atoms in an exited state. When they electrons absorb energy, they jump to a higher orbital -- associated with a higher energy. The higher energy state is unstable, and the electrons will jump back to a lower energy state. Neither the best tests and nor theory can predict when exactly they will do so. They will jump back at a random point in time. (Except in lasers, where this jump back is "stimulated".)

    These two kinds of randomness are quite different from Poincaré's theory of chaos, where in an n-body case, the dynamics becomes very difficult to predict, and extremely sensitive to initial conditions. The same goes for a collision of 3 or more bodies at the same time. We cannot predict the outcome because even slight variations in the exact conditions of their collision will have drastically different outcomes. At least here, our theories are sufficient to predict what happens with each variation. It's just impossible to control or determine the conditions in practice.

    Coming to the the other two questions:
    "Don't you have to believe in chance to believe in randomness?"
    It is not a question of belief. It is a question of what we have seen, and the matter of the best theories of science that explain what we see, which have been remarkably successful at predicting how things are going to behave. When it comes to quantum physics, these outcomes have probabilities associated with them. However, quantum physics is remarkably accurate with these probabilities.

    Why should it be physically possible for anything to be random?
    Don't know. That's how things seem to be.
  • Oct 19 2012: The only thing one has to trust,
    whether it be a random mess
    or orderliness,

    (And this is a must)
    Is conjured up and then beckoned
    And always happens at the last second.
  • Oct 16 2012: Personally, when I use the word random, I am referring to a phenomenon that follows the known laws of probability. It is descriptive of results rather than cause.
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    Oct 19 2012: hello
  • Oct 17 2012: Shucks.
    I thought you all were talking about me :(
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      Oct 17 2012: Surely you've got something to say about this, eh?
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    Oct 16 2012: A random number generator generates numbers like a cage of ping pong balls generates a winning lottery number.

    This being said, there is MUCH evidence that human thought DOES influence the outcome of the numbers that a random numbers generator puts out. What does that do to random?
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      Oct 16 2012: i wonder what that "much" evidence would be
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      Oct 16 2012: Me too. Please reveal your evidence. And please, write it down. No youtube links allowed on my discussion!
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        Oct 17 2012: Well, if you don't want the simplified versions (videos) that show probabilities of this effect at more than a billion to one, here are some papers on the subject:

        http://noosphere.princeton.edu/papers/nelson-pp.pdf
        http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_21_2_mason.pdf
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          Oct 17 2012: Damn it! Damn those links! Why don't you just tell me to visit a library if I'm curious about anything!
          Tedlover, I was hoping you could explain things yourself, since you seem to understand them. You wouldn't be a TED lover if the entire forum was about pingponging back and forth links to articles. Imagine you're eating diner at my table, now. I'm eating, I don't want to get up and look for stuff on internet and read them for myself. My friends want to hear about this too. So be a gentleman and sum it up for the community. Make it yours.
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        Oct 17 2012: I got the impression that you wanted "evidence", because you asked me to "reaveal" my "evidence".

        If you want me to interpret for you, here goes:

        What the studies show is a greater than 1 in a billion chance of correlations of EGGs (that measure a theorized universal consciousness much as an EEG measures individual consciousness).

        Random numbers generators (RNGs) around the world continually sample for randomness and non-randomness in RNGs, and have found incredibly improbable non-randomness surrounding major events, such as 9/11 and others. (100 bits collected per second)

        What is not shown in those links are the studies where volunteers call into the test center and announce that they are now going to attempt to increase the non-randomness of either 0s or 1s of the RNG in the test center, and how long they will be concentrating on doing so. Results are indisputable. Intentional thoughts affect the RNG output.

        This is not "proof" of a unified field, but it is more "evidence" in favor of it.
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          Oct 17 2012: (Other people's explanations are not evidence anymore than your explanation)

          Alright, but this is not convincing. The science is missing from it. Can you explain how a thought interferes with a RNG, for instance?
          About the major events correlation, anything else happening in the cosmos on 9/11 that we're sure could not possibly have interfered with the results?
          All I'm saying is that you must either describe the phenomenum you believe in. Or, if the effect is known though not understood yet, then you must explain the efficiency of the experimental protocol.

          So far all of this is but astrology to mine ears.
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        Gail . 50+

        • +1
        Oct 17 2012: I didn't give you an opinion. I gave you specific scientific, peer-reviewed studies. You refused to read them, so I gave you my explanation - as opposed to my opinion. This is part of the research into whether or not mind affects reality. If you want to know about the experimental protocols, then read the research. As I said earlier, it's abundant. It's not possible to post them all or even in part in 2k characters or less. You're just trolling here. If it's all astrology to your ears, then that's because you choose to remain willfully ignorant. Your choice.
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          Oct 17 2012: Yet I've asked a lot trickier explanations from people on this forum. They didn't appear to have difficutly to reply, and remained courteous. It's going to take hours for me to read the articles that your links point to. It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I believe that summing it up and answering a few simple questions is your job.
          Summing up a theory in less than 2k characters is a great exercise and a way to see how well you understand what you're talking about.

          So far, you've given us facts and links towards explanations. If you can't help posting links, then next time give us explanations and links towards facts instead.
          You can do it!
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          Oct 18 2012: You win. I read it.
          Now I don't blame you for not summarizing these studies. It's a bunch of measurements and zero explanations. It's worthless as a theory about the mind or anything else.
          I could provide measurements that show side by side dog brain activity and cosmic ray activity and say that it was evidence that dogs have some kind of influence on cosmic rays.

          Yeah it's astrology.
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        Gail . 50+

        • +1
        Oct 18 2012: It's not a theory. I never suggested that this evidence is a theory and do not appreciate your contorting my words. It's evidence that tends to support a theory that is being explored by MANY fields of science - not just this one. It cannot support that theory on its own. It is too insignificant on its own. It's another piece of evidence when combined with MANY other studies about "mind". The research into "what is mind" is amazing and fascinating. Just as QM turns our notions of a mechanical universe on its head, so does research into "what is mind" turning our notions of WHAT a human is on its head.

        I do not deserve your derision. I'm well educated in the field and am aware of many types of studies being done in furtherance of the question of whether or not a theorized unified/quantum/morphic field exists. So far there is a lot of evidence that suggest that it does. A theory requires evidence. It does not require final proof, which is why we have theories of evolution and gravity rather than laws of evolution and gravity.

        But the initial question had to do with randomness. The studies I offered referred to your question as written. I did not intend to change the question and provide evidence for an entirely different question. If you wanted a different answer, you should have asked a different question.

        Your hateful bitterness (and that of the fundamentalist xtians here at TED) have caused me to reconsider my further involvement in it. Perhaps I have discovered why so many others who love learning have left this site.

        Those who are afraid of having their beliefs challenged by facts seem to have taken over TED and I'm sorely disappointed. I can assure you that this is my last response to any of your questions or comments.
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          Oct 18 2012: Whoa, you're pretty upset. Was it something I said?
          Perhaps Facebook is a more apropriate platform if we're just going to debate over icecream flavours.
          You put an idea on the table and I wanted to see the bottom of it. I can be a bit provocative, but I wouldn't say "hateful". And if you'd wanted to shut my big mouth, you could've done it the way almost everybody else does it on TED : with constructive arguments.

          Adios!
  • Oct 16 2012: 'Random' is something we don't have a patten for to be recognized as order. Randomness contains a hidden order, and we perceive disorder only because of our limited understanding of the complexity of the processes involved.
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      Oct 16 2012: Random is another word for mysterious...
      • Oct 17 2012: It can be, it depends upon the context. In scientific context the word ' chaos ' is maybe more appropriate ; in QM chaos is defined as 'order of infinite complexity'.
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    Oct 15 2012: If by "random" the intent is uncaused effects then it is wrong. There can be no uncaused effect. Everything, except God, is an effect because it has a cause.
    A random number generator makes instantaneous selections of individual numbers from a continuous stream of "jumbled" numbers.
    The absence of an apparent reason, or cause of something is not proof of randomness. It is proof of insuffiucient data.
    My answer is "random" means blind selection.
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      Oct 15 2012: Is there room for randomness in the concept of God, the only exception to causality? What's the religious view on this?
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        Oct 15 2012: I am only familiar with the God of the Bible and can tell you there is no room for randomness with him. As for the innumerable other gods I cannot say. Thank you Gerald!
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    Oct 15 2012: People use the word "random" differently. Some people use or understand the word "random" to suggest no underlying order. As you know, in science "random" does not suggest no underlying order. (The probability distribution for the random component is what I mean specifically by the underlying order).

    I don't think anyone knows, in truth, whether randomness is just how things look when we do not understand them fully or whether randomness is a real phenomenon.
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      Oct 15 2012: " how things look when we do not understand them fully "

      Perhaps random reffers to the only thing in physics worth calling the unknowable?
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        Oct 15 2012: I doubt that that is true.

        For example, when physicists call string theory untestable, it isn't, I believe, because of a notion of randomness implicit in it, but rather that something about the theory will never allow that theory to be practically distinguishable in a convincing way from competing theories. I don't think it is just a matter of inadequate scientific equipment.

        Alas, I am not a physicist. But I know someone to ask who can help me with this and I will report back.