The Existence Of Chance
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27-06-2011, 01:18 PM
The Existence Of Chance
I've been thinking a bit about the concept of chance and wether it actually exists or not, or if it's just a paradox.

Here's an extremely easy example: Bob throws the dice, his chances to throw a 6 are 1/6. After throwing about 100000 times Bob's able to see that he threw a 6 about 16520 times. So far we've acknowledged that after a high number of tries the results are starting to get close to the chance we've calculated.
However if we measure the force Bob uses, the speed and the rotation direction of the dice, combined with the friction of the environment, we could quite exactly predict what number he would throw. When something happened, due to the circumstances there was 100% chance it would happen the way it did, since every single aspect of the circumstances caused it to be so.
Now where am I getting with this? If everything happens because of it's circumstances, then there's no possibility of the existence of a chance different than 100%.

Another example: If you use a graph to calculate the amount of chance that you will meet someone who's exactly 1.80 m, you'll end up with 0 since there's an endless amount of points between 1.79 m and 1.81 m. However there has been a moment where a person who was about 1.79 m who grew to 1.81 m was exactly 1.80 m tall since he had to pass it while growing, which means that the chances of encountering someone who's exactly 1.80 m tall isn't 0 since there is a possibility in real life.

We can pretty much prove that the concept of chance isn't real since as far as we know everything happens because of it's circumstances, however experiments show us the opposite.

My question about this is simple, am I wrong somewhere? And what is your vision on this matter?

I'd figure i'd post it in science since I a bring up both math and physics, even though it's a bit philosophic as well. (I hope everyone understands what I mean, since I find it rather hard to explain this scientific stuff in English)
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27-06-2011, 01:34 PM
RE: The Existence Of Chance
This is actually very philosophical question. In physics it can all be explained and guessed with 100% accuracy, but when a human is throwing the dice, he can not calculate all that in short period of time, so for us it is chance, but for the physical, or computer-like view of throwing the dice, it is not chance, it is a mathematical thing. So "chance" is pretty much a point of view, but since that only interests us humans, then from our point of view there IS a "chance".

Quote:If everything happens because of it's circumstances, then there's no possibility of the existence of a chance different than 100%.

But when you can not control ALL the tinniest circumstances, then you have a "chance" of something happening and it is not 100%. It's all about how much of circumstances you control, the more you do, the batter chances you have.

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27-06-2011, 01:56 PM
RE: The Existence Of Chance
(27-06-2011 01:34 PM)Filox Wrote:  This is actually very philosophical question. In physics it can all be explained and guessed with 100% accuracy, but when a human is throwing the dice, he can not calculate all that in short period of time, so for us it is chance, but for the physical, or computer-like view of throwing the dice, it is not chance, it is a mathematical thing. So "chance" is pretty much a point of view, but since that only interests us humans, then from our point of view there IS a "chance".

Quote:If everything happens because of it's circumstances, then there's no possibility of the existence of a chance different than 100%.

But when you can not control ALL the tinniest circumstances, then you have a "chance" of something happening and it is not 100%. It's all about how much of circumstances you control, the more you do, the batter chances you have.

That it's a point of view, and therefor part of the human logic is indeed a possibility. From human perspective, we consider every relatively realistic scene (based on our knowledge) as a possibility, while there is only one possibility in the end.

Still though there is always a 100 chance that things will happen the way they will, it's just when our knowledge doesn't help us, or when things get too complicated for our minds to handle, that we rely on chances. So it's actually just a measurement of prediction-correctness?
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27-06-2011, 02:04 PM
RE: The Existence Of Chance
Even in a deterministic universe, the illusion of chance would still exist. Same with freewill.

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use." - Galileo

"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." - Voltaire
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27-06-2011, 03:52 PM
RE: The Existence Of Chance
(27-06-2011 02:04 PM)daemonowner Wrote:  Even in a deterministic universe, the illusion of chance would still exist. Same with freewill.

Yes, but the reason i find chance more interesting is because it has a mathematic/scientific background. It's not a mere illusion since it does work in practice but only in extreme numbers. While freewill isn't fully an illusion as well. Even if everything you do is determined by your physical status and how your environment has affected you. You still make that decision, because your are what you've become. Unless you think of yourself as only a consciousness.
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28-01-2013, 08:17 PM
RE: The Existence Of Chance
Well, given uncertainties in quantum mechanics, I don't think you could get to 100% (maybe, I'm not sure.) But given the technology, I guess you could calibrate a machine to roll a certain number with as close to a 100% chance as you can get.

Now, your assertion that everything is determined by its previous circumstances are not true, on the microscopic scale in quantum mechanics. There are truly random events which you cannot predict. This is a very confusing concept, and I still have this feeling that we could be missing something, but I've read from many sources that things truly are random. Therefore, chance does exist.


As for the 1.80m argument, I see your point, but technically, I don't know how arbitrarily small you can measure something (assuming an instrument that could measure to any scale, or an infinitely accurate measuring device.) Possibly, no person was exactly 1.80m tall. On the atomic scale, particles are constantly in motion, and I don't believe particle position is accurately defined at a small enough scale (possibly bad wording.) First, you have to define the "height" -- is it the longest vertical distance of atoms which are within the person's body? Well, you have to then define the body. What constitutes the body? Does a dead skin cell count? What about the countless atomic events that occur that make the measurement uncertain, as well as the body entity not truly defined accurately enough for this purpose? Does it have to be a perfectly vertical distance? If so, define your horizontal and vertical axes; the ground is not perfectly flat, especially on the atomic scale, and so the person will be standing on uneven ground. Also, your mass, the earth's mass, all the mass in the universe, your speed, etc. all contribute to the bending of spacetime. This might result in even the length "1.80m" being undefined (once again, I believe this is true, although i cannot claim so with absolute certainty.)! Furthermore, the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle
states that certain pairs of properties of particles cannot be known within a certain precision; for example, position and momentum. Even if you knew momentum as arbitrarily accurately (or inaccurately) as you could, you would still have an uncertainty in the position of the particles, which would make exact position impossible to measure (and thus make exactly 1.80m impossible to measure).

1.80m is a certain length. You do not necessarily have to reach it. If you're, say, 1.799999m tall (once again, height is not defined very exactly here) and I drop a skin cell on your head (suspension of many other variables for right now.) You might now be defined as 1.80000001m tall.

One more thing: I've heard that scientists believe space is quantized, and there is a certain minimum length called the Planck length, which is EXTREMELY tiny. The problem is that 1.80m might be impossible to achieve; for example, it could be an integer number of Planck lengths + .2 Planck lengths.

Take this: the meter is defined as "the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second." This is a certain length, and therefore an integer multiple of Planck lengths. 1.80 = 9/5; if this integer number of Planck lengths is not divisible by 5, then 1.80m is impossible.

I apologize if I'm being overly-technical here, but I thought it would be helpful to mention these things, as they really could influence the philosophical aspect of the problem as well.

The "0" possibility argument: mathematics says the probability of picking any real number out of the set of real numbers is exactly 0, although it is possible to choose it; working with infinity is quite tricky and confusing. Many of the things I have discussed so far are counter-intuitive, although very interesting. You were correct when you said the chance was zero, even though you could (assuming you really could, although I presented arguments for that not being well-defined) possibly reach 1.80m.

I hope this helps, and I didn't say anything that was inaccurate!

"Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned" - Anonymous
I am glad to live where there is no God, for I am moral, and mortal; I do not wish to worship He who crafts an immoral immortality.
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06-03-2013, 05:11 PM
RE: The Existence Of Chance
Quantum mechanics says that the universe is not deterministic and chance plays a fundamental role in it. By chance I mean real chance, not the illusion of chance due to our lack of information (like in the dice example).

We walk by faith, not by sight. Angel
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06-03-2013, 11:11 PM
RE: The Existence Of Chance
(06-03-2013 05:11 PM)Kreuzfel Wrote:  Quantum mechanics says that the universe is not deterministic and chance plays a fundamental role in it. By chance I mean real chance, not the illusion of chance due to our lack of information (like in the dice example).
Yep. The uncertainty principle is more than just not knowing with precision. There is a fundamental uncertainty in the natural world at the quantum scale with real uncertainty in the true state of the quantum system.

For those not familiar, look up the details of the double slit experiment that sends single electrons one at a time though a double opening. The summary of the result is that a single object, an electron, simultaneously exists in all possible states, allowing it to look as though the electron is at least in part going through both openings at the same time. And if we try to measure which one it goes through, once doing so the electron only goes through exactly one opening. The electron in this case looks to simultaneously exist in all possible states unless and until you measure it . This demonstrates true randomness, whereas in the dice example the randomness of which face of the die shows up is only random because we cannot calculate the result easily (though in principle we could calculate it).
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07-03-2013, 03:28 AM
RE: The Existence Of Chance
(06-03-2013 05:11 PM)Kreuzfel Wrote:  Quantum mechanics says that the universe is not deterministic and chance plays a fundamental role in it. By chance I mean real chance, not the illusion of chance due to our lack of information (like in the dice example).

I believe you are referring to Bell's theorem.

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07-03-2013, 05:23 PM
RE: The Existence Of Chance
(07-03-2013 03:28 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  
(06-03-2013 05:11 PM)Kreuzfel Wrote:  Quantum mechanics says that the universe is not deterministic and chance plays a fundamental role in it. By chance I mean real chance, not the illusion of chance due to our lack of information (like in the dice example).

I believe you are referring to Bell's theorem.
Exactly! Thumbsup

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