Thursday, July 19, 2012

Role of Randomness?

"The Oxford English Dictionary defines 'random' as "Having no definite aim or purpose; not sent or guided in a particular direction; made, done, occurring, etc., without method or conscious choice; haphazard." This concept of randomness suggests a non-order or non-coherence in a sequence of symbols or steps, such that there is no intelligible pattern or combination."
I lifted the above from Wikipedia.
So, if randomness were to have a role, then that role would be non-intelligible.  Truly this is enough said.  However, I will add a bit of practical explanation to bring the point home.
Every element in the event space of the universe has a cause.  How do I know?  Well, the Bible tells me so.  Ok, what about the cloud that is blown together in the shape of an elephant (“Fooled by Randomness” – Taleb)?  I say, what about it?  Am I being asked to believe that clouds form due to un-intelligible causes?  I don’t think so.  I think everyone accepts that there exists a set of deterministic forces that working together form clouds.  Am I being asked a purpose for the shape?  That it has a shape is a necessary condition for it being blown together.  No shape, no together.  That its shape evolves is a physical property of the fluid in which it is blown together.  None of the shapes it takes on in its life are the result of randomness.  Each is a result of the fluid dynamic present at the time the shape is formed.  The elephant shape fit the dynamic of the moment.  The elephant was not selected at random from a deck of shapes.  It was the only shape that fit the present dynamic.  There is nothing random here.  If we could grasp all the deterministic forces at play and know all the values of all the variables involved, then we could know exactly when, where, and why the shape of the elephant appeared.
And there you have it.  We use the term random if and only if we do not understand the dynamic of the forces involved.  It is another way to say:  “I don’t know how that happened.”  Used to be folks gave unashamed praise, honor, and glory to God Almighty for things not understood.  Now, we give it up for randomness.  Chance is the cause of things not understood.  As R.C. Sproul said:  “Not a chance!”
Again from Wikipedia:  "According to several standard interpretations of quantum mechanics, microscopic phenomena are objectively random. That is, in an experiment where all causally relevant parameters are controlled, there will still be some aspects of the outcome which vary randomly. An example of such an experiment is placing a single unstable atom in a controlled environment; it cannot be predicted how long it will take for the atom to decay; only the probability of decay within a given time can be calculated."
In other words; we don’t understand the dynamic.  If the physicists are suggesting that randomness IS the cause then they might just as well claim the Great Spaghetti Monster is pulling the strings.  Probability distributions have no power  They are an imaginary construct used as a proxy for true understanding.

1 comment:

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What a great post. I’m emailing this to my friends.