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# Does probability really exist?

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posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 07:27 AM
reply to post by Deaf Alien

Right. Now tell me what it averages out to?

An average is an average, it's not a chance. Discern the difference please.

I *might* agree with you that everything is determined. Forces might influence the toss right after you toss it. BUT it has NOTHING to do with probability.

OK, so the probability arise prior to the toss where nothing is actually occurring. It's illusory and disappears the minute you act upon the die.

Every and every day we see this manifest in our lives. It is our experience. We see it all the time.

I don't see illusory things, nor experience them. I may not understand an event or the cause to an effect, but despite unknowable at the time there is still a predetermined cause to the effect. Something preceded the effect, it's cause not an illusory probability of chance.

What we are talking about is mathematics.

No, we're talking about an illusory abstraction that arises by accepting only the initial variables in the equation as being the only variables applicable to the equation through the act of ignoring all subsequent extant variables that will occur once we act upon those initial variables themselves. That doesn't sound like math to me. I would never tell my kids that they can ignore the last two digits of a large number in a multiplication problem. What your describing is a method of stupidity, your simply dropping the applicable variables that are part of the equation.

The chance arises from the number of sides which is 6 sides.

Only if we don't act upon that die at all, once we do, it's chances collapses into one determinate side as the extant variables acting upon that die are applicable to the equation. It's faulty math to leave out all extant variables of an equation.

What you are talking about is determinism. The cause and effect. The universe might be deterministic.

...

Probability and statistics are branches of mathematics. They do not concern themselves with the cause and effect of the universe. They are based on experience, observation, and logic.

Determinism is a branch of philosophy.

Probability sounds more like a mathematical philosophy than it does as a mathematical proof. This probability is not observed, it's illusory. Probability is not experienced unless you ignore all extant variables that act upon the event experienced. Nor is it logical to ignore extant variables once the act of measuring occurs. Yet, determinism sounds more reasonable as it is experienced, observed and follows logic by accounting for all extant variables.

It doesn't matter if you ignore all the variables or not. "Chance" is a term we use when we do not know all the variables. You are correct in that aspect.

OK, so my assertion that it is illusory and non existent through the act of ignoring the extant variables is correct.

We can know all the variables or ignore them, but in the case of die rolling, it will average out with 1 in 6 "chance". See?

I fail to see that conclusion. If we take the variables into account, we get a determined side, not a probable side. There is no 1 in 6 chance, there is only one determinate side the die can land on when including the variables in the act of measuring. The chance only exists through either by not acting upon the die or by ignoring the extant variables applicable to the equation.

Many, many philosophers have struggled with this very question for millennia. Is the universe deterministic or not? Are all our actions set in stone? Is the universe truly random? Is there even such thing as "chance"?

This is more of a philosophy problem than mathematics.

If mathematics is going to discuss probabilities, then it is very much a problem of math as well. A problem that only exist by not acting upon or by ignoring all extant variables, and that is not math.

However, YOU or the researcher are the determining factor. You are the one who determines which side the die lays on.

Only if you ignore the variable of the table, or a gust of wind or anything else that acts upon the die once it leave my hand as the variable. Leaving out variables does not determine a chance, it determines and act of wishful idiocy.

Who or what caused you to be who you are or the position you are? Your parents? The environment? Now who caused them? And so on and on ad infinitum. What is the primary cause? What is the first cause?

See, it goes into philosophy, not mathematics.

That's a straw man though, I'm not discussing that aspect of determinism. Mathematics uses thing's like die rolling or coin tossing to "prove" probabilities and yet that "proof" only arises by not acting upon or by ignoring all extant variables and so thus the problem is just as much as maths as it is philosophy.

posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 03:46 PM

Originally posted by sirnex
reply to post by Deaf Alien

OK, so the probability arise prior to the toss where nothing is actually occurring. It's illusory and disappears the minute you act upon the die.

Partially. What if another actor causes a disturbance mid-flight? Any and all actions have to be factored-in till the object either come to a complete rest or, if not coming to rest, reaches a state where a reading is taken.

I may not understand an event or the cause to an effect, but despite unknowable at the time there is still a predetermined cause to the effect. Something preceded the effect, it's cause not an illusory probability of chance.

This is the philosophical element.

Everything that I've ever personally observed suggests the natural world is completely predetermined due to the laws of nature, conservation of energy and momentum. Even people are basically the sum-total of the experiences they encounter in the world outside them.

Imagine, for instance, if you were falling through space with no external mass, no light, absolutely nothing around you, and the only thing that exists is your conscious mind. Would you ever form language? Would you be able to imagine the color red? A cat? You'd likely be blank. What makes up a person internally first comes from the world outside of them and because of this humans are largely deterministic.

The curious part is that we have the ability to self-reflect and in that self-reflection we realize that we can start a thought and stop a thought. There is no easy way to determine the causal factor of this other than "will." This is the essence of randomness.

For example lets take the coin-flip model removing the physical coin, removing all participants, and put the entire game in your head. Now in your minds-eye tell yourself, "Pick heads or tails." Before you answer, completely empty your head of all thoughts and then following a minute or two of quietude make a selection.

After this ask yourself, "Did I have any advance knowledge that I was going to make a particular choice?" If not what was the causal element? This is the key question because you control everything when the game only exists in your mind. Was there something that led you to be biased?

The best that can be shown through science is that the thought manifests a second or two in advance but we see no data showing where it's coming from. It's spurious.

It seems in this one scenario the actor is creating or tapping new information / knowledge that wasn't there before-hand. This is important because as I attempted to outline previously probability is quantified in terms of knowledge, choice, & fairness. Yet in this scenario, where there's real potential for perfect knowledge and choice, we still don't see the outcome and the reason for this is exactly because we don't allow ourselves to pre-think the thought (i.e. :1st thought: I'm going to pick heads :2nd thought: heads!)

Assuming nothing can be created or destroyed I think this goes a long way to demonstrating that information precedes manifestation.

Mathematics uses thing's like die rolling or coin tossing to "prove" probabilities and yet that "proof" only arises by not acting upon or by ignoring all extant variables and so thus the problem is just as much as maths as it is philosophy.

Probability, as it relates to math, tells us the regularity with which something can and should happen in an unbiased & fair system like nature where the human participants lack perfect knowledge. It does this by measuring the number of "faces" of an object. Statistical analysis objectively demonstrates the truth of this mathematical regularity.

This is probability theory.

I think the problem here is one of definition because you're interpreting probability to mean randomness / chance; or perhaps you simply disagree with this theory because it doesn't account for what the odds might look like in an unfair system.

Your observation, which is correct, is that once all knowledge is gained (assuming the sentient actor has control) then the outcome is guaranteed. Unfortunately since we don't have perfect knowledge & control the result statistically averages out to the odds as computed using mathematical probabilistic functions.

If someone did have perfect knowledge and they weren't fair (fair being defined as making sure the odds mimic the number of faces) then the system will diverge and a new mathematical model is needed because the explicit constraints (fairness) have changed.

[edit on 17-12-2009 by Xtraeme]

posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 04:31 PM

you are hopeless to help.

Done with this thread its like talking to a wall...

have fun convincing your self your right I wont put you on ignore like the rest have.

waste of time and effort.

chow

posted on Dec, 17 2009 @ 09:59 AM

Partially. What if another actor causes a disturbance mid-flight? Any and all actions have to be factored-in till the object either come to a complete rest or, if not coming to rest, reaches a state where a reading is taken.

If any other factor acts upon the die, it's now a part of the equation. We can't simply ignore it, it's intricate to the system itself. So, if we start out with a die and never act upon that die, I can understand the 1 of 6 probability as it is alone without any other variables to account for. Yet, when we toss that die, we acquire other variables, regardless of the amount of sides of the die, those variables should be taken into account when determining a supposed probability. All extant variables will cause only one side to land, not a 1 of 6 chance of one side.

This is the philosophical element.

Everything that I've ever personally observed suggests the natural world is completely predetermined due to the laws of nature, conservation of energy and momentum. Even people are basically the sum-total of the experiences they encounter in the world outside them.

Imagine, for instance, if you were falling through space with no external mass, no light, absolutely nothing around you, and the only thing that exists is your conscious mind. Would you ever form language? Would you be able to imagine the color red? A cat? You'd likely be blank. What makes up a person internally first comes from the world outside of them and because of this humans are largely deterministic.

The curious part is that we have the ability to self-reflect and in that self-reflection we realize that we can start a thought and stop a thought. There is no easy way to determine the causal factor of this other than "will." This is the essence of randomness.

Yet it seems to me that if probability wants to hold itself up, it needs to take into account that philosophical phenomena. Simply ignoring all extant variables doesn't make something true.

For example lets take the coin-flip model removing the physical coin, removing all participants, and put the entire game in your head. Now in your minds-eye tell yourself, "Pick heads or tails." Before you answer, completely empty your head of all thoughts and then following a minute or two of quietude make a selection.

After this ask yourself, "Did I have any advance knowledge that I was going to make a particular choice?" If not what was the causal element? This is the key question because you control everything when the game only exists in your mind. Was there something that led you to be biased?

Good question, but without a full understanding of the brain or mind and how all it's various systems operate in concert with one another, we can't really use that as a honest valid thought experiment. In my opinion at least.

The best that can be shown through science is that the thought manifests a second or two in advance but we see no data showing where it's coming from. It's spurious.

It seems in this one scenario the actor is creating or tapping new information / knowledge that wasn't there before-hand. This is important because as I attempted to outline previously probability is quantified in terms of knowledge, choice, & fairness. Yet in this scenario, where there's real potential for perfect knowledge and choice, we still don't see the outcome and the reason for this is exactly because we don't allow ourselves to pre-think the thought (i.e. :1st thought: I'm going to pick heads :2nd thought: heads!)

Assuming nothing can be created or destroyed I think this goes a long way to demonstrating that information precedes manifestation.

That sounds like a correlation proves causation argument to me.

Probability, as it relates to math, tells us the regularity with which something can and should happen in an unbiased & fair system like nature where the human participants lack perfect knowledge. It does this by measuring the number of "faces" of an object. Statistical analysis objectively demonstrates the truth of this mathematical regularity.

This is probability theory.

Exactly, "where the human participants lack perfect knowledge"; So by not factoring in all extant variables, we get probability theory. I understand we can not always know all variables, but ignorance of the variables is no reason to conclude there is a probable chance of something happening.

I think the problem here is one of definition because you're interpreting probability to mean randomness / chance; or perhaps you simply disagree with this theory because it doesn't account for what the odds might look like in an unfair system.

What would an unfair system be?

Your observation, which is correct, is that once all knowledge is gained (assuming the sentient actor has control) then the outcome is guaranteed. Unfortunately since we don't have perfect knowledge & control the result statistically averages out to the odds as computed using mathematical probabilistic functions.

If someone did have perfect knowledge and they weren't fair (fair being defined as making sure the odds mimic the number of faces) then the system will diverge and a new mathematical model is needed because the explicit constraints (fairness) have changed.

Yet irregardless, only one side will land as determined by extant variables. Toss the die and that side is already determined, there is no probable side. It's starting to seem more and more that there is no real probabilistic function of nature.

posted on Dec, 17 2009 @ 02:50 PM

Originally posted by sirnex

If any other factor acts upon the die, it's now a part of the equation. We can't simply ignore it, it's intricate to the system itself. So, if we start out with a die and never act upon that die, I can understand the 1 of 6 probability as it is alone without any other variables to account for. Yet, when we toss that die, we acquire other variables, regardless of the amount of sides of the die, those variables should be taken into account when determining a supposed probability. All extant variables will cause only one side to land, not a 1 of 6 chance of one side.

The point of the physical sciences is to calculate all these other variables. The problem though is that we inevitably find choice factors in to everything, including wind in the environment, making it impossible for us to measure all scenarios because we don't control all elements; nor do we have perfect knowledge of why and when creatures make the decisions they do because this process is, as far as we can tell, transcendental. Therefore it's asymmetric and currently not measurable.

Yet it seems to me that if probability wants to hold itself up, it needs to take into account that philosophical phenomena. Simply ignoring all extant variables doesn't make something true.

I think the impasse here is due to a core misunderstanding of what mathematical probabilistic interpretation actually describes. If you would tell me how you evaluate the following scenario:

Test #1: Flip coin - comes up heads
Test #2: Flip coin - comes up heads
Test #3: Flip coin - comes up heads
Test #4: Flip coin - comes up heads

The best that can be shown through science is that the thought manifests a second or two in advance but we see no data showing where it's coming from. It's spurious.

It seems in this one scenario the actor is creating or tapping new information / knowledge that wasn't there before-hand. This is important because as I attempted to outline previously probability is quantified in terms of knowledge, choice, & fairness. Yet in this scenario, where there's real potential for perfect knowledge and choice, we still don't see the outcome and the reason for this is exactly because we don't allow ourselves to pre-think the thought (i.e. :1st thought: I'm going to pick heads :2nd thought: heads!)

Assuming nothing can be created or destroyed I think this goes a long way to demonstrating that information precedes manifestation.

That sounds like a correlation proves causation argument to me.

Not at all. Correlation allows for the construction of tests that then supports the argument for causation. The very basis on which science operates was articulated rather well quite some time ago by Karl Popper in his Logic of Scientific Discovery. You can never, ever prove a theory. All you can do is amass evidence that you think supports it. However, you can disprove a theory by providing evidence that contradicts it.

If you carefully review what I'm saying I'm arguing that (thought #1) does have a causal factor. That it is in fact not mystical. Disagreeing with this is actually buying in to the notion that the initial thought is magical and not quantifiable.

The only way to see that the thought pre-exists its being constructed requires that the information be available before hand. My point here is to say that basically all information has already been created and exists as sort of a fabric that we tap through our dendrites.

The argument of the world existing outside of you before the world being constructed inside of you shows how something like this might work.

I think the problem here is one of definition because you're interpreting probability to mean randomness / chance; or perhaps you simply disagree with this theory because it doesn't account for what the odds might look like in an unfair system.

What would an unfair system be?

Earlier I gave several cases to help explain how heads/tails probability deviates as we add more variables:

In Case #1b the person has selection and has knowledge of which card represents heads and tails. So the person will set the outcome, meaning statistically over-time if the person doesn't make arbitrary selection the average will factor out to something that isn't 50:50. If the person always chooses to win the odds will be guaranteed.

In Case #2a even if the player is cheating and he knows which card represents what, it doesn't matter because he doesn't get to select the card. The dealer does. So assuming the dealer is fair then the odds will average out to 50:50.

Yet irregardless, only one side will land as determined by extant variables. Toss the die and that side is already determined, there is no probable side.

Assuming the extant variables factor in the wind generated by butterflies flapping their wings and all other decisions that haven't been made yet occurring during the coin-flip; and if you change probable with subjectively probable or random, then this sentence is accurate.

Randomness defined as arbitrary with no observed reason or cause.

Alternately any problem that's too hard to compute in several lifetimes is random enough.

To better understand random here are a few definitions I've used in the past to better communicate with colleagues:
1. Without knowledge (of the game object or knowledge of nature or others that would be considered unfair) then control (or choice) is seen as randomness.
2. With knowledge then control (or choice) reflects fairness or unfairness.
3. Without control & with knowledge implies helplessness, because the individual can see what the object is and knows the game object's state but is unaware of which choice will be made.
4. No choice & no knowledge implies helplessness & randomness because the player can only guess at an answer because there's no data to help arrive at a conclusion. Also since the player has no control he's helpless to affect the outcome.

[edit on 17-12-2009 by Xtraeme]

posted on Dec, 21 2009 @ 01:22 PM
I do understand what you are saying.

If all the forces in nature is taken in account, then does probability really exist?

I will say it again: probability theory have nothing to do with it.

If you are talking about chance, then that's an entirely different matter.

In a newtonian universe, there is no such thing as chance. Everything has a cause and effect.

However, when you get to quantum mechanics, suddenly it isn't so clear.

Some particles are uncaused. And you have the uncertainty principle.

So basically, if you want to know the whole shebang, you cannot for now.

You might say that the ultimate theory is that everything is caused. But as of now, we cannot know. It's kinda like Godel's incompleteness theorem.

posted on Dec, 22 2009 @ 07:20 PM

I would say yes. I don't know much about computer programing but, the way I understand it is there is a program that governs the random number generator which uses and algorithm so knowing the algorithms used negates the randomness of the numbers.

posted on Dec, 24 2009 @ 08:49 AM
Okay, please correct me if anyone discovers an logical error but I some things crossed my mind after I went drinking with my maths teacher...

I asked, is there chance? Randomness? Coincidence?
And he said machines are never randomness generators. But in physics, coincidences exist. In non-locality phenomenons of quantum mechanics.
Maybe you remember that you can query on particle on one side of the planet and a particle it was connected to will respond as well, instantaneously apparently.
Here these two responses coincide because there is no linking chain of causality. A chain isn't even possible because they respond simultaneously, thus rendering an ascending chain of causality impossible between or above the two. This is non-locality, So, true coincidence is an event that isn't necessitated to coincide with another event. If there were a link of causlity it would be necessitated to, like an array of rigged dominoes. One thing leads to the next and no other outcome is possible and no contradiction can occur, thus probability only exists among non-locality phenomenon. You could also count miracles as coincidence because something seems miraculous if we can't trace the line of causality necessitating the occurance of an event. Thus we interpret it as devine intervention, the supernatural deus ex machina. But another funny thing is that thanks to locality, there's time because there's before and after. If everything was non-local, everything would happen at the same moment and time wouldn't exist because there would be no two states of existence that differ from each other. That leads me to think that a) probability is only real so long we can't make next to infinite conciderations as to how real-world factors might affect the outcome of some experiment. Think about the coin: Moisture, gravitational equilibrium, air-density and what-not that ultimately tells us what the coin falls like.
That's why we speak of mathematical probability because we massively reduce the rules that affect our physical space. There can't be something like probability in the real-world because that way two things might be as likely as each other, however only one is going to take place in reality. Schrödingers Cat is an example of what it looks like when different things are true at the same time, as for probability. The coin can't flip onto both sides, even though our probabilities are even and neither can it fall onto 1/18th head and 9/18th tail if these numbers corresponded with their mathematically calculated probabilities.
This is another proof why mathematics isn't a science.

Something else this means to me is that because the past can only be finite in length that at some point locality or causality didn't exist and the only thing that could have preceeded them would be non-locality or Instantaneousness. There must be a time when time wasn't a term because all states of existed were true at the same time.

This might be relevant to 2012 because terence Mckenna suggested that we might discover time-travel, thus explaining the massive singularity present in his proposed timewave patterns. But I'd like to think that this is also a legid suggestion that it'll be the literal "end of time"!

posted on Dec, 24 2009 @ 08:55 AM

Does Probability exist?

Probably.

--

The coin scenario.

Let's not just limit ourselves with the two most obvious answers.

--

Ok if we flip a coin, it has at least four outcomes. The two most likely outcomes of a coin toss = the obvious ones

Landing tails side up

-- and then we also have:

Landing on its side

Not Landing at all.

[edit on 24-12-2009 by mr-lizard]

posted on Dec, 24 2009 @ 09:01 AM

Originally posted by Deaf Alien

Ok run an experiment. Throw it 1000 or more times. Throw it in a windy days. On the most bumpy table. Whatever.

Then tell me what the probability is.

I do not understand the disagreement?

A perfect die (ie no weighted sides, smooth, etc) has 6 sides. Logic says that it will land on any of those 6 sides. HENCE 1 in 6 chance. Unless it lands on the corner and stand still. That would be astronomical!

Actually the environemnt is relevant. Imagine you scientifically recreate the experiment everytime- same force, same air-density, same positioning of the die at the beginning- wouldn't be similiar outcomes more likely? The forces of nature are deterministic but I actually believe that renders probability useless because no other than the eventual outcome is possible and therefore the probabilities equal zero. But it takes long to calculate an event until it's no longer random and unpredictable.

posted on Oct, 17 2010 @ 05:51 AM
It is a logical conclusion that probability is the result of underlying deterministic variables, even quantum probability. But the question is, can anything about these variables be known in our universe? If cant, then what difference does it make to disregard them and say quantum world is inherently random? The description of our world would be the same, so hidden variables become unneeded and arbitrary by Occams Razor.
The question of coin-toss variable is simple, it is deterministic, we simply dont know all the variables, but if we wanted and had the resources to, its theoretically possible to predict the side exactly. But predicting the outcome of quantum "coin-toss" is not possible in theory, because there is no way, no experiment or measurement to determine the hidden variables, at least from our side of the universe.

posted on Oct, 17 2010 @ 11:51 AM

Originally posted by Maslo
It is a logical conclusion that probability is the result of underlying deterministic variables, even quantum probability. But the question is, can anything about these variables be known in our universe? If cant, then what difference does it make to disregard them and say quantum world is inherently random? The description of our world would be the same, so hidden variables become unneeded and arbitrary by Occams Razor.
The question of coin-toss variable is simple, it is deterministic, we simply dont know all the variables, but if we wanted and had the resources to, its theoretically possible to predict the side exactly. But predicting the outcome of quantum "coin-toss" is not possible in theory, because there is no way, no experiment or measurement to determine the hidden variables, at least from our side of the universe.

The sake of accuracy in describing reality is what determines it's importance to me. Regardless of not knowing a particular set of variables that influence an event does not make the event itself random, so why or in what right frame of mind would I call it random? Why would I talk about probabilities if only one outcome would occur regardless of knowing all extant variables? It's simply delusional in my opinion as no randomness nor probability even exists, just actions we don't fully account for when describing these things.

posted on Aug, 31 2013 @ 07:08 AM

Originally posted by sirnex
I was thinking about probabilities the other day, especially the coin example where a coin has a fifty/fifty probability of landing on either heads or tails; But then it dawned upon me that this probability is hampered right from the beginning. The fifty/fifty probability only takes into account two variables, that being the heads side and the tails side.

Incorrect. The probability of a coin-toss giving heads and tails 50/50 has as a prerequisite that the toss isn't rigged.
It is only a little rocket science to build such a machine. The more flips you expect the coin to make in the air, the more difficult it gets to build it.

If you have an enough imperfect machine (like a human being not attempting anything specific) the outcome will be completely random. And since there are only two outcomes and since the coin is shaped like it is, the chances will be 50/50.

This ignores all other variables, such as force of the flip, wind speed and direction

Quite the contrary. It's exactly what it is dependent on. If none of the above change (nor anything else), then the probability won't be 50/50.

I can think of a bunch of different variables that play a huge effect on the so called probability of a coin landing on one of two sides.

Can't we all?

This was just a quick thought, perhaps I just don't understand probabilities as well as I thought I did. If not, then can someone explain it to me a little better so I can learn more.

Probabilities tell us the combined result of all variables that cause something to behave differently each time. In other words, it inherently takes into account all the things you said it didn't.

posted on Sep, 2 2013 @ 10:15 AM

There is one loop-hole, and this is when you make your measurements - if you look at the result before the coin is flipped, it is improbable that you can read the actions of the person flipping the coin, or if, indeed, the person flipping the coin even understands the variables of physics that determine the result.

In that sense, it is "unpredictable" from the "point of observation"

Likewise, and obviously, after the coin is flipped you are able to observe how physics determined the coin's position.

Lets not also forget about other unexpected variables, that are generally outside of laboratory conditions.

posted on Oct, 5 2013 @ 09:36 PM

I never did believe completely, that "double slit" experiment.

If the material the slits were made in were greater than the thickness of a photon, the particles could easily deflect off the inside edges of the "slits" as well. My thinking, anyways.......

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