Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby hyksos on March 29th, 2017, 12:37 pm 

mitchellmckain » March 28th, 2017, 9:38 pm wrote:The conclusions of quantum physics is a long standing disagreement between me and Dave. I have told him before that his arguments in opposition to the conclusions of science sound just like the "god of the gaps" type arguments we hear from creationists. It is perfect nonsense to hope for a rescue of physical determinism in the unmeasurability in the Plank scale for science has already demonstrated that hidden variables simply do not exist.

It turns out there are two major `avenues` regarding Hidden Variables.
  • (1) An attempt to explain entanglement as a result of a sub-luminal signalling between the separated systems. We can call this the "Loophole avenue".
  • (2) An attempt to solidify determinism back into a central place in physics, mostly by demanding that physical systems actually occupy a particular state prior to measurement. We can refer to this as the "Objectivity avenue".
It is very likely that mitchellmckain was referring to (2)Objectivity avenue. But it is not clear from his posts this is what he meant, and I won't pretend to speak for him.

Wikipedia is not for learning, but there is a pretty good article on the Kochen-Specker theorem. Whoever wrote that article uses different verbiage than me. They call topic (1) by the name non-locality. They call topic (2) by the name non-contextuality.

Topic (1) (i'm calling it Loophole avenue) were people who disregarded the experimental findings of entanglement performed in controlled lab conditions. In each experiment, the naysayers always said that some signalling mechanism could have been present that was not properly measured, not measured, or not accounted for. Over the decades these came to be known as "loopholes". It wasn't until like 2011 that a "Loophole free" experiment was performed to validate Bell's inequalities. I'm digressing here.

This thread is a fork from Dave_O's big popular thread on The Mathematical Universe.

viewtopic.php?f=51&t=30776

There are some lingering claims being made that quantum mechanics and randomness which are either unsubstantiated or unclear. Regarding topic (2) , a physical system having no particular objective state does not entail that its measurement at some time in the future must therefore be random. "Random" is not the same claim as "having no state prior to". Let me give a very concrete example which should demonstrate the difference between "has no state prior" and "is random".

Say that I'm a farmer who operates a magical quantum orchard, where I grow pear trees. Every time I grow a new ree , the color of the pears is not known ahead of time. But then when the first fruiting happens, I can verify the color of the pears. I know that there is no particular objective state of any physical system which determines their color ahead of that time, but the color becomes objectively real at the time of first fruiting. Later on, I see that the pears in every third tree that I grow are red. This pattern repeats exactly like this. Two trees are green pears, and then 1 red, then two green. The pattern is GGRGGRGGR...

I cannot say that, after having manifest as real, that there is no pattern in the colors and they are necessarily random. They are clearly not random. Nevertheless, I can still say that there is no objective state within the universe which would determine their color. While the color is uncaused in every tree, the pattern is not random after continual rollout into objectivity.

This is identical to what QM actually shows in diffraction experiments. The location of any 1 photon is said to be "uncaused", but the pattern they form on the collection plate is far from random. If I send thousands of photons, they cluster into definite interference fringes. This is analogous to the GGR-GGR pattern of the pear trees.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby hyksos on March 29th, 2017, 12:42 pm 

For the curious reader who wants to go deeper than pear color, here is a dense article on quantum observables that do or do not `commute` : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kochen%E2%80%93Specker_theorem
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby mitchellmckain on March 29th, 2017, 2:01 pm 

hyksos » March 29th, 2017, 11:37 am wrote:
mitchellmckain » March 28th, 2017, 9:38 pm wrote:The conclusions of quantum physics is a long standing disagreement between me and Dave. I have told him before that his arguments in opposition to the conclusions of science sound just like the "god of the gaps" type arguments we hear from creationists. It is perfect nonsense to hope for a rescue of physical determinism in the unmeasurability in the Plank scale for science has already demonstrated that hidden variables simply do not exist.

It turns out there are two major `avenues` regarding Hidden Variables.
  • (1) An attempt to explain entanglement as a result of a sub-luminal signalling between the separated systems. We can call this the "Loophole avenue".
  • (2) An attempt to solidify determinism back into a central place in physics, mostly by demanding that physical systems actually occupy a particular state prior to measurement. We can refer to this as the "Objectivity avenue".
It is very likely that mitchellmckain was referring to (2)Objectivity avenue. But it is not clear from his posts this is what he meant, and I won't pretend to speak for him.

Primarily, but I frankly don't see much difference between the two. I was referring to the proposal by Einstein and company as an explanation for quantum physics which was refuted by the experiments showing that Bell's inequality was violated.

hyksos » March 29th, 2017, 11:37 am wrote:Wikipedia is not for learning, but there is a pretty good article on the Kochen-Specker theorem. Whoever wrote that article uses different verbiage than me. They call topic (1) by the name non-locality. They call topic (2) by the name non-contextuality.

Topic (1) (i'm calling it Loophole avenue) were people who disregarded the experimental findings of entanglement performed in controlled lab conditions. In each experiment, the naysayers always said that some signalling mechanism could have been present that was not properly measured, not measured, or not accounted for. Over the decades these came to be known as "loopholes". It wasn't until like 2011 that a "Loophole free" experiment was performed to validate Bell's inequalities. I'm digressing here.

All part of the scientific process of checking up on previous results which ends up accumulating more and more evidence for the claims of science.

hyksos » March 29th, 2017, 11:37 am wrote:There are some lingering claims being made that quantum mechanics and randomness which are either unsubstantiated or unclear. Regarding topic (2) , a physical system having no particular objective state does not entail that its measurement at some time in the future must therefore be random. "Random" is not the same claim as "having no state prior to". Let me give a very concrete example which should demonstrate the difference between "has no state prior" and "is random".

No such confusion is involved. The randomness is not in the superposition state itself but in the decoherence of the superposition state. The Bell inequality experiments showed (by implication) that there are no hidden variables to completely determine the state after decoherence.

hyksos » March 29th, 2017, 11:37 am wrote:Say that I'm a farmer who operates a magical quantum orchard, where I grow pear trees. Every time I grow a new ree , the color of the pears is not known ahead of time. But then when the first fruiting happens, I can verify the color of the pears. I know that there is no particular objective state of any physical system which determines their color ahead of that time, but the color becomes objectively real at the time of first fruiting. Later on, I see that the pears in every third tree that I grow are red. This pattern repeats exactly like this. Two trees are green pears, and then 1 red, then two green. The pattern is GGRGGRGGR...

I cannot say that, after having manifest as real, that there is no pattern in the colors and they are necessarily random. They are clearly not random. Nevertheless, I can still say that there is no objective state within the universe which would determine their color. While the color is uncaused in every tree, the pattern is not random after continual rollout into objectivity.

This is identical to what QM actually shows in diffraction experiments.

Incorrect this is NOT identical to what QM shows in diffraction experiments. What diffraction shows is more like a random distribution of the two types of trees and the pattern is only revealed in the averages which shows bands of higher density green alternating with bands of a higher density of red. The point is that the probability distribution and thus the pattern densities is determined but the individual result of each individual tree (photon in the diffraction experiment) is not determined and there are no hidden variables to explain what individual photons will do, and this quite aside from the factors determining the overall pattern.

hyksos » March 29th, 2017, 11:37 am wrote:The location of any 1 photon is said to be "uncaused", but the pattern they form on the collection plate is far from random. If I send thousands of photons, they cluster into definite interference fringes. This is analogous to the GGR-GGR pattern of the pear trees.

Incorrect. There was never any claim that there is no physical determinism in quantum mechanics or than all quantum events are 100% random. That would make QM a useless scientific theory. It is a marvelously successful theory because it predicts so much with superb accuracy. But within the accuracy of the probability distributions it correctly predicts is an individual behavior which is not only not predicted but which has been shown has no hidden variables to determine it.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby hyksos on March 29th, 2017, 3:14 pm 

> The point is that the probability distribution and thus the pattern densities is determined but the individual result of each individual tree

" ... the pattern densities is determined... "

You heard it here, folks.

> but the individual result of each individual tree (photon in the diffraction experiment) is not determined and there are no hidden variables to explain what individual photons will do,

Right. And I already said that the pear color is not determined. That does not entail random sequence of colors in the pattern of colors measured over time.

> There was never any claim that there is no physical determinism in quantum mechanics or than all quantum events are 100% random.

The 100% random systems have to be carefully prepared by cooling cesium atoms down to nanokelvin temperatutes in laser traps. When the size of the distributions over the atom's location go into a two-peak mode, you can say that the atom is in a superposition. When the difference between the peaks falls below the Heisenberg uncertainty, we declare that the measurement would produce a truly random coin flip. (Some authors go as far as saying the atom is in "two places at the same time". Not that I agree with that interpretation).

In almost all 'naturally occurring' systems, the particles will cluster in predictable patterns around the "true value" of the Schroedinger Wave. In the other thread, it was being suggested there are incomputable numbers, and the lingering suggestion was that physical systems could produce them "because quantum mechanics is random." But only in prepared systems, and once the superposition is decohered, the grad students have to prepare it back into that state again.

I mean -- it's not as if there is an angel with an "Oracle Bucket" who is constantly dumping the digits of Chaitin's Constant into our universe from without.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby mitchellmckain on March 31st, 2017, 3:15 pm 

hyksos » March 29th, 2017, 2:14 pm wrote:
> The point is that the probability distribution and thus the pattern densities is determined but the individual result of each individual tree

" ... the pattern densities is determined... "

You heard it here, folks.

Yes. This is why physics on the macroscopic scale is deterministic. The problem is that indeterminism on the quantum scale does effect the direction of events on the large scale in many situations. So even though on the large scale everything follows deterministically from previous conditions, some of those previous conditions come from events on the quantum scale where not everything is determined. This is exactly what happens in one of these quantum experiments. A measurement decoheres a quantum superpostion and the resulting state of the quantum object effects the behavior of billions of trillions of electrons in the measuring equipment to display the result for our eyes to see.

Schrodinger's book "What is life?" tried to argue this was not the case and that all quantum indeterminacy averaged out to no effect. The problem is that after this book was written we hit the chaos science revolution where we found that our habit of approximating nonlinear differential equations with linear differential equations was badly misleading us about the nature of the universe. Illya Prigogine prove that with non-linear equations you often cannot predict the outcome unless you specify the initial conditions to an infinite degree of precision and that means quantum effects certainly will effect the outcome of large scale events.

hyksos » March 29th, 2017, 2:14 pm wrote:
> but the individual result of each individual tree (photon in the diffraction experiment) is not determined and there are no hidden variables to explain what individual photons will do,

Right. And I already said that the pear color is not determined. That does not entail random sequence of colors in the pattern of colors measured over time.

Incorrect. It does give a random sequence and only the probability distribution is determined (i.e. that you get more red than green in some areas and more green than red in other areas).

hyksos » March 29th, 2017, 2:14 pm wrote:
> There was never any claim that there is no physical determinism in quantum mechanics or than all quantum events are 100% random.

The 100% random systems have to be carefully prepared by cooling cesium atoms down to nanokelvin temperatutes in laser traps. When the size of the distributions over the atom's location go into a two-peak mode, you can say that the atom is in a superposition. When the difference between the peaks falls below the Heisenberg uncertainty, we declare that the measurement would produce a truly random coin flip. (Some authors go as far as saying the atom is in "two places at the same time". Not that I agree with that interpretation).

It is not an interpretation. It is a fact of physics. It is how quantum tunneling occurs (electrons in two places at the same time) and it is due to this that the transistors in our electronics works.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby hyksos on April 9th, 2017, 9:18 pm 

Incorrect. It does give a random sequence and only the probability distribution is determined (i.e. that you get more red than green in some areas and more green than red in other areas).

If you are going to use the phrase "random sequence" to refer to a sequence in which there are "more red than green in some areas" , then that's a stretch of the meaning of those words.

Furthermore, if that is your working definition of "random", then that kind of randomness can easily be computed on a computer.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby mitchellmckain on April 10th, 2017, 12:29 pm 

hyksos » April 9th, 2017, 8:18 pm wrote:
Incorrect. It does give a random sequence and only the probability distribution is determined (i.e. that you get more red than green in some areas and more green than red in other areas).

If you are going to use the phrase "random sequence" to refer to a sequence in which there are "more red than green in some areas" , then that's a stretch of the meaning of those words.

Furthermore, if that is your working definition of "random", then that kind of randomness can easily be computed on a computer.


It appears you need to take a basic class in probability where you learn you can have randomness in any number of different probability distributions. One of the first examples you learn are those of dice. If you roll a pair of dice not all the sums of two dice occur with equal probability (a sum of seven occurs 6 times more often than a 12). Of course if your disbelief in randomness is an ideological stubbornness then convincing you of randomness in the world is as hopeless as convincing a creationist of evolution and I will stop wasting my time.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby someguy1 on April 10th, 2017, 2:44 pm 

mitchellmckain » April 10th, 2017, 10:29 am wrote:Of course if your disbelief in randomness is an ideological stubbornness then convincing you of randomness in the world is as hopeless as convincing a creationist of evolution and I will stop wasting my time.


Otherwise you'll continue wasting your time?
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby hyksos on April 10th, 2017, 4:05 pm 

Of course if your disbelief in randomness is an ideological stubbornness then convincing you of randomness in the world is as hopeless as convincing a creationist of evolution and I will stop wasting my time.

What do I "believe"? If you want to bring "belief" into this conversation, then I will tell you what I "believe".

The discipline of quantum mechanics has you take an integral around a volume of space to obtain a probability that an electron will appear there. This is the so-called Born Rule -- if you integrate over a probability density , you gain a probability. Then (for some unknown reason) actual physical electrons act according to that probability. Maybe somewhere in that procedure, your professor tells you to "assume a normally-distributed random variable. That assumption makes your homework digestable and efficiently solvable down to an observable quantity. Good for your. Pedagogy works.

since I'm on the subject : What else do I "believe"? I believe you have taken this integrating procedure on the chalkboard, and elevated it to a metaphysical pedestal of your own making. Now you run around the internet pretending like your homework problems in PHYS634 "proves" that the world is random. Okay. So that is your opinion.

...your opinion, no?
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby hyksos on April 10th, 2017, 4:21 pm 

It appears you need to take a basic class in probability where you learn you can have randomness in any number of different probability distributions. One of the first examples you learn are those of dice. If you roll a pair of dice not all the sums of two dice occur with equal probability (a sum of seven occurs 6 times more often than a 12).

This is (another) strawman. I clearly indicated that dice sums involve a random process. Try to read and respond to what I actually wrote, please.

I clearly said that the type of randomness seen in dice roll sums is easily computed on a computer. I did not deny it was randomness, and that is what you heard an invisible strawman say, not me. In fact I even underlined the phrase "that kind" when I wrote:

Here:
Furthermore, if that is your working definition of "random", then that kind of randomness can easily be computed on a computer.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby Braininvat on April 10th, 2017, 4:25 pm 

Anyone here read Fuchs or Mermin (or other QBists)? Here's a little intro for beginners.....

https://www.wired.com/2015/06/private-view-quantum-reality/
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby mitchellmckain on April 10th, 2017, 5:05 pm 

Braininvat » April 10th, 2017, 3:25 pm wrote:Anyone here read Fuchs or Mermin (or other QBists)? Here's a little intro for beginners.....

https://www.wired.com/2015/06/private-view-quantum-reality/


I believe this QB interpretation reduces to hidden variable theory. Any denial of an actual superpostion makes reality itself a hidden variable determining the results of decoherence.

The Bohmian interpretation is more legitimate since at least it is honest in recognizing that it discards the basic premises of Bell's inequality, but it also explains why this is rather hard for the scientific community to take it very seriously. These premises are the working premises of scientific inquiry itself for nearly a century.

The only really robust alternative interpretation to the Copenhagen interpretation is the Everett one, and frankly it agrees on the essentials. I believe it can easily be understood as simply looking at things from a different perspective, because its "other worlds" are as philosophical and insubstantial as possible futures.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby someguy1 on April 10th, 2017, 5:13 pm 

hyksos » April 10th, 2017, 2:21 pm wrote:This is (another) strawman. I clearly indicated that dice sums involve a random process.


I'm ignorant of physics and have a question about what you mean when you say that dice sums are random.

To simplify, let's just consider one die at a time. And to further simplify, let's just consider a single toss of a reasonably fair physical coin. That is, a real coin and not an abstract conceptual coin.

A coin toss is a macroscopic event subject to the laws of classical physics. Under laboratory conditions where you can precisely control the initial position of the coin and the force imparted to it, coin tosses turn out to be predictable. If it were otherwise it would be a real surprise, wouldn't it? It makes perfect sense that coin tosses are deterministic under classical physics.

When we say that the odds of heads are 1/2, we are actually talking about the state of our knowledge. A coin toss is 50-50 because we don't know enough about its initial position and the thumb force. If we had reasonably good knowledge of those factors, coin tosses would be predictable.

In other words, probability is a measure of our state of knowlege of a future event; and is not inherent in the event itself.

With this understanding, it does not seem to me that the roll of a pair of dice is inherently random; only that we don't have sufficient information about the initial position and imparted force.

By the way a dramatic illustration of this idea was the work of the Eudemons in the 1970's. They analyzed roulette wheels and figured out how to gain a small advantage based on the mechanical irregularities inherent in any physical device. They built the world's first wearable computers and won money in casinos, until the casinos caught up with them. In other words: A roulette wheel, being a macroscopic physical system, is not random at all.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eudaemons

In the context of what I've written, can you explain what you mean by a dice sum being random? Aren't we really just saying that we lack sufficient control over the experimental conditions?
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby Braininvat on April 10th, 2017, 5:23 pm 

When we say that the odds of heads are 1/2, we are actually talking about the state of our knowledge. A coin toss is 50-50 because we don't know enough about its initial position and the thumb force. If we had reasonably good knowledge of those factors, coin tosses would be predictable.

In other words, probability is a measure of our state of knowlege of a future event; and is not inherent in the event itself.


The brotherhood of quantum Bayesians welcomes you.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby Braininvat on April 10th, 2017, 5:32 pm 

mitchellmckain » April 10th, 2017, 2:05 pm wrote:
Braininvat » April 10th, 2017, 3:25 pm wrote:Anyone here read Fuchs or Mermin (or other QBists)? Here's a little intro for beginners.....

https://www.wired.com/2015/06/private-view-quantum-reality/


I believe this QB interpretation reduces to hidden variable theory. Any denial of an actual superpostion makes reality itself a hidden variable determining the results of decoherence.



Not sure what you mean by "reduces" to a HVT. QBism asserts that a quantum state is not an element of reality—instead it represents the degrees of belief an agent has in the outcomes of measurements. The theory is associated with a kind of realism QBists call "participatory realism", wherein reality consists of more than can be captured by any third person version of it. We have a theory of our expectations, rather than of a reality that is "out there." Perhaps it is not "robust" in the way that you mean, but I don't think it is anti-realist, either.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby mitchellmckain on April 10th, 2017, 5:36 pm 

someguy1 » April 10th, 2017, 4:13 pm wrote:
hyksos » April 10th, 2017, 2:21 pm wrote:This is (another) strawman. I clearly indicated that dice sums involve a random process.


I'm ignorant of physics and have a question about what you mean when you say that dice sums are random.

For the most part in probability theory, dice rolls are simply assumed to be random. But whether this is real randomness or simply epistemological is a difficult question especially if it is a human being who rolls the dice.

Even when you are only discussing the mechanics of motion, the answer is not entirely clear because even mechanical problems can get nonlinear real fast as is demonstrated by the well known three body problem. But it would not be too difficult to imagine that with all the data on the tragectory and rotation of the dice as well as the exact microscopic surfaces of the dice and what they are rolled upon, that dice rolls might be calculated predictably, but as far as I know nobody has been able to do anything like this or build a machine to roll dice in a determined way.

However, with a human rolling the dice then you bring in the vastly greater complexity of a human body and thus make it highly likely that non-linear equations are involved which amplify the indeterminacy of the quantum nature of reality.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby mitchellmckain on April 10th, 2017, 5:44 pm 

Braininvat » April 10th, 2017, 4:32 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain » April 10th, 2017, 2:05 pm wrote:
I believe this QB interpretation reduces to hidden variable theory. Any denial of an actual superpostion makes reality itself a hidden variable determining the results of decoherence.



Not sure what you mean by "reduces" to a HVT. QBism asserts that a quantum state is not an element of reality—instead it represents the degrees of belief an agent has in the outcomes of measurements. The theory is associated with a kind of realism QBists call "participatory realism", wherein reality consists of more than can be captured by any third person version of it. We have a theory of our expectations, rather than of a reality that is "out there." Perhaps it is not "robust" in the way that you mean, but I don't think it is anti-realist, either.


I still don't see how this changes anything. I still see it as requiring Bell's inequality to hold, because if the superposition is not real and reality determines the result, then the correlation should still be there. Now if you could mathematically demonstrate that the QB model violates Bell's inequality then that would be a different matter. But I think burden of proof is for supporters of QB to show this.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby Braininvat on April 10th, 2017, 6:00 pm 

I don't know how useful this, by Mermin, is...I have to reread it myself.

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1409.2454.pdf

It attempts to answer the question, what would John Bell have thought of QBism?

It's tricky stuff, when the laboratory observer is made an "agent," and I'm not sure how far I go along with the idea that QB solves the problems of nonlocality. It seems kind of like Instrumentalism to me, but QBists insist that it ISN'T, so I'm still trying to work that out.

Also, there's Mermin on QBism and the famous Problem of the Now.....

http://www.nature.com/news/physics-qbism-puts-the-scientist-back-into-science-1.14912

This might be a little clearer on how QBism seeks to restore the subjective aspect of measurements, and ensuing predictions.
Last edited by Braininvat on April 10th, 2017, 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: typos abounding
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby mitchellmckain on April 10th, 2017, 6:17 pm 

Braininvat » April 10th, 2017, 5:00 pm wrote:I don't know how useful this, by Mermin, is...I have to reread it myself.

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1409.2454.pdf

It attempts to answer the question, what would John Bell have thought of QBism?

It's tricky stuff, when the laboratory observer is made an "agent," and I'm not sure how far I go along with the idea that QB solves the problems of nonlocality. It seems kind of like Instrumentalism to me, but QBists insist that it ISN'T, so I'm still trying to work that out.


Hmmm... the presumption of the article is that this is in much the same category as Everett's interpretaton and when I checked the Wikipedia chart on quantum interpretations I see it does agree on the same points INCLUDING giving an answer of no to determinism. In this case, I see no reason not to withdraw my objection and I would thus fall into the same category of those who do not see any substantial difference from the Copenhagen interpretation. In generally I see such interpretations as nothing more than pictures or visualizations rather than hard physics.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby hyksos on April 11th, 2017, 2:05 pm 

Quantum mechanics gives us a procedure to "turn the crank" on an equation to produce a so-called observable quantity. We have seen for decades that the fundamental particles comprising matter and energy act in strict accordance with those calculated observables. There are several confusions , conflations, and miscommunications happening here at the same time.

(I am not a naysayer myself. I am trying to make this conversation more clear by telling the forum what the naysayers did say for many decades. There is a tiny glimmer of hope that somebody on this forum will stop pigeonholing me as one.)

  • The naysayers were not denying the physical results of entanglement. They agreed with the data showing the two particles having a correlated states above-and-beyond chance. They agree the particles are "connected" somehow.
  • Hidden Variable Theorists were supposing to explain these correlations by invoking a yet unmeasured, un-seen communication signals propagating locally between the particles.
  • Philosophically, the quantum naysayers were trying to revive an interpretation of physics called Local Realism.

In an attempt to clear up the miscommunications, obscurity, and general anti-social atmosphere created by certain user (cough), I enumerate :

  • While the mathematical formalism of QM supposes a uniformly-distributed random variable somewheres in the back ends of its calculation -- that is done merely formally to appease and help along the calculations. There is no reason to raise such formal chalkboard tactics to the level of metaphysical truth.
  • Bell's Inequalities disproves Local Realism. Agreed.
  • Bell's Inequalities do not, in any way, prove the existence of incomputable randomness in the physical universe. Whether mitchellmckain has an opinion on that topic is rather besides the point. The sentence is factual.
  • Maybe there really is incomputable randomness in the universe we live in !! But --> the formalism of QM is silent on this topic. Bell's Inequalities don't get you there either.

And anyone on this forum (cough) who denies the above points -- should begin to explain himself real quick.

"Go read it yourself" is not an explanation.

"Look up Bell's Inequalities" is not an explanation.

And "I'm taking my ball and going home" does not an acceptable explanation make.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby Braininvat on April 11th, 2017, 3:35 pm 

In an attempt to clear up the miscommunications, obscurity, and general anti-social atmosphere created by certain user (cough), I enumerate :


Hyksos, first I would advise you get some cough syrup or lozenges. Second, your snarking about other users is, in its own way, a contribution to the alleged anti-social atmosphere. Everyone, as the great Feynman pointed out, struggles when it comes to understanding QT.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby hyksos on April 15th, 2017, 10:15 pm 

In the context of what I've written, can you explain what you mean by a dice sum being random?

I'm using a meaning of the word "random" that denotes the fact that a large body of successive dice rolls could be written down and then later stored in a file in a computer. After running a battery of statistical tests on the data in that file, it will be said to have "passed" those statistical tests.

Aren't we really just saying that we lack sufficient control over the experimental conditions?

No. In fact you can have complete control over a deterministic algorithm, and it can still produce randomness. (in the sense that I used it above)


Completely deterministic algorithms run on a computer can give rise to a string which is statistically random.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby someguy1 on April 15th, 2017, 11:37 pm 

hyksos » April 15th, 2017, 8:15 pm wrote:
Completely deterministic algorithms run on a computer can give rise to a string which is statistically random.


Oh I don't think that's a very good definition for our purposes. You can code up a linear congruential generator (see I know the lingo) straight out of Knuth and generate a pseudo-random sequence, but that's not random. That seems like a copout. Saying the universe is statistically random tells us nothing about the nature of the universe. It may have value in physics but it doesn't help us in our metaphysics.

If the universe is deterministic but appears random because the great programmer in the sky (named Knuth) coded it up that way, what is the evidence for that claim?
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby hyksos on April 15th, 2017, 11:58 pm 

someguy1 through some kind of black magic, you are the only guy on the internet I have met so far who agrees with me on this point.

Regarding the Great Programmer in the sky, you could substitute a different character. Lets instead say that its the Great Magical Random Unicorn in the sky. This starts to run us down a very famous infinite regress. If the Magical Random Unicorn (MRU) is inserting randomness into our universe from without, from whence does the MRU derive its randomness? Is there , in fact, a Magical Random Turtle who inserts the randomness into the MRU, who then inserts it into our universe? But then where does the MRT get its randomness?

MRTs all the way down?
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby someguy1 on April 16th, 2017, 12:56 am 

hyksos » April 15th, 2017, 9:58 pm wrote:someguy1 through some kind of black magic, you are the only guy on the internet I have met so far who agrees with me on this point.



I am very happy that we're in agreement. I confess that I have no idea what we're in agreement about. I did say that statistical randomness isn't necessarily randomness. So if it helps the physicists mind their p's and q's (protons and quarks) to think of the universe as statistically random, that's ok by me.

But it gives no information whatever on the ultimate nature of the universe. Whether things are "really" random, and whether that's even a meaningful question, lie outside the realm of science in my opinion.

Certainly outside the realm of current science, it's fair to say that, right?

You agree with any of this?
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby hyksos on April 16th, 2017, 1:21 am 

Well I agree with everything you are saying and asking.

But secondarily, I dare you to take these reasonable points out to the internet at large. You will face stiff opposition. Be prepared.

You may have the same experience I ran into. They have taken a calculating device of QM and elevated it to a metaphysical truth about the universe. It is rare that you will ever get that kind of detailed interaction on the internet. In most cases it will be a terrible social interaction with no explanation, no reasoned defense.. often peppered with insults.

In any case... the type of randomness you refer to here ... that kind of metaphysical, uncaused, inexplicable-in-its-origins randomness. I sit here today feeling confident that this concept is bankrupt. It is physically invalid. Worse, as a concept it is metaphysically invalid.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby someguy1 on April 16th, 2017, 2:07 am 

hyksos » April 15th, 2017, 11:21 pm wrote:Well I agree with everything you are saying and asking.

But secondarily, I dare you to take these reasonable points out to the internet at large. You will face stiff opposition. Be prepared.


But I have no interest in that. Discussing metaphysics is not my thing. I like to help out when people get confused about math.

I take no metaphysical positions. Regarding physics itself I don't know enough to talk hard physics and I don't know enough woo-woo pop QM to join those convos either. They're not my thing.

I'm talking about what I know about randomness, mostly from a mathematical point of view. I don't take any position at all on the ultimate nature of the universe; and I"m baffled that so many people are so emotionally attached to their own opinions about this subject.

The only reason I got involved in any of this was to straighten out some mathematical misunderstandings that were material to the thesis the OP of that other thread was putting forth. And if I'd realized that they've been pitching the same story for over six years and getting the exact same objections that I gave, I would not have bothered. So really, I have no dog in this fight.

hyksos » April 15th, 2017, 11:21 pm wrote:You may have the same experience I ran into. They have taken a calculating device of QM and elevated it to a metaphysical truth about the universe. It is rare that you will ever get that kind of detailed interaction on the internet. In most cases it will be a terrible social interaction with no explanation, no reasoned defense.. often peppered with insults.


There's a lot of intellectual silliness in the air these days. Cyber-woo I call it. Uploading, simulation, mathematical universe. I don't believe any of it but I don't spend any energy arguing over it. I do like to try to straighten out mathematical errors, and it rarely does me any good.


hyksos » April 15th, 2017, 11:21 pm wrote: In any case... the type of randomness you refer to here ... that kind of metaphysical, uncaused, inexplicable-in-its-origins randomness. I sit here today feeling confident that this concept is bankrupt. It is physically invalid. Worse, as a concept it is metaphysically invalid.


I'm not sure what you mean here. I'm only talking about statistical randomness, and how it's not necessarily real randomness, which is a pretty hard thing to define anyway. I have no idea what's the ultimate nature of the universe. I find it unlikely that our particular species is uniquely qualified to answer that question.
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby hyksos on April 16th, 2017, 1:32 pm 

I have no idea what's the ultimate nature of the universe. I find it unlikely that our particular species is uniquely qualified to answer that question.

I don't think I'm going to let you off the hook this easily. Particularly on this forum. At the very least, we should be investigating this psychology a little more closely and being a tad bit more critical about it.
Two possibilities:
  • I. There is randomness in quantum measurement, but it is statistical randomness, that either results from thermal fluctuations, quantum state reduction by gravity, (add your own ingredients according to taste), and the randomness results from very real things in our real universe. (not "hidden variables")
  • II. There is randomness in the universe that is indetermined, uncaused, metaphysically inexplicable, but it bumps the particles around and manifests itself in quantum measurement. Not just part of stage 3 of a calculating device on a physicists chalkboard, but moreso physically manifest... experimentally real. This kind of randomness is being inserted into the universe from without -- essentially by their own admission -- because it is uncaused.

We essentially have people on this forum who pretending to speak to us from academic authority. They are clear in their metaphysics. They firmly believe that scenario II is far more reasonable than the former. I'm gonna say what I think this psychology is. Scenario II demands the existence of an extra-cosmic Oracle. This ORacle exists outside our universe, and constantly inserts random values into it from afar. When we ask where the extra-cosmic Oracle derives it randomness from..well there must be another Oracle outside that one that inserts its randomness into it. And then further explanations go "It's Oracles all the way down".

This is asinine.

someguy1 : could you get off the fence just briefly enough to admit that Scenario II is asinine?
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby Braininvat on April 16th, 2017, 3:16 pm 

I like Scenario One, too. But I don't think Two is asinine, just that the adherents of Two don't really know what they are asserting. Or have a solid definition of "uncaused." They are just being vague and metaphysical, which is okay to be when you have plenty of beer on hand. Conceptually, it bears some relation to "quantum vacuum," which is imagined as a bubbling soup of virtual particles popping in and out. Who knows what's really down there - virtual particles just help QED calculations work, right?
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Re: Determinism and Hidden Variables.

Postby someguy1 on April 16th, 2017, 4:52 pm 

hyksos » April 16th, 2017, 11:32 am wrote:someguy1 : could you get off the fence just briefly enough to admit that Scenario II is asinine?


You're right. I was explaining to someone the other day that Orion is the great hunter in the sky. They said no, it's just a random bunch of stars that only happen to look a little like the outline of a hunter from our particular vantage point in space. I said nonsense, I sacrificed a goat to Orion and my fields were fertile that year. QED. There is no randomness. Orion is really up there. Thanks for asking.
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