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23725Re: Determinism

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  • John McCrone
    Mar 8, 2003
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      [Nik Weaver]
      The quantum Zeno effect asserts that repeated
      measurements of an excited state tend to inhibit its decay. So what?
      The rest of your post was pretty much nonsense, IMHO.

      [John McCrone]
      So the behaviour of the system no longer conforms to your mental image of
      randomness. It moves closer to the situation that you might habitually term
      determined.

      The extrapolation of the experiment says that if the excited state could be
      observed "constantly and forever", then it could never decay. A radioactive
      atom would become non-radioactive in its behaviour. That seems a fairly big
      deal for those who believe that the world "is" random. And pretty good
      empirical proof that we can manipulate the statistics of a real-life system
      to move it along a spectrum of behaviour between two modelling extremes -
      the random and the deterministic paradigms.

      [Nik Weaver]
      Geez Louise. I stand by my assertion that in principle (yes, "even"
      in principle. Whatever) one cannot prove that some phenomenon is
      truly random. That has to do with a basic philosophical principle
      that one cannot prove anything non-tautological about the physical
      world. We can't "prove" evolution either, to come back to the
      nominal list topic. You will recall, Steven, that I wrote this in
      response to your comment that randomness of atomic decay "shouldn't
      be considered proven". I responded, how could such a thing be
      proven?

      I also stand by my assertion that radioactive decay really is random,
      just like atomic decay and many other quantum phenomena, contrary to
      your mistaken claim that it is "almost certainly" (??) deterministic.

      [John McCrone]
      So you accept the basic modelling point - "one cannot prove anything
      non-tautological about the physical
      world". But you don't seem to understand that the quantum zeno effect is
      empirical evidence that a system that looked "random" can be made to look
      "non-random". And then you appear to contradict yourself by saying while we
      can't "prove" (ie: gain certain knowledge of) anything about the truth of a
      model, you know you are right that decay really is random and that is
      mistaken to claim that it might be deterministic.

      How do you know such a thing except as an act of faith? If you say empirical
      evidence gives you no other choice but to believe the model, then that is
      being scientific. If you ignore conflicting evidence to maintain a cherished
      belief, then......

      Cheers
      ------------------------------------------------------------
      from John McCrone

      check out my consciousness web site
      http://www.btinternet.com/~neuronaut/
      neuroscience, human evolution, Libet's half second, Vygotsky and more...
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