Diaconis on coincidence

A bonus track to the previous post….

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2 thoughts on “Diaconis on coincidence

  1. thinks says:

    Now, in my predicament of inhabiting the last village on the planet, the western planet, without fast internet, I cannot see the video or hear the podcast, but I can take a pot-luck shot and randomly offer a comment on coincidence.

    The concept of coincidence is human perception and an attempt to define the indefinable or the unlikely. Unlikely, again, is human perception. Random is an event, or sequence of events that humans cannot have predicted.

    Or is it? Given detailed data about wight of dice, direction of throw, angle of surface altitude from which dropped, inertia, momentum, etc., the number that would end up on the top surface of the dice can be predicted. We simply do not have the ability to measure that detail.

    I would say randomness, or coincidence, describe human inefficiency and lack of understanding. Not nature.

    • epanechnikov says:

      Nice message thinks! You are rising a very interesting question here (and I see that you have just expressed a very beautiful “Diaconian*” subjectivist statement of belief). Randomness is (at least partly) a measure of human inefficiency and the lack of perfect information. But does ontological randomness also exists? In other words, do all effects have got a determinate well defined cause (or not)**?

      Now let us search for some possible answers. Some processes which are thought to be random are not ontologically random. They are epistemically random. These require a human being sufficiently ignorant such that it becomes attractive for him or her to assign a certain probability allocation to a set of possible outcomes. But epistemic randomness is subjective. It can vary across different observers according to their degree of relative ignorance.

      On the other side some other phenomena are thought (at least by some) to be ontologically random. It may not be possible to specify a cause to their effects. One such example comes from the field of quantum mechanics – the radioactive decay. According to the standard interpretation, there is no causal mechanism governing the emission of particles from an unstable nucleus.

      And then the question of free will comes up. For some reasons (to which I can refer later on) a part of the world (that could be our brain – the way our synapses emit their signals!) must be ontologically random in order for us to have free will!

      p.s. Don’t forget to watch the video and listen to the podcast. I am confident you will enjoy them.

      * I used the term “Diaconian” as it is almost identical to what Persi Diaconis states in the first video


      ** I may be wrong here but I feel that an affirmative answer to this question could inevitably lead to an infinite regress…

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