Monday, October 07, 2013
  Non-random observation on random

When "scientists" call a process Random, they mean it's indeterminate or incalculable; when "scientists" call a process Ordered, they mean it's determinate or calculable. This is pure nonsense.

Let's arbitrarily focus on one simple calculable measurement, the side-to-side rotation of a car.

In the initial state, which we'll call S-sub-0, the frame is horizontal.


Here's one altered state S-sub-1, with the left side of the frame down.


And now we have a second altered state S-sub-2, with the left side of the frame up.


We would typically treat S1 as the result of random processes, and we would treat S2 as the result of non-random ordering processes.

Let's take a different path.

S1 happened because the left front tire went flat, which resulted from an unsupervised set of natural processes. Molecules of rubber moved into a condition that no longer separated high-pressure interior air from lower-pressure exterior air, and the 'random' Brownian motion of the air caused the two pressures to equalize.

S2 results from a supervised set of natural processes. Polistra noticed that the car wasn't level, diagnosed the problem, gathered appropriate tools, and began to correct the condition.

If you look at either process from a sufficiently microscopic viewpoint, you'd be unable to tell the difference. No matter where you looked, you'd see molecules moving around. Are these movements EVER indeterminate or unpredictable? No. Never. At any single instant, each molecule is pushed by its neighbors using electrostatic forces, and at any instant these (relatively few) neighborly pushes can be calculated nicely by plain old Newtonian laws. We can't possibly calculate the full set of movements over any non-zero time interval, but this is true in both situations. This is a practical limitation, not a distinction between the two types of situation. In theory we could run back and calculate all the influences on one molecule since the creation of the universe, which means its motion is always determinate and predictable. Practically, the task is impossible because it would require a practically infinite number of arithmetic operations.

So there's no such thing as indeterminate. The "scientific" definition of random vs order is simply and obviously nonsensical.

What then is the real difference? The molecules inside Polistra's cells are part of a living organism. Their movements are channeled at every level to achieve the purposes of this living organism. Some of those molecules are helping to power muscles in her arm, some are picking up light waves and passing them on to other molecules that are helping to process the light waves into signals, then on to others that compare the signals with templates resulting from internal memory references... and so on literally ad infinitum.

Is purpose always part of a living organism? Microscopically it's always the same. All organisms from bacteria to vertebrates have similar purposive loops and control mechanisms inside their cells. Microscopically the purpose is always to maintain extreme differentials of temperature, pressure and chemistry between inside and outside, so conditions inside the cell remain conducive to running the purposive loops. At larger scales the purpose is expressed in all sorts of ways. A bacterium sends and receives chemical and electromagnetic signals, and moves toward food; vertebrates send and receive acoustic, visual, chemical, and electromagnetic signals, and move toward all sorts of goals.

Is an extreme differential always 'orderly'? No. A nice example popped up just as I started to write this paragraph. I'm running laundry this morning in my stupid fucking front-loader machine. I heard it start to spin. I trotted to the laundry room so I could be prepared to shut it off early, because the load is usually distributed with an extreme differential, causing the machine to shake itself and the floor to disordered pieces. This morning, unusually, the load happened to be nearly 'random' so I could allow the spin to finish with minimum destruction. [Sidenote: I'll never buy another stupid fucking front-loader. A top-loader can also be unbalanced, but the top-loader allows you to flip the lid and rearrange the contents at any time. It lets you apply human purpose to the load based on human intelligence that remembers the result of an extreme differential.]

Conclusion: When we talk about random vs ordered, we're not talking about any mechanically measurable difference. We're only talking about living purpose. Soul, if you like that word.

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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