A man has his genes analyzed and is told that he carries a gene that gives him an 80% chance of being bald. With his long curly hair about him, he announces that he obviously has a 0% chance of baldness.
I saw this on TV last night and it left me pondering. In the same way an artist creates a model of experience, can I poetically model my experience of the idea of probability?
Probability is some sort of knowledge about a future event. So if I'm in Las Vegas at a craps table and I have a die in my hand, I'll say that the 2 has a 1/6 chance of appearing face up when it lands on the table.
This indicates that I'm not looking at events as if they're determined. If I was, then in regard to the chances of the 2 appearing face up, I'd say: I don't know, but it's either 0 or 100%... because when the die lands, whichever number is up, that event was determined by a chain of previous events that extends as far back as it goes.
Saying that the 2 has a 1/6 chance, indicates that I imagine that prior to the event, six possibilities exist in some phantom-like state. In this state, they are all equally potent. Then, somehow, one of them becomes distinct from the others and changes from possibility to actuality. But how does one become distinct, when they started out indistinguishable in terms of potency? This change could be termed primal judgement.
Now, if I'd been born a thousand years ago, I would have said that God makes the choice that gives rise to any event. But having been born post-Enlightenment, I leave the question unanswered. I don't know how it happens... all I'm doing is modeling how
I think about it.
At first glance, it appears that the idea of probability conflicts with the idea of determinism. The determinist perspective allows for no choice and no 'knowledge' about future events. It demands that time be somehow contiguous so that the past can shape the present. The probabilistic perspective, on the other hand, posits the source of any event outside of time and space: in a realm of possibility filled with phantom caterpillars waiting to sprout wings into actuality. Only some will make it: who knows where the others go.
But maybe there's no conflict. Maybe I've been mixing categories. Imagine that my mind contains a machine: the meaning machine
. It takes in a piece of information and.. crunch crunch crunch... ping!... I receive it's output: the experience of meaning, out of which falls a new piece of information like a gum ball. I look inside the machine and see logic, causality, patterns, similarity, opposition, and so on. The input to the machine is thoughts that are weighted according to my confidence in them... belief. The more confidence I have in the input, the more confidence I'll have in the output: the new gum ball.
Probability is only information... input or output to the machine. Causality is part of the mechanics of the machine.
This explains the problem of the hairy man who had an 80% chance of being bald. This 80% is a piece of information that pertains (I think) to what we could expect if we looked at 100 people who have that gene. This information came out of a meaning machine. Probability doesn't describe causality. Causality is an aspect of the generation of meaning.
Is a logical argument a case of taking the gum ball that falls out of the machine and sticking it back in as an input? I also saw a thing about fractals last night.