# Thread: Does Chance Really Happen By Accident?

1. According to Webster, chance is something happening without apparent cause or an unpredictable event. But what is the nature of chance? Is it some kind of force? And how does it work?

Chance is one of those words we use to describe the unknown. For some strange reason we humans can't just say "I don't know why the heck that happened!"

We always fill the gap with "It was an act of God," "It was mother nature," it was a "coincidence," it was "in the cards," it was "lady luck," it was "dumb luck," it was "beginner's luck," or "luck of the Irish," or it happened by chance.

Some people believe that everything happens for a reason, and some skeptic will always make the retort, "Yeah, the reason was dumb luck!"

Imagine what you could do if you understood the true nature of chance. You could predict the future, clean out any casino, make lots of new friends (the opposite sex in particular) and essentially rule the world!

One thing that is fascinating about chance is a thing called the long-term expected value. If you toss a fair coin, say,,,a thousand times, then you really must get a life because you have too much time on your hands. But you can also discover that very close to half your tosses come up heads.

In fact you could make the following prediction: if the coin is tossed a thousand times, you can be 95% confident that the coin will land on heads 50% of the time with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.0%.

Too bad no one will ever allow you to place that bet. The same is true for all chance events. The long-term expected value of a pair of dice is 7 because that is what all the dice results average out to.

That got me thinking. Is chance really unpredictable? There are many who believe with zealot fervor that we are here by chance! And there are many who believe with zealot fervor that chance had nothing to do with it!

What the chance advocates are really saying is that we are here by no apparent cause or an unpredictable chain of events. In other words, they don't have a clue why we are here; yet ironically they think they know why we are here: "We are here because of chance."

The definition of chance unfortunately fails to tell us how chance is manifested. What is the essence of chance? This is something I would like to explore further.

Scientists already know, with the benefit of hindsight, it is possible to trace the causes of an event such as a roll of the dice. They know that various physical forces and conditions caused the dice to have a particular outcome.

What is largely unknown are the initial conditions and subsequent conditions that will occur and determine the next outcome. Theoretically, if we knew in advance what those conditions will be, we could predict the outcome of the dice.

That brings me to the next question: What determines the conditions that cause a particular outcome? The typical knee-jerk response is "chance--duh!" Let's translate that response to make it clear: "No apparent cause or an unpredictable chain of events determine the conditions that cause a particular outcome--duh!"

So basically the cause of an event we don't fully understand is something we don't fully understand--chance. Or another way to put it is an unpredictable chain of events causes an unpredictable chain of events. Uh huh. O,,,,,,,K. Somehow that seems like a fluff answer--duh!

We still don't know what the essence of that unknown something is that determines what conditions will exist that will determine the final outcome. We simply put labels on it. Some people label it chance.

It appears that chance is unpredictable by virtue of our ignorance or lack of understanding of how or why a certain set of conditions exist at a particular time that determine the final outcome. Otherwise, all things happen for a reason or set of reasons.

Let's put that hypothesis to the test. Let's assume that nothing happens on purpose, nothing is planned by any cosmic entity. So then what rolls the cosmic dice? What are our options and what is the probability of each option? Well, if we are going to be true believers in chance, there can be only one option: chance. Chance rolls the cosmic dice or the cosmic dice roll themselves. The probability of chance being the cause of chance is 1.0--a sure thing!

Huh?

So basically those who lack understanding of how and why events happen, and label them chance events, are 100% certain that such events don't happen on purpose. Of course I could be mistaken. If that is the case, then there must be at least a small probability that the outcome of the cosmic dice happens for a reason or set of reasons other than chance.

But let's assume, for the sake of argument, there is a near 100% probability that there is no cosmic plan or conspiracy which causes events we humans, with our limited capacity, are unable to predict.

If that is true, doesn't that point to a plan or conspiracy to stack the odds in favor of chance? I guess it makes sense that chance would be biased and favor itself. Can chance be biased? Obviously it can if the odds are stacked and it is somehow empowered to stack its own odds and roll its own cosmic dice. Amazing!

In conclusion, one should not mistake chance for the holy grail. It is merely a word that fills a gap--the unknown, that which we don't fully understand and can't predict. When we use the word chance, let's assume we are ignorant. Let's not assume we are all-knowing, omniscient beings.

For all we really know, everything does happen for a reason. We just don't always know what the reason is.

2.

3. So is it by chance we are here right now? If the unknown has predetermined that I should be born into this world and become who I am at this point in time, then where is my freewill? I might as well be a rock.

4. Originally Posted by newnothing
So is it by chance we are here right now? If the unknown has predetermined that I should be born into this world and become who I am at this point in time, then where is my freewill? I might as well be a rock.
The probability of you being a rock or having free will are probably about the same. LOL! I have always wondered how a series of chance events could produce something that has free will. So it is understandable why some believe that chance was not the cause.

5. Another option is to ask the counter question: what is pattern?

Why do we assume there are patterns and have to be patterns? See Cobert's unnecessarily maligned thread quoting Hilary Putnam on the impossibility of a "God's Eye View", the appearance of patterns may just be a freak of the way we think and not a feature of the 'world' itself.

I'm not claiming that everything is actually random, but rather that we do not (Hume's Problem of Induction) have any way of claiming that any of the patterns we perceive, the models we use, the predictions we make, can be seen as either capable of proof, or as the defaul position that things 'ought' to achieve.

6. Originally Posted by williampinn
The probability of you being a rock or having free will are probably about the same. LOL! I have always wondered how a series of chance events could produce something that has free will. So it is understandable why some believe that chance was not the cause.
LOL! Yes indeed.

Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
Why do we assume there are patterns and have to be patterns?
Maybe because we could not understand nature and being egoists seek to be in control of our destiny instead of following nature. Patterns allow humans to safely predict the future instead of leaving it to natural cause and consequence. We chose to feel safe instead of truth.

7. Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
Another option is to ask the counter question: what is pattern?

Why do we assume there are patterns and have to be patterns?
I think it is a result of the scientific method. Some very smart guys who lived awhile back realized that there are different perceptions of reality. For example, you look through a microscope and you see a whole different reality. How do we distinguish a pattern out of the morass? We do experiments. If we can repeat those experiments, we can assume a pattern. If it works for us, it is a pattern. If it is unpredictable, it is not or it could be a complex pattern.

Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
See Cobert's unnecessarily maligned thread quoting Hilary Putnam on the impossibility of a "God's Eye View", the appearance of patterns may just be a freak of the way we think and not a feature of the 'world' itself.
Then the laws of physics are meaningless? I think not. We can't always trust our senses, but there is a way around that: experiments.
Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
I'm not claiming that everything is actually random, but rather that we do not (Hume's Problem of Induction) have any way of claiming that any of the patterns we perceive, the models we use, the predictions we make, can be seen as either capable of proof, or as the defaul position that things 'ought' to achieve.
If what you think you are halucinating works consistently, then you have a pattern.

8. Originally Posted by williampinn
Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
Another option is to ask the counter question: what is pattern?

Why do we assume there are patterns and have to be patterns?
I think it is a result of the scientific method. Some very smart guys who lived awhile back realized that there are different perceptions of reality. For example, you look through a microscope and you see a whole different reality. How do we distinguish a pattern out of the morass? We do experiments. If we can repeat those experiments, we can assume a pattern. If it works for us, it is a pattern. If it is unpredictable, it is not or it could be a complex pattern.
Wouldn't that be inaccurate as well? Any experiments that we do are subject to our own perceptions of reality (even if it is enhanced by technology ie: microscope etc).

9. Originally Posted by newnothing
Originally Posted by williampinn
Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
Another option is to ask the counter question: what is pattern?

Why do we assume there are patterns and have to be patterns?
I think it is a result of the scientific method. Some very smart guys who lived awhile back realized that there are different perceptions of reality. For example, you look through a microscope and you see a whole different reality. How do we distinguish a pattern out of the morass? We do experiments. If we can repeat those experiments, we can assume a pattern. If it works for us, it is a pattern. If it is unpredictable, it is not or it could be a complex pattern.
Wouldn't that be inaccurate as well? Any experiments that we do are subject to our own perceptions of reality (even if it is enhanced by technology ie: microscope etc).
I would have said something similar too.

Whilst I love science and defend it to the death, as it were, philosophically speaking there is no reason to prefer its ontology to any other, because the epistemological issues are (currently, and are expected to remain so) intractable.

10. Originally Posted by newnothing
Originally Posted by williampinn
Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
Another option is to ask the counter question: what is pattern?

Why do we assume there are patterns and have to be patterns?
I think it is a result of the scientific method. Some very smart guys who lived awhile back realized that there are different perceptions of reality. For example, you look through a microscope and you see a whole different reality. How do we distinguish a pattern out of the morass? We do experiments. If we can repeat those experiments, we can assume a pattern. If it works for us, it is a pattern. If it is unpredictable, it is not or it could be a complex pattern.
Wouldn't that be inaccurate as well? Any experiments that we do are subject to our own perceptions of reality (even if it is enhanced by technology ie: microscope etc).
I think you have to clearly define what is accurate. If it works, it is accurate. If all is an illusion but the illusion works, then it is an accurate illusion, as opposed to an illusion that bites you in the ass.

11. Originally Posted by williampinn
I think you have to clearly define what is accurate. If it works, it is accurate. If all is an illusion but the illusion works, then it is an accurate illusion, as opposed to an illusion that bites you in the ass.
You're right, I should have defined accurate. Any experiments that are conducted only shows a reaction relative to the perceiver. Whether it is an accurate illusion or not, it is still an illusion.

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