Sunday, October 20, 2013

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Superdeterminism & Free Will

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

The tag line of our blog is mishna from Pirke Avos (Ethics of our Fathers), “Everything is foreseen but free will is granted.” (Pirke Avos Chapter 3, Mishnah 19)  Halacha Yomit quotes on this: The Rambam explains this to mean that everything is foreseen by Hashem, Who can foresee everything until the end of all generations. The Tanna then proceeds to teach us that one should not think that since Hashem already knows whatever is bound to happen, an individual has no free choice. This is truly not the case; rather, a man has free choice to do whatever he pleases. Rashi explains likewise in his commentary on Masechet Niddah (16b) where he writes: “All of an individual’s happenings and occurrences are the result of a Heavenly decree besides for fear of Heaven which is mandated by the individual’s own free choice.”

Sounds a mystical and spooky, or at least one of those very high level religious statements that we can generalize and ignore.

Now along comes Scientific American and demonstrates that modern quantum physics AGREES!!!

Quantum-Physics(Scientific American)  Superdeterminism... It’s a weird and downright disturbing idea.   The sober way to put it is that physicists are never able to conduct a fully controlled experiment, since the experimental setup they choose is not strictly independent of the processes that created the particles. Even if the experimentalists (conventionally named Alice and Bob) live on Earth and the particles come from quasars billions of light-years away, they share a common past in the very early universe. Their subtle interdependence creates a selection bias, misleading physicists into thinking that no deeper level of physics could explain the particle coordination, when in fact it could.

The dramatic version is that free will is an illusion. Worse, actually. Even regular determinism—without the “super”—subverts our sense of free will. Through the laws of physics, you can trace every choice you make to the arrangement of matter at the dawn of time. Superdeterminism adds a twist of the knife. Not only is everything you do preordained, the universe reaches into your brain and stops you from doing an experiment that would reveal its true nature. The universe is not just set up in advance. It is set up in advance to fool you. As a conspiracy theory, this leaves Roswell and the Priory of Sion in the dust.

That said, one person’s conspiracy is another’s law of physics. Lots of things in the world seem conspiratorial at first glance, but are the result of well-established principles. The fact the moon spins on its axis at exactly the same rate it orbits Earth (thereby keeping the same face to us, or nearly so) is not the work of a cabal, but of laws such as the conservation of angular momentum. In the opening panel discussion of the conference, ’t Hooft speculated that some new law of physics might harmonize particles’ properties with humans’ measurement choices: “What looks like a conspiracy today may be due to a conservation law we don’t know about today.… It’s incredible until you find it’s mathematical necessity.”

It’s a deep detailed as yet unproven (maybe unable to be proven?) theory that says… Everything is foreseen but free will is granted!!!

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