Intelligent Design

Sabine Hossenfelder Promotes Determinism

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Yesterday theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder became the latest in a long line of smart people to make the absurd claim of determinism, and that therefore there is no such thing as free will. This silliness traces at least as far back as Laplace and is based on the idea that any system evolves from time point 1 to time point 2 according to the laws of nature. As Hossenfelder puts it: (read more …)

24 Replies to “Sabine Hossenfelder Promotes Determinism

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Discussions of this question are unavoidably circular, but there’s one simple argument for determinism. Down at the level of atoms, each interaction or push or pull determines the next one, which determines the next one. None of these pushes and pulls are truly random. Random is just shorthand for “too complicated to figure out” or “perfectly incomputable”.

    Our feeling of being in control is just one of the infinitely varied results of these inevitable pushes. I have a feeling that there must be a layer of intelligence outside of these mere pushes and pulls, but my feeling could just as well be another incidental output. (And so on, meta-meta-meta…)

  2. 2
    Truthfreedom says:

    Then it’s good news that I’m determined not to believe Sabine’s non-sense. 🙂

    Hossenfelder has identified a conflict: our experience says one thing, and the laws of nature say the opposite. Something must give, and Hossenfelder unilaterally and without justification concludes that the laws of nature win out.

    Because she’s determined to say so, which demolishes rationality and makes intelligent people chuckle.
    Great piece Cornelius. Thank you!

  3. 3
    Truthfreedom says:

    *** Disclaimer: Darwinism converts people into clowns. ***

    The problem, according to determinists such as Hossenfelder, is that our experience is uniformly false. We may think we have free will, but that is nothing more than an illusion.

    Errr. Nope. Mrs. Hossenfelder, if I am determined since the Big Bang to believe that I have free will, how can that be false? Are you saying the initial conditions of the Big Bang ‘made a mistake’?
    Mrs. Sabine, it would be good if you dropped your silly storytelling.

  4. 4
    jawa says:

    Our human condition hinders our capacity to understand anything.

    Nonsense remains nonsense regardless of who says it.

    Now that it’s obvious that biology research is increasingly rendering unguided OOL less possible and the appearance of the eukaryotic cell more mysterious with every discovery, seeing distinguished scientists say all kind of gibberish is very discouraging at best.

    But when we see that the leading edge research in neuroscience using the best EEG and fMRI technologies available, is not preventing the hard problem of consciousness from turning much harder and more mind blowing with practically every serious paper published on the topic, seeing distinguished scientists talk nonsense about free will is pathetically depressing.

    When we say “I” or “we” what are we referring to?

    If you say “I like this”, what do you mean by “I” and what does it mean in scientific details that you like that particular something.
    Explain it in terms of physics. Chemistry is just a special way of looking at physical processes at the atomic/subatomic level.
    When you say that you prefer the walls of a room to be painted in light blue instead of red, what do you mean in terms of physics that you prefer one color to the other? How does that preference happens physically?

  5. 5
    AaronS1978 says:

    I wonder if Sabin realizes that we don’t understand the laws of nature as a whole and that she’s making a conclusion based off of her and tuition her feelings and her experience

    So for her to make the claim the laws of nature wins out It’s just idiotic yes we are part of the laws of nature but we don’t know really what’s going on and she’s making her assumption based off of what she feels is correct which is why she is condemning the experience of other people for the same reason

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    I was very sorry to see Sabine Hossenfelder fall into this trap. She should know better, but it’s once again evidence of the destructiveness of ideological poisoning to science. She’s a brilliant physicist, but what does she know about “free will.”

    Yesterday, I ran across this well-written article about science by (Lord) Matt Ridley in the Wall Street Journal. It might be pay-walled, but it’s definitely a classic!


  7. 7
    AaronS1978 says:

    I mean if everything is just push pull
    She cant account for anything that involves experience at all

    This actually makes me really sad I’m a huge fan of hers

    She claims that it’s logical but it’s also equally illogical because her experiences filter everything and if she can’t account for consciousness then there’s no feasible way her position can actually be defended Adequately

    Literally everything is subjective you have to be able to experience everything yourself that includes science and there’s no way around that

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    “We are watching it play out” Who is this “we”? Particles have no capacity for intentionality. It is absurd to say a rock is watching things play out. But the particles that make up a rock are not categorically different from the particles that make up a brain. Hossenfelder refutes her thesis as she announces it, because if she is right there is no “we” to watch anything. Also, if consciousness is an illusion, who is being deceived? Dr. Hunter is correct. Indeed, it is not possible for him to be other than correct and still accept rationality itself. Subjective self awareness is the primordial datum. If we foolishly deny that datum, we have cut ourselves off from literally everything and are left with Darwin’s horrid doubt:

    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” Charles Darwin 1881

  9. 9
    AaronS1978 says:

    She believes in “god like” super determinism
    I don’t even understand why she does science then what is the point if you truly believe in super determinism

  10. 10
    AaronS1978 says:

    Super determinism is literally God

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    Ed Feser has an article that’s relevant:

  12. 12
    AaronS1978 says:

    What blows my mind is that she really believes she can believe any different from her illusion that the universe has predetermined including all of your decisions and everything that will ever happen

    That means everything including her position is nothing more than an illusion saying free will is an illusion is it’s own stupidity because everything is if she’s right no just free will

    Do they not ever think about that can I have that question given to her please

  13. 13
    rhampton7 says:

    There are more articles about Sabine Hossenfelder on UD then all other scientists combined, I’m willing to bet. Why? Just curious.

  14. 14
    Truthfreedom says:

    13 Rhampton7
    Oh really? Can you show us the statistics, please? 🙂
    There are literally thousands of articles on UD. You’re going to have a loooot of work.

  15. 15
    Querius says:

    AaronS1978 @10,

    Heh. General Ontological Determinism. 😉


  16. 16
    doubter says:

    Of course there are a myriad of problems in denying free will. One would be the creativity problem.

    How can you possibly claim that countless inter-reacting deterministic cause-effect chains can somehow produce the works of Shakespeare and all the other literature of the world? This would require that all this huge body of complex specified information was somehow creatively incorporated in the fabric of space-time and matter and energy at the time of the Big Bang.

    And this just pushes the free will and creativity problem back into some sort of transcendental stage. The only way to make logical sense of this claim would be to suppose that our universe is just one of a myriad of other parallel deterministic universes whose elementary particle configuration differs randomly, universe to universe (the so-called multiverse). This just happens to be the one with the deterministic Shakespeare. But this notion also has fatal problems.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Glad to see you back Dr. Hunter.

    I noticed another fatal flaw in Sabine Hossenfelder’s argument, not only her argument for determinism, but her argument for what is now termed ‘super-determinism’.

    In order for her to maintain her belief in super-determinism, she must deny what experimental results themselves are telling us. In other words, she must deny the science itself. (And where have I heard the term ‘science denier’ before?)

    Anton Zeilinger and company, as of 2018, pushed the ‘free will loophole’ back to 7.8 billion years ago, thereby firmly establishing the ‘common sense’ fact that the free will choices of the experimenter in the quantum experiments are truly free and are not determined by any possible causal influences from the past for at least the last 7.8 billion years, and that the experimenters themselves are therefore shown to be truly free to choose whatever measurement settings in the experiments that he or she may so desire to choose so as to ‘logically’ probe whatever aspect of reality that he or she may be interested in probing.

    Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars – Anton Zeilinger – 14 June 2018
    Abstract: In this Letter, we present a cosmic Bell experiment with polarization-entangled photons, in which measurement settings were determined based on real-time measurements of the wavelength of photons from high-redshift quasars, whose light was emitted billions of years ago; the experiment simultaneously ensures locality. Assuming fair sampling for all detected photons and that the wavelength of the quasar photons had not been selectively altered or previewed between emission and detection, we observe statistically significant violation of Bell’s inequality by 9.3 standard deviations, corresponding to an estimated p value of approx. 7.4 × 10^21. This experiment pushes back to at least approx. 7.8 Gyr ago the most recent time by which any local-realist influences could have exploited the “freedom-of-choice” loophole to engineer the observed Bell violation, excluding any such mechanism from 96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.

    Basically the Determinist and/or Darwinian materialist must now claim that “a particle detector’s settings may “conspire” with events in the shared causal past of the detectors themselves to determine which properties of the particle to measure.”

    Closing the ‘free will’ loophole: Using distant quasars to test Bell’s theorem – February 20, 2014
    Excerpt: Though two major loopholes have since been closed, a third remains; physicists refer to it as “setting independence,” or more provocatively, “free will.” This loophole proposes that a particle detector’s settings may “conspire” with events in the shared causal past of the detectors themselves to determine which properties of the particle to measure — a scenario that, however far-fetched, implies that a physicist running the experiment does not have complete free will in choosing each detector’s setting. Such a scenario would result in biased measurements, suggesting that two particles are correlated more than they actually are, and giving more weight to quantum mechanics than classical physics.
    “It sounds creepy, but people realized that’s a logical possibility that hasn’t been closed yet,” says MIT’s David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and senior lecturer in the Department of Physics. “Before we make the leap to say the equations of quantum theory tell us the world is inescapably crazy and bizarre, have we closed every conceivable logical loophole, even if they may not seem plausible in the world we know today?”

    In other words, instead of believing what the experimental results of quantum mechanics are actually telling us, (i.e. that free will is a real facet of reality),, the Determinist, and/or Darwinian materialist, is now forced to claim that the results of the experiments were somehow ‘superdetermined’ at least 7.8 billion years ago and the results are now merely ‘fooling us’ into believing that our experimental results in quantum theory are trustworthy and correct and that we do indeed have free will.

    Sabine Hosenfelder herself, instead of accepting the experimental results from quantum mechanics that show we have free will, has instead opted to say that events in the remote past, prior to the formation of the earth itself, were somehow ‘superdetermined’ and moreover, these ‘superdetermined’ events somehow ‘conspired’ to ‘fool us’ into erroneously believing our experimental results that show us that quantum theory is correct and that we have free will..

    Sabine Hossenfelder Proposes Superdeterminism” To Replace Quantum Mechanics

    To call such a move on the part of Sabine Hossenfelder, (i.e. the rejection of experimental results that conflict with her apriori philosophical belief, namely her philosophical belief in ‘determinism’), unscientific would be a severe understatement. It is a rejection of the entire scientific method itself. She, in her appeal to ‘superdeterminism’, is basically arguing that we cannot trust what the experimental results of quantum mechanics themselves are telling us because events in the remote past ‘conspired’ to give us erroneous experimental results today that are merely ‘fooling us’ into believing that we have free will.

    As should be needless to say, if we cannot trust what our experimental results are telling us, then science is, for all practical purposes, dead.

    Sabine Hossenfelder, in her rejection of experimental results that conflict with her a-priori belief in determinism and/or materialism, has become a ‘science denier’ in the truest sense of the term ‘science denier’

    John 3:12
    If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

  18. 18
    Mung says:


    The answer is determinism. We had no choice.

  19. 19
    AaronS1978 says:

    @13 the reason is I have a crush on her ha! No but She actually takes a no nonsense hyper critical look at a lot of different types of science that are considered to be science but in all reality are more like hypothetical religions

    She actually reminds me of the scientist say grew up with

    I’m actually a fan of hers except for when it comes to her take on super determinism

    Which it seems so silly it’s like “yeah a-ha a-ha yeah that’s pretty cool, a-ha a-ha all right yeah I understand what you’re talking about, I completely agree and super determinism uh no :/

    But she’s generally levelheaded and criticizes a lot of the crazy

  20. 20
    AaronS1978 says:

    @ 17 I think her and the individual she wrote the paper on super determinism with addressed the free will loop hole, however it requires you to believe that the universe that interaction to take place at the Big Bang timed perfectly 14 billion years later it’s insane to think about it. It leaves you just chasing your tail in circles

  21. 21
    rhampton7 says:

    I wasn’t asking about this latest article, but why she in particular is so heavily featured here:

  22. 22
    Belfast says:

    You really want to know? Any particular reason?
    Or looking to slur readers?

  23. 23
    Eugene says:

    To Polistra@1,

    > None of these pushes and pulls are truly random. Random is just shorthand for “too complicated to figure out”.

    Apparently it is this incorrect interpretation of randomness in QM (“it is not really truly random, it is just too complicated for us to compute”) which inspires determinism. People just plain refuse to accept what QM is telling us – those pushes and pulls among atoms, while themselves certainly not random, they are not our reality. At the limit, every single atom in the universe is pushing and pulling every other atom, yet when we try to poke them, we’re only given one outcome of their interactions, and that one outcome is truly perfectly random! We have no idea where this randomness is coming from, whether it is part of our consciousness or not, but it is certainly there. Which then implies that even if our consciousness is somehow perfectly “material” and is being driven by the same atoms, our reality ends up inheriting this fundamental quantum randomness. …Which makes a lot of sense, as otherwise our universe and our existence would be 100% boring to the Creator, as it could then indeed be possible to pre-compute the outcome!

  24. 24
    Querius says:

    There are more than two choices. Note the difference between the behavior categories of deterministic, chaotic, and random. Chaotic is between the other two.

    And then there’s free will.


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