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Sabine Hossenfelder proposes superdeterminism” to replace quantum mechanics

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Because quantum mechanics “lacks a physical description of the measurement process:

Abstract: Quantum mechanics has irked physicists ever since its conception more than 100 years ago. While some of the misgivings, such as it being unintuitive, are merely aesthetic, quantum mechanics has one serious shortcoming: it lacks a physical description of the measurement process. This “measurement problem” indicates that quantum mechanics is at least an incomplete theory – good as far as it goes, but missing a piece – or, more radically, is in need of complete overhaul.

Here we describe an approach which may provide this sought-for completion or replacement: Superdeterminism. A superdeterministic theory is one which violates the assumption of Statistical Independence (that distributions of hidden variables are independent of measurement settings). Intuition suggests that Statistical Independence is an essential ingredient of any theory of science (never mind physics), and for this reason Superdeterminism is typically discarded swiftly in any discussion of quantum foundations.

The purpose of this paper is to explain why the existing objections to Superdeterminism are based on experience with classical physics and linear systems, but that this experience misleads us. Superdeterminism is a promising approach not only to solve the measurement problem, but also to understand the apparent nonlocality of quantum physics. Most importantly, we will discuss how it may be possible to test this hypothesis in an (almost) model independent way.


– S. Hossenfelder, T. N. Palmer, Rethinking Superdeterminism, arxiv, December 13, 2019
Lost in Math

The paper’s Conclusion:

We have argued here that quantum mechanics is an incomplete theory and completing it, or replacing it with a more fundamental theory, will necessarily require us to accept violations of Statistical Independence, an assumption that is sometimes also, misleadingly, referred to as Free Choice. We have explained why objections to theories with this property, commonly known as superdeterministic, are ill-founded.

Since the middle of the past century, progress in the foundations of physics has been driven by going to shorter and shorter distances, or higher and higher energies, respectively. But the next step forward might be in an entirely different direction, it might come from finding a theory that does not require us to hand-draw a line between microscopic and macroscopic reality.

The Uncommon Descent News Virtual Coffee Room hopes a YouTube will follow.

Sabine Hossenfelder is the author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray,

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6 Replies to “Sabine Hossenfelder proposes superdeterminism” to replace quantum mechanics

  1. 1
    Belfast says:

    I found this part to be the most telling
    We should not, therefore, interpret Statistical Independence as a statement about properties of the real world, but understand it as a mathematical assumption of the model with which we are dealing. This point was made, implicitly at least, by Bell himself [1]:

    “I would insist here on the distinction between analyzing various physical theories, on the one hand, and philosophising about the unique real world on the other hand. In this matter of causality it is a great inconvenience that the real world is given to us once only. We cannot know what would have happened if something had been different. We cannot repeat an experiment changing just one variable; the hands of the clock will have moved, and the moons of Jupiter. Physical theories are more amenable in this respect. We can calculate the consequences of changing free elements in a theory, be they only initial conditions, and so can explore the causal structure of the theory. I insist that [Bell’s Theorem] is primarily an analysis of certain kinds of theory.” (emphasis original)

  2. 2
    FourFaces says:

    Superdeterminism is illogical, in my opinion. Nature is necessarily probabilistic because there is no time dimension and, therefore, it cannot calculate the exact duration of interactions. This is a big problem because exact durations are essential to conservation laws. Nature solves this problem by tolerating temporary violations and using probability to time durations. Over time, the conservation laws are obeyed. The impossibility to calculate time is the reason that subatomic particles decay randomly but decay probabilities remains fixed. The probabilities are predetermined and fixed.

    PS. I’ll post another comment to explain why a time dimension is impossible if anyone is interested. 😀

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    as to this claim from the article:

    But this issue with finding a notion of free will that is compatible with deterministic laws (or even partly random laws) is not specific to Superdeterminism. It is therefore not an argument that can be raised against Superdeterminism. Literally all existing scientific theories suffer from this conundrum. Besides, it is not good scientific practice to discard a scientific hypothesis simply because one does not like its philosophical implications.

    Ironically, Hossenfelder herself discards the perfectly valid scientific hypothesis that we do have free will because it conflicts with her own philosophical presupposition of methodological naturalism.

    Do You Like SETI? Fine, Then Let’s Dump Methodological Naturalism – Paul Nelson – September 24, 2014
    Excerpt: “Epistemology — how we know — and ontology — what exists — are both affected by methodological naturalism (MN). If we say, “We cannot know that a mind caused x,” laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won’t include minds.
    MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed (the illusion of) you of that event after the fact.
    “That’s crazy,” you reply, “I certainly did write my email.” Okay, then — to what does the pronoun “I” in that sentence refer?
    Your personal agency; your mind. Are you supernatural?,,,
    You are certainly an intelligent cause, however, and your intelligence does not collapse into physics. (If it does collapse — i.e., can be reduced without explanatory loss — we haven’t the faintest idea how, which amounts to the same thing.) To explain the effects you bring about in the world — such as your email, a real pattern — we must refer to you as a unique agent.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....90071.html

    Moreover, Hossenfelder claims free will does not exist, (i.e. it is an illusion, we only think that we are making free will choices as to whether we will set the detector settings to this or to that setting), and yet she lays out an argument in which she fully expects us to freely choose her argument that we do not have free will as being more rationally coherent than the argument that we actually do have free will.

    As should be needless to say, Hossenfelder is making a logically self-refuting argument. As Martin Cothran points out, “The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.”

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    In short, Hossenfelder has just committed epistemological suicide.

    More ironic still, Hossenfelder uses the illustration of Penrose’s impossible triangle to try to argue against free will, (and therefore against the reality of the immaterial mind itself), and to argue for Superdeterminism.

    Discussion
    The reader may have noticed a running theme in our discussion of Superdeterminism, which is that objections raised against it are deeply rooted in intuition that is, ultimately, based on the classical physics we experience with our own senses. But these intuitions can mislead us. For an illustration, consider Penrose’s impossible triangle (see Fig 2, bottom). If we see a two-dimensional drawing of the triangle, we implicitly assume that any two arms come closer as they approach a vertex. This raises the impression that the object is impossible to realize in 3-dimensional space. However, the supposedly impossible triangle can be built in reality. The object shown in Fig 2, top, seen from the right direction, reproduces what is shown in the 2-dimensional drawing. From any other direction, however, it
    becomes clear that our intuition has led us to improperly assume two arms necessarily become close as they approach a common vertex.
    We believe that the uneasiness we bring to considering Superdeterminism stems from a similar intuitive, but ultimately wrong, idea of closeness. In this case, however, we are not talking about closeness in position space but about closeness in the state-space of a theory.

    Yet Penrose’s impossible triangle itself, (a Platonic object with no ‘natural’ analog in the space-time of this universe), clearly illustrates that the perspective, and free will, of the observer are essential in rotating the ‘unnatural’ geometric object to a correct position so that it appears as a triangle to us, (i.e. appears as a triangle to the qualia of our immaterial mind, i.e. to our inaccessible inner experience of ‘what it is like’), instead of just appearing as 3 sides of a cube to us.

    Likewise she assumes that we have the free will necessary to search out and eventually choose some mathematical model, out of a veritable infinity of mathematical models, that will eventually prove that we really didn’t have the free will necessary to search out and discover that ‘superdeterministic’ mathematical model in the first place, but that the mathematical model somehow searched out and discovered itself and let us in on its own discovery of itself after the fact.

    As is obvious, and as Ellis himself pointed out, and to put it mildly, this just does not make any sense. “if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options. I find it very hard to believe this to be the case – indeed it does not seem to make any sense.”

    Physicist George Ellis on the importance of philosophy and free will – July 27, 2014
    Excerpt: And free will?:
    Horgan: Einstein, in the following quote, seemed to doubt free will: “If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the Earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord…. So would a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, smile about man’s illusion that he was acting according to his own free will.” Do you believe in free will?
    Ellis: Yes. Einstein is perpetuating the belief that all causation is bottom up. This simply is not the case, as I can demonstrate with many examples from sociology, neuroscience, physiology, epigenetics, engineering, and physics. Furthermore if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options.
    I find it very hard to believe this to be the case – indeed it does not seem to make any sense. Physicists should pay attention to Aristotle’s four forms of causation – if they have the free will to decide what they are doing. If they don’t, then why waste time talking to them? They are then not responsible for what they say.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....free-will/

    And then of course there is the whole issue of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem which proves that there simply never will be a single overarching mathematical ‘theory of everything’:

    “Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (1931), proves that there are limits to what can be ascertained by mathematics. Kurt Gödel halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”.
    Stephen Hawking & Leonard Miodinow, The Grand Design (2010)

    In fact, Gödel’s incompleteness theorem has now been extended to show that there are an infinite number of mathematical theorems that cannot be proved by any finite system of axioms:

    The Limits Of Reason – Gregory Chaitin – 2006
    Excerpt: Unlike Gödel’s approach, mine is based on measuring information and showing that some mathematical facts cannot be compressed into a theory because they are too complicated. This new approach suggests that what Gödel discovered was just the tip of the iceberg: an infinite number of true mathematical theorems exist that cannot be proved from any finite system of axioms.
    http://www.umcs.maine.edu/~chaitin/sciamer3.pdf

    Bruce Gordon succinctly brings the implications of all this into clarity in the following article:

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: ,,,The physical universe is causally incomplete and therefore neither self-originating nor self-sustaining. The world of space, time, matter and energy is dependent on a reality that transcends space, time, matter and energy.
    This transcendent reality cannot merely be a Platonic realm of mathematical descriptions, for such things are causally inert abstract entities that do not affect the material world,,,
    Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.” Anything else invokes random miracles as an explanatory principle and spells the end of scientific rationality.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Moreover, as if that was not bad enough for the materialist, Gödel’s incompleteness theorem is not just some abstract mathematical limit that prevents there from ever being a purely mathematical theory of everything, but Gödel’s theorem has now been extended to physics itself:

    In the following article entitled ‘Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable’, which studied the derivation of macroscopic properties from a complete microscopic description, the researchers remark that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,, The researchers further commented that their findings challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”

    Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable: Gödel and Turing enter quantum physics – December 9, 2015
    Excerpt: A mathematical problem underlying fundamental questions in particle and quantum physics is provably unsolvable,,,
    It is the first major problem in physics for which such a fundamental limitation could be proven. The findings are important because they show that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,,
    “We knew about the possibility of problems that are undecidable in principle since the works of Turing and Gödel in the 1930s,” added Co-author Professor Michael Wolf from Technical University of Munich. “So far, however, this only concerned the very abstract corners of theoretical computer science and mathematical logic. No one had seriously contemplated this as a possibility right in the heart of theoretical physics before. But our results change this picture. From a more philosophical perspective, they also challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”
    http://phys.org/news/2015-12-q.....godel.html

    In short, it is now proven that physicists will never find a mathematical model that links the macroscopic world of general relativity with the microscopic descriptions of quantum mechanics.

    Thus in conclusion, besides Hossenfelder’s argument being inherently weak, lacking empirical evidence, not to mention missing a mathematical model, Hossenfelder’s argument is also logically self refuting and is, most importantly, directly contradicted by advances in our understanding of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem which have linked it directly to the incompleteness that we witness in physics between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.

    Supplemental note:

    Taking God Out of the Equation – Biblical Worldview – by Ron Tagliapietra – January 1, 2012
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) proved that no logical systems (if they include the counting numbers) can have all three of the following properties.
    1. Validity … all conclusions are reached by valid reasoning.
    2. Consistency … no conclusions contradict any other conclusions.
    3. Completeness … all statements made in the system are either true or false.
    The details filled a book, but the basic concept was simple and elegant. He (Godel) summed it up this way: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove.” For this reason, his proof is also called the Incompleteness Theorem.
    Kurt Gödel had dropped a bomb on the foundations of mathematics. Math could not play the role of God as infinite and autonomous. It was shocking, though, that logic could prove that mathematics could not be its own ultimate foundation.
    Christians should not have been surprised. The first two conditions are true about math: it is valid and consistent. But only God fulfills the third condition. Only He is complete and therefore self-dependent (autonomous). God alone is “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28), “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). God is the ultimate authority (Hebrews 6:13), and in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
    http://www.answersingenesis.or...../equation#

  4. 4
    AaronS1978 says:

    DAMN IT BA77 it takes me 5mins to scroll to the bottom now 😉

    Now I’m gonna throw my lack of two cents into this arena because I have nothing but questions

    I’ve been curious about super determinism now because of these posts I started looking it up (it was pre determined)

    I am no expert in this area so any help would be greatly appreciated

    But this is what I could find or “determine” ha!

    From what I can tell there’s no testable hypothesis for this and it’s not really testable because the outcome has already been pre-determined by the Big Bang, and if this is true I calls into question all scientific outcomes (I think John bell mentioned this)

    this seems to be the main objection to this hypothesis

    But are there any test really supporting this hypothesis, is it possible to even test this logically?

    it looks like quantum weirdness it is in fact correct

    But super determinism straight assumes it’s already predetermined which I’m not seeing the difference between it and normal determinism

    But other than philosophical objections why in the world is Sabine supporting this, And from what I’m seeing this is also a philosophical assumption

    I also can’t help the parallel between super determinism and some of the philosophy of the minds for the consciousness is an allusion and the hard problem of the consciousness is being avoided versus being addressed

    This theory seems to be attempting to avoid the free choice loophole. Which doesn’t follow and furthermore the argument she presents that we hold on to our idea of free will which is worth stopping us from excepting super determinism is the exact same argument which is levied against super determinism from what I have read.

    So I might be confused and any help on this would be greatly appreciated

  5. 5
    Ed George says:

    AaronS1978

    DAMN IT BA77 it takes me 5mins to scroll to the bottom now. 🙂

    Are you also suggesting a “read more” button for long comments? 😉

  6. 6
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AaronS

    But super determinism straight assumes it’s already predetermined which I’m not seeing the difference between it and normal determinism
    But other than philosophical objections why in the world is Sabine supporting this, And from what I’m seeing this is also a philosophical assumption

    I don’t fully understand the difference either but it appears that ordinary determinism accepts that some aspects of the universe are subject to randomness. Usually, from what I’ve seen, materialists use this as the source of the illusion of free will. So, our choices come from the random elements and therefore are still materialistic and “determined” but not predictable.
    Superdeterminism, however, I think does not accept any randomness. Everything is strictly determined by physics which is just quantum mechanics.
    Now your big question – why would she prefer this option when trying to defend a “better” free will illusion?
    I don’t know except maybe since the result is exactly the same (you don’t have free will – it’s an illusion) that superdeterminism is more sciency and perhaps it’s easier for her to defend?
    As mentioned, it would be impossible to validate or falsify either, and there shouldn’t be any reason to do it, since we’re supposedly determined by material forces anyway.
    But it goes around and around in circles, since we’re pre-determined to argue about what kind of determinism is controlling us. But if someone merely said that the entire scientific process is a waste of time, then it would be difficult to argue against it since the proposal and counterarguments are also part of the superdetermined quantum effect.
    It’s all part of the atheistic-nihilistic scam. Everything is an illusion. There is no truth. Nothing matters. When we die there is nothing. We are just chemicals – no different, better, worse or possessing any greater value. Human life is nothing. Achievements, purposes, goals – are determined by mindless forces, and end as molecules and energy.

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