We only know something isn't random because we observe correlations. Yes "correlation is not causation" but we only know that through observing correlations or rather lack thereof when we set out to deliberately create a condition A that we've observed tends to correlate with condition B when it occurs by itself. And then we see that when we create condition A on purpose it does not lead to a greater incidence of condition B.
Since exceptions to correlations happen and since observing everything is impossible there will always be some things which are random.
One could arguably say that "Randomness" is God. As everything that isn't random must trace its origins back to Randomness, so what occurs truly randomly controls everything.
I am not by any stretch of the imagination qualified to say this, but it does seem to me that more recent discoveries/theories in the field of quantum physichs tends to suggest that there can indeed be truly random events, at least on that level. What that entails for the larger scale world we inhabit is anyone's guess (or more likely the area of speculation for wiser men than I).
You can perform the same input a million times receiving the same output and still acquire a different outcome at 1,000,001. This happens all the time in controlled experimentation but duet the nature of the limitation of control is considered to be immaterial. This is esp. Prevalent in testing medicines where you get that .00001% who died while 99% made a full recovery. The interaction with the body, all things being equivalent, was just random effect.
Chance or luck only exist because we lack the capacity to factor in ALL available information to make our conclusions.
If I spun a revolver with one round in it, put it against my head and played the game of chance, it would only seem like an unpredictable action because I simply lack all required data.
If I knew which chamber held the bullet before spinning, calculated the force at which I spun the chamber, knew the resistance that the chamber would give, (among many other factors) I could logically predict which chamber the bullet would be in.
As far as randomness existing within our consciousness, as we lack the means to comprehend such quantities and calculations of data, this would be true. But I believe this is the only place "randomness" as a concept could truly exist.
Like missing the bus this morning, or walking past a particular person, you know, every single little thing like that. I think it's sort of planned by some kind of a force. (I don't want to refer to God because i'm not religious) And it makes much more sense when you change your perspective and think that everything in the world conspires to favour you (--that's in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, just in case anyone is interested. Great book.)
Nothing (I believe) is ultimately random. Take a pair of dice. You toss the dice, they fly through the air maybe bounce into eachother, then hit the ground/floor. The smallest movements in your hand will cause different outcomes, and then the bounce off from eachother will change the outcome, ans so will the floor/table. But really, the toss would be the same from the start. Unless, of course, an outside force knocked them off the predestined course causing a completely different outcome.
2 "random" guys walk into a bar. Why? They heard about this place downtown with the best scotch. And desided to try it out. Were they REALLY "random" guys? I think not. But I'm sure others would beg to differ.
I asked this question because I'm genuinely curious. However, in a closed cause/effect system, I can't really see anything being random. I may be wrong. Please give your answers and reasons, EVERYONE.
Blackkid, I am genuinely very interested to see what you say.
This is a very interesting question. Very interesting. Question. (Just getting to the 50-word quota.)
Nothing is without cause. If an atom moves in a direction, it's because force was applied to it. The smaller we go into the building blocks of this world, the less we know, and more likely we are to use the word random. Random is simply what we don't understand there is a reason for everything, and a reason for every reason.
When we consider systems, such as our body and the universe, we become awed at their complexity. It is this very complexity that makes events seem random--like drug-patient interactions and cosmic events. However it is really masked complexity that makes them appear random. There are billions of interactions every second in the human body, these numerous interactions can go wrong in many different ways, such that cause the processes of aging. On there own these malfunctions generally do not cause major disturbances, but sometimes they can. If one could tally all the factors of a person's ecosystem, including genetics, allergies, environmental factors and so on, we could predict the result of any treatment. However this is unrealistic and so chance mishaps occur. The same thing is true of even our solar system (let alone the vastness of space). Most of the time things run fairly smooth on Earth (another system of masked complexity). But sometimes a meteor hits and forces life on this planet to start anew. Scientists have become very good at predicting possible events in the last few years, but they can't predict everything. Now I'm not saying on a cosmic scale things are planned, but they do occur in a certain order along with how the universe works and if we knew all of the relevant info we could predict them. It is the fact we are unable to know all the relevant info that we cannot predict an event. My hypothesis is there may not be true randomness anywhere, but only higher degrees of complexity.
Many things just seam random because we lack the knowledge needed to make a highly accurate prediction consistently.
Example: A lottery: If we knew every minute detail about the balls, the device, the reaction time the person operating it would have etc. It would be possible to predict the outcome. The issue is, though each ball is almost identical in all factors, their initial placement and even slight differences would affect the outcome. Seeing that the trigger to allow the ball to pass into the tube is operated by a person, many factors of that person would also come into play. Had they taken a slightly shorter or longer time to move the slide, a different ball would have likely been selected. It is because of so many variables that making a precise calculation is nearly impossible, and why people perceive it as random.
Even in computers, some companies pay huge amount for a random number generator, like those that manufacture electrically controlled slot machines. One example of a simple random number generator would be based on an internal clock. Say that a there are about 1000 different possible outcomes on a slot machine. Each outcome is given a number 1-1000. In the computer is a virtual wheel that is constantly spinning, even when nobody is playing. At the moment you pull the handle, what ever number the wheel is on is picked as the outcome. Seeing that the speed of the wheel is based on the processor speed, the wheel could be making a full rotation thousands or more times per second. This makes making an accurate prediction almost impossible.
In the end, each even has a cause for it to happen in that way.