# Randomness-chance-accidents

From: James W Stark (stark2301@voyager.net)
Date: Sat Sep 23 2000 - 15:06:06 EDT

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The terms random, chance, and accident come up frequently in our comments
and
trigger complaints or confusion based on unclear meanings. In particular,
the meaning of randomness can be very misleading. Do all of you that have
used
the term, random, have a specific meaning in mind, such as disorder?

It is my understanding that randomness can imply disorder, order, or a
mixture
of the two. Any presence of order asks for an origin or cause. We can
assume
emergence or design in an evolutionary process. Do you see any flaws in the
following "understanding" for randomness? Where do you stand with your
intended meaning for randomness?

I like David Layzer's position that the meaning of randomness is defined by
its
theoretical content. For example, Ludwig Boltzmann locked the definition of
randomness for the microworld to an assumed equality for chance events so
that he could create a statistical property of a collection of molecules
that
would mimic entropy, a macroscopic property of gases. Thus, the
mathematical
relationship was selected to assure correlation of an abstract spatial
randomness
to entropy. That randomness was believed to be a state of low order. The
equality
assumption about chance was essentially dictated by the presence of other
assumptions.
This correlation of randomness to entropy has created an assumed equivalence
between randomness and disorder. This randomness is perceived as equally
undecided events. From this theoretical content, pure randomness would
represent
a state of complete spatial freedom.

Another example: David Bohm saw randomness as an infinitely high degree of
order.
It would be a fixed order that is unpredictable. Indeed, order out of chaos
suggests
a hidden order in what is perceived as random.

Another example: Rudy Rucker tells us that "a sequence of digits is random
if there is no finite way of describing it." A real number is random "if it
has
an irreducibly infinite amount of information." Computer generated "random"
numbers represent a very high order rather than no order. They are
pseudo-random rather than pure random because pure randomness would require
an infinite generator for the series. Pure randomness does not exist in a
physical
reality. It is only a mental construct. Chaitin says, "A series of numbers
is
random if the smallest algorithm capable of specifying it to a computer has
same number of bits of information as the series itself". Rueppel says,
"The idea of randomness clearly reflects the difficulty of predicting the
next
digit of a sequences from all previous ones". Thus randomness can imply
order.

To me, it appears that evolution is a mixture of both order and disorder in
its use of
randomness. A coding for a series of events would involve an equal chance
for each
event and each participant in a gene pool is assumed to be independent.
Random
(chance or accident) mutations create the diversity for the initial gene
pool.
Thus the process starts with a disordered state. Then, natural selection
takes
over to create a sequence of events and establishes a randomness of high
order
based on a goal of survival. The sequence is random because it is not
predictable
and not computable. There is no detectable pattern. Thus, this chemical
randomness would be a mixture of order and disorder.

When David (bivalve) said "Probably much more important is that natural
selection makes evolution highly non-random", it appears that he was
referring to a state of order rather than disorder.

When we do a random search it can imply no order or a high order.
Brian Harper says,
"I think everyone recognizes that a random search alone will
not do the trick. I think the problem with the quotes is failing
to recognize the power of selection. I mean, if evolution really
were a random search then they would be correct. Thus,
the way to correct the error of those quotes is by emphasizing
that selection is not random."
I think he is implying that natural selection adds order.

Lawrence Johnston" <johnston@uidaho.edu> made a reference to a K-S test
for randomness. I am not familiar with this test. Can anyone describe it or
give a reference for it?

Glenn talks of "a pool of random sequences catalyze a chemical
transformation".
Now which kind of randomness is this? Does natural selection create this
sequence? How can evolution be non-random if randomness can be either
disorder
or a higher order depending on the hidden design? The more complex the
design the
more order would be involved.

Can somebody paint a clearer picture of how chance, randomness, and accident
fit together in a consistent story that separates order events from disorder
events for Darwinian evolution?

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