Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0083, July 16, 2015

DEPT. OF PHYSICS


Probability Rules




Copyright 2015 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

     This rather mysterious image sets the mood for today's chat though it's not explicitly relevant to it. The question du jour continues yesterday's thread about patterns: how do patterns happen? And the title "Probability Rules" can be understood two ways: "there are rules of pattern formation that are governed by probability", or, "it's probability that's running the show". It works either way.

     Given a number of individual observations we note that they are not (indeed cannot be) perfectly random. Something induces them to clump in certain ways more often than not. Two factors are at work here: one is the character of each observation (the actual change in information involved) and the other is the probability of the observation occurring under the circumstances surrounding its happening.

     "I didn't understand a word you said so far," states Prickles categorically. All I'm saying is that, given a bunch of individual events, the probability of each of the various possible configurations (patterns) among them influences (but does not absolutely determine) how they actually relate to one another. "So where do those probabilities come from?" asks Prickles, clearly grasping the idea. Ah! That's the Big Question. Some part of the probability has to do with how much energy is required to achieve each particular configuration but that is not the whole story. Conscious intentionality can actually shift the probabilities in the desired direction. "You mean some patterns are intentional?" asks Prickles, amazed. Surprise, surprise!

     "I suppose," Prickles muses, "this intentionality of some patterns gives their meaning another dimension." Yes, it points to the desire that helped bring about the pattern. In the end, it may not be probability that rules how events evolve, after all, but the desire. "Well, I'll be," she says.



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