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  #41  
Unread May 3rd, 2006, 09:52 AM
Carey N Carey N is offline
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Default Re: Evolved Psychology - Brain Region Tied to Regret Identified

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Oh, one of the reasons you and I probably confuse each other is that you have incorporated terms into your vocabulary to the point where you assume nuances that I don't get from literal translations. For instance "Stochasticity" seems to be just an antonym for 'determinism' and you used it in your description of determinism: "cannot be deterministically modelled (due to the influence of stochasticity . . . but it can be simulated - very different)".
Right . . . sorry about that. I don't pretend to completely understand the literature in this area, but to my knowledge, many of these complex processes (e.g. collective decision-making by ants, fish schools, bird flocks, etc.) are modeled such that random variables (drawn from a Normal distribution) are incorporated into the behavior of individuals in the groups. This is what I mean by stochastic - there's a random variable somewhere in the modeling process.

For example . . . an individual fish's directional preference might be a function of a bit of information it has about a resource patch somewhere, where it is with respect to other fish in its vicinity (it wants to stay with the group, but not get too close to other fish), the presence of predators, and then some random noise, which could be due to a combination of sensory error, tiny heterogeneities in the pressure on either side of the fish, etc. (that's the stochastic part . . . interestingly, these collective systems often don't work at all without the noise component incorporated).

When you put a bunch of 'fish' in a simulated 3-D environment with a few simple behavioral rules (as above), they can collectively choose the most efficient resource patches (even if only a few individuals have information), avoid predators, divide and re-fuse, and do all other sorts of incredible things. To my knowledge, this process has not and cannot be captured by conventional mathematics - perhaps it can be coarsely approximated, but not captured in full. That's how we justify using the word "emergence" in this context.

So, in one sense (which you have stressed), everything is determined, in that the future invariably depends on the exact current conditions of the universe. But in another sense, the behavior of complex social groups actually depends in part upon the influence of random noise. Again, I'm not an expert in the this area, but it's a pretty fascinating situation.
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  #42  
Unread May 3rd, 2006, 10:14 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Carey: I think we're talking about two different aspects of science: you're speaking of principles, and I'm speaking of practice. Yes, everything is determined, in the sense of which you're speaking….

I've expressed the same principle in a different post: “Stochasticity doesn't mean we're free, just that it's harder to trace what's going on.”
The term “stochastic” is typically defined as a “process with an indeterminate or random element as opposed to a deterministic process that has no random element”—are you now suggesting/implying that “random” elements in a stochastic process are actually just “unknown” (or possibly unknowable) elements?

Also Carey, in your post 36 above you spoke of systems “in principle”:
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The idea is not that the math would be difficult - if that were the case, someone would have figured it out - but rather that some (surprisingly simple) systems cannot, even in principle, be described by deterministic equations.
So which way is it? Apparently Tom doesn’t see the inconsistency here, unhelpfully labeling it “nuance,” but then Tom often doesn’t seem to require much rigor in certain things, even insisting that mass murderers aren’t morally responsible . . . and the nice thing about Tom’s bullshit “nuance” is that it might enable you two to reach some sort of circle-jerk consensus. Or am I being too harsh?
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  #43  
Unread May 3rd, 2006, 10:59 AM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Originally Posted by Fred H.
Apparently Tom doesn’t see the inconsistency here, unhelpfully labeling it “nuance,” but then Tom often doesn’t seem to require much rigor in certain things, even insisting that mass murderers aren’t morally responsible . . . and the nice thing about Tom’s bullshit “nuance” is that it might enable you two to reach some sort of circle-jerk consensus. Or am I being too harsh?
Yes, too harsh. Just because my thoughts disagree with yours does not make them unrigorous 'BS'; it just makes them right .
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  #44  
Unread May 3rd, 2006, 11:13 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Carey: So, in one sense (which you have stressed), everything is determined, in that the future invariably depends on the exact current conditions of the universe. But in another sense, the behavior of complex social groups actually depends in part upon the influence of random noise..
When you say “random noise” in your last sentence, do you actually mean “random,” or do you mean “unknowns” and/or possibly unknowables?

B/c if there truly is “random” “noise” impacting the behavior of anything, then the future will depend on more than just “the exact current conditions of the universe,” and the next time Tom farts the universe could possibly implode . . . or would you view Tom’s farts as nothing more than nuances?
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  #45  
Unread May 3rd, 2006, 11:16 AM
Carey N Carey N is offline
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it might enable you two to reach some sort of circle-jerk consensus. Or am I being too harsh?
I don't think you understand what I was saying (though I'm not going to categorically deny that there may be small inconsistencies in what I say - my explanation below should be helpful).

I am very curious though . . . in real life - outside this forum - when someone says something that strikes you as unappealing or incorrect, do you go with the admittedly sophisticated "circle-jerk" criticism, or the more classical "yo momma's fat" approach? I personally prefer the latter style, as it's far more likely to wind up the opponent and thus prevent him from returning a cogent response.


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are you now suggesting/implying that “random” elements in a stochastic process are actually just “unknown” (or possibly unknowable) elements?
You must acknowledge the distinction between real life, and an environment simulated in a computer. In real life, fish suffer from all sorts of sensory errors and tiny environmental influences, all of which together take the appearance of random "noise" in their behavior. Perhaps in principle, these factors are knowable, but in practice they are not. To approximate the influence of these factors in a simulation model, a stochastic variable is incorporated into the behavior of individual fish. The variable, usually drawn from a Normal distribution, is meant to represent that "noise" present in the real world. Thus, to extend the example in my previous post:

Preferred orientation of fish A = weighted average of (orientation dictated by information about resource + orientation dictated by position of other fish + orientation dictated by presence of predators) + random value from from a Normal distribution with mean 0 and SD=1.

To me this seems pretty straight-forward . . . random variables are incorporated into models as a short-hand for the tiny real-life influences that effectively add a stochastic element to individual behavior.

So, please tell me if there's still a contradiction.

Last edited by Carey N; May 3rd, 2006 at 11:37 AM.
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  #46  
Unread May 3rd, 2006, 11:32 AM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Originally Posted by Carey N
Perhaps in principle, these factors are knowable, but in practice they are not.
Yes, deterministic but not necessarily determinable (by mere humans and computers). You're absolutely right on this.

I really wish you hadn't closed the door on a conversation on free will being an illusion, I guess I'll have to wait for other rational minds that disagree with me on this point.

Great posts!
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  #47  
Unread May 3rd, 2006, 12:06 PM
Carey N Carey N is offline
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Default Re: Evolved Psychology - Brain Region Tied to Regret Identified

Fred! Hit the "reply" button on the post to which you're directly referring, or the thread structure becomes unwieldy.


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When you say “random noise” in your last sentence, do you actually mean “random,” or do you mean “unknowns” and/or possibly unknowables?
I mean unknowns . . . thank you for pointing this out . . . the unknowns together look like random noise from our perspective, but in principle they are quantifiable things, like sensory error. And again, in our models, this apparent noise is approximated with stochastic variables.

Last edited by Carey N; May 3rd, 2006 at 01:01 PM.
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  #48  
Unread May 3rd, 2006, 01:33 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Carey: I mean unknowns . . . thank you for pointing this out . . . the unknowns together look like random noise from our perspective, but in principle they are quantifiable things, like sensory error. And again, in our models, this apparent noise is approximated with stochastic variables.
Sure Carey—seems that we now actually do more or less agree here, although I suppose I’m a bit disappointed b/c now the discussion may not deteriorate to a point that’ll enable me to utilize one of my sophisticated "circle-jerk" criticisms.”

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Carey: When you break wind, Fred, does the room smell like: a) cinnamon rolls b) cotton candy c) depleted uranium d) all of the above.
Let me put it this way: The disgust engendered by such a smell is dwarfed by the disgust engendered by Tom’s proclamation that mass murderers are not morally responsible, regardless of whatever “nuance” one places on “morally responsible.” (Perhaps Tom’s disgust module is not functioning properly? And interestingly, if you watch and listen closely enough to Margaret’s circular drivel, her ultimate point also is that we humans aren’t truly morally responsible in any meaningful way.)
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