Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby Vreejack » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:14 pm

Zeku wrote:Kind of repeating myself here, but Fate discussions (and Fate comics) are always my least favorite.

I don't understand how Fate or Predictions can exist, without a will or a mind implementing them. Thus, only the will or mind matters. The Fate and Predictions are just the intermediate step: "This is what I'm going to do later." The way Rob is expressing these F/Ps are in terms of numbers. A zero-sum equation. But who is writing the equation?

I can see this panning out two ways. The first is a layered narrative involving god-like entities. This only works if you've got a good long-term story in mind.

The second is a closed self-referential system. Fate affects Numbers affects Logistics. What affects Fate?

1. Unknown gameworld rules, which could in turn be:
2. System imbalances (anisotropy)
3. Self-feedback loops (chaos theory)
4. #2 reflected as unit preference (like Orks, things become true if everyone wants it)
5. Fate is a symptom of some unknown factor existing outside the world. This would require that Erfworld be a kind of pocket universe, within another.
6. Fate is a product of each unit's mind, and in fact is simply the individual unit's perception that their beliefs and external events are correlated.

Fate, "just because" stinks. At the same time, if there is an explanation for it, I wouldn't want it revealed suddenly.


Perhaps Erfworld has a law of conservation of Fate. When a predictamancer makes a Prediction, they are seeing a glimpse of a moment of time in the future. When that happens the event becomes a boundary condition that places limits on all other dependent variables. If you think of the flow of events through time like the flow of water through a pipe, if someone opens or closes a valve downstream it will affect the flow of water through the pump. If the flow is cut off, then a pump can try all it wants but the water is not going to flow. It will either overheat or discharge through its pressure release valve, but the water will not flow unless there is a way around the shut valve.

Place a good conductor in an electric field and all the electric field lines will align themselves to be perpendicular to its surface. If the surface has a high curvature, like at the point of a lightning rod, then all the field lines will seem to converge on that point. It doesn't matter what the field lines were doing before the conductor was placed there, they all adapt to it, whether you can see them or not. But as you get farther and farther from the conductor, its influence disappears, and the field lines behave as if it were not there. Magnetic field lines have similar rules. What happens when you push bar magnets together pole to antipole? That's the easy way. But if you try to push matching poles together then they resist quite strongly, to the point that a strong attempt against a very strong magnet can produce some violent and unexpected reactions.

Perhaps Predictions are like conductors and magnets in E-M fields. They affect the flow of actions very strongly in their immediate vicinity, and push hard against forces trying to fight them.
Last edited by Vreejack on Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
So...Watashi wa mizugorō ga sukina koto o kiita, neh?
A Prediction is what would have happened had there been no Prediction. What is scary is that they are also what will happen in spite of the Prediction.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby Vreejack » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:31 pm

arkerpay wrote:If the answer is yes, there is free will and there can't be fate.
If the answer is no, she does not have free will.


This is a rather absolute and useless definition of free will. By your interpretation no one can ever have free will, which is, of course, an argument made about the real world.

Unless you want to argue that free will requires characters to be capable of making absolutely any decision for any reason or no reason at all, then your argument is flawed. For a character to make the decision you describe--slitting her own throat--she would have to be able to place more importance in the preservation of the target's life than in her own. This is possible, but it would be rare, and I would suggest that if Contrary Connie were actually capable of this then the Prediction would never have been made in the first place.

But let's assume she has reason. Perhaps she loves the person she is supposed to kill and would do anything to avoid that fate, so she arranges her own death. The result? Croakamancer Wanda decrypts her and circumstances change. Perhaps she falls out of love with him or learns that he was not the man she thought he was, and that the safety of Erfworld depends on his death. And perhaps if the predictamancer had been able to see the entire history played out, it would have flowed in just that way.

The greatest limits on our own free will are the ones we place there ourselves.
So...Watashi wa mizugorō ga sukina koto o kiita, neh?
A Prediction is what would have happened had there been no Prediction. What is scary is that they are also what will happen in spite of the Prediction.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby Pokota » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:49 pm

Vreejack wrote:
arkerpay wrote:If the answer is yes, there is free will and there can't be fate.
If the answer is no, she does not have free will.

Unless you want to argue that free will requires characters to be capable of making absolutely any decision for any reason or no reason at all, then your argument is flawed.

So then how do you rationalize stuff like Duty? Loyalty? Ruthlessness?
zyxophoj wrote:Also, it depends rather heavily on Wanda ... not being Wanda.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby arkerpay » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:01 pm

Vreejack wrote: if Contrary Connie were actually capable of this then the Prediction would never have been made in the first place.


I predicted someone would bring that point up. I kept my prediction to myself though, because you would have used your free will not to bring that point up if I mentioned it.

Sooo, I guess Connie the Barbarian is fate-proof then if she insists on being contrary. So Predictamancy can apply to the actions of everyone but her, unless she is unaware of the prediction. OK, we are getting somewhere....

PS: I have read some of your posts. You are really smart and the croakamancer work-around is beneath you. It wouldn't be Connie doing the killing...mens rea just does not apply in that scenario.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby drachefly » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:34 pm

Every argument about free will arises from differing definitions of the word. So, let's not use that and break it apart into its components. I predict with 80% confidence that there will be no remaining arguments.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby Zeku » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:25 pm

Everything hinges on your original statement:

Vreejack wrote:When a predictamancer makes a Prediction, they are seeing a glimpse of a moment of time in the future. When that happens...


A glimpse you say? Where does the glimpse come from? If the future is set in part, or in total, then the whole argument becomes a tautology. "The future is set, because it's set." How?

-Intelligently orchestrated
-Partially determined by unknown factors
-Fate is randomly generated, in a different way than other things are randomly generated.

Whichever is true, further explanation is required
Last edited by Zeku on Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby cheeseaholic » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:44 am

arkerpay wrote:If the answer is yes, there is free will and there can't be fate.
If the answer is no, she does not have free will.


Then she gets decrypted, uncroaked, or used as a bludgeoning weapon to kill the king. Or else the prophesy simply isn't made because she has that kind of personality and only true prophesies can be made. Or perhaps prophesies have only so much power and can be overcome. Or maybe she secretly is the king and just doesn't know it.

The problem with fighting that kind of fate is there's so many ways things can go. Especially if you got an all powerful GM with retconjuration.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby arkerpay » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:00 am

drachefly wrote:Every argument about free will arises from differing definitions of the word. So, let's not use that and break it apart into its components. I predict with 80% confidence that there will be no remaining arguments.


Your prediction made with alpha = 0.20 did not come to pass, but your comment involving definitions is spot on. Quite clever in fact! My original comment had to do with the incompatibility of Luckamancy and Predictamancy in Erfworld...or any gaming system. Free Will became incorporated because (I thought) it would be an easier concept to discuss than probability.

Let us define Luckamancy as the ability to change the probability of an event occurring. This can easily be incorporated into any game system where the outcome of a discrete event is random (i.e a die roll). Let us define the event E, of an action occurring at a particular time in a particular place. The outcome of this event is true or false. So the probability P of the event being true is P(E) = 0.80

With (a hypothetical implementation of) Luckamancy, you can affect P(E) by boosting it or dampening it. So your friendly Luckamancer alters P(E) = 0.95, or an enemy Luckamancer curses you to P(E) = 0.55. This sort of magic can easily be incorporated into a gaming system.

But with Predictamancy, a Prediction about the event requires P(E) to be an element of {0,1}. Assume a prediction is made that the event will not occur (P(E) = 0). Your friendly Luckamancer now tries to use his magic to alter the event to be P(E) > 0

If your Luckamancer succeeds and P(E) > 0, Predictamancy fails.
If your Luckamancer cannot alter P(E), Luckamancy fails.

Thus the two disciplines are incompatible. But this is a story, and I will enjoy it anyway.

Now I Predict that someone will respond with an argument and bring in information outside of or ignore the definitions and conditions I have set.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby raphfrk » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:15 am

arkerpay wrote:So now a Predictamancer creates a prophecy that Connie the Barbarian will croak King Snidely. The prophecy is communicated to both of them. Connie is short for contrary and she doesn't like being told what to do. So she decides NOT to croak King Snidely. Then it occurs to her that she might identically croak him somehow later, thus fulfilling the prophecy. So she takes her dagger and cuts her own throat with it. Can she make that decision?

If the answer is yes, there is free will and there can't be fate.
If the answer is no, she does not have free will.


She is prevented from cutting her own throat in the same way a person is prevented from jumping to the moon in our world.

The explanation in the comic is that luck (which is part of the laws of physics) is linked to predictions.

In that case, she would be "lucky". For example, she could miss her throat or give herself a wound that makes her pass out, but is not fatal. However, that luck has to repaid elsewhere. Maybe, one of her allies slips and stabs himself in his stomach, dying, while trying to stop her.

In the end, she discovers "the hard way" just causes pain and doesn't work. Being near someone who has a fate but is trying to block it, is not very healthy.

So, she has free will, she can decide to try to frustrate fate, but that choice is choosing to take luck from those near her, so that she can fulfill what was predicted.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby Vreejack » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:07 am

Pokota wrote:
Vreejack wrote:
arkerpay wrote:If the answer is yes, there is free will and there can't be fate.
If the answer is no, she does not have free will.

Unless you want to argue that free will requires characters to be capable of making absolutely any decision for any reason or no reason at all, then your argument is flawed.

So then how do you rationalize stuff like Duty? Loyalty? Ruthlessness?


I don't. Those are obviously violations of free will, and are intended to be. Just as troopers seem often to be partly mindless robots. But we are also limited by what we are and what we want to be, and it doesn't seem fair to claim that it deprives us of free will because we refuse to do something we really don't want to do.

And we must remember that that this is a story set in a reality that attempts to be very different from our own. It might not be entirely self-consistent when you look at it very closely, but I am willing to suspend disbelief if the pursuit of sense is entertaining in itself.
So...Watashi wa mizugorō ga sukina koto o kiita, neh?
A Prediction is what would have happened had there been no Prediction. What is scary is that they are also what will happen in spite of the Prediction.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby Vreejack » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:23 am

Zeku wrote:Everything hinges on your original statement:

Vreejack wrote:When a predictamancer makes a Prediction, they are seeing a glimpse of a moment of time in the future. When that happens...


A glimpse you say? Where does the glimpse come from? If the future is set in part, or in total, then the whole argument becomes a tautology. "The future is set, because it's set." How?

-Intelligently orchestrated
-Partially determined by unknown factors
-Fate is randomly generated, in a different way than other things are randomly generated.

Whichever is true, further explanation is required


We do not actually know what the predictamancer sees. Perhaps they only get a short cryptic text message, like a telegram, but from the language they use it seems more likely that they suddenly become convinced of something, almost as if they had received a text message, but without the actual message. As if a Titan had whispered it in their ear. For example, the predictamancer did not know which ruler of Haffaton would be killed, only that a warlord named Jillian Banhammer would croak one (or whatever...we did not get the exact message). Also, Predictamancer Delphi knew that Jillian would eventually discover the message left for her, but wasn't quite sure of the name, as if she had heard it whispered some place but wasn't sure what she had heard. Sister Marie, when discussing Wanda back in Faq reacted to Wanda's name as if she had just suddenly realized something, or had just remembered it. And here it can be seen that that predictamancers are not always entirely reliable, for when Marie heard Wanda's name she had the sudden sense that Banhammer's death was suddenly much closer. This was not literally true, though technically what Marie said about it was not a Prediction.
So...Watashi wa mizugorō ga sukina koto o kiita, neh?
A Prediction is what would have happened had there been no Prediction. What is scary is that they are also what will happen in spite of the Prediction.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby bladestorm » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:34 am

arkerpay wrote:
drachefly wrote:Every argument about free will arises from differing definitions of the word. So, let's not use that and break it apart into its components. I predict with 80% confidence that there will be no remaining arguments.


Your prediction made with alpha = 0.20 did not come to pass, but your comment involving definitions is spot on. Quite clever in fact! My original comment had to do with the incompatibility of Luckamancy and Predictamancy in Erfworld...or any gaming system. Free Will became incorporated because (I thought) it would be an easier concept to discuss than probability.

Let us define Luckamancy as the ability to change the probability of an event occurring. This can easily be incorporated into any game system where the outcome of a discrete event is random (i.e a die roll). Let us define the event E, of an action occurring at a particular time in a particular place. The outcome of this event is true or false. So the probability P of the event being true is P(E) = 0.80

With (a hypothetical implementation of) Luckamancy, you can affect P(E) by boosting it or dampening it. So your friendly Luckamancer alters P(E) = 0.95, or an enemy Luckamancer curses you to P(E) = 0.55. This sort of magic can easily be incorporated into a gaming system.

But with Predictamancy, a Prediction about the event requires P(E) to be an element of {0,1}. Assume a prediction is made that the event will not occur (P(E) = 0). Your friendly Luckamancer now tries to use his magic to alter the event to be P(E) > 0

If your Luckamancer succeeds and P(E) > 0, Predictamancy fails.
If your Luckamancer cannot alter P(E), Luckamancy fails.

Thus the two disciplines are incompatible. But this is a story, and I will enjoy it anyway.

Now I Predict that someone will respond with an argument and bring in information outside of or ignore the definitions and conditions I have set.

The fault of this is that Predictamancy states that at some point, P(x) = 100, where x is an event at some point in the future, and that an event WILL occur, not that it will NOT occur. Luckamancy can indeed alter P(E) > 0, or P(E) < 100. Luckamancy exists. x <> E, and Predictamancy exists.

I'll agree with the definition of Luckamancy, especially constrained to a discreet event. I disagree with Predictamancy also being a discreet event with such constraints. With P(x, y) = 100, where x is an event and y is a point in time, something that affects x also affect y. Actions, luckamancy, inactions, and fighting against your Fate all alter x, which also alters y. The amount of change in y is the backlash of Number required to balance the equation. The same goes for altering y, by trying to force the event x to happen sooner or later than the original equation.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby Vreejack » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:42 am

arkerpay wrote:
Vreejack wrote: if Contrary Connie were actually capable of this then the Prediction would never have been made in the first place.


I predicted someone would bring that point up. I kept my prediction to myself though, because you would have used your free will not to bring that point up if I mentioned it.

Sooo, I guess Connie the Barbarian is fate-proof then if she insists on being contrary. So Predictamancy can apply to the actions of everyone but her, unless she is unaware of the prediction. OK, we are getting somewhere....

PS: I have read some of your posts. You are really smart and the croakamancer work-around is beneath you. It wouldn't be Connie doing the killing...mens rea just does not apply in that scenario.


Well, thanks. I try. But I probably did not make my point clearly. Predictions are apparently inviolable, which means they must account for the reactions of the predictamancer and everyone else who hears of the Prediction. If you imagine the Titans as being outside of time (in the same way the author is), then you can see that they have no difficulty manipulating events (by making Predictions) in such a way as to generate desirable outcomes. Suppose Sylvia was predicted to die at Spacerock. It might have looked very bad for that Prediction when she died at Gobwin Knob, but the Titans had already seen what would happen, and knew that Wanda would decrypt her because they had already seen it coming.

Note that predictamancers do not actually make Predictions, they only receive them from someplace else, with perhaps some interpretation as we have seen with Delphie's note to Jillian. Whoever or whatever is feeding them these Predictions already knows what will happen as a result. In a sense this is not idle speculation on my part; it is literally true. Rob Balder is feeding the characters their Predictions and he knows exactly what is going to happen as a result.

An implication of this interpretation is that even the Titans cannot just throw out any old Prediction, because there is a strong tendency for them not to come true. If the Prediction had been that Jillian would croak the florist, Dame Olive Branch, then she might have been able to defeat it, so the Titans fed their predictamancer a different Prediction: that Jillian would croak the overlord. In this interpretation Predictions are always True because the Titans have already seen them come to fruition, even as a result of making the Prediction. Thus I propose the following: the Titans have restricted their influence on Erf to crafting artful self-fulfilling Predictions, and they do so to amuse themselves.
So...Watashi wa mizugorō ga sukina koto o kiita, neh?
A Prediction is what would have happened had there been no Prediction. What is scary is that they are also what will happen in spite of the Prediction.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby Kreistor » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:02 am

arkerpay wrote:If the answer is yes, there is free will and there can't be fate.
If the answer is no, she does not have free will.


True only within a narrow definition of the power that creates Prophecy in the first place. Your baseline assumption is that Predictamancy causes a future to occur. There is an alternate view of Predictamancy that permits Free Will while also retaining Fate.

If the power that creates Predictions is timeless, that is it exists at all times simultaneously, then there is no Force behind Predictmancy on the actions of those that suffer Predictions. To whit, the Power observes an event, decides to create a Prediction concerning it, places the Prediction in the timeline, and observes if it changed events to make the event come true. If not, it undoes the Prediction, chooses another, or simply does not create a Prediction at all, leaving the event unPredicted.

Predictamancy is random. Sometimes they get answers, sometimes not. This can be explained by the creation of Paradox with this style of Prophecy. If a Prophet tells a General, "You will win this battle", but that knowledge causes the General to make a mistake and lose, while saying "You will lose this battle," causes the General to make a good decision and win, there is no resolution, except for the Predictamancer to say, "I do not know." In this way, predictamancy retains its absolute veracity, without railroading humans into a set course, leaving Free Will intact.

It cannot work in RPG's. Try as they might to be little godlings, GM's are not outside of time and cannot know how a Prophecy will cause players to react. it seems so easy in books to arrange, which inspires GM's to continually try Prophecy, but ultimately, it can only work one way. Players must agree to ride the rails before the game starts. This is how I run my "rival" characters, which act as sub-plots for player interest. I ask the Player if he wants a Rival, and point out to the others that this is one Player's Rival, so hands off. If the player wants a Rival, I make it clear that they must not prove that you can murder such characters, because you can. For a Rival to remain long term, the player must find rationalizations for the PC to keep letting the Rival live. In the same way, you might get Player buy-in for a Prophecy plot line.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby effataigus » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:15 am

arkerpay wrote:Your prediction made with alpha = 0.20 did not come to pass, but your comment involving definitions is spot on. Quite clever in fact!
You have no idea. Drachefly is brutally consistently right, and he has the quatloos to prove it. As for his prediction, perhaps I misunderstood, but it seemed to be predicated upon people agreeing upon a definition of free will and luckamancy first.

I have no problem reconciling fated events and luckamancy. I would just argue that luckamancy has no power over fated events just as predictamancy has no power over non-fated events, croakamancy has no power over cloth and cotton, and dollamancy has no power over dead bodies. This update suggests that Marie's predictamancy can act how we typically think of luckamancy acting because this event is fated. If Wanda is to be believed, not everything is fated, and there are many paths from one important point to the next. The trajectory of the path between them that is used passes through many events that are important for many people (consider Wrigley, who had no known fate) and can be altered by luckamancy.

Now, if the multiple paths between fated events is just a symptom of Wanda's limited perspective then yes, luckamancy is only beneficial to the extent that one may have been given better a fate as a result of having luckamancy... but that same argument could be used to invalidate any beneficial aspect of a person.

Hahah, all this is why I wish most authors would keep their fate in their pants. We all know it's there, but we don't need to see it till the end and showing it ruins the suspense.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby teratorn » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:46 am

Free will isn't the only issue with prophecy. It probably doesn't exist in the real world, yet the future likely would not be repeatable. Quantum randomness and microscopic fluctuations average out and may seem insignificant but will have real impact after some time. One can not predict simple things like the exact genetic makeup of a given individual being born, or even if it will be born at all, or if it will get some sort of cancer and die before what was expected, since mutations are affected by things like radioactive decay that are inherently random at quantum level. Not only for humans, but also for animals and microorganisms that may interfere with one's life. True randomness can not exist for prophecy to work.

Even if there is no free will in Erfworld, for prophecy to work the seemingly random events can not be random. We have seen evidence of that, but characters also seem to think that some degree of choice is possible (hard way versus easy way) so the world could allow for some randomness and branching of possible futures.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby Kreistor » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:08 pm

teratorn wrote:Free will isn't the only issue with prophecy. It probably doesn't exist in the real world, yet the future likely would not be repeatable.


It isn't. And you're close on quantum mechanics. Back a decade or so ago, a physicist proved that one property of one sub-atomic particle does nto reverse if time reverses, so any reactions it took part in would not reverse properly. Consequently, one view of time, that it could go forward and back without us knowing it was doing so, was defeated.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby cheeseaholic » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:27 pm

I'm having trouble seeing how the ability to predict something has anything to do with choosing something irl. Whether or not you can know what the choice will be, the choice is still chosen. How it is chosen seems unimportant. Having chance (quantum particles in this case) having an affect or not doesn't seem to make a difference.

In the story I'd say that the mind controlling stats are a limitation of free will however, as they can make a character do something they do not choose to do, a la Parson slapping himself. I suppose reflexes in the real world would be a good analogy here - it happens whether you choose for it to happen or not.
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby effataigus » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:02 pm

Kreistor wrote:It isn't. And you're close on quantum mechanics. Back a decade or so ago, a physicist proved that one property of one sub-atomic particle does nto reverse if time reverses, so any reactions it took part in would not reverse properly. Consequently, one view of time, that it could go forward and back without us knowing it was doing so, was defeated.
I'd be curious to know more about how this was done (just for the lulz). Know of a link, or any names that are likely to get me close with an internet search?
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Re: Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) – Episode 064

Postby teratorn » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:23 pm

I suppose reflexes in the real world would be a good analogy here - it happens whether you choose for it to happen or not.


We probably never chose things to happen. Assuming thought is controlled by the brain, whatever we do is fully determined by flows of ions across membranes made of lipids and proteins, and those obey to cause and effect, are basically deterministic in nature. Our actions are completely determined by the state of our cerebral hardware and software, information stored and whatever stimulus that influences us at the time. Recent neurophysiology results on decision making support this.

Free will in the generally accepted sense doesn't exist unless you postulate a «ghost in the machine» (a soul) something that doesn't behave causally in the sense that its actions given the exact same circumstances could be different. Erfworlders do have something like souls outside of their physical bodies, since their thought patterns can be replicated by decryption.

effataigus wrote: I'd be curious to know more about how this was done (just for the lulz). Know of a link, or any names that are likely to get me close with an internet search?


I think he is talking about CP violation in the kaon.
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