If random is occurring, it has direction

Any actual evidence to support this absurd claim?

Thanks for the clarification, @r_speir. That’s helpful.

I think perhaps the key issue is whether there is a qualitative discontinuity between, say, a probability of 0.00000001 and a probability of 0.0000000.

I think that, for all practical purposes, there is not. There are likely events, unlikely events, wildly unlikely events and impossible events. While our language makes it seem as though there is a qualitative break in that continuum, I don’t think the mathematics supports it.

Your move then is to suggest that any event with a finite non-zero probability must necessarily have zero probability prior to its occurence. I’m not sure why you think that is the case. Many events, once they are set in motion, have a probability considerably above zero. Once a human ovum is fertilised, even including non-implantations, spontaneous abortions, intentional abortions, stillbirths and so on, the probability that a human baby will be born is something like 0.3. I’m not sure it’s helpful or meaningful to say that the probability was zero at some earlier time.

Perhaps the logical flaw is also ‘post hoc, ergo propter hoc’: B happened after A, therefore B was caused by A. This is often not valid. Earth having a day-night cycle of roughly 24 hours happened after Earth not existing at all, but I don’t think we’d argue that Earth’s prior non-existence caused the diurnal cycle.

I remember a report in the Journal of Irreproducible Results in which the authors heard that the beating of a butterfly’s wings in China could have a major influence on the weather in North America weeks later. So they went to China and reported catching the butterfly, which they showed mounted.


The zero probability space is the one where we don’t roll the dice at all.


It even has a distribution associated with the possible outcomes: 0 Heads and 0 Tails has probability 1, all other values of (H, T) have zero probability. Actually this is not a silly example if we have a number of tosses drawn from some distribution, with zero tosses having nonzero probability.

1 Like

No, this blurs the lines because it tries to mix separate “spaces”. In the game of roulette there is truly a predictable, non-random, zero probability “space” all its own, whose mathematical value is zero and not even 0.00000001 above (as your first comment claimed). Then there is the random “space” where all random tosses of the dice occur. Never can the random space experience a mathematical probability of exactly zero, but will always be north of zero, no matter how fractionally small.

This is progress. Now, add that the physical location of that zero probability space is the flat tabletop. It is the ever present, predictable, non-random subspace on which all random space roulette tosses will occur.

My suggestion is very simple. All random spaces - whether in the game of roulette, in the quantum world, or in mutating DNA - erupt from or occur due to the presence of a predictable, non-random subspace. Further descriptions of this subspace might be “unconditional, nonnegotiable”.

So what would the predicable, non-random subspace of mutating DNA be? Cell division. Random mutations will never occur unless that subspace is first in place. And since cell division is predictable and non-random and since the random space of mutating DNA is dependent upon and even predicated on the nonnegotiable subspace of cell division, I am going to have to venture that some degree of determinism and direction is at play in the process of mutating DNA.

And since random mutations are a cornerstone of the evolutionary paradigm, I am proffering that, based on the arguments of subspaces, you may not really be able to completely rule out determinism and that what might have been considered wholly or purely random in nature, may in reality take on a more directed course.

(And as usual, so that there is no misunderstanding of my personal standing in the discussion, I always have to add a disclaimer that I am in no part - small or large - an evolutionist, nor will I ever be one. I am merely discussing your paradigm as viewed within your belief system and bringing up points of interest that may or may not have been overlooked in previous discussions.)

No, the physical location of the ZPS is everywhere - everywhere where we don’t roll the dice. In other words, it is the Universe. Hardly a ‘sub-space’, it probably is bounded in time (Big Bang and heat-death), it is non-random but it isn’t fully predictable (as per Heisenberg).

Making up stuff is fun!

Although studying geology is more fun…

1 Like

For a low probability but non-zero, random event,

The half-life of xenon-124, the longest measured, is about 18 sextillion years (1.8 x 10^22 years).

So if you take a xenon-124 atom, and plunk it on your desk and watch for a minute, that works out to a
0.0000000000000000000000000001057 chance of seeing it decay. As Dirty Harry would ask “ Do you feel lucky, punk?

But even those odds are better than the BBT Penny joke:

1 Like

But DNA can be replicated with an enzyme and a cycling temperature, completely removed from the context of the cell. This reality is exploited in the process of PCR which I invite you to click on the link and read about.
But mutations still happen in PCR. Mutations still occur when DNA is replicated outside of the context of the cell. There are even different versions of PCR called error-prone PCR which are used to generate mutations when scientists want to generate random variations of the DNA being used.

There is, but you seem to have confused the concept of random with the concept of uncaused. When some particular basepair in DNA is replicated and a mutation happens to occur, there really is a physical cause of why that mutation occurred. There is some reason found in the physics and chemistry of what happened at the moment of replication, why it occurred when and where it did.

Nobody is saying that DNA mutations are random in the sense of not having any reason for why they occur when and where they do, they are using random in the sense of unpredictable before they happen(except in a statistical sense), and random with respect to the particular needs of the organism (mutations occur whether they are favorable to the organism or not).

To see an example of a random process that has a well understood, deterministic physical explanation, consider the example of the creation of the binomial distribution on the Galton Board:


For what it’s worth, I didn’t make a ‘claim’ about very low probabilities, I asked a question: Is there really a qualitative difference between a very low probability and a zero probability? You want to describe these as different ‘spaces’, but I’m not sure that really holds.

As someone else noted above, your visualisation of zero probability as a plane or table is one possible visualisation, but there are many others, including as a geometrical point, line or 3D space… and that’s even before we get into non-Euclidean geometries.

I do think that your analogical system falls into the ‘post hoc, ergo propter hoc’ logical error I mentioned, in that you claim that if something happens prior to something else it must be the cause of it. Fabian Quartararo won the qualifying event in the MotoGP (motorcycle equivalent of Formula 1) last night my time and I carried my daughter’s elderly dog down the stairs this morning because her arthritis makes it too hard to walk. Fabio’s win didn’t cause my actions. You need to add a qualifier about relevance, I think: Fabio’s win means he will start from the first row of the grid in the MotoGP race tonight. Without his win he wouldn’t. But that’s just normal old causality.

It was necessary first for space-time in this universe to exist prior to the quarks coming together to form protons, but I don’t think we’d argue that the space-time itself caused the latter process, despite being a necessary condition for it. The arrow of time means some things must happen before other things, but without a direct causal chain that does not imply determinism or direction.

You say that you will never be an evolutionist, but want to presume to critique evolutionary theory, which is something you are entitled to do, but I would argue that you are critiquing a misconception about what it entails, rather than evolutionary theory itself.


I assure you that I have a complete understanding of zero probability. It’s a job requirement. :wink: