How much of what happens in our lives is driven by random chance occurrences, how much is pre-determined, and how much do we control things ourselves? We all like to think that we have freewill and that we make choices. Most often these choices seem to determine our outcomes. But random stuff still seems to crop up in our lives. An accident, an illness, the passing of a loved one, a chance meeting, or an unexpected opportunity. Serendipity or dose of rotten luck could both just be around the corner.
The world we live in is full of scientific laws of cause and effect. A causes B, C causes D. If you know the initial setup of a system then you can predict what will happen to that system in the future. This is what is known as determinism, and it is favoured by many philosophers and scientists. But of course complex systems are very sensitive to what these initial conditions are. This is what Chaos theory is about. Although a system might appear to be chaotic there is still an underlying structure with repeating patterns within it.
If a system does not behave in a predictable manner, then we think that there is a degree of randomness operating within it. Dice rolling is an example of a random system. Roll a 6-sided dice and there is an equal chance of any number from 1 to 6 being rolled. Although we tend to accept the idea that there is a degree of randomness to life one wouldn’t make life choices by rolling a dice all the time, would one? However, the most successful scientific theory ever, quantum physics says that the future, of subatomic particles at least, is randomly determined. As everything in the physical world is made of sub-atomic particles, does this mean that everything in life is randomly determined?
In a random system all outcomes are equally possible, and are therefore equally valid. Rolling a 3 on a dice is no more or less likely than a 5, and is no more or less valid an outcome either. What we tend to do is we ascribe meaning to the outcomes of events. “I didn’t want to roll a 3, I wanted a 6!” Or “I don’t want this outcome in life I wanted this one”. Before you roll the dice all outcomes are equally valid and equally likely. Does this mean that all of your life’s possible outcomes are equally valid too, even if they are not equally appreciated by you?
Over a number of years The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) centre, performed a huge number of experiments to see if people could, by volition, affect quantum-based random number generators (RNG). Some of the PEAR research findings were; when a group of people were engaged in a shared emotional experience, the RNG in the room started to produce non-random patterns; whereas when a similar size group were engaged in a non-cohesive activity, the RNG was still random. They also found that couples with a deep emotional bond produced much more significant results when attempting to influence RNGs together than they did separately, or when non-bonded couples completed the same experiments. Does this then mean that human thinking, emotional connection, and focused attention can reduce randomness?
Based on the PEAR research, is it then too big a step to say that having a goal or objective to focus on in life reduces the apparent randomness of events in your life? My personal view is that human thinking does very much affect what we experience in life. And at the same time we can still get a few curve balls thrown our way for reasons that we can barely begin to understand today. If this happens to you then remember that all outcomes are valid outcomes. You may not of got one that you preferred, but that does not mean that it is invalid as such. Focus on what you want, roll the dice again without insisting on a particular outcome. Maybe this time your numbers are coming up!
“We are called to be the architects of the future, not its victims.” Buckminster Fuller.