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In the context of quantum mechanics, superdeterminism is a term that has been used to describe a hypothetical class of theories that evade Bell's theorem by virtue of being completely deterministic. Bell's theorem depends on the assumption of "free will", which does not apply to deterministic theories. It is conceivable, but arguably unlikely, that someone could exploit this loophole to construct a local hidden variable theory that reproduces the predictions of quantum mechanics. Superdeterminists do not recognize the existence of genuine chances or possibilities anywhere in the cosmos.

Bell's theorem assumes that the types of measurements performed at each detector can be chosen independently of each other and of the hidden variable being measured. In order for the argument for Bell's inequality to follow, it is necessary to be able to speak meaningfully of what the result of the experiment would have been, had different choices been made. This assumption is called counterfactual definiteness. But in a deterministic theory, the measurements the experimenters choose at each detector are predetermined by the laws of physics. It can therefore be argued that it is erroneous to speak of what would have happened had different measurements been chosen; no other measurement choices were physically possible. Since the chosen measurements can be determined in advance, the results at one detector can be affected by the type of measurement done at the other without any need for information to travel faster than the speed of light.

In the 1980s, John Bell discussed superdeterminism in a BBC interview:[1][2]

There is a way to escape the inference of superluminal speeds and spooky action at a distance. But it involves absolute determinism in the universe, the complete absence of free will. Suppose the world is super-deterministic, with not just inanimate nature running on behind-the-scenes clockwork, but with our behavior, including our belief that we are free to choose to do one experiment rather than another, absolutely predetermined, including the "decision" by the experimenter to carry out one set of measurements rather than another, the difficulty disappears. There is no need for a faster than light signal to tell particle A what measurement has been carried out on particle B, because the universe, including particle A, already "knows" what that measurement, and its outcome, will be.

Although he acknowledged the loophole, he also argued that it was implausible. Even if the measurements performed are chosen by deterministic random number generators, the choices can be assumed to be "effectively free for the purpose at hand," because the machine's choice is altered by a large number of very small effects. It is unlikely for the hidden variable to be sensitive to all of the same small influences that the random number generator was.[3]

Superdeterminism has also been criticized because of its implications regarding the validity of science itself. For example, Anton Zeilinger has commented:

[W]e always implicitly assume the freedom of the experimentalist... This fundamental assumption is essential to doing science. If this were not true, then, I suggest, it would make no sense at all to ask nature questions in an experiment, since then nature could determine what our questions are, and that could guide our questions such that we arrive at a false picture of nature.[4]

Claim of Unambiguous Empirical Evidence[edit]

In order for superdeterminism to be more than a metaphysical theory it would need to be based on physical reality. Only unambiguous empirical evidence showing the complete absence of free will would be able to contest Bell's theorem. The scientific method[5] of predicting effects (guess) derived from a hypothesis (another guess) is inherently restricted to obtaining ambiguous results by placing effects prior to cause and so cannot be used to obtain empirical evidence of absolute value. In order to obtain empirical evidence of absolute value it is necessary to establish cause prior to effect. Since it is impossible to conduct any experiment without first making a selection, it is necessary to include all manner of choice and the absence thereof in order to establish, without ambiguity, which type of selection event caused the effects that follow. By establishing cause prior to effect in the process of investigating phenomena, ambiguity is nullified.

In April 2011, Manuel S Morales presented initial findings, published in January 2011,[6] consisting of unambiguous empirical evidence of absolute determinism at the American Physical Society meeting.[7] In a twelve year experiment that concluded in 2012,[8] Morales claims to have obtained unequivocal evidence that the experimenter is not free to choose measurement settings because the initial conditions of a selection, i.e., pairing an act directly with one potential or pairing an act indirectly with more-than-one potential, do not preexist and without these initial conditions it is impossible for the effect of a measurement to take place. In a peer-reviewed article,[9] Morales applied his findings to particle physics where it was revealed that physicists at CERN did not take into account which mutually exclusive selection variable caused which particle collision effect used to obtain evidence of the Higgs boson discovery.[10][11] At the experiment web site Morales writes:

"Selection events can only come to exist and for that to happen their construct needs to be predetermined as innate mechanisms of Nature. This means that the two mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive acts of selection are nonlocal hidden variables such that these variables cannot exist locally as observable or measurable physical states. In other words, how an act becomes and act is predetermined. What is not predetermined is the existence of the act itself. Turns out, Albert Einstein was indeed correct about the notion of hidden variables that would provide a more complete description of reality. However, he was incorrect as to where to find them".

To test if the acts of selection are indeed fundamental laws of a super-deterministic physical universe and not mere cognitive acts, we can contest the findings in real life via the Final Selection Thought Experiment as follows:

Ho - If the two acts of selection are not necessary for your existence then you can safely conduct the Final Selection Thought Experiment in real life and continue your existence.

Ha - If the two acts of selection are necessary for your existence then you cannot conduct the Final Selection Thought Experiment in real life in order to continue your existence.

Final Selection Thought Experiment:

Let's say that one morning upon awakening you find yourself absent of the ability to choose, e.g., paralyzed from the neck down. This means you cannot choose to move your body whatsoever. You cannot choose to take in any fluids. You cannot choose to take in any nourishment. You cannot choose to relieve yourself, et cetera. Nor can you have others indirectly choose for you.

Conclusion - Morales comments, "The outcome of conducting the thought experiment in real life is absolute. The effect of a physical system to no longer have the capacity to make direct selections is certain death. The assumption that selection is some sort of option, a freedom of will, is unsubstantiated by the fact that this predetermined mechanism we call choice is how energy works which is a fundamental necessity, not a metaphysical or cognitive option of our physical existence. In other words, when the origin variables of selection come to exist, energy exists, for they are one and the same. As the thought experiment illustrates, we have the ability to choose because we do not have the option to not choose in order to exist."

As a philosophical theory based on the notion that existence is self-causal, superdeterminism is assumed to deny the possibility of making selections, as it states that any choice is only apparent, therefore the selection not being a selection. However, previous empirical "facts" based on statistical inference or metaphysical assumptions cannot supersede the laws that govern our existence. Either we can violate the laws of a super-deterministic physical universe as exemplified by the thought experiment, or we cannot. There is no in between.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BBC Radio interview with Paul Davies, 1985
  2. ^ The quotation is an adaptation from the edited transcript of the radio interview with John Bell of 1985. See The Ghost in the Atom: A Discussion of the Mysteries of Quantum Physics, by Paul C. W. Davies and Julian R. Brown, 1986/1993, pp. 45-46
  3. ^ J. S. Bell, Free variables and local causality, Epistemological Letters, Feb. 1977. Reprinted as Chapter 12 of J. S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics (Cambridge University Press 1987)
  4. ^ A. Zeilinger, Dance of the Photons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2010, p. 266. Abner Shimony, Michael Horne and John Clauser made a similar comment in replying to John Bell in their discussions in the Epistemological Letters: "In any scientific experiment in which two or more variables are supposed to be randomly selected, one can always conjecture that some factor in the overlap of the backward light cones has controlled the presumably random choices. But, we maintain, skepticism of this sort will essentially dismiss all results of scientific experimentation. Unless we proceed under the assumption that hidden conspiracies of this sort do not occur, we have abandoned in advance the whole enterprise of discovering the laws of nature by experimentation." (Shimony A, Horne M A and Clauser J F, "Comment on the theory of local beables", Epistemological Letters, 13 1 (1976), as quoted in Jan-Åke Larsson, "Loopholes in Bell inequality tests of local realism", J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 47 (2014))
  5. ^ Bradford, Alina. "Science & the Scientific Method: A Definition". LiveScience. LiveScience. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Morales, Manuel S. "Physics of Predetermined Events Complementarity States of Choice-Chance Mechanics". The General Science Journal. The General Science Journal. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  7. ^ Morales, Manuel S. "Abstract: E13.00009 : PHYSICS OF PREDETERMINED EVENTS". American Physical Society. American Physical Society. Retrieved 30 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Morales, Manuel S. "Tempt Destiny Experiment Results". ResearchGate. ResearchGate. doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.3304.9125/1. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Morales, Manuel S (24 December 2012). "Assumed Higgs Boson Discovery Proved Einstein Right" (PDF). International Journal of Fundamental Physical Sciences 2 (4): 44–47. doi:10.14331/ijfps.2012.330035. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  10. ^ CMS Collaboration (17 September 2012). "Observation of a new boson at a mass of 125 GeV with the CMS experiment at the LHC". Physics Letters B. Volume 716 (Issue 1): Pages 30–61. doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2012.08.021. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  11. ^ ATLAS Collaboration (17 September 2012). "Observation of a new particle in the search for the Standard Model Higgs boson with the ATLAS detector at the LHC". Physics Letters B. Volume 716 (Issue 1): Pages 1–29. doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2012.08.020. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 

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