The best explanation of free will ever

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The best explanation of free will ever

Postby Natalie » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:02 am

I am still digesting what this neuroscientist has to say about free will. My friend who sent me the link called him the Wayne Liquorman of Science. His argument is so convincingly strong I got goose bumps watching him. His words created such a strong sense of awe in me...... quite a spiritual experience. There is a great Q and A session at the end. I had never heard of him before or his best selling books.

Enjoy this wonderful video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCofmZlC72g

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby rideforever » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:02 am

Is this interesting ?

I used to love science. But since I have been meditating and studying the workings of my mind, I realise how much garbage it is.

Is there value in science ? I really don't know if there is any. People love it as blindly as any religious nut. And nobody ever takes the trouble to understand it. How many can even answer the question "What is Science ?".

We are taught that Science will provide the answers. And we should wait for further experiments to explain more and more of life.

But that is a f*cking lie. That is living in the future. That is just propaganda.

Meditate and you will be NOW.


The Higgs Boson Thing

Last week scientists detected a Higgs Boson (to 5 sigma or something like that). And there was some video of these old scientists, a group of old men with grey hair, clutching a printout that must have said something like "85.57%" on it. And they declared that they had found the Higgs Boson and broke down into tears around their piece of A4.

Well it seemed totally pathetic to me. These are grown men clutching a piece of paper - what has your life become when you are like this ? What a waste of a life ?

And in what way did you 'discover' anything. You just have confidence interval ... if X > 99.99% then you can say you discovered something.

99.99% .... doesn't seem very sure to me. It like climbing Mount Everest and your guide says, well we near the top. Near the top ? WTF does that mean ?

Near ?

You either found it or you didn't. But actually science cannot 'discover' anything at all. Even something as important as Death. You know what death is to a scientist :

> When there has bee non neurological activity in the brain stem for more than 6.7 minutes !!

What kind of reasoning is that ? More than 6.7 minutes ? Does that satisfy you ? What garbage.

It's utter garbage.

There were eras where scientists would have been imprisoned for being stupid self-promoting liars. But mankind has stooped to such a low level that he thinks an iPad is important ...

And these Higgs Boson men, after they have stopped weeping over there 86.9% printout can go home to their bad relationships, unhappy wives, to a world of war and poverty,to a planet on the edge of environment collapse. But at least they have helped invent the IPad3.

In other words they helped nothing. They did nothing. They contributed nothing to our 'understanding' ... they contributed quite a lot to the distraction that will lead us quickly to the termination of our species.

Neurology ? Free will ? Just forget it. Sit down and meditate and you will have your answer.

Buddha showed the way 2,500 years ago - but only the intelligent have listened, the other 99.897% bought iPads.

This is how it seems to me.
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby karmarider » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:01 am

Thanks for posting, Natalie. I usually like what Sam Harris has to say.

I don't think there is any free will, but ultimately the question of free will is undecidable. And also a very emotional one for many.

You might like the brain scientist Ramachandran. He looks for the neurological basis of free will and delusion, etc: http://www.ted.com/talks/vilayanur_ramachandran_on_your_mind.html
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby Webwanderer » Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:07 pm

I haven't listened to the whole talk as yet as it's rather long, but in his early comments set-up he says "I hope to convince you that free will is an illusion"....

So, is he unconsciously acknowledging that the listener has a choice to believe, or not to believe, that free will is an illusion? To what conscious mechanism is he speaking that could decide one way or the other? The irony was palpable. Gave me quite a chuckle.

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby Ralph » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:39 pm

Webwanderer wrote:I haven't listened to the whole talk as yet as it's rather long, but in his early comments set-up he says "I hope to convince you that free will is an illusion"....

So, is he unconsciously acknowledging that the listener has a choice to believe, or not to believe, that free will is an illusion? To what conscious mechanism is he speaking that could decide one way or the other? The irony was palpable. Gave me quite a chuckle.

WW

Good catch ! WW ... now that's very funny . :)
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby karmarider » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:42 pm

It is funny.

But it doesn't prove that Sam Harris unconsciously believes in free will. It just proves the conventionality of the English language.

He might have more accurately said that he has no choice but to believe that free will is an illusion and the listeners will have no choice but believe it one way or another.

As he says later, if free will is found to be an illusion, it doesn't change anything. We can still fight Hitler and we can still lock up child molesters, even if we know that they had no choice in their actions, and we can still debate about the question of free will.

But nevertheless the question of free will remains a highly emotionally charged subject for people. As Jed Mckenna said, it's one of humanities' last remaining arrogances.
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby Webwanderer » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:20 am

karmarider wrote:But it doesn't prove that Sam Harris unconsciously believes in free will. It just proves the conventionality of the English language.


Maybe, or maybe it just demonstrates the obvious. Something of Occum's Razor seems appropriate here. Rather than conjure up some tortured and complicated mental concept within a materialistic philosophy, it seems simpler and more likely that choice and free-will are fundamental to conscious being. It is after all, our direct experience to choose.

I'm not suggesting that there are no limitations on what possibilities are attainable in this human experience. I am suggesting that there are less limitations than most imagine to exist. It is only though an open and honest exploration that one may glean a fair measure of what can be. Belief in no choice, when choice is the norm, seems far more likely to create limitations on experience than exercising even the smallest of available choices.

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby Natalie » Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:54 am

Finding out that it is a scientific fact that everything we are consciouly intending to do is preceded by neural events of which we are not concious, of which we are not the authors, has pretty much settled the free-will issue for me.

Good catch WW. I missed that originally but went back and saw it.

Thanks for the link karmarider. What an incredibly misterious organ the brain is. I now have a list of rare brain syndromes to look up in google.

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby karmarider » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:17 pm

There is measurable evidence that neural activity precedes what we think of as our "direct experience" of choice. That settles the question for me too. But it brings up another interesting question as to why nature (or the mind) has gone to the trouble of giving us the illusion of choice.

Natalie, Ramachandaran is one of those wild-haired genius scientist who has rare ability to be interesting to general crowds. He studies damaged brains, as a way to learn how normal brains really work. Here's another link; these are a series of BBC lectures he did: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2003/lecturer.shtml
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby rideforever » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:47 pm

karmarider wrote:There is measurable evidence that neural activity precedes what we think of as our "direct experience" of choice. That settles the question for me too.

I was reading yesterday how all of Science relies on a few basic assumptions - and these assumptions have not been proved.

One assumption is that causality flows in the direction of time. In your sentence above you say that neural activity precedes our experience. Here you are using the assumption that causality flows in the direction of time.

... which has not been proved. It could flow in any direction.

Another assumption is that through doing experiments you can know the truth of existence. Why should this be the case ? The results of your experiments might have absolutely nothing to do with reality. Perhaps the only way to know something is to surrender to God.

These assumptions have not been proved, and the acceptance of them is part of a deep brainwashing of mankind.
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby Webwanderer » Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:23 pm

Natalie wrote:Finding out that it is a scientific fact that everything we are consciouly intending to do is preceded by neural events of which we are not concious, of which we are not the authors, has pretty much settled the free-will issue for me.

The history of the world is full of 'scientific fact' that was later found to be in error. A study of near death experiences gives exceedingly strong evidence that conscious being and choice continue to exist beyond the life of the brain and body. Many in Neo-Darwinian based science labor hard to explain this away as merely chemical reactions in a dying brain; but to many other scientists, and especially to those who actually experience the NDE, such attempts are a more a demonstration of trying to prove a bias that to seek out actual truth.

Consciousness beyond the brain is difficult to measure outside the brain, and to materialistic scientists, if it can't be measured, it can't be considered. It's like a jury coming to a final verdict without all of the evidence. It may be legally final, but it doesn't necessarily make it true.

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby karmarider » Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:27 pm

rideforever wrote:
karmarider wrote:There is measurable evidence that neural activity precedes what we think of as our "direct experience" of choice. That settles the question for me too.

I was reading yesterday how all of Science relies on a few basic assumptions - and these assumptions have not been proved.


The basic tenets of science have no assumptions. Science is observation, prediction, testing, observation.

However, you are right that in many scientific theories, there are assumptions.

What I like about science is that it does test its own assumptions. The double-slit experiment for example shows that the universe is not objective, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle shows that everything may not be knowable through science. Godel's theorem shows that mathematics, which is science's most important tool, is incomplete.

One assumption is that causality flows in the direction of time. In your sentence above you say that neural activity precedes our experience. Here you are using the assumption that causality flows in the direction of time.

... which has not been proved. It could flow in any direction.


This is true, but the reason we know this is because of science. Our everyday experience (what people like to call "direct experience") tells us that there is a forward arrow of time. Science tells there need not be. All the important equations of science work well either way. And there are experiments which show that quantum particles makes a choice (the quantum wave collapses) backwards in time, after it is detected.

So your objection to science is valid but it's important to note that you know of this objection because of science. Which is what I like about science.

Free will would assume causality, which as you have pointed out is just an assumption. Objectively the question of free will is undecidable. Personally, it's settled for me.

But the question of free will is largely philosophical--it makes no difference in the satisfaction of life.

Another assumption is that through doing experiments you can know the truth of existence. Why should this be the case ? The results of your experiments might have absolutely nothing to do with reality.


Science is an attempt to understand observable reality through observation. It's interesting and useful in some ways. I don't recommend you use science to understand the truth of your existence. It's incomplete and it makes known assumptions.

Perhaps the only way to know something is to surrender to God.


I don't recommend this either. "God" is much bigger assumption than science. When fear goes, surrender does happen.

These assumptions have not been proved, and the acceptance of them is part of a deep brainwashing of mankind.


Yes, we make some pretty big assumptions. What Sam Harris is pointing out is to consider whether free will is one of these assumptions.

Any human exploration, whether it's science or spirituality or some belief system, is valid. But if the objective is the know the truth of existence, I recommend the elimination of the basic fear of life as the first step.
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby Webwanderer » Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:06 pm

karmarider wrote:There is measurable evidence that neural activity precedes what we think of as our "direct experience" of choice. That settles the question for me too.

It may settle it for those who believe that consciousness resides solely in the brain. The problem with this type of scientific approach is that it presumes that consciousness is a function of the brain, but as there is no conclusive proof of this such a presumption is merely a leap of faith based on a materialistic world view. If however, consciousness and choice have origins beyond the brain then it proves nothing on the matter of choice. Neural activity may simply be responding to greater origins. At best, it may be evidence that choice does not originate in the brain - no argument here. Are you and Natalie suggesting that consciousness does originate in the brain?

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby karmarider » Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:45 pm

Webwanderer wrote:
karmarider wrote:There is measurable evidence that neural activity precedes what we think of as our "direct experience" of choice. That settles the question for me too.

It may settle it for those who believe that consciousness resides solely in the brain. But if consciousness and choice have origins beyond the brain then it proves nothing on the matter of choice. Neural activity may simply be responding to greater origins. At best, it may be evidence that choice does not originate in the brain - no argument here. Are you and Natalie suggesting that consciousness does originate in the brain?

WW


What I am suggesting is the same thing Sam Harris is suggesting, that the choice made in the brain is not a sentient free-will choice. The child molester has no choice, given the conditions.

The absence of free will does not preclude the idea that consciousness is outside the brain. It does not suggest it either. That's a different inquiry.

Of course, the human mind is much more comfortable if it knows that somewhere along the line, it can make choices. That may be the case. Or not. But maybe that's why the delusion of free will is built into the brain.
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Postby rideforever » Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:53 pm

karmarider wrote:The basic tenets of science have no assumptions.

Science ... makes known assumptions.


? You are contradicting yourself quite badly. Should you have confidence in your opinions when you do this ? You seem confident but you contradict yourself badly.


So your objection to science is valid but it's important to note that you know of this objection because of science

No, I knew it at birth. It's not because of Science that I know what lying is.

You do not connect to truth because of Science. That's ridiculous. You are already connected.


This is true, but the reason we know this is because of science.

It has come to my attention that dogs are also scientists. They don't chase a rabbit into a thorny bush twice. Experiment, observation, results, conclusion. So it's not special

Science is not special. To even give a name is just the blindness of mankind wanting to be superior because they have lost contact with who they are.

Would you call a tree a 'scientist' because it chooses to grow towards the sunny areas after sending out its shoots into all directions. The tree experiments and learns.

But humans want to differentiate themselves again from everything else. "We are scientists, we have the big banana." It's pathetic really.

The depth of brainwashing that has occurred to mankind is much deeper than most realise.
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