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NonScientist's Achievements


Quark (2/13)



  1. Well, I have to say, after my week of delving into the scientific research and philosophy that has been done on free will, I’ve come out of it with a more confident belief in free will. I’ve also come to reject the notion that “billiard ball”, newtonian determinism can account for everything in the universe, which it clearly cannot, and no one disputes this. I’ve also done quite a bit of looking into this “backward time referral” phenomenon, and it sure enough is very real, and has been replicated in probably a dozen different neuroscience studies that I’ve read so far, including the famous Libet study. The Libet study also included experiments where (and I’m summarizing sloppily) Libet placed electrodes on the exposed brain of neurosurgery patients, and viewed their brain activity on EEG. He then conducted tests where he would stimulate a part of the person’s brain, and he noted that if the stimulation was sustained for 500ms, then there would be a conscious experience at the 30ms mark. He discovered that the 500ms of stimulation was the length of time required for “neuronal adequacy”. But he found that if stimulation was cut short of 500ms, then there would be no conscious experience at the 30ms mark. This is very strange, because seemingly the way to interpret this is that the conscious mind must know ahead of time whether or not neuronal adequacy will be achieved. If it isn’t, then the mind seems to not refer a subjective conscious experience. This at the very least brings the belief that consciousness is “epiphenomenal” and “illusory” into question. But Libet himself concluded that our conscious mind actually lives in the near future, and refers our subjective experience backwards in time to the marker of each moment we experience (i.e. backward causality). This conclusion was actually never refuted. Some scientists were baffled by it, but no one has disputed this finding. Libet also concluded that, while he still believed that the conscious mind was emerged from the physical brain, he believed his study showed that the mind is distinct from the physical brain. He concluded that the subjective referrals came entirely from the conscious mind, and that there was no evident neuronal basis to them. The backwards time referral phenomenon was also demonstrated other studies (and again I’m sloppily summarizing) which showed subjects various stimuli on the screen, and the subject’s showed the relating brain activity several seconds before the stimuli even appeared on the screen. For me, this clearly means free will is real, but at the very least you can say this is interesting stuff. It shows that at least “billiard ball” determinism is not the whole picture in the universe, and if we showed that the mind ran on separate laws, it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve discovered a separate set of physical laws from Newtonian mechanics.
  2. No, I convinced myself. I fought the harsh feelings.
  3. I’m basically over it now. I thought about it, and I decided that this thought having control over me is depleting my free will. If I have free will, then I can will myself into feeling better. I DO genuinely believe in free will. Like I said before, will is not the same as ability. Throughout this funk I’ve been in, my will was to stop the funk, but I lacked the ability for a bit. But eventually I started overcoming it. I actually don’t think determinism in itself means there is no free will. I could be consciously deciding my every thought/action, but it could still be determined by the laws of physics. I’m also going to keep researching this “backwards time referral” concept. It has been demonstrated in studies before. It’s very interesting.
  4. I’ve been watching and reading a lot of stuff on this, and I conclude (for now) that it’s an axiom and a dead end topic. It leads to tons of riddles and paradoxes we don’t seem capable of solving. I just have to figure out a way to get this topic off my mind, because it’s literally driving me crazy. I’ve been in an existential crisis and funk for the past three days that has probably been the most uncomfortable of my life. I want it to end.
  5. I believe we have conscious free will. I believe that if the lights are on, and you’re conscious, not impaired by a tumor or physically bound or held captive in some way, then you are a free agent. I don’t believe deterministic physics explains the universe. It clearly doesn’t, because we’ve discovered different things since Newton’s laws that tell us it’s not the full picture. For me, determinism is like saying race car drivers are just doing a futile thing because the cars are just deterministic objects doing what they were always determined to do. Anyway, at some point I’ve got to get off this topic or it’s going to drive me insane. Those two videos last night made me feel better. I went to bed much calmer last night. That was day three of the existential crisis. I’ve been fighting it though. Guess it’s my free will to fight my urges.
  6. I’m feeling slightly better today. I found some videos and studies last night that sort of eased my fears of fatalism. I’m also interested in this notion of backwards time referral of conscious experience. Apparently it has been demonstrated in studies more than once. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3470100/
  7. This is what bothers me, and why I have to basically ignore science for the sake of my own mental health, because the notion that I have no freewill basically, to my mind, invalidates everything about me. It reduces me to nothing. Nothing but atoms, neurons, and particles moving around deterministically. It basically means that everything I am is an illusion, and is not real. My mind cannot handle this conclusion. I have to believe that my thoughts are real, and that my actions and decisions are my freedom to make. This topic is literally driving me crazy, almost to the verge of a mental breakdown. Suddenly, nothing seems real. The problem is, I’ve already been exposed to these concepts. Forgetting them is difficult. I hate science because it tells me who I am is an illusion, and replaces a healthy, fulfilled view of myself and of life with something that is hollow and meaningless. Damn you scientists/philosophers!
  8. Obviously, I don’t believe that humans have control over everything that our bodies do, or everything that goes through our brains, but I do believe that humans have some form of free will. I’ll just give some of my defenses for free will. You can tell me if they’re coherent... First, just because they may be able to predict decisions we make before we are consciously aware of them does not mean we don’t make decisions, and does not disprove free will. Besides, I don’t even think those experiments have ever been done with any more than 65% accuracy, which makes them unconvincing. Also, nobody has shown that consciousness is required to make decisions. But we also experience the world and existence, don’t we? We are aware of ourselves, and can correct for things, right? We can study, practice, learn, create, etc. We can get better. We can adapt. But don’t we also experience the world, and learn from our mistakes, then use that information to make more informed decisions in the future? That, to me, is a form of free will. We may not be able to choose differently in any singular situation, but to me that is not the same as saying we don’t have free will. We adapt, we can change our behavior. We can weigh pros and cons, and make choices. I think people also confuse ability with will. Just because I lack the ability to do something, does not mean I lack the will to do it. I also don’t believe that freedom and will are the same thing. I can have the will to do something in a particular instance, but lack the freedom (i.e. I could have the will to walk out the door, but I’m tied to a chair). That also brings up the point that there are likely times you have more free will than other times. When you’re asleep you might have less free will than when you’re awake. A baby might have less free will than a full grown adult, etc...This seems reasonable if you take into account the fact that you can vary a person’s freedom by chaining them, imprisoning them, or through other means. It only follows that you have more free will at certain times than others. I also believe that saying we are just robots made of flesh, and that our thoughts are just the product of deterministic natural laws is just too reductionist a view of ourselves as humans. If you’re going to just reduce our thoughts to predetermined neurons firing, you might as well go the whole hog and just say that we humans don’t even exist, for we are just the earth/universe taking on this current form, and that the idea of “humans” isn’t even real. I guess what I’m saying is, how far down do you want to reduce us? It just becomes a useless and frankly degrading and unfulfilling way to view ourselves. Lastly, I will say that it used to be believed that Newtonian mechanics, and the deterministic laws of the universe were all there was, but then we discovered quantum mechanics, and that showed that the universe is not completely deterministic on every level. I’m not saying this proves free will, but at the very least it shows that we don’t know enough about the brain/mind to conclude that there is no free will. I have to believe that we aren’t just robots, that our choices/futures aren’t predetermined and inevitable, and that we do, on some level, have freedom of will.
  9. Okay, so I’m new here. Hi everyone. So I’m not sure why this is affecting me this severely, but I recently discovered the whole “free will vs. determinism” question, and I’ve realized quickly that I should’ve never been introduced to this idea, because I’m finding it almost impossible to deal with the notion of not having free will. It has sent my mind into this state of extreme shock, agony, and despair that almost seems insurmountable. It’s like my whole world and everything I believed has been flipped on its head. I’m serious in saying that this has sent me into a straight panic and shock. I feel like I’m having this nervous breakdown. It’s an overwhelming feeling. I’m trying to keep myself calm and just relax, but this has really messed me up. Does anyone here believe in free will? Or can offer any good defenses or arguments for free will? I feel like I need to be reassured that there is free will or else I won’t be able to deal with it. The idea that everything is predetermined, and I’m just robot with no agency or ability to do otherwise is more than my psyche can handle. I’m sort of in this crisis.
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