Question about free will??
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15-02-2012, 07:53 AM
RE: Question about free will??
Whether or not causality is a reality is up for debate. Whether or not we can use deterministic principles to make accurate predictions about destiny is demonstrably false. Chaos theory tells us that these sorts of predictions are impossible.

Quote:Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for chaotic systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general.[1] This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved.[2] In other words, the deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable.[3][4] This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos.

For me, where chaos damns causality is that because of small changes in initial conditions, every time you run a model of a chaotic system you get a result that is increasingly different the further you get from the initial conditions. To me this means that there is no support for the idea that the universe HAD TO unfold as it did. A small perturbation at the big bang and the universe would look vastly different than it does now.

What does all of this mean for free will? I don't know. But to me, the idea that there is only a single possible path, a universal predestination based on deterministic principles, seems unsupported. That, at least, opens the door for choice; at least for chance.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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29-02-2012, 06:46 PM (This post was last modified: 29-02-2012 09:05 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Question about free will??
(29-02-2012 09:11 AM)Malleus Wrote:  I do not wish to fight you on this one or anything, but Libet's experiment is pretty flawed. The method may be kind of appropriate, but his conclusions are pretty stretched.

The human brain is a really cool machine and we still have a long way to go before we properly understand its workings, but does it surprise anybody that it has a "lag" just like any electric device? It works on electric impulses AND it requires chemical influence.

There is no free will required for reflexes like dodging to avoid a projectile or kicking the breaks when something or somebody jumps in front of your car. Still, between your eyes meeting the object and the foot pressing the pedal, a full second of delay occurs. The process is much simpler as it does not go through a judgment sequence and it still has one second of pure hardware delay. Given the number of simultaneous processes involved in the test (watch out for the start and stop signals, decide to press the button and how hard and how many times, observe the shape, color, texture and resistance of the button, ignore feeling watched, try not to make a fool of yourself, watch the clock, try to determine the right time when you think your mind is made, watch the clock again, make a mental entry of that specific time, try to adjust the record because you think you miscalculated), I'm not at all surprised that the delay went as high as 7 seconds sometimes.

I'm going to let go of his method of asking the subject when they think they made the decision. It still adds subjectivity in science which flaws the process, but I care less about that.

Libet may be on to something. If we ever discover ways of manipulating will and finding cures for mental illness, it's certainly important to know when and where and how thoughts start happening. But all he proved was that the machine has a considerable delay AND that decisions require access to some information stored in the unconscious. It's not even that surprising.

Vital processes (like control of the heart muscles) are not subjected to the conscious mind and probably a great deal of mental initiators are also unconscious. However, outside life threatening situations, every initiated action gets filtered by the conscious mind and that IS free will. Conscious mind also acts as an initiator when it decides a logical course of action.

If you scare me pretending to punch me in the face and I end up hitting you when I try to block your mock punch it is not a matter of free will. You can't even get upset at me because you know I had no control over it. Things are completely different if I walk to you and punch you out of the blue. You have every right to be upset and you're completely justified to seek some form of revenge because you know I had plenty of opportunity to prevent myself from doing it.

Libet stretching the conclusion and coming out with: "therefore we don't make the decisions, but some gremlin living in the unconscious" is simply not scientific.

His method is half-scientific, but his experiment isn't.

What's your take on this updated version where they're up to like 7 seconds in advance?

I am us and we is me. ... bitches.
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29-02-2012, 07:47 PM
RE: Question about free will??
(14-02-2012 06:33 AM)Jeff Wrote:  I have yet to see a persuasive case against free will. Maybe that's not surprising since it can be difficult to prove a negative, but using the idea that a proposition cannot be both true and not true, it seems to me that someone needs to show what our will is, if it isn't free.

I don't think you understand skepticism and the burden of proof. We don't have to prove that there's such a thing as "un-free will" (also known as determinism) to dismiss the idea of free will as lacking in evidence. But we're no longer lacking in evidence! Despite the fact that we all feel that we've personally experienced free will, you'll notice that I linked to a scientific experiment that determined that what we think of as free will is an illusion... your choices are made before you are conscious of them, and then you rationalize your decisions after you've already made them.

But even if we still had no idea how the brain made decisions, we still wouldn't have to assume that free will exists just because we can't prove an alternative... that's still committing the fallacy of an Argument from Ignorance.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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29-02-2012, 08:46 PM
RE: Question about free will??
Monkey recognizes pattern, not number. Monkey groups causal determinants out of sequence. It ain't free will, it is chaotic will; science will only ever be able to round that puppy off.

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29-02-2012, 09:00 PM
RE: Question about free will??
We are basically a bag of bacteria and cells that have evolved to cooperate in an effort to survive as a group to reproduce and carry forward its line of DNA.

The brain is a specialized organ like the liver, heart, kidney, spleen, skin, etc. Its job is to process sensory input to better help the bag of cells survive.

When we think of ourselves we think we are our brains or our consciousness. This is an illusion.

We are the entire organism. The brain is just an organ.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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29-02-2012, 09:14 PM
RE: Question about free will??
(29-02-2012 08:46 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  Monkey recognizes pattern, not number. Monkey groups causal determinants out of sequence. It ain't free will, it is chaotic will; science will only ever be able to round that puppy off.

Preserved, for posterity.

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01-03-2012, 03:28 AM
RE: Question about free will??
(29-02-2012 06:41 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(29-02-2012 09:11 AM)Malleus Wrote:  I do not wish to fight you on this one or anything, ...

Understandable, considering that I am on exogenous testosterone and all. Wink

I didn't mean that. I have the feeling that a few of the more sensitive co-forumists find me a bit too confrontational lately. What I wrote there was my clumsy way of saying that I come in peace.

Quote:
(29-02-2012 09:11 AM)Malleus Wrote:  ... but Libet's experiment is pretty flawed. The method may be kind of appropriate, but his conclusions are pretty stretched.

I WASN'T TALKING TO YOU ASSHOLE! Wink

Seriously though, what's your take on this updated version? [/url]

I think that the thing they're testing in the update is a "random number generator", not a free-will type decision. Deciding over pressing right or left is in fact a random number generator (choose randomly between 1 and 2) and, by definition, it cannot employ conscious filters which would affect the outcome making it non-random. If there is a free will, there are logical reasons why it doesn't really get used in this test.

The process is "unconscious random generator says left" > "transferring result to conscious mind" > output left (no reason not to, choice processes bypassed, default answer "yes"). What they need to create is consequences for left and right so the conscious process becomes: "unconscious random generator says left, but should I?". What the subjects call "decision" is the last instance "output left" with "allow = yes" set as default.

As hard as I try, I cannot come up with a non-flawed test for that. If the choice remains the same throughout the test, the choice process happens once, "result recorded and set as default" then the pattern will be "loop(unconscious test of instance against default)" > output (again, brought to conscious mind just for informative purposes just like in the "updated test", no free will tests in the pattern)

If you keep changing the choices, you will have no pattern at all allowing you to predict the outcome based on brainwave activity.

I think they got one thing right though. They say that "Hallett doubts that free will exists as a separate, independent force.". That's right. It's the same software. Based on results from previous inner debates on "what is the right thing to do", the brain must have a huge set of custom defaults stored and used automatically (unless overridden) for better efficiency in decision-making. It's called "learning" and "experience".

The fact that many old choices get stored to be used as templates in similar situations proves (again) that the brain is an awesome machine. It does not prove that conscious free will choices do not exist and it certainly does not absolve anybody of responsibility for their actions. It's still your fault if your brain has bad choices set as default. In human terms, "you are an asshole and you refuse to change". When you do honestly try to change and become a better (or worse) person, I'm sure that a test would show intensive free will test activity because many of the old defaults are set as "false" and, with every new decision (different from the old ones), the defaults are overwritten or at least new ones get added in the list.

In order to see free will in tests, my best guess is that you need to focus on subjects with extremely low self-confidence. Yessir, self-second-guessers are the way to go.

Oh, no Hallucinations 4:11 says the 'gilded sheep should be stewed in rat blood' but Morons 5:16 contradicts it. (Chas)

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01-03-2012, 08:10 AM
RE: Question about free will??
The problem with X or Y in human testing is ya never know when flashback Z is gonna result in Option 16. Tongue

I've been quite content to see this topic from a mostly deterministic viewpoint for a grip of time; the science is interesting, but the moral question is asinine. It is an ethical consideration to judge a psychopath such as I responsible, but in moral terms I'm gonna love my Gwynnies (which tends to mean love everybody) and step on as few toes as possible.

Despite tragic impulse. Big Grin

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01-03-2012, 09:02 AM
RE: Question about free will??
(01-03-2012 08:10 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  The problem with X or Y in human testing is ya never know when flashback Z is gonna result in Option 16. Tongue

You're right, but these types of exceptions are included in whatever software lives in the unconscious. In few cases, the hardware is to be blamed (or congratulated) too.

Quote:It is an ethical consideration to judge a psychopath such as I responsible, but in moral terms I'm gonna love my Gwynnies (which tends to mean love everybody) and step on as few toes as possible.

Obviously, people are not either "normal" or "psycho". It's not a dichotomy, but a range of values. In your case, yes, you can be held responsible. While you may be somewhat outside the regular scale, you're obviously able to decide to try not tostep on toes.

Oh, no Hallucinations 4:11 says the 'gilded sheep should be stewed in rat blood' but Morons 5:16 contradicts it. (Chas)

I would never shake a baby unless the recipe requires it.
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