Saturday 21 March 2020

'Proof' that free will is a delusion... (?)

One of Brief Outlines nice little cartoons - 2 minutes only, to reveal the paradox of neuroscientific 'proofs' that there is no free will!


Otto said...

This very much reminds of a great short science fiction story: What's expected of us (Ted Chiang,
Nature, vol 436, p 150 (2005)). (Nod to Steve Hsu.)

I don't find the Libet studies (which this cartoon appears to refer to) persuasive, but in this cartoon the time delay has been craftily increased from several milliseconds to as much as six (!) seconds, which violates the original conditions of the experiment. However, in reality it might be the case that observer A is able to see/know the future choice of observer B, but observer A is unable to communicate what he has seen to observer B "fast enough" in order to change the future choice of observer B, e.g. due to some cosmic speed limit (e.g. speed of light) which maintains causality.

I find the existence of the phenomenon of retrocausality/precognition, which I do believe in (whether or not the Libet studies are related to it), to be more persuasive of the existence of the Supernatural, than arguments in favor of free will.

Also interesting: Dr Tim Maudlin on the John Bell-derived experiments. (Short summary: "The distinguishing quality of quantum mechanic is telepathy.")

Bruce Charlton said...

@Otto - If you word search free will or agency on this blog, you will find plenty of discussion. My main points is that it is a metaphysical, not a scientific, issue; a matter of fundamental assumptions, not data.

Otto said...

I would agree about free will being too fundamental a concept to be "proven" or "disproven" by experiment. However, precognition, retrocausation, telepathy, and the like, are definitely amenable to scientific experiment (and indeed telepathy has been confirmed by the Bell test experiments in the 1970s, although I believe that telepathy might be explicable in terms of retrocausation.)

Joseph A. said...

Nice, though I still prefer John Cleese for the humor value:

Both are brilliant.