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Brain scanners and free will

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PHILOSOPHY BOWLING RESULTS

• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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5 Comments

  1. Michael Thomas says:

    The implications of this realization are interesting

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703673604575550243700895762.html

    Haidt has used brain scanners and surveys to develop moral psychology — political identification is hard wired. Takes some steam out of those political arguments! [lesson: you aren’t going to convince anyone]

    Like

  2. Siler says:

    In this <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-04/m-udi041408.php"press release, Haynes seems more cautious about what this experiment actually means: “Our study shows that decisions are unconsciously prepared much longer ahead than previously thought. But we do not know yet where the final decision is made. We need to investigate whether a decision prepared by these brain areas can still be reversed.”

    It’s interesting that this experiment relies on the subject to remember when he/she made the decision to press one button or the other. Introspecting about how one makes decisions is dizzying.

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    • Siler says:

      Sorry, I messed that up.

      In this press release, Haynes seems more cautious about what this experiment actually means: “Our study shows that decisions are unconsciously prepared much longer ahead than previously thought. But we do not know yet where the final decision is made. We need to investigate whether a decision prepared by these brain areas can still be reversed.”

      It’s interesting that this experiment relies on the subject to remember when he/she made the decision to press one button or the other. Introspecting about how one makes decisions is dizzying.

      Like

  3. Hunt says:

    It’s interesting that even if we aren’t actually in the driver’s seat, there is no latency between action and realization of action. If there were then you would act, then realize that that was what you wanted to do. It’s possible that in emergency situations this system of gated action breaks down. How much of reflex is actually the subliminal system actually taking charge of our nervous system and acting before we actually register sensation?

    So, basically, the system progresses like this: a subconscious part of you decides to act. The action is withheld until your conscious self has registered the decision, then the action takes place.

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  4. Sandi says:

    Even when choices don’t appear to be explicity our own, it does not necessarily follow that choices are not being made at all. A USU theoretical physicist recently said to me that “Space, unlike time, requires the existence of a multiplicity of conscious beings that trust one another.” Other quantum theorists are matter-of-factly saying things like, “Dark matter appears to be more intelligent than dark energy [that] increasing intelligence seems to parallel increasing density and complexity.”

    I think it is a mistake to assume to much at this point no matter what the seems-likeness of all the brain scan data. We may just be working out of a broken paradigm and interpreting the data from a fundamentally crippled–certainly limited–perspective.

    “And that’s all I have to say about that.” –Forrest Gump

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