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KorbenDallas

A Famous Argument Against Free Will Has Been Debunked

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Ran across this article today on The Atlantic,

A Famous Argument Against Free Will Has Been Debunked
For decades, a landmark brain study fed speculation about whether we control our own actions. It seems to have made a classic mistake.

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/09/free-will-bereitschaftspotential/597736/

The death of free will began with thousands of finger taps. In 1964, two German scientists monitored the electrical activity of a dozen people’s brains. Each day for several months, volunteers came into the scientists’ lab at the University of Freiburg to get wires fixed to their scalp from a showerhead-like contraption overhead. The participants sat in a chair, tucked neatly in a metal tollbooth, with only one task: to flex a finger on their right hand at whatever irregular intervals pleased them, over and over, up to 500 times a visit.

The purpose of this experiment was to search for signals in the participants’ brains that preceded each finger tap. At the time, researchers knew how to measure brain activity that occurred in response to events out in the world—when a person hears a song, for instance, or looks at a photograph—but no one had figured out how to isolate the signs of someone’s brain actually initiating an action.  [...]

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TLDR, it seems the analysis of the original experiment was incorrect, and that is what the article means what was debunked.  An interesting read, and encouraging for free-will and volitionists.

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Anti free will merely means the anti-arguments are invalid because they were/are un-free willed.

Nathaniel Branden laid it all down in "The Contradiction In (of?) Determinism" well over 50 years ago.

Why does the epistemological trump the metaphysical? It doesn't. The metaphysical only comes into this situation with human conveyance. But the human conveyance is in itself metaphysical. That is, free will is for conceptual consciousness which IS. Thinking allows choosing. That's the conversation, not the result.

--Brant 

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There's a very good recent book on emotions I read, but unfortunately, the lady took a cue from the finger taps and went whole hog into preaching that free will doesn't exist.

How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Barrett.

If you can ignore the claim against free will on every other page and her constant haranguing about not knowing what an emotion looks like, this is a book worth reading more than once (or at least, I intend to) just to get the neuroscientific part nailed. She knows her stuff, but luvs her some rationalizations and is a cretin on morality.

I see her has the kind of scientist who invents torture devices without concern for the people they will be used on because people are not relevant: meaning he's excellent in parts of his field but knows nothing about life.

Michael

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10 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

Korben,

It's odd to see this article in The Atlantic given that publication's constant progressive agenda drumbeat.

That makes me a bit suspicious. For instance, take a look the following quote (for the reader, Schurger is the debunker and Bereitschaftspotential is the fancy way of saying no free will because of yada yada yada):

Quote

It’s still possible that Schurger is wrong. Researchers broadly accept that he has deflated Libet’s model of Bereitschaftspotential, but the inferential nature of brain modeling leaves the door cracked for an entirely different explanation in the future. And unfortunately for popular-science conversation, Schurger’s groundbreaking work does not solve the pesky question of free will any more than Libet’s did. If anything, Schurger has only deepened the question.

Entirely different explanation?

For the "pesky question of free will"?

Hmmmm...

Anyone got any ideas what such an explanation might be?

Also, why the levity by calling the main issue pesky?

Let's look at the author:

Quote

BAHAR GHOLIPOUR is a New York–based tech and science journalist who covers the brain, neuroscience and psychology, genetics and AI.

I don't know anything about this guy, but I do know the AI people are as deep as bottom feeders into human behavioral control by technocrats.

That leads me to suspect that Libet’s model (essentially, no free will)--which used to work well with the "human behavioral control by technocrats" crowd--collides with something (say, something related to free will but relying on massive surveillance and top-down control by technocrats) they want to spring on the public before too long, so they had to debunk the scientific linchpin supporting the anti-freewill conclusion. 

And since someone (Schurger) already did debunk Libet’s model several years ago, it was a piece of cake to dredge up the debunkery and feature it in the fake news media.

Or... maybe this is just my paranoia acting up.

Stepping back and trying to be as objective as I can, I give it about a 50-50% chance either way. Well, maybe 51-49 tilted toward bad guys acting like bad guys... Or maybe even...

Nah... Let's leave it right there.

:) 

Michael

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I think we talked about this in school and what the experiments might mean for the question of free will. The instructor said it probably was a bad idea to read too much into it.

As a counter argument, I suggested that the scientists might be confusing 'conscious decisions' with 'unconscious reflex.' I mean, are you consciously aware of what your fingers are doing as you type out a message? Or do you just think about the words and your fingers do the rest automatically? Am I consciously thinking about the 40 muscles I am flexing just to type this up?

To me it seems a lot happens on a subconscious level, otherwise doing two simple tasks, such as walking and speaking, would be next to impossible. 

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