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Researchers: Neuroscience has not “disproved” free will

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The Open Door, William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800–1877 Lacock), Salted paper print from paper negative
the open door/ William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877)

From ScienceDaily:

For several decades, some researchers have argued that neuroscience studies prove human actions are driven by external stimuli — that the brain is reactive and free will is an illusion. But a new analysis of these studies shows that many contained methodological inconsistencies and conflicting results.

And this isn’t a problem solely within the neuroscience community. Earlier work by Dubljevic and his collaborators found challenges in how this area of research has been covered by the press and consumed by the public.

“To be clear, we’re not taking a position on free will,” Dubljevic says. “We’re just saying neuroscience hasn’t definitively proven anything one way or the other.” Paper. (paywall) – Victoria Saigle, Veljko Dubljević, Eric Racine. The Impact of a Landmark Neuroscience Study on Free Will: A Qualitative Analysis of Articles Using Libet and Colleagues’ Methods. AJOB Neuroscience, 2018; 9 (1): 29 DOI: 10.1080/21507740.2018.1425756 (paywall) More.

The presumption that there is no free will (so decisions don’t really matter) has nothing to do with neuroscience. But it is central for naturalist plans for our global future. Therefore, studies that disprove free will (and therefore, the legitimacy of voter choice) will always be funded. In today;s w on evidence, reliance on facts may cause us to be treated with suspicion.

And if you vote for the consequences, you own them. So, unfortunately does everyone else, if you are part of a majority. You voted us all off the island.

See also: GP, Mike Pence and Free Will 

At Physics Central: How human beings can have free will as complex, purely physical systems

Do the defects of real numbers open the door to free will in physics?

and

How can we believe in naturalism if we have no choice?

20 Replies to “Researchers: Neuroscience has not “disproved” free will

  1. 1
    jdk says:

    Neuroscience, or science in general, will never “disprove” free will, or the existence of a soul, or any other metaphysical speculation about a possible non-material aspect of our nature.

    If we have a soul, and free will, it interfaces with our material self in some undetectable and unmiraculous way (in the sense of not violating known natural laws), so studying how our material body works is not going to illuminate the presence, or absence, of such a non-material aspect of ourself.

    The findings of science, in significant ways, are open to different metaphysical speculations about the immaterial that can’t be investigated, much less resolved, by science itself.

    What one believes about such things is a philosophical choice, subject to critical examination and the sharing of perspectives, but not subject to “disproof”.

  2. 2
    Nonlin.org says:

    What should be the default view on Free Will?

    We talk about Free Will because we feel it in us and in the actions of all other. Even those attempting to disprove Free Will instead prove its existence by trying to persuade us when in its absence there would not be a need or urge to disprove Free Will. We can also demonstrate that dead matter is only moved by external forces hence does not have Free Will, and that the living act upon external forces and also what appears to be internally determination, aka Free Will. Therefore, we all have Free Will unless one can demonstrate otherwise.

    Free Will is the belief that at least some our actions are not completely determined by agencies beyond our power. “Some” is more than “none”, but it doesn’t have to be “most” or even “many”. Thus, the burden of proof against Free Will is impossibly high as all – not just some – of our actions would have to be entirely – not just partly – determined by external forces to disprove Free Will. This proof has not been provided.

    http://nonlin.org/free-will

  3. 3
    Allan Keith says:

    I think that the entire argument over free will is pointless. We can’t control all of the factors necessary to be able to effectively test whether or no it exists.

  4. 4
    Nonlin.org says:

    AK,

    Not pointless at all. Goes to show that Darwinistas make illogical claims left and right – some more than others. It’s very informative.

  5. 5
    Allan Keith says:

    NonLin,

    Not pointless at all.

    We either have free will, or we have something that is effectively indistinguishable from free will. In either case, we can’t confirm this one way or the other. Any arguments are purely philosophical and not substantive, on either side of the argument.

  6. 6
    Nonlin.org says:

    AK,

    More than that. Are you trying to prove Free Will? Because I am not. But they are illogically trying to disprove Free Will and even worse, trying to shift the burden onto FW supporters.

    This belongs in the same category as “Nothing in biology makes sense…”. NOTHING? What kind of nonsense is this? Also “blind, mindless, and purposeless environmental process”. Really? How the heck would you (Dawkins, etc.) even know this? Also “natural selection”. Really? Total nonsense “mechanism”: http://nonlin.org/natural-selection/

    And let’s not forget “science vs religion” brought to you by the knights of “science”: http://nonlin.org/philosophy-religion-and-science/

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    The reality of free will has far more experimental evidence going for it than is apparently realized in the paper:

    Determinism vs Free Will – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwPER4m2axI

    Specifically, Libet himself was a strong defender of free will, and he interpreted his own experiments as validating free will.

    Do Benjamin Libet’s Experiments Show that Free Will Is an Illusion? – Michael Egnor – January 15, 2014
    Excerpt: Materialists often invoke the experiments of Benjamin Libet when they deny free will.,,,
    (Yet) Libet himself was a strong defender of free will, and he interpreted his own experiments as validating free will. He noted that his subjects often vetoed the unconscious “decision” after the readiness potential appeared.
    ,,,”The role of conscious free will would be, then, not to initiate a voluntary act, but rather to control whether the act takes place. We may view the unconscious initiatives for voluntary actions as ‘bubbling up’ in the brain. The conscious-will then selects which of these initiatives may go forward to an action or which ones to veto and abort, with no act appearing.” – Libet
    Libet even observed that his experimental confirmation of free will accorded with the traditional religious understanding of free will:,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....81171.html

    Moreover, despite the widespread disinformation on the internet about what Libet’s experiments actually indicate, it is now found that “A person’s decisions are not at the mercy of unconscious and early brain waves. (People) are able to actively intervene in the decision-making process and interrupt a movement,”,,, “Previously people have used the preparatory brain signals to argue against free will. Our study now shows that the freedom is much less limited than previously thought.”

    Do we have free will? Researchers test mechanisms involved in decision-making – January 4, 2016
    Excerpt: Back (in the 1980s), the American researcher Benjamin Libet studied the nature of cerebral processes of study participants during conscious decision-making. He demonstrated that conscious decisions were initiated by unconscious brain processes, and that a wave of brain activity referred to as a ‘readiness potential’ could be recorded even before the subject had made a conscious decision.
    ,,, Until now, the existence of such preparatory brain processes has been regarded as evidence of ‘determinism’, according to which free will is nothing but an illusion, meaning our decisions are initiated by unconscious brain processes, and not by our ‘conscious self’. ,,,
    Using state-of-the-art measurement techniques, the researchers tested whether people are able to stop planned movements once the readiness potential for a movement has been triggered.
    “The aim of our research was to find out whether the presence of early brain waves means that further decision-making is automatic and not under conscious control, or whether the person can still cancel the decision, i.e. use a ‘veto’,” explains Prof. Haynes. ,,,
    “A person’s decisions are not at the mercy of unconscious and early brain waves. They are able to actively intervene in the decision-making process and interrupt a movement,” says Prof. Haynes. “Previously people have used the preparatory brain signals to argue against free will. Our study now shows that the freedom is much less limited than previously thought.
    http://m.medicalxpress.com/new.....aking.html

    But besides that, the Theist can now also appeal to evidence from quantum mechanics to support his belief in free will. For instance, at the 7 minute mark of the following video, Anton Zeilinger, a leading experimentalist in quantum mechanics, weighs in on free will in quantum mechanics and states “we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement.”,,, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in a certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    – Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:57 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/4C5pq7W5yRM?t=500

    In the following article Steven Weinberg, an atheist, expresses his unease with quantum mechanics since humans, (via free will), “are therefore brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level”. Weinberg further objects to the instrumentalist approach in that “the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else.”

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....mechanics/

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Since our free will choices are now experimentally shown, via Zeilinger and others, to matter at even “the most fundamental level” of the laws of nature, then it is important to realize that although free will is often thought of as allowing someone to choose between a veritable infinity of options, in a theistic view of reality that veritable infinity of options all boils down to just two options in the end. Eternal life, (infinity if you will), with God, or Eternal life, (infinity again if you will), without God.
    C.S. Lewis states the two ultimate options that we all ultimately have to face as such:

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    And just as is presupposed Christian Theism, we now have fairly compelling scientific evidence for a heavenly dimension and for a hellish dimension. Specifically, Christians can appeal directly to Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity and General Relativity to support their belief that God upholds this universe in its continual existence, as well as to support their belief in a heavenly dimension and in a hellish dimension.

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKggH8jO0pk

    In fact, when the Agent causality of God is rightly let back into modern physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned (Newton, Maxwell, Faraday, and Planck to name a few), then an empirically backed reconciliation between Quantum Theory and General Relativity is found in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Specifically, the fact that Christ dealt with both quantum mechanics and gravity in his resurrection from the dead is evidenced in the Shroud of Turin:

    Gödel, Infinity, and Jesus Christ as the Theory of Everything – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1Jw5Y686jY

    Particle Radiation from the Body – July 2012 – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind
    Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images.
    http://www.academicjournals.or.....onacci.pdf

    The absorbed energy in the Shroud body image formation appears as contributed by discrete (quantum) values – Giovanni Fazio, Giuseppe Mandaglio – 2008
    Excerpt: This result means that the optical density distribution,, can not be attributed at the absorbed energy described in the framework of the classical physics model. It is, in fact, necessary to hypothesize a absorption by discrete values of the energy where the ‘quantum’ is equal to the one necessary to yellow one fibril.
    http://cab.unime.it/mus/541/1/c1a0802004.pdf

    Optically Terminated Image Pixels Observed on Frei 1978 Samples – Kevin E. Moran – 1999
    Discussion
    Pia’s negative photograph, from 1898, showed what looked to be a body that was glowing, but slightly submerged in a bath of cloudy water. This condition is more properly described as an image that is visible, at a distance, but by locally attenuated radiation. The unique front-and-back only image can be best described as gravitationally collimated. The radiation that made the image acted perfectly parallel to gravity. There is no side image. The radiation is parallel to gravity and, if moving at light speed, only lasted about 100 picoseconds. It is particulate in nature, colliding only with some of the fibers. It is not a continuum or spherical-front radiation that made the image, as visible or UV light. It is not the X-ray radiation that obeys the one over R squared law that we are so accustomed to in medicine. It is more unique,,,
    Theoretical model
    It is suggested that the image was formed when a high-energy particle struck the fiber and released radiation within the fiber at a speed greater that the local speed of light. Since the fiber acts as a light pipe, this energy moved out through the fiber until it encountered an optical discontinuity, then it slowed to the local speed of light and dispersed.
    Discussion
    The fact that the pixels don’t fluoresce suggests that the conversion to their now brittle dehydrated state occurred instantly and completely so no partial products remain to be activated by the ultraviolet light. This suggests a quantum event where a finite amount of energy transferred abruptly. The fact that there are images front and back suggests the radiating particles were released along the gravity vector. The radiation pressure may also help explain why the blood was “lifted cleanly” from the body as it transformed to a resurrected state.”
    https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/moran.pdf

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words “The Lamb”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    John 6:37-38
    Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.…

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, without responsible rational freedom of thought and action not even the discussion we term neuroscience has any credibility. Freedom is a presumption of rational mind. KF

  10. 10
    Allan Keith says:

    Nonlin,

    More than that. Are you trying to prove Free Will? Because I am not. But they are illogically trying to disprove Free Will and even worse, trying to shift the burden onto FW supporters.

    I am not trying to prove free will nor disprove it. I am just pointing out that without the ability to effectively test for it, any discussion on either side of the argument is nothing more than navel gazing. Besides, whether or not it exists is neither evidence for nor evidence against ID.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    The false claim,,

    “Besides, whether or not it (free will) exists is neither evidence for nor evidence against ID.”

    ,,, vs the evidence,,, “Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information.”

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas S. Robertson
    Excerpt: Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information.
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

    i.e. No Mind with free will, i.e. purposeful intent, then no creation of new information.

    The preceding is a falsifiable statement.

    The Law of Physicodynamic Incompleteness – David L. Abel
    Excerpt: “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”
    If only one exception to this null hypothesis were published, the hypothesis would be falsified. Falsification would require an experiment devoid of behind-the-scenes steering. Any artificial selection hidden in the experimental design would disqualify the experimental falsification. After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided.
    The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction:
    “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.”
    https://www.academia.edu/Documents/in/The_Law_of_Physicodynamic_Incompleteness

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
    Karl Popper – The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge (2014 edition), Routledge

  12. 12
    LoneCycler says:

    I am troubled by the idea that Free Will, in order to be considered reality, must be falsifiable somehow. I agree that any test for this would be difficult.

    The test would need to be designed to determine if actions were not completely determined by agencies beyond the control of those being tested. In other words, you would test to see if some actions or choices were beyond personal control.

    This has been done with canines:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iTTNRE-njM

    Clearly some dogs have free will while others are merely creatures of instinct/habit.

  13. 13
    Dick says:

    Our belief that at some moments there really is more than one possible future, that we are genuinely free to choose either A or B, is a properly basic belief. There’s no reason to give it up unless we’re presented with a compelling defeater, and in the nature of the case there are no such defeaters out there.

  14. 14
    jdk says:

    Nice. 🙂

    Obviously the first dog’s behavior is driven by the habits created by his training, and the second dog is doing whatever he damn well pleases.

  15. 15
    Allan Keith says:

    LoneCycler,

    The test would need to be designed to determine if actions were not completely determined by agencies beyond the control of those being tested. In other words, you would test to see if some actions or choices were beyond personal control.

    Whatever test we design would have to do more than this. It would have to demonstrate that under identical conditions, the same person could make a different choice. That is where the difficulty lies. How can you ensure that all other conditions are identical? The brain would have to start with the identical configuration, with the identical chemical makeup, with identical input, etc. An impossible task given the sheer complexity of the brain.

  16. 16
    LocalMinimum says:

    AK @ 15:

    And then you’d just have confirmed mind mechanics lying outside of the brain; mechanics whose causal basis and rules would still have to be discovered, if at all possible.

  17. 17
    Nonlin.org says:

    AK @ 10:

    I am not trying to prove free will nor disprove it. I am just pointing out that without the ability to effectively test for it, any discussion on either side of the argument is nothing more than navel gazing. Besides, whether or not it exists is neither evidence for nor evidence against ID.

    So you think this is just a discussion about religious views (beliefs)? This is not how FW opponents see it.

    Furthermore, it’s not a toss-up. The simple test is that we feel and act as if we have FW. Why be neutral when the default view should be “FW is true”?

    If no FW, then we’re just biologic machines as the materialists claim. You don’t want that.

  18. 18
    Allan Keith says:

    If no FW, then we’re just biologic machines as the materialists claim. You don’t want that.

    What we want does not dictate what is true.

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, not everything we can or do know — even to self-evident certainty — is known by scientific or empirical investigations. Scientism fails as an account of knowledge, warrant or reason. Ponder Mathematics i/l/o Godel’s incompleteness, which is an inherently abstract discipline. We can know ourselves to be responsibly and rationally significantly free as that is the premise of reason, which one must presume even in trying to doubt or dismiss such freedom as an unstated but real premise. Were that not the case, we would not be exerting rational insight and choice on reasoning but just blindly playing out some computational, causal chain by chance and/or equally blind mechanical necessity. That reduces to instant absurdity. The evidence of the rational discourse, reflection and knowledge we experience — including in this thread — is decisive evidence of significant rational, responsible freedom. KF

  20. 20
    Nonlin.org says:

    AK @ 18:

    What we want does not dictate what is true.

    Absolutely true. Meanwhile we live in a materialistic world where the Darwinist pig flies because too many are neutral between sense and nonsense.

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