In “Do we need science to know that we are free” ( The Best Schools, December 1, 2011), James Barham asks,
The good news is that The New York Times saw fit to print a very unusual column questioning the scientific consensus that free will is an illusion.
The article, written by Gregory Walton and Carol Dweck, was quite interesting—far more serious and thoughtful than the usual self-congratulatory fluff that passes for science reporting in our newspaper of record.
The denial of free will takes various forms. One of the trendiest right now is the concept of “ego depletion,” which is the hypothesis that our faculty of self-control, or willpower, is a “finite resource” that depends upon the supply of glucose in the brain.
Research that Walton and Dweck conducted with a colleague showed that ego depletion was only an issue for those who believed that the theory was true. More