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New Scientist: Impulsive? You just have less free will

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From New Scientist:

Impulsive people may have less free will than the rest of us

A person who kills someone while driving drunk might tell the jury this:

People who were deemed impulsive did indeed have shorter time intervals between their conscious awareness of the intention to act and the moment of action. The more impulsive they were, the shorter the interval.

“It might suggest that maybe impulsive individuals have less time to inhibit or control their actions,” says Caspar.

Maybe skip this:

Aaron Schurger at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, who has worked on understanding the implications of the Libet experiment, cautions that any conclusions depend on how you interpret the various signals. His own work suggests that the readiness potential is not a signal of the brain getting ready to act, but rather a signature of random neural noise that accumulates and then crosses a threshold, making movement possible. More.

Closing our religion coverage for the week, it’s worth noting that a traditional Christian position takes a quite different tack: The more virtue people aspire to, the more free will they tend to have:

The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to “the slavery of sin.” (1733)

Suppress that!

See also: Movements can be cancelled after brain is prepared (How many of us would still be alive at 30 if prepared movements could not in fact be cancelled? The early researchers who sought to undermine the concept of free will must sure have had an easy audience.)

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2 Replies to “New Scientist: Impulsive? You just have less free will

  1. 1
    Mapou says:

    Impulsive people don’t have less free will. They just have a brain disorder.

  2. 2
    johnnyb says:

    On a similar vein, my wife educates based on the principles of Charlotte Mason, who said that “Strong-willed” children were actually weak-willed children – they didn’t have sufficient will to overcome their impulses.

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