[LMB] OT: verging on forbidden territory: GOP attitudes about science

Judy R. Johnson jrj at fidalgo.net
Mon Sep 26 00:16:13 BST 2011

-----Original Message-----
From: snip
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 5:30 AM
To: Judy R. Johnson
Subject: RE: [LMB] OT: verging on forbidden territory: GOP attitudes about

Hi Judy

Thanks for sharing.  Really fascinating and esoteric. 

I think there is the probability of free will, but the conditions aren't

In real life free will is mediated not only by the mind and brain but also
such things as knowledge.  For example, cro magnon might have wanted to
blast a mountain out of the way instead of having to walk a
1000 km detour to go around it but it took many experiments/discoveries and
gradual development of knowledge to arrive at explosives that may actually
blast a mountain out of the way. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Judy R. Johnson [mailto:jrj at fidalgo.net]
Sent: 11 September 2011 01:56
To: snip
Subject: FW: [LMB] OT: verging on forbidden territory: GOP attitudes about

This is interesting, about free will.  Think I'll go with the "I really have
no idea" school.

-----Original Message-----
From: lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk
[mailto:lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk] On Behalf Of Rachel
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2011 4:51 AM
To: lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk
Subject: Re: [LMB] OT: verging on forbidden territory: GOP attitudes about

> From: William A Wenrich
> As to evolution, I'm not sure that pure random chance can explain the 
> world in all its complexity. I am well aware that I can be wrong. This

> is a difference between me and some others worship "science." (Scare 
> quotes
> intentional.)

Natural selection is not really the same thing as random chance. When
evolution is presented that way, I would agree that it is harder to swallow.

> From: "A. Marina Fournier" <saffronrose at me.com>
For instance, some studies that show there are specific parts of the brain
that deal with spirituality/spiritual experience/experience of Deity. I do
NOT subscribe to the possible conclusion that these aspects of us and our
world are simply random signals from a specific part of our brains. I see no
cause and effect, only coincidence.

I find this interesting. If we believe that all of our behaviour,
experience, etc., is driven by our brain (which I do), then all experiences
will be correlated with neural activation somewhere, spiritual experience
included. That doesn't necessarily mean that spiritual experience is "just"
random neural firing any more than any other experience is "just" random
firing (love, for example), though that firing, after being caused somehow,
may result in spiritual experience.

I agree, though, that when you spend a lot of time studying neural
mechanisms it can be difficult to believe in free will. I know people who
don't. I even know people who believe that all of our consciousness is just
a narrative that we build to explain our behaviour, and has no causal power.
I'd never really thought about free will until strangely late in my life,
and when someone finally asked me whether I believed in it I added up what I
knew about how the brain works and said, "Huh. I guess I don't." That
realization didn't really effect my life--I didn't sink into a well of
depression and apathy (I suppose I wouldn't have had the will to do that).
Since then I've thought more and read more and am now holding the somehow
less satisfying opinion of, "I really have no idea."

NEW from JRJ> I'm getting a little lost in the fog on this, but looks like
you've put your finger on the flaw in the reasoning.  In fact, that puts
science back in the game, since what else is science but know-how, verified,
selected, and preserved?  So to talk about free will as if it were
nonphysical, either as an act of neuron or an act of consciousness, is to
leave out its role in Real Life Cause and Effect.

But maybe I'm not just a little lost in the fog, but a lot.  Not ashamed to
admit it.  Jumping off from Rachael's conclusion.

So guess it's time to trail my cloak by asking, "Well, what about it?  You
can't have free will without action, and action interacts with Real Life
stuff.  Now what?  What am I missing?"

I'm bcc-ing to my correspondent to protect privacy.  Bad enough me looking
like a fool, and nobody else needs to.

Entwife Judy
The Skiffy Minded

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