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Old 04-15-2008, 11:07 AM   #16
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Originally posted by A_Wanderer
My bullshit detector hasn't gone off,
Doesn't this imply the ability to reason?

Now, if you can reason between truth and "bullshit" then, unless you are a psychopath, you can also reason between right and wrong -- between (gasp) good and evil.

Doesn't the existence of a "bullshit detector" prove the existence of free will?

Or are we to believe that it too evolved, evolved from the mouse-pouncing cat that has no free will?
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:15 AM   #17
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Doesn't this imply the ability to reason?

Now, if you can reason between truth and "bullshit" then, unless you are a psychopath, you also reason between right and wrong -- between (gasp) good and evil.

Doesn't the existence of a "bullshit detector" prove the existence of free will?

Or are we to believe that it too evolved, evolved from the mouse-pouncing cat that has no free will?
No, it simply means that my brain puts information together about the study, the organisations involved and where I heard about it and I feel that it is legitimate. The point of the study was that when a person is told to choose when to push a button when they want the choice is made before they consciously realise it, but we still feel as if we had concious choice in pressing the button.

That doesn't imply free will.

And yes, we have a mammalian brain as do our feline cousins and a cat has behaviours that are advantageous for survival; to live they must be able to pounce at the right moment and that involves a sort of decision. The decision processes in a cats brain may very well be homologous to those in the human brain at some level; even though our brains have a much better system of consciousness for social interaction we are still animals and are made up of the same basic bits.
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:19 AM   #18
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Doing the right or wrong thing is not neccessarily a matter of choice, often enough it is instinct. To help a person out, to expect some sort of reciprocal altruism at times, to be kind to people (because it enables you to use them just as they use you) etc. So much of that is driven by unconscious factors (making eye contact, smiling, mirroring, laughing, judging the appropriateness of comments, using innuendo at the right times etc. - things that we are not consciously controlling that aid social interaction).

To back up those assertions that I am assuming are true experiments must be done, unless it can be observed and replicated we can't hold assumptions as truth. And to that end I want to stress that science is progressive and can hopefully falsify bad assumptions whereas religions are often taken to be absolute unchanging truth. If an experiment proved that we have no capacity to make decisions consciously it would not make people abandon those tenants of their religion, it would cause a dramatic change in the science.
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:26 AM   #19
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(promoting religious belief is unconstitutional -

So too is promoting or establishing atheism by the way. Free exercise clause, remember?
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cling to dogma
An Obama shout-out?
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:36 AM   #20
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No, it simply means that my brain puts information together about the study, the organisations involved and where I heard about it and I feel that it is legitimate. The point of the study was that when a person is told to choose when to push a button when they want the choice is made before they consciously realise it, but we still feel as if we had concious choice in pressing the button.

That doesn't imply free will.

And yes, we have a mammalian brain as do our feline cousins and a cat has behaviours that are advantageous for survival; to live they must be able to pounce at the right moment and that involves a sort of decision. The decision processes in a cats brain may very well be homologous to those in the human brain at some level; even though our brains have a much better system of consciousness for social interaction we are still animals and are made up of the same basic bits.
Humans, unlike animals, can make moral decisions. It's the difference between "I'm hungry. Can I eat that mouse?" and "I'm hungry, SHOULD I eat that mouse?"
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:39 AM   #21
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So too is promoting or establishing atheism by the way. Free exercise clause, remember?


An Obama shout-out?
The establishment clause prevents the promotion or persecution of religious belief. Given that evolutionary biology is not a religious belief it is perfectly valid in the science classroom. Not promoting God in a public school is different from teaching children that there is no God.

It is not free exercise of religion to take a theologically based argument like intelligent design and use public funds to promote it. By all means fill childrens heads with rubbish at home and at Church but the taxpayer money mustn't be funneled for the promotion of religious belief. If an atheist high school student is forced to take a test on Intelligent Design that would be violating their religious freedoms because it is affirming this unfalsifiable creator entity that is codeword for God.

To find out how controversial evolution is these days please skim through some abstracts at nature.com, I can guarantee you that not a single one has intelligent design because it's a piss poor model, evolution is dominant because it works elegantly and matches the observations. If somebody finds an exception to the theory they would be at the top of the pile because they would overturn what people thought they knew. But it doesn't seem to be the case, as time goes on the evidence just keeps pointing to evolution not as a result of some naturalist conspiracy rather the nature of reality.
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:45 AM   #22
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Humans, unlike animals, can make moral decisions. It's the difference between "I'm hungry. Can I eat that mouse?" and "I'm hungry, SHOULD I eat that mouse?"
Animals make decisions that are moral, vampire bats will share blood with other bats that couldn't go out to feed on a particular night - they will sacrifice some of their benefit for another, altruistic behaviour underpinned by the expectation that the favour will be returned (it's the golden rule being played out in the natural world for perfectly good darwinian reasons).

That rudimentary examples of what we consider morality exist in the animal kingdom is important. It shows that despite our incredible brains there is a long evolutionary history of cooperation and "morality" that exists because it endows some selective advantage (and that advantage may be beyond the individual level to the gene level as with examples of kin selection).

You overlooked the point I was making too, that decisions are made by animals, there are mechanisms in the brain that go into decision making and that if a cat can make a decision without what we might consider free will should we really assume that our decisions are radically different.
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Old 04-15-2008, 12:08 PM   #23
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The pushing of the button though is an act with no consequence.
There is no rationale to decide whether pushing a button at a specific time is better than pushing it at another time. There is nothing to weigh in this experiment. It would be interesting to see a similar experiment when a decision does have consequence and is more complex.

That being said, it certainly seems likely that much of the information that we process is processed underneath conscious level. It also seems that we can negate a decision we have reached.
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:10 PM   #24
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Given what the Bible says about our sin nature -- that is, the preconditioned state of brokenness that we are born into -- you'd be hard pressed to argue that humanity is in fact free. Theologians would perhaps argue that it's Christ who allows true freedom -- in that as we grow in relationship to God we are able to make changes and discover free will. Until then, we're sort of trapped by our circumstances/coping mechanisms/survival tactics/dysfunction/addictions/etc. Grace breaks determinism/karma.

So I don't think this article says anything that would violate Christianity...
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Old 04-16-2008, 03:44 AM   #25
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Couldn't this simply suggest that we make our "free will" choices before we are aware we've made them.

If there were some deterministic "reason" that led to a particular pattern of button-pushing that researchers were able to uncover thus indicating that what appears to be a free will choice instead is already determined, well then maybe there would be something. But simply recording that the brain "predicts" the response before it's conscious to the person as a decision isn't really stopping free will.

I don't think the existence of the subconscious negates free will. . .
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Old 04-16-2008, 04:30 AM   #26
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For some reason nature.com won't load for me at the moment, so I can't read the entire article, but, it's been accepted for ages that at any given time, there is a lot going on for each of us at a preconscious level. That's sort of a built in measure of protection for us, because if it weren't so, we'd be so overwhelmed by stimuli at times, we probably wouldn't be able to function. We certainly wouldn't be able to focus on the important things, the things we need to in order to survive.

I'd be interested to see the entire study to determine how early in the 7 second window the actual decision is made, and then how much more time passes before the participant reaches what the researchers alluded to as the point of no return in the process, where there was no turning back and changing the decision. It could be that very early in that 7 second window, there was more of a preconscious awareness that there was a decision to be made, as opposed to the actual making of the decision.

As well, depending on the type of computer task they were doing while engaged in pushing the button, how attention-intensive it was, it's possible that the attention given to that task suppressed the attention, and therefore the participants' automatic consciousness of, the button pushing aspect of the task. I've been involved in deployment of attention studies, and one of the knowns is that we can only really focus on a limited number of parts of a task at a time, so that things do become automatic and preconscious. Researchers base studies upon using our attention limits to get access to our preconscious minds all the time.

Also, BonosSaint and maycocksean have made some excellent points about the simplicity and automaticity of a dichotomous task such as button pushing (do I push - yes or no? Right or left hand?), and it doesn't exactly require reasoning or higher thinking.

All that said, it's an exciting finding for the field. I just think it's maybe a tad premature to generalize the findings to an absence of free will.
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Old 04-16-2008, 05:32 AM   #27
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The question marks and if qualifier in my posts are important
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Old 04-16-2008, 05:47 AM   #28
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Is the subconscious then the link between brain and mind? The dynamic that flows between the two? We assign the brain tasks (either consciously or unconsciously) that it then resolves below conscious level. Does the subconsious belong to the brain or to the mind?
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Old 04-16-2008, 03:44 PM   #29
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Quote:
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Is the subconscious then the link between brain and mind? The dynamic that flows between the two? We assign the brain tasks (either consciously or unconsciously) that it then resolves below conscious level. Does the subconsious belong to the brain or to the mind?
I'm sure A_Wanderer could address this much more articulately than I'm about to, philosophy of the mind stuff bores me silly, so I tended not to pay much attention to it, but, to me, I guess you could say that yes, in a way, preconsciousness is sort of a bridge between unconsciousness and consciousness. I'm assuming that when you say 'brain,' you're referring to completely automatic, unaware processes, and when you say 'mind,' you're referring to things that are fully within our awareness. Preconciousness is a state between the two, where we might not be aware of what's going on at any given time, but we can usually access it if there's a need to.

I don't really think of preconsciousness belonging to either the brain or the mind, to me, they're one and the same, it's all just a continuum of consciousness within the brain.
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Old 04-16-2008, 04:05 PM   #30
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Thanks. Basically I was thinking out loud or thinking in prose about the role of the preconscious/subconscious. Just amusing myself. It's a subject that interests me but I haven't done much reading on it, just some observation.

I follow the brain and mind being the same--I was just using mind as the conscious state. The subconscious seems to be the information organizer/problem solver. Deep subconscious and shallower subconscious ("it was on the tip of my tongue") much
closer to the conscious level. I'm always fascinated how all this works together in the human machine, the flow of it.
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