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Is the Future Already Written?

Image credit: Emile Guillemot

Generally speaking the future is impossible to tell. The story of us could take many different paths branching into ever different versions of its current self. There are an infinite number futures, which we shape and select every day, every hour, every minute with our conscious decisions, our actions and deeds. We make our choices based on free will and select the right or wrong path ahead of us based on morals and ethics.

The bad news is, that this is only a myth, incompatible with the laws of physics.

Living in an illusion

Having self-consciousness comes with certain limitations and a good deal of illusions to help us disregard those limits. Through what appears to be a cause and effect relationship however— like having a desire to eat an apple, then grabbing one from the kitchen table — it makes us believe that it is us who are making conscious decisions resulting in deliberate action.

The hard truth is that there is neither ‘you’ or ‘I’, ‘us’ or ‘them’ in this story, nor there was a ‘conscious decision’ in the first place. There is no need for those. We’ve lived without these concepts for many millennia just fine, so do our fellow animal companions we share this planet with. Pronouns are mere artifacts of our language accidentally ‘invented’ together with the story of an ‘independent self’. One, which is free to decide what to do, where to go, whom to talk to. One, which has a free will to do so. The problem is that this idea is fully incompatible with the laws of nature and physics — and thus can safely be called an illusion.

Sorry to disappoint you, but you neither have free will — and as you will see — nor a separate independent self.

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Agency – Do We Have Free Will?

Agency – Do We Have Free Will?

One of the things most misunderstood is the concept of free will. Most people have the misconception that we all have free will and (more or less) can “do whatever we want.” In reality, this is actually false. While we have the ability to make certain choices, those choices are all constrained to certain norms on average, based upon the reward of dopamine. As Dave Pollard writes about a year ago, “Everything we do is dopamine-driven, based on experiences that have, through positive reinforcement or coercion, dictated our entirely ‘unconscious’ behavior since we were born. There is no ‘us’ somehow apart from these evolutionarily conditioned animal bodies, to intervene to do things differently.” Now, Dave explains why assigning blame is pretty much useless and nothing more than theater here. Nate Hagens adds this to the mix.

A little more than a year ago, I wrote an article about blame because of the amount of blame I was seeing constantly in the groups I am a part of. It’s true that there is more than enough blame to go around; but at the time, I was seeing the assigning of blame as a complete waste of time and wanted to encourage those engaging in it to discontinue the drama. It’s always easy to point one’s finger away from oneself; but in reality, one often may as well be standing in front of a mirror. As the facts in that article (and many others I have written) bring to the forefront, we simply do not have the agency we often think we do. It is this assumed thought process that we have agency (which in reality we don’t) over these things which lead to hubris, arrogance, and denial of reality which inevitably lead to optimism bias.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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