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It was your assertion in your initial and subsequent posts that the review concluded that Libet's study "had significant methodological errors and/or suffered from experimenter bias." The review makes no such claim.

I admit to still not reading the paper but I still think my characterization is justified based on the likely assumption that the authors know how to write an abstract.

Probably, but that doesn't mean that you've interpreted their meaning correctly. I've encountered plenty of abstracts that don't quite align with the experimental results. Sometimes, this is simply the authors trying to make their paper seem shiny and exciting. Most of the time, it's simply that a sentence can have different interpretations, and I've read it differently than the authors had intended. That's why one needs to read the actual paper to understand it.

"...Overall, we found substantial variation between studies.

The first sentence indicates that the authors feel there is an issue with replicability...

Does it? If you read the actual paper, you'll find there was substantial variation between studies in their experimental designs. No one has explicitly tried to reproduce Libet's study. There are also differences in the magnitude of the effect; however, it's unclear if this is simply due to methodological differences.

Keep in mind that I was responding to your question: Are you arguing Libet and other have disproven free will? As I said, it depends on how you define free will. Clearly, there are lots of opinions about what free will is. At the extremes, I think it's fairly easy to tell if the Libet data is consistent or inconsistent with the models. In the middle, the definitions seem to get very squishy and/or subjective, and they become essentially unprovable and undisprovable. Those aren’t particularly helpful definitions. That’s why I’m trying to understand precisely what you mean by nonrandom indeterminacy

Not sure why it is so hard. Let's take your alphaGo software. The program selects for the "best" move based on algorithms...this is the determinative part. When the algorithms don't lead to a clear choice, the program allows for a random decision...this is the indeterminacy part. Assuming no free will, the frequency of the random choice will follow a probability curve defined by the parameters of the program. If free will exists, then the choice becomes nonrandom and deviates from the expected probability.


Think about it as an experiment. You're given a piece of software. You study the code, and you calculate the probability distribution of outputs for a given input. You then run the software on a computer, and you find a different probability distribution. Do you conclude that the machine has free will? Maybe the computer has a capacitor that flakes out every fifth run. It's nonrandom, so it seems to satisfy your definition.

How do you determine if the difference between the predicted and the actual distributions are due to a "nonrandom" source? And, what does adding a nonrandom (deterministic) piece to an partly deterministic, partly nondeterministic entity do to provide "free will"?

We know our brains aren’t trustworthy.

Sure, but you are exaggerating. Millions of people, I suspect even you, drive cars.


No, not when it comes to our understanding of what's going on inside our own brain. Modeling the external world, we're pretty good at that. We do so by a process of trial and error that we build over years. Throw a ball, see where it goes, make adjustments and try again. That feedback is critical. For understanding the inner workings of your mind, you don't have that feedback, so you are unlikely to learn when your model is wrong. You're a judge and you don't realize your decision is being driven primarily by low blood sugar, and yet you can create an internal narrative that you arrived at your decision solely through a careful consideration of the facts.

And, I’ll bring up the example of parole board decisions once again: the judges are making what they think are perfectly rational decisions all while factors outside of their awareness dominate the actual decision. 90% of their decision can be ascribed to low blood sugar!

Which leaves 10% of their decision due to free will even when hungry!


Does it? Perhaps the remainder is caused by a deterministic brain that isn't sufficiently perturbed by external factors?

As you've noted, our criminal justice system is premised on the idea that you have free will in your actions. I think we can both agree that the decisions that a parole board require serious consideration on the part of the members. If that decision is dominated by factors other than free will, is it unfair to assume that most of our day-to-day decisions are also dominated by these factors? In that case, is the justice system fair? If "free will" plays such a small factor in our decisions, why should we really care whether it exists or not? We are largely, then, automatons.

I botched an adjective in my next section. I'm going to repost it with the correction:

Consciousness is a whole different ball game because the central feature of consciousness, subjective thoughts, has no counterpart in the non-conscious world. Subjective experiences are only associated with consciousness. We can't reduce it to smaller bits or recreate portions of consciousness in the lab or in a computer.

Consciousness seems to arise from a non-conscious world. Are cockroaches conscious? Do they have subjective experiences? Your last statement is one hell of a claim. If a computer or a dish of neurons had subjective thoughts or was conscious, how would you know?

Can you name anything else that arises out of complexity that has properties that are totally absent in the component parts?

Life.
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